Plus some unfortunate news on minor-league pitching depth
Minor-league opening day is less than a week away, with all four levels playing on May 4 for the first time since their 2020 seasons were wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Columbus Clippers, and a handful of players on the 40-man roster, have already been playing exhibition games as Cleveland’s “alternate training site.” The Clippers roster will be mostly comprised of those players when they begin their season in Lousiville next Tuesday.
All other rosters were posted today by the team’s insider Twitter account:
Here is the current composition of the Minor League rosters
— Tribeinsider (@tribeinsider) April 29, 2021
The two prospects acquired in the Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco deal, pitcher Joshua Wolf and outfielder Isiah Greene, will start in Single-A Lynchburg and Arizona, respectively.
Twenty-three-year-old outfielder Oscar Gonzalez will start the season in Double-A after struggling there in his first taste of the Eastern League in 2019. He’ll be joined by two of Cleveland’s top prospects, infielder Tyler Freeman and catcher Bo Naylor. Freeman, 23, last played in High-A (which was previously Lynchburg, but is now Lake County). Bo is the brother of current Cleveland first baseman/outfielder Josh Naylor, and is making the jump from Single-A to Double-A as a 21-year-old. Outfielder Will Benson, the 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft, will make the jump to Double-A as well.
George Valera, a hard-hitting outfielder signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, will start in High-A Lake County alongside fellow 2017 international signees Aaron Bracho and Bryan Rocchio. Lake County will also showcase some 2020 draft picks, who have yet to take the field in a minor-league game for obvious reasons. Pitchers Logan Allen (no, the other one), Tanner Burns, and Mason Hickman will start their careers in High-A.
The current alternate site roster is mostly unchanged from April 1 when rosters were finalized, but includes outfielder Ben Gamel and the recently signed catcher René Rivera. Lefty starting pitcher Logan Allen will be joining this squad on Friday, as well. Here’s where they stand now, courtesy of Indians Baseball Insider.
This is the current alternate site roster pic.twitter.com/GcKA2rRIy6
— Indians Baseball Insider (@Official_IBI) April 29, 2021
Ethan Hankins and Carlos Vargas, two promising starters in the Cleveland system, are injured and have not yet been placed on rosters. According to Zack Meiseil of the Athletic, Vargas is undergoing Tommy John Surgery and Hankins is being evaluated for an elbow injury.
Cleveland minor-league SP depth update:
Eli Morgan and Scott Moss will start pitching in Columbus this weekend. They hadn’t been at the alternate site.
Carlos Vargas underwent Tommy John surgery. Ethan Hankins also suffered an elbow injury and will visit w/ Cleveland doctors.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) April 29, 2021
Eli Morgan and Scott Moss could both factor into Cleveland’s fifth-starter situation sometime this season. Neither had pitched to this point due to injuries.