Spring Training 2.0 is in full gear as the Cleveland Indians prepare for a 60-game sprint season in hopes of regaining the AL Central crown. A big factor in that will be the productivity of the Tribe’s outfield, which was among the league’s worst in power departments last season.
The Indians are carrying 11 outfielders on their 60-man Summer Camp roster and it is hard to imagine any more than 5 sticking around once rosters shrink a couple weeks into the season. Automatic locks in the Tribe outfield are likely to be Oscar Mercado in CF & Franmil Reyes expected to see time in RF this season.
This would leave the Indians with 3-4 outfield spots up for grabs in camp. Candidates to fill those spots include fan favourite Tyler Naquin, who told the media he feels “100 percent” after recovering from ACL surgery this offseason. Jordan Luplow who showed tons of potential in his first year in Cleveland, posting a slashline of .320/.439/.742 against left handed pitching. Naquin & Luplow would likely split the left field duties, with Naquin going up against RHP and Luplow against LHP. Among others competing for an outfield spot in the coming weeks Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Domingo Santana & Delino DeShields.
Cleveland finds itself with lots of outfield depth this season and it may very well work out in their favour. With the shortened season, teams will be allowed to carry 30 players on their roster come Opening Day rather than 26 like last season. Although the rosters will eventually be reduced back down to the typical 26 four weeks into the season, the Indians will be able to potentially carry 1-2 extra outfields for the seasons first month. If they make the 30-man roster, it’ll give guys like Greg Allen & Jake Bauers the opportunity to prove they belong on the big league roster for the entire season.
The favourites to make the Tribe outfield are expected to be Oscar Mercado, Franmil Reyes, Tyler Naquin, Delino DeShields & Domingo Santana (most likely serving as the clubs DH). But as baseball fans know, anything can happen – especially in 2020.