The Cleveland Indians outfield was filled with question marks entering Spring Training and the majority of the early results so far are certainly encouraging. Although there are some not so encouraging performances in Arizona. Granted it is Spring Training and the sample sizes are small, there is some bright spots to focus on.
This is the ultimate feel good story. Leonys Martin saw last season end prematurely due to a life-threatening illness. There is no doubt that Martin wants to get back on the field and prove to everyone he is still capable of being a productive outfielder. In seven games Martin is slashing .474/.500/.789 with an OPS of 1.289. Martin has also displayed a bit of power, homering twice this spring. Martin has all but locked down a starting spot in the Indians outfield.
Greg Allen has also had a nice spring with a slash line of .424/.524/.667 with a 1.190 OPS. Allen has eight hits in seven games for the Indians including a solo home run. Coming into Spring Training there were some questions about just what Greg Allen can provide at the plate. Those questions appear to have been answered as Allen is building off a successful end of last season. Of course the regular season is a different animal entirely and Allen could revert back, however Allen appears to have secured a regular outfield spot for the Indians.
This has been a troubling spring for Tyler Naquin. Naquin is struggling at the plate, only slashing .150/.150/.400 and an OPS of .550 in seven games. Things appeared to be heading in the right direction early as Naquin homered in the first game. However Naquin has only managed two more hits in the following six games. Naquin’s role with the Indians is up in the air. As of now it is hard to justify a starting outfield spot, but then again Spring Training stats mean nothing. Naquin could turn things around at the plate once the regular season begins, but that remains to be seen.
Another player who has struggled is Jake Bauers, but not as much as Naquin. Bauers slash line is .211/.286/.421 with a .707 OPS. Bauers has four hits so far this spring, one being a double and the other a home run. This is about what Bauers is expected to do at the Major League level. The situation with Bauers is more dependent on the performance of others. Bauers was originally thought to be seeing time at first base and the designated hitter spot. The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez changed that. Ramirez figures to be the DH if he makes the team which shifts Bauers to the outfield. If Ramirez fails to make the team or underperforms, Bauers could see time as a DH with others occupying outfield spots.
Oscar Mercado is the surprise of the spring. Mercado has been absolutely on fire at the plate, slashing .409/.409.773 with a 1.192 OPS. Mercado has two home runs and has driven in five runs in 12 games. The encouraging thing with Mercado is that these numbers are not the direct result of a smaller sample size. Mercado is playing every day and continues to produce at the plate. The Indians will have a tough decision to make in regards to Mercado making the Indians Major League roster.
Daniel Johnson has also been a surprise. Acquired from Washington in the Yan Gomes trade, Johnson has also had a fairly productive spring. With a slash line of .250/.375/.550 with an OPS of .925. Johnson has five hits in 21 games, two singles, one double, triple and home run. Johnson has also driven in four runs for the Indians this spring. Cleveland may consider Johnson for an outfield spot out after the spring, but he may start off in Columbus due to the excess amount of outfielders already on the roster.
Matt Joyce has been absolutely abysmal this spring, going hitless in 17 at-bats over seven games. Joyce does have a walk and an RBI this spring, but considering how poorly he has performed in Arizona it is doubtful that he will make the roster. Initially it was thought the Joyce could contend for the designated hitter spot, but the signing of Hanley Ramirez put an end to that.
Some may know Trayce Thompson as the brother of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, however he is trying to make a name for himself as a baseball player. Thompson has been fairly impressive this spring with a slash line of .286/.348/.476 with a .824 OPS. With two doubles and a triple, Thompson has driven in four runs. Thompson has also walked twice. The Indians will have to consider Thompson for a part time role if he continues to be productive at the plate.