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Rob Kaminsky's strong season validates his role as the Cleveland Indians top pitching prospect

The Tribe's glad to have him...

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A phone call on a minor league bus ride changed Rob Kaminsky's life.  One day before this year's Major League trade deadline and one hour into a ride through the heat and humidity of southern Florida, Kaminsky's phone rang and was told the news that he was traded to the Cleveland Indians.  Instantly, he became the Tribe's highest ranked pitching prospect and third-ranked minor leaguer overall.

Kaminsky was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2013 draft. The prep pitcher was chosen 28th overall and elected to forgo college by signing with the Cardinals in a deal that included a $1,785,300 signing bonus.  After a strong 2014 season that saw him go 8-2 with just a 1.88 ERA over 18 starts, Kaminsky was climbing many prospect lists heading into 2015.

The left-hander opened the 2015 season with the Cardinals High-A Palm Beach affiliate and allowed just three earned runs over four April starts.  One rough start in May in which he allowed six earned runs in just five innings ballooned his ERA some, but a fantastic run in June and early July that saw Kaminsky allow one earned run or less in seven straight starts showcased his elite potential.

At the time of the trade to the Indians, Kaminsky had a 2.09 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings.  Opponents batted just .228 off the left-hander and he didn't allow a home run all season with Palm Beach. He made two starts for the Tribe's High-A affiliate in Lynchburg in August, giving up four earned runs in 9 2/3 innings (no home runs either), before being shut down with a lower back strain.  Thankfully, all accounts report that the back issue is better and should not be an issue going forward.

Kaminsky just turned 21 in September, so he's still very young.  His 2015 season certainly can be seen as a success, especially considering his age.  While some scouts see fellow Tribe left-hander Brady Aiken as having a higher ceiling, most analysts rate Kaminsky as the best pitching prospect in the Tribe's system.  Armed with a plus curveball and a fastball that sits in the low 90's, the stuff is there to continue to succeed.  Currently ranked 74th overall by MLB Pipeline, don't be surprised to see his name in all the major prospect lists this off-season.

While it's extremely unlikely that we'll see Kaminsky in Cleveland next year, a mid-season 2017 call-up isn't out of the question, with a 2018 starting rotation spot the hopeful timeline projection.  All in all, Kaminsky is a fantastic addition to the Indians minor league system and looks to be a great return for Brandon Moss.  Let's hope he gets another important phone call in the  near future; this time a call-up welcome from the Tribe's brass.

Palm Beach (A+) 17 17 94.2 20.1% 7.1% 74.6% 2.09 2.51
Lynchburg (A+) 2 2 9.2 9.3% 11.6% 66.7% 3.72 3.98