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MLB Draft 2016: Cleveland Indians corner infielder system depth

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The Indians could have a star in Bobby Bradley, but the rest of the corner infielders do not inspire hope.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

From top to bottom, the corner infield spots are some of the weakest in the Cleveland Indians organization. At the major league level, Mike Napoli and Juan Uribe are getting the majority of the starts at first base and third base, and there is not a whole lot of help coming. Jose Ramirez could also be considered a potential third baseman, but he is probably better utilized playing a variety of positions, not at third base every game.

Last season, Givoanny Urshela racked up 288 plate appearances in 81 games for the Tribe, stripping him of his rookie label. I would still count him as part of the organizational depth, however, because he still is in the running for the future third baseman of the Indians even if he is no longer a "prospect."

The Indians front office clearly thought Urshela needed more offensive work after his 0.1 fWAR, 68 wRC+ season in 2015, and he has had plenty of playing time in Triple-A this season. He started 2016 rather slow for the Columbus Clippers but caught on late until he was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 prospect 1B/3B

#* Player Position Age Level Acquired ETA*
3 Bobby Bradley 1B 19 A+ 2014 Draft, 3rd Round (97) 2018
14 Yandy Diaz 3B 24 AAA Signed 11/20/2013 2016
19 Nellie Rodriguez 1B 21 AA 2012 Draft, 15th Round (473) 2017

*according to MLB Pipeline

Third and first basemen are not exactly a depth for the Indians system, but they have some potentially great ones coming up the pipe. Bobby Bradley tops the list, emerging last season with an organization-leading 27 home runs playing with the Lake County Captains. His biggest drawback has always been strikeouts, as you may expect from a typical power-hitting first baseman, but he seems to be finally adjusting to High-A pitching lately, striking out just 12 times in his last ten games. Bradley leads the Carolina League in home runs with nine.

Yandy Diaz at third base is almost the exact opposite player of Bradley. Diaz draws a prolific number of walks, but his power has held from turning into a super prospect. In 26 games with the Akron RubberDucks this season he walked in 21.8 percent of his at-bats, compared to his 14.5 percent strikeout rate. He recently earned a promotion to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers where he has had some trouble adjusting early on. My personal preference would still be to see Yandy get a shot over Urshela for the future at third base.

Other notable 1B/3B

Player Position Age Level Acquired
Jesus Aguilar 1B 25 AAA Signed 11/2007
Joe Sever 1B 25 AA 2012 Draft, 21st Round
Anthony Miller 1B 21 A 2015 Draft, 18th Round
Yonathan Mendoza 3B 22 A Signed 5/2011

Once you get outside of the top 30 prospects, the Indians' future at third and first base looks pretty bleak. Jesus Aguilar has proven to be unable to hit major league pitching and no one else stands out as a potential cornerstone in the lineup or in the field, defensively.

The Indians drafted Anthony Miller halfway through last year's draft, and he has put together a nice season in Class-A ball this year. His .248/.341/.363 slash still shows that he needs more power -- he only has seven extra-base hits on the season -- but at 21 he still has a few years to develop, if he is going to turn into anything for Cleveland.

Overall outlook

If the Indians are going to hone in on one particular position (or group of positions) in this year's draft, it could easily be the corner infield spots. The major-league spots are held by one-year players and the distant future looks bleak, although there could be some immediate promise in the form of Bobby Bradley, Giovanny Urshela, and Yandy Diaz.