In 2015, the Cleveland Indians were able to turn a struggling Brandon Moss into a young, exciting pitching prospect in Rob Kaminsky at the trade deadline. Prior to coming over to Cleveland, Kaminsky consistently rated as one of the top prospects in an incredible St. Louis farm system, so the deal seemed to heavily favor the Cleveland Indians. Now, with Moss still a free agent and Kaminsky continuing to impress in the Cleveland farm system, it looks more and more like Cleveland made the right move.
Kaminsky, a former first round pick for the Cardinals, played his first full season in the Cleveland Indians' organization this past year and he did well at the AA level. Over 137.0 innings pitched, Kaminsky owned a 3.28 ERA and a 3.91 FIP while striking out 16.1% of hitters and walking 8.4%. Throughout the season, he kept the ball in the park and gave up just 7 home runs across 25 starts.
One of the most exciting aspects of Kaminsky is his batted ball profile. In 2016, over 55% of the balls that batters put in play against him were ground balls. And of the balls in play, almost 20% of them went to the short stop. In Akron, Kaminsky had solid but not earth shattering numbers; with a defensive wizard like Francisco Lindor behind him, that could change. He doesn't strike out a ton of hitters, but he won't need to in order to be successful.
While Shawn Morimando and Adam Plutko, Rob's teammates from the RubberDucks, are closer (and have already been in) to being regular contributors at the major league level, there is still a lot to like with Kaminsky going forward. Expect him to lead the AA rotation at the beginning of 2017 before (hopefully) moving up to Columbus and beyond.
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WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 11 PROSPECT FOR 2017?
Shawn Armstrong, RHP (Age 26)
2016 (AAA): 49.0 IP, 1.84 ERA,2.19 FIP, 35.3 K%, 14.2 BB%
2016 (MLB): 10.2 IP, 2.53 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 15.9 K%, 11.4 BB% 2011 eighteenth round pick,
Armstrong spent the bulk of his time during 2016 in AAA where he struck out seemingly everyone with his mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. He struggles with walks quite a bit, but he can blow hitters away with a couple of advanced pitches. Expect to see Armstrong out of the bullpen for Cleveland in 2017 at some point.
Willi Castro, SS (Age 19)
2016 (A): 548 PA, 7 HR, 16 SB, ..259/.286/.371, 90 wRC+
2016 (A+): 9 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, .222/.222/.222, 18 wRC+
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2013, switch-hitting short stop out of the Dominican Republic. Spent the majority of 2016 in A-ball, strikeouts spiked as did his power. Good speed on the bases, hardly walks at all.
Erik Gonzalez, IF (Age 25)
2016 (AAA): 460 PA, 11 HR, 12 SB, .296/.329/.450, 122 wRC+ 2016
(MLB): 17 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, .313/.353/.313, 83 wRC+
Blocked at SS by Francisco Lindor and likely to be passed as a utility player by Yandy Diaz. Still a capable major-leaguer who could find a permanent home somewhere in a trade.
Juan Hillman, LHP (Age 19)
2016 (A-): 63 IP, 4.43 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 16.8 K%, 8.6 BB%
2015 second-round pick with boatloads of potential. Had a 25 inning scoreless streak last season before tiring down the stretch.
Nolan Jones, 3B (Age 18)
2016 (R): 134 PA, 0 HR, 3 SB, .257/.388/.339, 118 wRC+
2016 second round pick, Jones walked at almost a 20% clip in 2016, his first season in rookie ball. Has the potential to be a solid all-around player both at the plate and in the field.
Tyler Krieger, 2B (Age 22)
2016 (A): 299 PA, 3 HR, 15 SB, .313/.385/.427, 141 wRC+
2016 (A+): 257 PA, 2 HR, 6 SB, .282/.369/.405, 118 wRC+
2015 fourth round pick, a high average hitter with a good amount of speed on the base paths. Doesn't strike out a lot and walks at a decent clip. Could find himself in Akron at some point in 2017.
Ryan Merritt, LHP (Age 24)
2016 (AAA): 143.1 IP, 3.70 ERA,3.85 FIP, 15.4 K%, 3.9 BB%
2016 (MLB): 11.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 16.2 K%, 0.0 BB%
2011 sixteenth round pick, hero of the 2016 ALCS to propel Cleveland to their first World Series since 1997. Has pinpoint control and a brilliant curveball that he can locate anywhere. Fastball tops out in the high-80s, does not walk anyone. Could end up in Cleveland in 2017 as a starter if someone goes down with injury.
Shawn Morimando, LHP (Age 24)
2016 (AA): 93.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 19.0 K%, 9.4 BB%
2016 (AAA): 59.0 IP, 3.51 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 18.2 K%, 8.3 BB%
2016 (MLB): 4.2 IP, 11.57 ERA, 9.79 FIP, 18.5 K%, 18.5 BB%
Began 2016 in AA, moved up to AAA mid-season and was a late season call-up for Cleveland. Could be a back of the rotation starter or a reliever. Fastball sits in the low to mid-90s. Secondary pitches, including slider and changeup, are good compliments. Command is an issue moving forward.
Adam Plutko, RHP (Age 25)
2016 (AA): 71.2 IP, 3.27 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 22.2 K%, 4.2 BB% 2016 (AAA): 90.0 IP, 4.10 ERA,3.97 FIP, 17.7 K%, 9.0 BB%
2016 (MLB): 3.2 IP, 7.36 ERA, 6.69 FIP, 16.7 K%, 11.1 BB%
2013 11th round pick, excellent control of his 4-pitch repertoire. Won't succeed on "stuff", but has good pitch selection and precision. Could see some time in Cleveland in 2017 as a spot starter or a bullpen arm.
Nellie Rodriguez, 1B (Age 22)
2016 (AA): 579 PA, 26 HR, 1 SB, .250/.352/.474, 129 wRC+
2012 15th round pick, Rodriguez continued to mash as he spent a full season in Akron. Strikes out at an alarming rate, but also saw an uptick in walks last season. Drove in 85 RBIs to lead the RubberDucks in 2016