CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the 40-man roster currently stands for the Cleveland Indians, the outfield is comprised of young, controllable pieces that don’t cost much but also lack a whole lot of experience.
Barring any additions via trade or free agency, the senior member of the group entering spring training will be Leonys Martin. No other outfielder listed on the roster has a full major league season under his belt. If the Tribe is going to get back to the postseason in 2019, one or more of these players need to have a breakout season at the plate.
Here’s a rundown of outfielders on the 40-man roster. Vote in the poll below or let us know if you think somebody who is not listed could perhaps become the breakout star(s) next season.
Greg Allen: Allen hit .257 with 20 RBI and 21 steals in 91 games as a rookie last season. He was optioned and recalled five different times to the big league club, and managed a .654 OPS. Allen drew 14 walks and struck out 58 times in 265 at-bats while playing all three outfield spots.
Tyler Naquin: Naquin appeared in just 61 games for the Indians as he battled through a hamstring strain and a hip injury that eventually required season-ending surgery. When Healthy, he found some success at the plate, hitting .264 with a .651 OPS. Naquin drove in 23 runs and smacked three homers in his limited duty, and showed flashes of the player who hit .296 with a .886 OPS as a Rookie of the Year finalist in 2016.
Leonys Martin: Martin was limited to just six games with the Indians after he was acquired at the trade deadline from Detroit for Willi Castro. A serious infection landed Martin in the hospital, and his recovery was dubbed nothing short of miraculous by those close to the team. Before taking ill, Martin was settling in nicely, belting a pair of home runs in his first two Tribe games. He hit .255 for the season with a .747 OPS and 33 RBI. It was his best season at the plate since he hit .274 in 2014 during his second year with the Rangers in Texas.
Jordan Luplow: Luplow, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Erik Gonzalez trade, could slot in as a fourth outfielder with a little bit of pop for the Indians. In 2018 he appeared in 37 games for the Pirates and hit three home runs with seven RBI. BaseballReference.com projects Luplow to play part-time (232 at-bats) while hitting eight homers and posting a .700 OPS in 2019.
Oscar Mercado: Acquired at the trading deadline from St. Louis in exchange for Conner Capel and Jhon Torres, Mercado was a second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013. In 132 games between Class AAA Memphis and Class AAA Columbus last year he hit .278 with eight homers and 47 RBI. He struck out 87 times against a career-high 49 walks with 37 steals. The 24-year-old from Tampa is the only player on this list who has yet to make his big-league debut.
Bradley Zimmer: If you had asked this question of Tribe fans at this time in 2017, Zimmer would have been the overwhelming favorite. After a strong rookie season cut short by injury that saw him appear in 101 games and hit .241 with a .692 OPS, Zimmer made the club out of spring training as the starting center fielder. But injuries resulting from his relentless play in center field limited the 26-year-old to just 34 games. He was placed on the disabled list in mid-May with a rib contusion after crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium. When he returned in June, he struggled at the plate, hitting just .226 with a .611 OPS. The Tribe optioned Zimmer to Class AAA Columbus where he injured his shoulder during a workout and required season-ending surgery. He’s not expected to be available until well into the season as he rehabs the injury.