This series is based on a voting exercise from Justin Lada, Joe Coblitz and Willie Hood on the top 10 players at each position in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system. […]
This series is based on a voting exercise from Justin Lada, Joe Coblitz and Willie Hood on the top 10 players at each position in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system. Each position rank is worth a point in voting (#1 rank is 10 points, #2 is 9, #3 is 8, etc.).
The positions covered in this series will breakdown this way: Catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, corner outfield, centerfield, right handed starting pitchers, left handed starting pitchers, and relievers.
Top 10 relief pitchers in Cleveland’s system
10. Tim Herrin (6 points)
Highest level reached (most games played): Low-A Lake County (22 innings)
Herrin is a tall (6’5) left hander who wasn’t in the Alternate Site Camp in 2020 but through videos on social media we’ve seen he’s up to 97 and has a really interesting slider from the left side. He didn’t miss bats like someone with back end reliever type stuff in 2019, but the stuff seems to be there for that potential, especially coming from a tall angle like he has as a left hander.
9. Kellen Rholl (7 points)
Ties determined by highest ranking on two of three lists
Highest level reached (most games played): A Lake County
Rholl (pictured at top) has always been a little old for his level after being drafted out of college, but that shouldn’t take away from his utter dominance throughout his short career. While he doesn’t get as low as Nick Sandlin or Robert Broom, Rholl is a true sidearmer from the left side (the other two being righties). He is one of, if not the, hardest throwing lefties in the Indians system and has had some of the control issues that come with being a hard throwing side armer. It also makes him incredibly difficult to hit and he has a 12.0 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 so far in his career.
8. Juan Mota (7 points)
Ties determined by highest ranking on two of three lists
Highest level reached (most games played): High-A Lynchburg (24 innings)
The Indians still have Mota as a starter but given the options coming, we think he ends up in the bullpen here soon. He has fringe-average control but throws 100 with some movement and has a good slider. He doesn’t miss enough bats for how hard he throws but can suppress quality contact with his velocity and movement. He should be in the bullpen soon as he doesn’t have a third pitch and lacks the command to be a starter. He’d be a really interesting relief candidate soon anyway. He’s also R5 eligible.
7. Cam Hill (7 points)
Highest level reached: Cleveland
Tribe right-hander Cam Hill was drafted in the 17th round of the 2017 MLB Draft from Redlands Community College. The righty sits low-to-mid 90’s with his fastball. With the addition of a slider, the 26-year-old is armed with four pitches. Hill’s best pitch is an above-average curveball with a changeup rounding out his repertoire. The righty debuted with the club in 2020 and should compete for a spot in the pen next season.
6. Nick Mikolajchak (11 points)
Highest level reached: Lake County
Nick Mikolajchak was an 11th round draft choice in 2019 from Sam Houston State. The Texas native sits low-90’s and touches 95 comfortably. His best pitch is an above-average curveball combined with an average changeup. Mikolajchak shows above-average control and could move quickly when play resumes in 2021.
5. Jean Carlos Mejia (15 points)
Highest level reached: (High-A) Lynchburg
Jean Carlos Mejia was signed as an international free agent in 2016. The 6’4, 240 lb right-hander displays a four-pitch mix. His fastball sits low-to-mid 90’s and touches 96 on occasion. Mejia throws a curve, slider, and changeup, with all three pitches showing above-average potential at times. A hip injury shortened his 2019 season, and time may be running short for the native of the Dominican Republic with only one team option remaining. He could be forced into transitioning into a bullpen role and that’s why he is listed here.
4. Robert Broom (16 points)
Highest level reached: (Double-A) Akron
Cleveland drafted right-handed reliever Robert Broom in the tenth round of the 2018 MLB Draft from Mercer University. Broom is a sidearmer with a fastball that sits upper 80’s and touches 90 mph. His out pitch is an above-average slider coupled with average control and a deceptive arm angle. The Tennessee native should be ready to contribute to the big league bullpen in short order.
3. Kyle Nelson (24 points)
Highest level reached: MLB (1 game)
Nelson had a rough debut in 2020 but flew up three levels in 2019 with good command of an average FB that is only average because of its high spin, and not velo, and a high spin slider that he can locate both arm and glove side well. He’s a nice option as a middle relief lefty that should be able to carve out a role despite the three batter minimum. He’s probably more of a 6th/7th inning arm but certainly has a big league bullpen future.
2. Nick Sandlin (25 points)
Highest level reached: Triple-A (9 innings)
Sandlin went down with a forearm injury in 2019 and barely pitched or he might have been in the MLB already. He’s a sidearmer with above average command, and a FB/SL combo with unique spin because of his angle. He’ll vary his arm angle and quick pitch as well, but he’s not a slow throwing sidearmer. He’ll run it up to 95. Should be an option at some point in 2020.
1. Emmanuel Clase (30 points)
Highest level reached: MLB (23 innings)
Clase hasn’t reached the innings threshold to lose his rookie status so he’s here. He throws hard but doesn’t miss a lot of bats. Instead he induces a lot of weak grounders with a 102 mph heater, a low 90s slider and a cutter. He missed 2020 with a PED suspension and had a teres major strain before that, so 2020 was lost. Maybe a good thing in the long run as relievers like this only have so many bullets in the chamber and in 2021 he should pair with James Karinchak for a dynamic high leverage stable.