Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson are competing for spots on Cleveland’s diluted roster.
Cleveland’s future rests in the hands of the half dozen or so prospects acquired in blockbuster deals over the past three seasons, dating back to CC Sabathia’s trade to Milwaukee, Cliff Lee’s first tour in Philadelphia and Victor Martinez’s move to Boston. So far, the Tribe has yet to see a significant payoff as they enter a make-or-break season for this particular group.
Carrasco, Donald and Marson, along with Class A fireballer Jason Knapp, comprised the package from Philadelphia. With veteran Orlando Cabrera slated for second and Asdrubal Cabrera expected to fill short, Donald’s best shot to play is at third base, where he will be in the mix along with Luis Valbuena and a handful of others. The 26-year-old infielder hit .253/.312/.378 in 325 plate appearances last season, lean numbers for a run-production position like third. Cleveland’s best prospect is catcher Carlos Santana, meaning Lou Marson will compete against a handful of minor league invitees for the backup role. Marson, 24, spent 87 games with the Indians last season and hit just .195. He could easily wind up back in Triple-A with a poor showing. Meanwhile, Carrasco’s arm has reportedly impressed manager Manny Acta early in camp. The 23-year-old right-hander was 2-2 with a 3.87 ERA and 38/14 K/BB ratio in 44 2-3 innings last season, and so far looks to be the surest bet of the Cliff Lee bunch. The 6-3 right-hander, who was twice rated as the top prospect in the Phillies’ chain by Baseball America, is the front-runner for the fourth starter job behind Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot.
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