All-world First Baseman Carlos Santana left for Kansas City and Francisco Lindor will probably soon be traded.
However, the future still looks bright for the Cleveland Indians due to the loads of hot young prospects they possess.
It is no secret that Cleveland is starved for better offensive production from their outfielders.
Here are two under the radar young outfielders that could have breakout seasons for the Tribe in 2021.
1. Center Fielder Oscar Mercado
Tribe Center Fielder Oscar Mercado had a disappointing 2020 season.
Mercado had a very respectable 2019 campaign with 15 homers and 15 stolen bases.
However, Mercado only hit 1 dinger and played in only 36 games in the virus-shortened 2020 season.
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) September 17, 2020
Mercado’s lack of production in 2020 is not a cause for concern.
Mercado is still armed with the rare combination of speed and power that could really help the Indians this upcoming season.
Most scouts and other baseball purists expect Mercado to at least be back to producing double-digit home runs and stolen bases in 2021.
The Tribe’s front office would love to see Mercado have a big league season that equaled his best year of minor league ball in 2017.
Mercado had an amazing 2017 season in Double-A where he hit 13 home runs and swiped 38 bags.
Mercado could also be given a shot at hitting leadoff for the Tribe due to his lightening quick speed and smart baserunning ability.
2. Right Fielder Josh Naylor
Cleveland Indians Right Fielder Josh Naylor could also have a breakout season in 2021.
Like Mercado, Naylor had a disappointing 2020 campaign, as he hit only one homer and played in only 40 games.
Despite last season’s frustration, Naylor is still only 23 years old and a former first round draft choice of the Miami Marlins.
— MLB (@MLB) October 1, 2020
Naylor is a muscled-up 250 pounds and has shown big-time flashes of power in both Double-A and Triple-A.
With some more experience, Naylor could be hitting at least twenty home runs a year which would help this anemic offense tremendously.
Possible Stumbling Blocks for Both Naylor and Mercado
Here are a few possible road blocks that both players may face:
Do NOT underestimate the resurgence of former Tribe first round draft choice Bradley Zimmer.
Zimmer has been dogged the last couple of seasons by a nagging right shoulder injury.
However, Zimmer appears to finally be fully healthy and ready to compete for a starting job in the Tribe’s outfield.
If Zimmer wins a starting role, then either Mercado or Naylor could be regulated to pinch hitting duty and only getting a few spot starts during the season.
Mercado and Naylor are both loaded with potential.
However, to quote former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, “Potential just means you haven’t done anything”.
The key question for both players remains the same: Can they turn potential into production?
A Final Word
Will the Cleveland Indians finally get more production from their outfield in 2021?
Will any of the Tribe’s young players step up and break through with some desperately needed offensive firepower?
Both Oscar Mercado and Josh Naylor will have the opportunity to both have breakout seasons for the Tribe this season.