The Cleveland Indians decided to option both Oscar Mercado and Bradley Zimmer to Triple-A to start the 2021 regular season.
After having an outstanding rookie year in 2019, Mercado had an awful case of the sophomore slumps in 2020.
Unfortunately, Mercado only hit .214 this spring so sending him down makes plenty of sense for the Tribe.
Zimmer did okay in the spring at the plate as he hit a respectable .290. However, the former first-round draft choice has not looked like himself since a brutal shoulder injury in 2018.
With the Indians sending these two centerfielders down to the Minors, who should start in center this season?
The Opening Day lineup came out and Jordan Luplow is getting the nod Thursday.
But what should be the plan for the entire season?
Option #3: Ben Gamel
Ben Gamel, ladies and gentlemen! 👏👏#CLESpring pic.twitter.com/haijHhJBKm
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 4, 2021
By all accounts, it appears as if journeyman Ben Gamel will get the most time in center to start the season.
Gamel has had a rough go of it at the plate this spring with a .179 batting average, so naming him the starter may raise some eyebrows amongst faithful fans in Cleveland.
However, Gamel is a fierce competitor and manager Terry Francona has raved about his reliability in any outfield spot.
Gamel does have a .986 lifetime fielding percentage in five big league seasons so he is definitely the more comfortable option from a defensive standpoint.
The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder must get back to his 2017 form when he hit 11 homers and batted .275 while with the Seattle Mariners.
Option #2: Amed Rosario
Amed Rosario walks it off ON THE ROAD at Yankee Stadium…because 2020. It’s the Mets first ever doubleheader sweep against the Yankees. What a huge day for this team.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) August 29, 2020
Amed Rosario has looked lost at times in center during spring training.
However, the Indians are desperate to get Rosario’s good bat and plus-speed into the lineup.
Rosario was beaten out for the starting shortstop job by his former Met teammate Andres Gimenez so the Tribe asked Rosario to give center a shot.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder may still see some time at short against left-handed pitching.
Rosario would be somewhat of a defensive liability in center, but the 25-year-old’s upside at the plate is much greater than Gamel’s.
The Dominican Republic native had a splendid 2019 for the Mets by hitting 15 bombs and swiping 19 bases.
If Rosario can get a little more comfortable in center, he may eventually overtake Gamel as the starter.
The best scenario may be starting Rosario for his bat but putting Gamel in for the late innings since he is the better defender.
Option #1: Jordan Luplow
JORDAN LUPLOW WALKS THE @INDIANS OFF AGAIN!!!!!!#OURTRIBE pic.twitter.com/0yWAGUEFkW
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) September 24, 2020
All Tribe fans know that Jordan Luplow had an awful spring.
The former third-round draft pick was injured early on and only got 16 at-bats in March.
It is a little surprising that the Indians decided to keep Luplow on the big league roster.
So of course, he is the Opening Day starter.
Luplow needs to see some more live pitching to feel more comfortable at the plate.
The main reason Francona decided to keep Luplow on the big league roster is because of his uncanny ability to hit lefties.
Luplow destroys left handers as he is hitting .309 with 15 dingers against them over the last two seasons.
The 27-year-old definitely has enough talent to permanently win the starting job in center at some point this season.
The only question with Luplow has always been about his inability to stay off the disabled list.
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