It appears the Lake County Captains will have more offense than pitching at the start of 2016 season, judging by the 25-man travel rosters put out for the Cleveland Indians’ minor-league teams Friday.*
Three of Lake County’s position players — catcher Francisco Mejia and infielders Tyler Krieger and Willi Castro — are ranked by Baseball America among Cleveland’s top 30 prospects.
Mejia (No. 10) returns to Lake County after spending last season with the Captains. The team’s starting catcher, he batted .243 with 9 HR and 53 RBI in 109 games. He turned 20 in late October.
Here’s part of what Baseball America said about Mejia in its Prospect Handbook:
“He has been one of the youngest players at every minor-league stop he has made … [b]ut the precocious catcher has always proven to be up to the task. Mejia has a good feel for hitting, and the switch-hitter consistently makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. His bat speed gives him surprising raw power for his size and he’s already doing a good job of tapping into it. …
“Mejia has a rocket arm, but he focused on developing other aspects of his defense in 2015 and made strides. He has also improved his English, a key skill for him to develop a relationship with his pitchers.”
Krieger (No. 20) will make his professional debut this year after missing the 2015 season because the Indians decided to give him more time to heal from a shoulder injury that required surgery while he was still in college. A fourth-round draft pick last year, Krieger is considered a good hitter and an above-average runner. He was a shortstop before his shoulder injury, but may be moved to second base because of arm strength issues.
Castro (No. 26), a native of Puerto Rico, will be making his full-season debut this year after the middle infielder spent time with short-season teams in 2014 and 2015. Last year he batted .264 with 1 HR, 25 RBI and 20 SB in 67 games with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Cleveland’s New York-Penn League affiliate. He turns 19 later this month.
The Captains are being managed by first-time skipper (and former LC hitting coach) Tony Mansolino this year. You can read about him here.
*UPDATE: The Captains roster has since been finalized. You can see it here.