Baseball’s exhibition season is a little over a week old, and the Cleveland Indians have a phenom in 3B Lonnie Chisenhall.
If the Tribe was to have a rookie break the starting lineup in Arizona, it figured to be Cord Phelps at 2B since he spent most of last season in Columbus, hitting over .300 there.
Meanwhile, Chisenhall, the team’s first round draft pick in 2008, spent last year in Akron, hitting .278 with 17 HR and 84 RBI with an 801 OPS. He is ranked by Baseball America as the 25th best prospect in baseball.
In 15 at bats this spring, Chisenhall has 7 hits (.467 average) with 2 doubles and two homers. Also, the Tribe doesn’t really have Mike Schmidt playing the hot corner either.
Now it is very early in the spring, but supposedly the 22-year-old has been told he will not make the opening day roster because he’s never played at the AAA level.
The real reason is the Indians do not want to start the service clock on Chisenhall on Opening Day because if they keep him in the minors long enough, he won’t be eligible for arbitration until after his third big league season.
Just like they handled Carlos Santana last season, and he should have been the Tribe catcher to start the 2010 campaign.
What the Indians should do is allow Chisenhall to force himself onto the 25 man roster come April 1st when the team opens the season against Chicago.
Orlando Cabrera will play 2B, and if Jason Donald continues to play well, he can be the utility man, and can play third against tough southpaws to protect the rookie.
When you are coming off consecutive 90 loss seasons, nothing should be etched in stone for young, rising players when it comes to making the team.
Too often, the current regime takes the safe route when it comes to their top prospects, either to “protect” the player from possible failure, or more likely, to control the player’s service time.
Scouts love Chisenhall’s left-handed swing and his minor league numbers suggest he is not prone to striking out. His minor league high in whiffs is 96 in 480 at-bats in his first full year of organized ball.
He fanned just 77 times in 460 at bats at Akron last season.
With no established 3B on the roster, why not give the kid a full shot, giving him regular playing time to see if he can handle big league pitching.
By the end of the month, more teams will be pitching major league guys deeper and deeper into games, so the hurlers who have no chance to be in the majors will be weeded out. Then, you can get a truer look at how Chisenhall will perform.
If he keeps hitting at this pace, why not let him be on the Opening Day roster?
The front office will try to present to you that if the youngster is called up too soon and fails, he will be scarred for the rest of his career. If he’s that fragile, then he probably will not be a successful big league player.
Baseball players all fail. That’s why a guy who gets hits 3 out of ten times goes to the Hall of Fame.
And other players have gone right from Class AA to the majors and been successful. The Braves’ Jason Heyward, who made the All Star team last year, had just 13 at bats in AAA before opening last season with the big team.
Chisenhall might go 0 for his next 20 and make this a moot point. However, if he keeps hitting, the Indians should not limit themselves and let him play in Cleveland.
All we are saying is…Give Chiz a chance!