On Tuesday, I drove about 45 minutes south from where I live in Cleveland to Akron, Ohio. I wanted to see an Akron Rubberducks game for the first time in a couple years. The games are fun, cheap, and really enjoyable. However, this time I went with one sole purpose: to see the Indians top prospect Triston McKenzie.
McKenzie was on the bump last night as the Akron Rubberducks squared up against the Bowie Baysox. Since returning to game action on June 7, McKenzie has been spectacular. So, I decided to have a look for myself.
I sat in the right field bar area wide-eyed and wanting more after watching McKenzie dominate. His final stat line from last night was 7(IP), 5 hits, I run, I earned run, I walk, 5 strikeouts on 89 pitches, 61 of those being strikes. Over his past 6 outings, he has pitched 35.2 innings, given up 21 hits, 9 runs, 7 earned runs, walked 12, struck out 34, coming out to a 1.77 earned run average (quick shoutout to @indiansPro for the statistics and the fantastic job they do covering the Indians minor league system/prospects). Even @MLBPipeline is giving major props to this young kid.
McKenzie, who turns 21 on August 2, is turning heads everywhere. Ever since the Indians drafted him with the 42nd pick of the 2015 draft, he’s excelled at every level. His minor league stats are mind-blowing, from his 2.70 ERA, to his 363 strikeouts, to his .195 batting average against him. The scary part is that he is only going to get better. He is still so young and developing that I can see him eventually heading the Indians pitching rotation.
As I watched yesterday, I kept a close eye on the radar gun, located on the Canal Park scoreboard. His plus fastball (ranging from 93-95), his plus curveball, which had Bowie Baysox hitters baffled, including Baltimore Orioles top prospect Yusniel Diaz, and developing changeup have been too much for hitters to handle. MLB.com/prospects said it best about McKenzie, saying “McKenzie was one of the youngest players in his Draft class, but he’s quickly proved more advanced than most of his peers while making a quick climb through Cleveland’s system.” That is some high praise for a kid who cannot legally take a sip of alcohol for another day.
Looking to the future, the Tribe could lose Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer between the 2020-2021 seasons. Again, kudos to Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff and all those involved in the front office for giving us a few more years of this World Series window and our starting pitching staff. However, if they come off the books in 2021, you can be looking at a rotation including Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, McKenzie, and Adam Plutko. That’s not too bad at all, especially if each can stay remotely healthy and keep developing.
Another potential idea: have McKenzie in the bullpen. If he is ready to contribute to the majors, put him in the bullpen. McKenzie will be ready to contribute at some point in the 2019 season, whether it’s a spot start or in the bullpen.
Simply put, the man is untouchable. He will be a key cog in our rotation and for this franchise for a long time. He’s too good of a prospect to give up.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!