Rosters are booming in Goodyear as it appears the entirety of the 2017 DSL Indians and the Indians half of the DSL Indians-Brewers have arrived in Arizona. With two Arizona Rookie League teams this year, most of these players will likely stay as the more advanced players (essentially the 2017 AZL Indians) head to Mahoning Valley.
In addition, a few rehabbing players have been hanging around, most interestingly Melky Cabrera who was signed on April 25th. He played the entire game on Monday as the DH and went 1 for 4 with an infield single. Once he gets his feet under him, he will likely play a few games in Akron or Columbus before joining the team in Cleveland as Lonnie Chisenhall‘s injury replacement.
On the minor side of rehab, Eric Stamets and Gabriel Mejia continue to progress and have been playing regularly. On the Major side, Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson have not been and have no timetable for return.
As far as the players who are supposed to be here, on April 30th I saw at least 32 different players between the two seven inning games, making it very difficult to judge anyone seriously. Instead of trying to cover everyone, let’s take a look at a couple players that you may or may not have heard of before.
Getting to Know The New Guys – Hector Figueroa
A right handed reliever, Figueroa was originally signed by the Indians back in 2014 and is finally appearing in the US at the age of 23. Despite a pretty solid season in 2015 with the DSL Indians, he had a huge set back when he was suspended for the 2016 season. Back last year at 22 years old, Figueroa struck out 28 in 32.2 innings with a 3.74 ERA, but just one home run allowed.
This week I saw him pitch twice and he struck out two in two innings while allowing two hits and no runs. With limited exceptions, the AZL Indians bullpen has been an extremely rough spot for a few years now and Figueroa could help change that along with his DSL contemporaries Juan Paredes, Wuilson Meza, Joel De La Cruz and others.
Getting to Know The New Guys – Makesiondon Kelkboom
Kelkboom is a player I covered much from a distance in 2017 as the only real stand-out from a rather disappointing Indians-Brewers combo team (that has since been mercifully dissolved). On Monday, the defensive stalwart short stop was moved to second base as the team featured three short stops to start the game with the 2017 DSL Indians Marcos Gonzalez playing third and Mahoning Valley’s Jesse Berardi taking short. While it was a limited view, Kelkboom was fine defensively and showed a good approach at the plate.
In his rookie season as a 16/17 year old (he turns 18 in July) he started out on fire, batting .306/.393/.429 through his first 13 games, but quickly cooled and hit .139/.203/.194 over his final 21 games. He has some speed, but had a poor record on the bases last year. He has the raw talent to succeed and we certainly shouldn’t take too much out of his rookie season numbers (and even less from the one exhibition game I saw him play). While he is still extremely young, there’s a chance Kelkboom could play for the AZL Indians this year depending on where the Indians decide to start their high profile 2017 signings, Aaron Bracho, Brayan Rocchio and Jose Tena. In any event, the team will be incredibly young as all these players and Gonzalez are 18 or younger. They all also have great raw talent and it will be up to the coaching staff in Arizona to mold them into the premier players they could be.