Giovanny Urshela spent all of 2016 with Triple-A Columbus after playing 81 games for Cleveland in 2015 without much success at the plate. While he hit .274 against minor league pitching, Urshela didn't exactly light the world on fire, hitting just eight home runs and slugging .380 without stealing a single base. In addition, his 2016 numbers represented a decline from 2014 where he hit .276 while slugging .476 for Columbus. On the bright side, Urshela lowered his strikeout rate to 11.8 percent, down from 20.1 percent with the Indians. Still, his power numbers are headed in the wrong direction, a trend he'll need to reverse to put himself back on the club's radar as a potential big league starter. Meanwhile, 24-year-old third baseman Jose Ramirez broke out for a huge year for the Indians, and while Ramirez isn't an elite defender at third and could be moved in the future, Urshela will need to show more at the plate to earn another crack at the majors.
Urshela's chances of making the Opening Day roster have increased due to the injury to Jason Kipnis (shoulder), MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. Jose Ramirez, the team's starting third baseman, may be headed over to temporarily fill Kipnis' shoes at second. If that proves to be the case, an extra glove at the hot corner will be needed on the Tribe's 25-man roster. Urshela is among a handful of players vying for the gig that includes Erik Gonzalez, Richie Shaffer and Yandy Diaz. Although Urshela's offensive capabilities are substandard compared to his competitors, the 25-year-old has one of the better gloves of the group (if not the best) and that may be manager Terry Francona's preferred attribute for whoever he chooses to fill the role.
Urshela is 2-for-5 with a strikeout through his first four Cactus League games. Despite hitting .308 with five homers and 12 RBI during last year's spring training, the Indians decided to let Urshela incubate in Triple-A for the entirety of 2016. Urshela will join Team Columbia at this month's World Baseball Classic, and his performance in the tournament could determine his fate with the Indians.
Urshela will have a fair chance to earn a reserve role on the team's 2017 Opening Day roster, Fox Sports reports. Urshela's lack of plate disciple in 2015 (20.1 percent strikeout rate in 267 at-bats) cost him a chance at being the Indians full-time third baseman. The team made the moves necessary to eliminate Urshela from the lineup and sent him to Triple-A Columbus for the entire 2016 season. Now, with Jose Ramirez locked in at the hot corner, and Yandy Diaz (the Tribe's No. 10 prospect) on the horizon, Urshela seems unlikely to ever capture a starting role with the team. However, adding the 25-year-old third baseman to the roster will allow Cleveland to showcase Urshela for a possible mid-season trade, which could give his fantasy value a boost. Urshela has the tools to be a decent every day starter, just not for his current organization.
Urshela was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. This move doesn't come as a major surprise after the Indians inked Juan Uribe to take over at third base during the offseason. Still, Urshela has the tools to be the Indians' third baseman of the future, although he may have a hard time cracking the 25-man roster anytime soon unless Uribe or Lonnie Chisenhall get injured.
Urshela could start the season in Triple-A following the Indians' signing of Juan Uribe on Friday, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Urshela hit just .225/.279/.330 with six home runs and 21 RBI for the Tribe in 2015, so it is makes sense that they would bring in Uribe to try and solidify third base. At the age of 24, Urshela is still young and having the veteran presence of Uribe around could be a positive for his long-term development. If Uribe doesn't perform or suffers an injury, it is likely that Urshela steps in as the starter in his place.