The last time the Lake County Captains played a game they were sent home for the year by the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League playoffs. The last time they played a game, they were also the Cleveland Indians Low-A affiliate. Now they are the High-A affiliate, and even with the year off because of the COVID-19 shutdown and moving up a level, the Captains are bringing back some familiar names.
Hired last year by Cleveland’s organization, Lake County will be managed by Greg DiCenzo as he was scheduled to do in 2020. Former Captain Jordan Smith returns once again to be the bench coach, while fellow former Captain Grant Fink returns as the hitting coach. Pitching coach Kevin Erminio was also hired from Kennesaw State in 2019.
There really are no surprises on Lake County’s roster and has 13 of our 2021 top ranked prospects. Be sure to check back at the depth charts pages this year to keep track of Lake County’s roster and subscribe to IBI for $4.99 a month to read all our coverage from Lake County this summer.
(Numbers next to players are their 2021 IBI top prospect ranking)
Half of Cleveland’s 2020 draft class shows up here in Lake County’s rotation, which isn’t a surprise at all. All or Burns, Allen (no relation to the recently demoted Logan Allen in Cleveland) and Hickman all possess above average control and unique profiles. Burns has the best pure stuff of the group and had rousing college success in the SEC. Allen might have the most unique pitch movement profile of the group, and the best command. His changeup rivals Eli Morgan’s for the best in the system. He already has great command and was a two-way player in college. Now focusing on pitching, he might move the fastest in this group. Don’t sleep on Hickman’s profile. He only threw 89-91 in college, but his arm slot gives him really good, effective backspin on his fastball and he pairs that with a big breaking ball and good command. He’ll outperform what his stuff looks like. Gaddis could be a candidate for the bullpen with a high effort delivery but he has command and the stuff to start. Royalty had his moments as a starter with Lake County in 2019 and could be an interesting depth option. Turner was also a great strike thrower (sensing a theme here?) in 2019, and also threw 87-90. He’s bulked up some and might have some added velocity.
This group figures to have the most change in 2021, one because Burns, Allen and maybe Hickman all have a chance to get to Double-A Akron, and with the six game series format in 2021, they may need to get fresh arms in at times.
RHP Kevin Coulter
RHP Nick Gallagher
LHP Tim Herrin
RHP Jared Janczak
RHP Kevin Kelly
RHP Nate Ocker
LHP Francisco Perez
RHP Thomas Ponticelli
LHP Kellen Rholl
Gallagher had some good moments in the Captains 2018 bullpen and made some starts. He ran into injuries in 2019 but has interesting stuff. Herrin is the big name in the bullpen to watch with a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a big tough delivery from the left side and a good slider. Ponticelli made some starts in 2019 and could find his way to a few of those or piggyback this year. Rholl is also a tough lefty who has the delivery that makes left handed batters very uncomfortable. This might not be a strong group but there a few names watch out for. Francisco Perez is a former starter in Lake County who has battled a series of injuries and might be a reliever now, but has shown starters stuff in the past.
#32 C Bryan Lavastida
C Michael Amditis
C Gianpaul Gonzalez
Lavastida should be the everyday regular here. Having three catchers is safe for them with the six game series but expect Lavastida to get the bulk of the starts. He’s a converted backstop from late in college with a good arm and has come a long way defensively in a short time. The bat is still ahead of the glove. Amditis has enough defensive skills and a mature approach at the plate to look the part of a backup backstop.
Bracho and Rocchio are the headliners and will probably get the bulk of the time as the keystone combo. Tena will mix in at both spots and Delgado should move around all three infield spots besides first. Nova and Schneeman also provide infield depth with Nova potentially looking at time in the outfield as well. After a year away from formal training due to COVID and not being able to travel to the states, Rocchio is getting a shot at High-A which should be an interesting jump for him. But it keeps he, and Bracho, who has also missed time in the past due to injuries, the chance to stay with a good age group to their level. Naranjo is a contact over power first basemen who also pitched in high school and is an athletic defender. Of this group, only Bracho was at the alternate site in 2020.
This is another strong group for the club with lots of interesting options and the need to rotate a lot of infielders in for playing time. Only Naranjo and Schneeman look to be options at first base, but the rest can besides Bracho can play the other three spots.
This is big year for Rocchio and Bracho, with both needing to be added to the 40 man roster this winter.
Brennan makes a lot of contact, has good speed and a plus-plus throwing arm. He’ll likely play mostly center and right. He was a two-way player in college and offers a lot of value. This is a big sink or swim year for Holmes, who struggled with Lake County in Low-A in 2019 and didn’t have formal training in 2020. Obviously Valera is a headliner here as the best outfield prospect in the system with the ability to hit for average, power, has a good throwing arm and can play all three outfield spots. Valera was the only one of the group at the alternate site in 2020 and 2021 is a big year for him with needed to be added to the 40 man roster.