The Cleveland Indians have spent this season trying to recover from an inconsistent offense and the loss of three starting pitchers to serious injuries.
By acquiring speedy center fielder Myles Straw at the July 30 MLB trade deadline, the Indians may have quietly and unceremoniously dramatically helped themselves for the future.
The right-handed hitting Straw, who turns 27 in October, came to Cleveland from the Houston Astros in a trade for right-handed major league reliever Phil Maton and prospect catcher Yainer Diaz. Both players were well regarded in the Indians organization, and both should find success with the Astros.
Straw has a slight, 5-10, 178 pound frame. He was a 12th round Astros selection in the 2015 MLB First Year Player draft out of Johns River State College in Palatka, Florida. He and Texas Rangers infielder Nate Lowe provided an excellent duo at Johns River.
The Astros gave Straw a $100,000 signing bonus. He made his big league debut at the age of 23, when he was promoted to the parent Astros on September 15, 2018.
Now in his 4th big league season, Straw is already making a strong case to become the everyday center fielder for Cleveland. Barring injury, when the club begins next season as the Cleveland Guardians, there is every possibility Straw will be penciled into the lineup regardless of the opposing pitcher. He has enough skill on both sides of the ball to assume a regular presence at the top of the lineup.
Scouting Myles Straw:
Using a measured swing, Straw knows his power limitations. He isn’t the type of hitter that will become enamored with the home run. Instead, Straw selects pitches he can drive and uses an inside-out swing to take a pitch to the opposite field. He has enough pure speed to hit the gaps with line-drive darts and stretch a single to a double or a double to a triple.
Straw’s plate discipline and good eye have resulted in solid contact with few strikeouts. He knows the strike zone well, and accepts his share of walks.
On a traditional 20-80 scouting scale, Straw’s speed grades as a 70. He can fly, and he can make the opposition pay attention to what his disruptive speed can accomplish.
Both Cleveland manager Terry Francona, and now his interim replacement DeMarlo Hale have used the stolen base as a successful weapon. Straw is a base stealing threat every time he reaches first base. Pitchers will have to be mindful of his running speed and good instincts.
There is a strong possibility Straw could reach the 25 stolen base mark in a season. Perhaps even more.
Defensively, while scouting Straw when he was with the Astros, this scout saw an outfielder that didn’t take the best routes on baseballs, and at times got a late start tracking the ball off the bat. However, his impressive speed can make up ground quickly. In his brief stint with the Indians, he has already shown an ability to cover lots of territory in center field, making difficult plays on hard hit balls.
Straw has a very strong, accurate arm from the outfield. If he had more power, he would be a very strong candidate to play right field, a traditional power position. But Straw best fits in center, right where the Indians are playing him.
The Cleveland Indians (future Guardians) long search for the “right” center fielder seems to have ended.
The Indians traded two promising players, big league pitcher Phil Maton and prospect catcher Yainer Diaz for Myles Straw, possibly ending an effort to solve a long-standing hole in center field.
Once seen as a super utility player due to his outstanding speed, contact hitting bat and solid defense, the newly acquired Straw was not always seen as having enough power or deep enough tools to play every day. The trade to Cleveland may have changed that view.
The future Cleveland Guardians have long tried to fill a void in center field by providing trials and auditions for several candidates at the critical position as the “quarterback” of the outfield. The team may have found the right player to play center field in Myles Straw.
Currently paid only $590,400 according to Fangraphs.com, if there are no structural changes regarding service time and free agency currently being negotiated in the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, Straw’s first of three arbitration years won’t begin until 2023. It is quite possible Cleveland may try to sign him to a long-term contract before he reaches free agency in 2026. Much, however, will depend upon the stipulations of the new MLB Basic Agreement, which could begin next season.