Triston McKenzie isn’t a name many Tribe fans may immediately recognize, but they might want to start getting acquainted because he on his way to becoming one of the future members of arguably the best rotation in baseball.
McKenzie was drafted by the Indians with the 42nd pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Weighing 165 pounds in a 6’5″ frame, McKenzie has a slight build, but make no mistake about his talent. He has already racked up 307 strikeouts in 238.1 innings in the past two seasons for Mahoning Valley (Rookie), Lake County (Class A) and Lynchburg (Advanced A).
In 25 starts with Lynchburg last season, McKenzie went 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA, while striking out 186 batter against 45 walks in 143 innings, averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Baseball America has labeled his fastball, change-up and curveball as plus pitches.
Despite his successes in the minors, McKenzie’s durability has been called into question because of his slight frame and the fact that he only has one complete game so far in his career. He has suppressed some of these talks during his 2017 season by not missing a start, averaging almost 6.0 innings per start and striking out at least 10 batters in six of his starts.
However, his durability concerns reared its ugly head this year due to McKenzie being put on the disabled list with forearm soreness. He was put on the disabled list March 31 and he has yet to make his 2018 season debut. Indians minor league director James Harris said McKenzie is back on the mound in Arizona after an extended rest.
“He’s in the process of getting (his arm) built back up,” Harris said. “I don’t want to put a hard date on it, but we’re hoping to get him to Akron sometime within the next month. Our hope is mid-to-late June.”
McKenzie is currently ranked as the number two prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization and when he finally makes his long-awaited return from injury, it is expected that he will be promoted to Double-A Akron while the team will slowly bring him along so as to not hinder his rehabilitation as well as his development into a major league pitcher.
Although McKenzie is only in his age-20 season, his fast progression to Double-A gives the Indians hope for the future and it won’t be long before he reaches The Show and begins the new wave of dominant pitchers in the Tribe’s rotation.