Prospect Urshela among 10 sent to Minor League camp

Promising young third baseman battled through back issue in spring

Prospect Urshela among 10 sent to Minor League camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona did not have the chance to see as much of third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela as he hoped this spring. A recent back issue robbed Urshela of some Cactus League starts, but the setback did not decrease the team's excitement over him.

On Tuesday morning, Urshela was among the 10 players shipped back to the Minor League camp, reducing Cleveland's Major League roster to 52 players. Francona saw a lot of Urshela during early-spring workouts, and enough of him in limited game action to see why the team's player development staff is eager to see how he develops.

"He's a kid that has kind of turned a corner on routines and work habits," Francona said of Urshela, who is ranked fourth among MLB.com's Top 30 Indians prospects. "I think you're seeing it translate to the field. Now, we'll let him go to Triple-A and we'll enjoy watching and seeing how good he can get.

"He's a really good third baseman. He can hit for power. We got to see a little bit of that this spring. He's striving for consistency in his at-bats, like all young players are. He's a pretty exciting young player for us."

The 23-year-old Urshela was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus, along with right-handers Shawn Armstrong and Charles Brewer. Righty Cody Anderson, lefty Ryan Merritt and catcher Tony Wolters were optioned to Double-A Akron. Catcher Jake Lowery, outfielder Tyler Naquin (No. 5 on MLB.com's Top 30 Indians prospects), righty Will Roberts and outfielder Jordan Smith were reassigned to Minor League camp.

"The whole group, the way they carried themselves was really good," Francona said.

Francona said he was particularly intrigued by the 23-year-old Merritt, who was named the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year last season.

"He's not the biggest kid in stature," Francona said. "But he really carried himself well. He didn't back down from anything. He's not the hardest thrower, but he's left-handed and the game doesn't speed up very much [on him]. It'll surprise me if he doesn't pitch in the Major Leagues."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.