As the different online outlets continue to release their organizational top prospect lists, some names tend to slip under the radar. The Cleveland Indians have some exceptionally young and exciting relievers in their farm system, including James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase. This makes it easy to forget about Robert Broom, a 23-year-old righty who was drafted in the 10th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft out of Mercer. After being drafted in 2018, he threw 5.1 innings in Rookie Ball, striking out nine to no walks while posting a 1.69 ERA and 0.70 FIP despite a .455 BABIP. He also posted a 90.9 ground-ball percentage.
While these impressive numbers should be taken with a grain of salt based on level and sample size, Broom pitched nearly as well after promotion to Class A. Over 23 innings to finish the 2018 season, he posted a 1.17 ERA and a 2.44 FIP with an 11.74 K/9 compared to a 3.91 BB/9. He didn’t allow a single home run throughout the entire season.
Despite these solid results, Broom wasn’t even mentioned among the top 50 prospects in the Indians system. He began 2019 in Class A Advanced and picked up right where he left off, pitching 24.2 innings of 0.36 ERA and 1.88 FIP ball with a 12.77 K/9, a 3.28 BB/9, a 54.9 percent ground-ball rate, and still no home runs allowed. Almost one year to the day that Broom was drafted by the Indians, he was promoted to Double-A Akron. Over 37.1 innings, he continued to impress, posting a 0.96 ERA and a 3.36 FIP.
While there were some definite peripheral declines, including an 8.44 K/9 and a .185 BABIP, the fact that he was able to maintain an ERA below one for 37.1 innings in the year of the juiced ball is impressive, regardless of his “luck.” While 3.36 isn’t quite as sparkling as his other numbers, Broom was in Double-A one year after being drafted, which is 2.3 years younger than his average competition.
One might wonder how a 23-year-old reliever with a 0.90 ERA over 90.1 career minor-league innings receives no attention. The biggest knock on Broom is the fact that he’s a submariner with a 90 mph fastball. Prospect analysts typically overlook relief pitchers without huge fastballs, but this kid has a lethal slider that is the reason for his high strikeout rates.
While the Indians haven’t announced their spring-training roster, Broom is a candidate to receive an invitation. Based on his performance and the Indians’ aggressive approach with promoting him, he could begin the 2020 season in Triple A and be among the first 2018 draftees to reach the majors.