2017 Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects Insider

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SEASON IN A SENTENCE: Despite a spate of injuries to key performers such as outfielder Michael Brantley (out most of the year with a bad shoulder) and righthanders Carlos Carrasco (broken finger) and Danny Salazar (forearm), the Indians won the American League Central, then swept through two playoffs rounds before losing to the Cubs in seven games in one of the most dramatic World Series of the 21st Century.

HIGH POINT: The Indians won 10 of their first 12 playoff games. First, they swept the Red Sox in the Division Series, and they won the first three games of the League Championship Series before dropping one game to Toronto. The Tribe closed out the Blue Jays to claim its first pennant since 1997, then won three of the first four games against the Cubs. The Indians’ high-water mark coming with a 7-2 Game Four win at Wrigley Field as Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller shackled the Cubs while Chicagoland native Jason Kipnis homered home three in the seventh to put the game away. Cleveland was one win away from its first World Series title since 1948.

LOW POINT: Down 5-1 in Game Seven, the Indians rallied, first with two runs scoring on a Jon Lester wild pitch, then with Rajai Davis tying the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth with a dramatic home run off Cubs reliever Aroldis Chapman. But in the 10th, reliever Bryan Shaw gave up two runs, and while Davis had an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to make it 8-7, reserve Mike Martinez grounded out to third base for the final out, leaving the Tribe agonizingly short again.

NOTABLE ROOKIES: Tyler Naquin took advantage of openings in the Cleveland outfield to seize the center field job and had one of the stronger years of any 2016 rookie, batting .296/.372/.514. His walk-off inside-the-park home run, and the resultant celebration, on Aug. 19 against Toronto was one of the Indians’ regular-season highlights. Righty Mike Clevinger tried but failed to secure a rotation spot, going 3-3, 5.26, though he made the postseason rosters. Lefty Ryan Merritt, who pitched just 11 regular-season innings, pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in starting Game Five of the ALCS.

KEY TRANSACTIONS: Instead of relying on their rotation in the postseason, the Indians tried to make every game Miller Time after dealing for lefthander Andrew Miller, giving up four prospects, including outfielder Clint Frazier and lefthander Justus Sheffield, for the dynamic reliever, who was unhittable in the playoffs until Game Seven, when the Cubs scored two runs off him. Outfielder Brandon Guyer, acquired for minor league outfielder Nathan Lukes, scored the Tribe’s last World Series run and hit .333 for the Indians, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Indians domestic affiliates went 383-313, with a .550 winning percentage that ranked fourth in the minors, while four clubs made the playoffs. Akron won the Double-A Eastern League, while a passel of prospects helped high Class A Lynchburg went 84-56 and was Carolina League runner-up. Catcher Francisco Mejia authored a 50-game hitting streak, longest in the minors since 1963, while playing at two Class A levels. Mejia hit .342/.382/.514 overall, ranking sixth in the minors in batting, while high Class A Lynchburg first baseman Bobby Bradley led the Carolina League with 29 home runs.

OPENING DAY PAYROLL: $83,639,399 (21st)

Best Hitter for Average Francisco Mejia
Best Power Hitter Bobby Bradley
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Yandy Diaz
Fastest Baserunner Gabriel Mejia
Best Athlete Will Benson
Best Fastball Julian Merryweather
Best Curveball Triston McKenzie
Best Slider Shawn Morimando
Best Changeup Adam Plutko
Best Control Ryan Merritt
Best Defensive Catcher Logan Ice
Best Defensive Infielder Erik Gonzalez
Best Infield Arm Erik Gonzalez
Best Defensive Outfielder Greg Allen
Best Outfield Arm Bradley Zimmer
Catcher Yan Gomes
First Base Bobby Bradley
Second Base Jason Kipnis
Third Base Jose Ramirez
Shortstop Francisco Lindor
Left Field Tyler Naquin
Center Field Greg Allen
Right Field Bradley Zimmer
Designated Hitter Francisco Mejia
No. 1 Starter Corey Kluber
No. 2 Starter Danny Salazar
No. 3 Starter Trevor Bauer
No. 4 Starter Carlos Carrasco
No. 5 Starter Triston McKenzie
Closer Cody Allen
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Adam Miller, rhp Did not play
2008 Adam Miller, rhp Did not play
2009 Carlos Santana, c Indians
2010 Carlos Santana, c Indians
2011 Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b Indians
2012 Francisco Lindor, ss Indians
2013 Francisco Lindor, ss Indians
2014 Francisco Lindor, ss Indians
2015 Francisco Lindor, ss Indians
2016 Bradley Zimmer, of Indians
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Beau Mills, 3b/1b Did not play
2008 Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b Indians
2009 Alex White, rhp Did not play
2010 Drew Pomeranz, lhp Red Sox
2011 Francisco Lindor, ss Indians
2012 Tyler Naquin, of Indians
2013 Clint Frazier, of Yankees
2014 Bradley Zimmer, of Indians
2015 Brady Aiken, lhp Indians
2016 Will Benson, of Indians
Danys Baez, 1999 $4,500,000
Clint Frazier, 2013 $3,500,000
Jeremy Guthrie, 2002 $3,000,000
Francisco Lindor, 2011 $2,650,000
Drew Pomeranz, 2010 $2,650,000

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