2018 Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects
|Indians Top 10 Prospects|
|1. Francisco Mejia, C|
|2. Triston McKenzie, RHP|
|3. Bobby Bradley, 1B|
|4. Nolan Jones, 3B|
|5. Shane Bieber, RHP|
|6. Yu-Cheng Chang, SS|
|7. Willi Castro, SS|
|8. Greg Allen, OF|
|9. George Valera, OF|
|10. Will Benson, OF|
For each organization, we identify the 10 prospects with the highest ceilings, with consideration given to the likelihood of reaching those ceilings.
To qualify as a prospect, a position player cannot exceed 130 big league at-bats, while a pitcher cannot exceed 50 innings or 30 relief appearances. These thresholds mirror major league rookie qualifications, albeit without regard for major league service time.
Trending: 🔻 Graduations and a few trades have diminished the depth in the system.
SYSTEM OVERVIEWStrengths: The Indians have a bevy of exciting young hitters throughout the system, stretching from Francisco Mejia and Greg Allen on the cusp of the big leagues all the way to Nolan Jones and Will Benson at the short-season level. They also remain adept at developing middle infielders, with Yu-Cheng Chang, Willi Castro and Erik Gonzalez all in the upper levels.
Weaknesses: Triston McKenzie looks like he’ll give the Indians a homegrown starter, but they don’t have as much pitching depth in the minors. It is a departure from recent years, when the system regularly churned out impact arms such as Cody Allen and Danny Salazar or trade pickups Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Righthander Shane Bieber took a big step forward in 2017, but the same can’t be said for pitchers at lower levels, such as Brady Aiken or Juan Hillman.
BEST TOOLS🔸Best Hitter for Average: Francisco Mejia. 🔸Best Power Hitter: Bobby Bradley. 🔸Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Nolan Jones. 🔸Fastest Baserunner: Quentin Holmes. 🔸Best Athlete: Will Benson. 🔸Best Fastball: Julian Merryweather. 🔸Best Curveball: Triston McKenzie. 🔸Best Slider: Aaron Civale. 🔸Best Changeup: Eli Morgan. 🔸Best Control: Shane Bieber. 🔸Best Defensive Catcher: Logan Ice. 🔸Best Defensive INF: Erik Gonzalez. 🔸Best INF Arm: Nolan Jones. 🔸Best Defensive OF: Greg Allen. 🔸Best OF Arm: Johnathan Rodriguez.
PROJECTED 2021 LINEUP
(Listed with 2021 season age)🔸C Francisco Mejia (25) 🔸1B Bobby Bradley (24) 🔸2B Jose Ramirez (28) 🔸3B Nolan Jones (22) 🔸SS Francisco Lindor (27) 🔸LF Tyler Naquin (29) 🔸CF Greg Allen (28) 🔸RF Bradley Zimmer (28) 🔸DH Yu-Cheng Chang (28) 🔸SP Corey Kluber (34) 🔸SP Triston McKenzie (23) 🔸SP Trevor Bauer (30) 🔸SP Mike Clevinger (30) 🔸SP Shane Bieber (25) 🔸CL Cody Allen (32)
TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE(Listed with 2017 organization)
🔸2008: RHP Adam Miller (Did Not Play) | WAR: N/A 🔸2009: C Carlos Santana (Indians) | WAR: 24.5 🔸2010: C Carlos Santana (Indians) | WAR: 24.5 🔸2011: 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians) | WAR: 8.8 🔸2012: SS Francisco Lindor (Indians) | WAR: 15.8 🔸2013: SS Francisco Lindor (Indians) | WAR: ** 🔸2014: SS Francisco Lindor (Indians) | WAR: ** 🔸2015: SS Francisco Lindor (Indians) | WAR: ** 🔸2016: OF Bradley Zimmer (Indians) | WAR: 1.5 🔸2017: C Francisco Mejia (Indians) | Top 10
TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE(Listed with 2017 organization)
🔸2008: 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians) | WAR: 8.8 🔸2009: RHP Alex White (American Association) | WAR: -0.4 🔸2010: LHP Drew Pomeranz (Red Sox) | WAR: 11.3 🔸2011: SS Francisco Lindor (Indians) | WAR: 15.8 🔸2012: OF Tyler Naquin (Indians) | WAR: 0.9 🔸2013: OF Clint Frazier (Yankees) | WAR: -0.4 🔸2014: OF Bradley Zimmer (Indians) | WAR: 1.5 🔸2015: LHP Brady Aiken (Indians) | WAR: N/A 🔸2016: OF Will Benson (Indians) | Top 10 🔸2017: OF Quentin Holmes (Indians) | N/A
|1. Francisco Mejia, C 📹|
|BORN: Oct. 27, 1995|
|B-T: B-R | HT: 5-10 | WT: 175|
|SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2015|
|SIGNED BY: Ramon Pena|
|MINORS (2 teams): .297/.346/.490 | 14 HR |7 SB | 347 AB|
Scouting Report: Mejia has long been known for his hitting ability, and the switch-hitter consistently makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. He has matured as a hitter to use the whole field to hit, instead of relying on the pull-oriented approach he had when he was younger. His bat speed gives him more raw power than his lean 5-foot-10 frame would suggest, but he more typically drives balls into the gaps than over the fence. He has an aggressive approach and doesn’t walk much, but his excellent feel for the barrel means he also doesn’t strike out much and is comfortable working behind in the count. Mejia has made strides defensively, has elite arm strength and has become a good receiver. He has gotten comfortable speaking English, a key skill for him to work with his pitchers, and has developed more consistency behind the plate. For all his progress defensively, however, Mejia’s bat remains ahead of his glove. Because his bat isn’t far off from being ready for the big leagues, and because the Indians have Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, a pair of excellent defensive catchers, in Cleveland, Mejia went to the AFL to get experience at third base. He is naturally still learning the position but he will continue to see action at the hot corner in 2018.
🔸Projected Future Grades On 20-80 Scouting Scale Hit: 60. Power: 45. Speed: 40. Field: 50. Arm: 80.The Future: Mejia will open 2018 at Triple-A Columbus, and if he continues to hit the way he has throughout his career, he will find his way into the big league lineup during the summer. His long-term future remains behind the plate, but his added defensive versatility will help him as he breaks into the majors.
|2. Triston McKenzie, RHP 📹|
|BORN: Aug. 2, 1997.|
|B-T: R-R| HT: 6-5 | WT: 165|
|DRAFTED: HS—Royal Palm Beach, Fla., 2015 (1st round supplemental).|
|SIGNED BY: Juan Alvarez.|
|MINORS (2 teams): 12-6, 3.46 ERA | 186 SO | 45 BB | 143 IP|
Scouting Report: McKenzie’s fastball can get up to 95 mph and averaged about 92 in 2017. He held that velocity throughout the season, and while it would dip during starts, he also showed the ability to reach back for more at the end of his outings. His fastball plays up and gets swings and misses thanks to the extension in his delivery and the high spin rate on the pitch. He also has a feel for spinning his curveball, which can be an out pitch. His changeup isn’t as advanced but has the potential to be above-average. McKenzie needs to improve his routines and physique to allow him to manage a starter’s workload.
The Future: McKenzie is speeding toward the big leagues and has the upside to be a frontline starter. He will advance to Double-A Akron in 2018 for his first taste of the upper minors.
|3. Bobby Bradley, 1B 📹|
|BORN: May 29, 1996.|
|B-T: L-R| HT: 6-1 | WT: 225.|
|DRAFTED: HS—Gulfport, Miss., 2014 (3rd round)|
|SIGNED BY: Mike Bradford.|
|MINORS: .251/.331/.465 | 23 HR | 3 SB | 467 AB|
Scouting Report: Bradley’s raw power is the best in the system, and he has shown he is adept at getting to it in games. He has a strong, physical frame and creates excellent bat speed that allows him to drive the ball out to all fields. That power comes with a lot of swing and miss, but he cut his strikeout rate in 2017 from 29 percent to a much more manageable 22 percent. Bradley is a well below-average runner with an average arm, limiting him to first base.
The Future: Bradley will advance to Triple-A Columbus in 2018, where he could take advantage of Huntington Park’s hitter-friendly dimensions. He has the potential to become a middle-of-the-order hitter.
|4. Nolan Jones, 3B 📹|
|BORN: May 7, 1998.|
|B-T: L-R | HT: 6-3 | WT: 195|
|DRAFTED: HS—Bensalem, Pa., 2016 (2nd round).|
|SIGNED BY: Mike Kanen.|
|MINORS: .317/.430/.482 | 4 HR | 1 SB | 218 AB|
Scouting Report: Jones has an easy lefthanded swing and uses the whole field to hit. He is a patient hitter who led the NYP in with 43 walks. He reduced his strikeout rate, but his patience means he works many deep counts and will always strike out a fair amount. He has proven to be an advanced hitter but also has above-average raw power that he is still learning to get to consistently in games. As he physically matures, he projects to hit for plus power. Jones fits the third-base profile, but he still has work to do to ensure he can stick at the hot corner. He has plus arm strength but needs to improve his glove work and infield actions. If he moves, his athleticism and average speed will play in right field.
The Future: Jones provides plenty of upside. He will get his first taste of full-season ball in 2018 when he opens the year at low Class A Lake County.
|5. Shane Bieber, RHP|
|BORN: May 31, 1995.|
|B-T: R-R. | HT: 6-3 | WT: 195|
|DRAFTED: UC Santa Barbara, 2016 (4th round).|
|SIGNED BY: Carlos Muniz.|
|MINORS (3 teams): 10-5, 2.86 ERA | 162 SO | 10 BB | 173.1 IP|
Scouting Report: Bieber came to pro ball with a reputation for relying more on his command than his stuff to succeed. He has continued to show above-average control as a professional, and his walk rate of 0.5 per nine innings in 2017 led all full-season minor leaguers. But Bieber is starting to outgrow the command-and-control label, because his stuff made a jump in 2017. His fastball, which sat around 90 mph in college, now sits 92-94 and touched 96. His curveball got sharper and more consistent, developing into his best secondary pitch. He also throws a slider and changeup, which can both be average offerings. He has a clean, easy delivery and has shown he can handle a heavy workload—his 173.1 innings led all minor leaguers in 2017.
The Future: Bieber made one of the biggest jumps in the Indians’ system in 2017 and now profiles as a potential No. 3 starter. He will advance to Triple-A Columbus in 2018 and could pitch his way into the big league mix.
|6. Yu-Cheng Chang, SS 📹|
|BORN: Aug. 18, 1995.|
|B-T: R-R | HT: 6-1 | WT: 175.|
|SIGNED: Taiwan, 2013.|
|SIGNED BY: Allen Lin/Jayson Lynn.|
|MINORS: .220/.312/.461 | 24 HR | 11 SB | 440 AB|
Scouting Report: Chang has solid all-around offensive tools and is now tapping into his raw power. He has produced 104 extra-base hits in the last two years, more than half his total hits (205) in that time. His swing is still geared to hit line drives, but he has done a better job of incorporating his lower half into his swing and understanding what pitches he can drive. He is a patient hitter, but his willingness to work deep counts leads to an elevated strikeout rate, which spiked to a career-high 26 percent in 2017. Chang’s tools are good enough to play at shortstop, though his future as an everyday player may be elsewhere. He is an average defender with average or better speed and arm strength.
The Future: Chang has exclusively played shortstop in full-season ball, but that will likely change at Triple-A Columbus in 2018. With Francisco Lindor holding down shortstop in Cleveland, and with the Indians’ predilection for versatility, Chang will likely begin gaining exposure to other infield positions.
|7. Willi Castro, SS|
|BORN: April 24, 1997.|
|B-T: B-R| HT: 6-1 | WT: 165|
|SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2013.|
|SIGNED BY: Ramon Pena/Felix Nivar.|
|MINORS: .290/.337/.424 | 11 HR | 19 SB | 468 AB|
Scouting Report: A switch-hitter, Castro sprays line drives from both sides of the plate. He started coming into his power more in 2017, when he hit 11 home runs to more than double his previous career total. He is an aggressive hitter, limiting his walks, but he controls the strike zone well and makes a lot of contact. He has above-average speed and is a threat on the bases. Defensively, he has an above-average arm, good hands and sound infield actions at shortstop. He still has to work on his consistency after making 25 errors in each of the last two years, but his tools and instincts give him a good chance to stay at shortstop.
The Future: Castro is a confident player whose approach to the game has matured in the last year. He will advance to Double-A Akron in 2018.
|8. Greg Allen, OF 📹|
|BORN: March 15, 1993.|
|B-T: B-R | HT: 6-0 | WT: 175|
|DRAFTED: San Diego State, 2014 (6th round).|
|SIGNED BY: Ryan Thompson|
|MINORS: .264/.344/.357 | 2 HR | 21 SB | 258 AB|
Scouting Report: Allen’s game is built around his plus speed. He has good on-base skills, is a disciplined hitter and has walked about as often as he has struck out in his career. His approach at the plate is geared toward making contact, limiting his power potential and some of his offensive impact. He is a good baserunner and is always a threat to steal. Allen’s speed also plays well in center field, where he is a plus defender. He takes good routes, has an above-average arm and has the speed to cover plenty of ground.
The Future: Allen doesn’t fit the typical corner outfield profile, but with Bradley Zimmer set to man center field in Cleveland, that may be where the Indians ask him to play. He will open 2018 either in Cleveland or at Triple-A Columbus.
|9. George Valera, OF 📹|
|BORN: Nov. 13, 2000.|
|B-T: L-L | HT: 5-10 | WT: 160|
|SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2017.|
|SIGNED BY: Jhonathan Leyba/Domingo Toribio.|
|MINORS: Did not play -- Signed 2018 contract.|
Scouting Report: Valera was one of the best hitters in the international class and drew comparisons with Nationals outfield prospect Juan Soto. He has a loose, compact swing and keeps his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. His feel for the barrel, bat-to-ball skills, pitch recognition and discipline all help him to make consistent, hard contact and give him the kind of hitting ability the Indians look for. He has above-average raw power and gets to it in games, though he has more of a hit-over-power profile. Valera profiles as a corner outfielder with average speed and arm strength.
The Future: Valera will make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2018 as he begins his path to reaching his considerable ceiling.
|10. Will Benson, OF 📹|
|BORN: June 16, 1998.|
|B-T: L-L | HT: 6-5 | WT: 215|
|DRAFTED: HS—Atlanta, 2016 (1st round).|
|SIGNED BY: C.T. Bradford.|
|MINORS: .238/.347/.475 | 10 HR | 7 SB | 202 IP|
Scouting Report: Benson produces elite bat speed thanks to his strength and quick hands, and he turns that bat speed into tremendous raw power, rivaling Bobby Bradley for the best in the system. He is learning to get to that power more consistently and in 2017 led the short-season New York-Penn League in home runs (10). His power comes with a lot of swing-and-miss, however, and he has struck out in one-third of his plate appearances. He has frequently tinkered with his swing but seemed to be more comfortable in the second half. Those adjustments, as well as his ability to work a walk, led to some optimism that he will cut down his strikeout rate. He is an excellent athlete who runs well for his size, particularly once he is underway. He has a plus arm and is a solid defender in right field.
The Future: As a physical, athletic, lefthanded-hitting outfielder from Atlanta, Benson is often compared with Jason Heyward. Benson has a long way to go to reach his ceiling and will advance to full-season ball when he opens 2018 at low Class A Lake County.
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