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Lindor's star was first born when his youth teams won 8- and 9-year old Puerto Rican championships. However, he and his father Miguel had designs on Francisco having a pro career from early on, which motivated the family to relocate to Florida when Lindor was 12, seeking to find him better competition. He settled at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, an international boarding school, and went on to a standout prep career, starring with USA Baseball's 16U national team. Lindor served as team captain for the American squad that won gold at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Taiwan . The Indians hadn't taken a high school player in the first round since 2001 but broke from tradition to select Lindor eighth overall in 2011, signing him for $2.9 million. Just 17 years old at the time he was drafted, he has consistently performed despite being young for his league throughout his time in the minors. He was the youngest position player to play in the Triple-A International League in 2014, yet held his own following his promotion from Double-A Akron in late July . There are plusses almost everywhere with Lindor, both in terms of his tools and his intangibles. At the plate, he takes line-drive swings and makes consistent hard contact to all fields. He has outstanding hand-eye coordination and feel for the strike zone, which along with his speed allows his hit tool to play up. A switch-hitter since age 13, he's a little more comfortable from the right side--his natural side--but the club is confident he'll be a factor from both sides of the plate. Power is the one tool that won't be Lindor's forte, though he did show more of it last season than ever before. He got noticeably stronger in the weight room and worked to get in better hitting positions to tap more into his strength. He would at times get caught up in trying to pull the ball, but for the most part he shows an understanding of how pitchers want to attack him and what pitches he can drive. He has all the tools to be an aboveaverage shortstop, with smooth hands and a strong arm. He has a knack for anticipation and the firststep quickness to always be in the right place at the right time. The team has long been enamored of his work ethic and leadership qualities. Jose Ramirez played well enough at shortstop down the stretch for Cleveland in 2014 that the team doesn't feel it necessarily has to hand the job to Lindor for Opening Day. So even though he may open the year back at Columbus, he'll certainly make his big league debut at some point in 2015, barring injury. Whenever he does take over at shortstop for the Indians, he should stay there for years to come.
Zimmer and older brother Kyle got to play together at San Francisco in 2012, the year Kyle became the fifth overall pick in the draft by the Royals. Bradley carried with him that experience of seeing how his brother dealt with the pressure and became a first-round pick himself two years later. Bradley broke out as a sophomore, then earned first-team All-America honors as a junior, when he hit .368/.461/.573 for the Dons en route to being the 21st overall pick and signing for $1.9 million. Zimmer has the makings of a five-tool player. He has a calm approach at the plate and outstanding bat-to-ball skills. His power shows up more in the form of doubles for now, but he has the leverage in his swing to drive balls a long way when he gets his arms extended. He has a lanky, superbly athletic frame and catches eyes with his long strides on the bases and in center field. Scouts who watched Zimmer in college were mixed about whether he could stay in center, but the Indians like what they've seen. He's able to cover plenty of ground and has good instincts, and his plus arm strength would fit in right field. Zimmer reached low Class A Lake County at the tail end of his pro debut and should be advanced enough to handle high Class A in his first full season. He has all the ingredients to move though the system quickly and be an impact player on both sides of the ball.
Frazier weathered a difficult first full season. The fifth overall pick in 2013 after being the Baseball America High School Player of the Year--and the recipient of the largest draft bonus in franchise history at $3.5 million-- had a challenging year at low Class A Lake County. A pulled hamstring held him back in spring training and he took some time to get his bat on track, though he did recover to hit .282/.367/.448 with nine homers in the second half. Frazier's pure tools stand out, especially at the plate. His hands are extremely fast and he whips his bat through the zone, which, combined with strong forearms, allows him generate plenty of raw power. His approach is another matter, for his 161 strikeouts were the third most in the Midwest League. He does show some ability to recognize pitches but needs to manage his at-bats better. By the end of the season, though, Frazier had made progress at staying back on balls and not getting to his front side too early. He's an above-average runner and the Indians would like to keep him in center field, though his play there needs more polish as well. His arm strength would play in right. One of Frazier or Bradley Zimmer will have to move off center field if the two are teammates next season at high Class A Lynchburg. The Indians remain high on Frazier's loud tools, but his rough edges need refinement.
The Indians gained an extra 2014 first-round pick, No. 31 overall, as compensation for losing free agent Ubaldo Jimenez. They spent it on Sheffield, marking the third time in four years they've taken a high schooler in the first round. He passed on a chance to go to Vanderbilt and pitch alongside older brother Jordan, himself a highly regarded prospect, and signed with Cleveland for $1.6 million. Sheffield offers an exciting combination of power stuff from the left side and athleticism on the mound. His fastball typically sits in the low 90s with late life, but he was able to run it up to 95-96 mph in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He throws a hard, late-breaking slider that he can locate for a strike or use as a chase pitch. He shows good feel for a curveball as well, and the Indians believe it could also be an out-pitch in the future. His changeup is behind his other pitches but on par with most prep pitchers. Despite standing in at 5-foot-10, he nonetheless does a good job of getting down the hill with power to leverage balls down in the zone. From an ability standpoint, Sheffield is ready to tackle low Class A Lake County in his first full season, though the Indians might hold him back to control his workload. He has the upside to be a No. 2 starter if everything comes together.
Papi turned down the Angels as a 30th-round pick out of high school and went on to star at Virginia. He won the Atlantic Coast Conference batting title at .381 his sophomore year and tied for the league's home run lead with 11 as a junior, when his Virginia team spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country and advanced to the College World Series finals before losing to Vanderbilt. The 38th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Papi signed with Cleveland in early July for $1.25 million. Papi already had a professional approach while he was in college, proving to be an intelligent, selective hitter. When he does swing, he makes consistent hard contact and looks to spray the ball all over the field. Virginia's cavernous home ballpark suppressed his power production, but he has strength and has earned plus power grades from scouts in the past. Papi began his college career in the outfield but mainly played first base for Virginia in 2014. The Indians at least want to give him a shot in the outfield again, because he's a fair athlete who posts occasional average run times to first base. He threw 90 mph off the mound in high school, so his arm plays in the outfield also. First base will always be a fallback option for Papi, but his bat is advanced enough that he could move through the system quickly. He, Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier should form an exciting heart of the order at high Class A Lynchburg in 2015.
Naquin finished his college career with back-to-back Big 12 Conference batting titles at Texas A&M and netted himself a $1.75 million bonus as the 15th overall pick in 2012. He has kept hitting as a pro and was coming on strong at Double-A Akron in 2014, hitting .333 in June, until a stray pitch broke his right hand on June 27, ending his season. Naquin always has been a handsy hitter, but he made an adjustment to broaden his stance in the middle of 2013. Things really started clicking when he hit .339 in the Arizona Fall League, and he continued to improve in 2014. He created more leverage in his swing and consistently stayed up the middle. He takes a quiet approach in the box and hits to all fields with a line-drive swing. Naquin shows pop at times, too, though he'll likely max out near 12 homers. He played right field in college but has moved to center as a pro. He runs well and his routes and jumps are solid. He has a plus arm that would play well in right field, and opponents already think twice about running on him, though he lacks ideal power for a corner. Some scouts are less enamored of Naquin's ability to stick in center and see him as a fourth outfielder. Naquin can be a top-of-the-order hitter and everyday center fielder if everything comes together, and he probably will begin 2015 at Triple-A Columbus, where he'll share center field with James Ramsey.
The Indians have been aggressive with Mejia since signing him for $350,000 in 2012, skipping him over the Dominican Summer League in 2013 and sending him to short-season Mahoning Valley in 2014, where he was one of the New York-Penn League's youngest players. He's been up for the challenge, however, handling the demands of being the Scrappers' everyday catcher and cleanup hitter. Mejia idolizes Carlos Santana and frequently draws comparisons with him as a switch-hitting catching prospect in the Indians system. He has a natural feel for hitting and innate bat control, allowing him to drive almost anything. The Indians hope to see him dial back his aggressive approach, for the ease with which he makes contact sometimes works against him. Mejia generates plenty of bat speed and should develop average or better power from both sides. His rocket throwing arm might be his loudest tool, garnering some 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. Other aspects of his catching are unrefined, with the Indians placing particular emphasis on getting his game-calling and his English up to par. Though he has a compact frame, Mejia runs well for a catcher. Mejia has all kinds of upside, perhaps as much as any player in the organization, but he's also several years away. He should get his first chance to tackle full-season ball in 2015 at low Class A Lake County.
Francisco Lindor isn't the only shortstop prospect for whom the Indians harbor high hopes. Gonzalez enjoyed a huge winter in the Dominican League and used it as a springboard into 2014. Just a .264 career hitter entering the year, Gonzalez hit a combined .309/.353/.428 at high Class A Carolina and Double-A Akron, where he moved when Lindor moved up to Triple-A. Gonzalez has been noted more for his defensive prowess in the past, but his bat has begun to catch up. He began incorporating a high leg kick two years ago and has gotten more comfortable with it and improved his timing. He generates good bat speed and has wiry strength, though his approach isn't geared for power. His plate discipline made progress in 2014 but remains his biggest area for improvement. His defense remains his calling card. He has an athletic frame'tall with long, lanky levers--and a strong arm. He makes plays look easy, ranging well to both sides. He also began putting his above-average speed to better use on the bases, reaching the 20-steal mark for the first time in his career. The Indians want to keep Gonzalez at shortstop as long as possible, which will require staying a level behind Lindor. If Gonzalez eventually does have to move, his strong arm would allow him to handle either second or third base.
The Indians paid Bradley an over-slot $912,500 bonus as a third-round pick in 2014 to entice him to turn pro rather than go to Louisiana State, and it paid immediate dividends. Despite turning 18 a week before the draft, Bradley became the Rookie-level Arizona League's first triple crown winner since 1989 by batting .361 with eight homers and 50 RBIs. He won league MVP honors and also led the league in slugging percentage (.652). Scouts typically view high school first basemen with heavy skepticism, but Bradley has the tools to overcome the bias. He has plenty of bat speed and impressive raw power from the left side. He knows the strike zone and hits with controlled aggression. His swing is balanced, and he keeps the bat in the hitting zone a long time, while showing a feel for taking balls the other way. Bradley improved his physique between his junior and senior years of high school, and the Indians believe he still can add more strength. He tried his hand at catching as a senior, but the Indians will develop him at first base, though he needs work there as well. He runs well for a first baseman, at least for now. Bradley could be an impact bat down the road, though he'll need time, like all high school players. Provided he keeps up with his conditioning and hits well enough in spring training, he should open his first full season at low Class A Lake County.
Anderson didn't begin to bear down on pitching until arriving at Feather River (Calif.) JC and finding he might not be able to make the team as an outfielder, his main position in high school. His pitching career picked up steam in 2013 when he earned high Class A Carolina League pitcher of the year honors, but his encore with Double-A Akron was disappointing. His velocity didn't degrade, for he still sat in the low 90s and topped out at 95 mph with life. His slider and curveball are both currently below-average, though the slider is a little further along. The slider is a hard, cutter-like offering, while the curve is softer with more downer action. He also throws a sinking changeup but doesn't use it often--it's too firm at about 86-88 mph. Anderson needs to work down in the zone more consistently and just pitch more assertively. There were times last year when he tried to be too fine and failed to attack hitters. Anderson appears destined for a repeat trip to Akron, though he should certainly get a crack at Triple-A Columbus if he pitches well. He has the potential to be a back-end starter, but he has many items to check off his to-do list.
Urshela long has been hailed within the system as a standout defensive player who needed his bat to come forward, which it did in 2014. He hit his way out of Double-A Akron in early May and then held his own as a 22-year-old at Triple-A Columbus. The Indians rewarded Urshela by adding him to the 40-man roster after the season. Introducing a slight leg kick last season allowed him to see the ball longer and in turn be more selective as far as picking out pitches to drive. Urshela has a muscular frame and can put on shows in batting practice, though his in-game power rates closer to average. He's never struggled to make contact, but by putting the ball in play so often, he rarely walks. Defense still is where Urshela shines most brightly, for he shows clean actions at third base and a plus throwing arm. He ranges well but is a below-average runner overall. Urshela figures to spend the bulk of 2015 at Columbus.
Ramsey spurned the Twins as a 22nd-round pick in 2011 to return for his senior season at Florida State. Scouts have been divided on Ramsey's potential going back to his college days. He may lack a true carrying tool but should be well-rounded. He has an intelligent approach and doesn't try to do too much at the plate. Neither his hit nor power tools grade out as better than average. He's an above-average runner, though that speed hasn't translated into stolen bases, and the Indians can see him being an outstanding defender in center field. Ramsey has an average throwing arm and can handle any of the three outfield positions if need be. After being the odd-man out in a deep St. Louis outfield picture, Ramsey gets a fresh look with Cleveland, though he has no obvious avenue to the Indians' lefty-heavy lineup. He'll split time in center field with Naquin at Triple-A Columbus in 2015.
The Indians have been one of the most active teams scouting players in Taiwan, with reliever C.C. Lee being their most notable success so far, and they ponied up $500,000 to sign Chang in June 2013. Few who watch Chang would guess he's just 19 years old. He generates plenty of bat speed, while his swing draws comparisons with David Wright's. He has a feel for the barrel and should continue to add strength, giving him potentially above-average power. Scouts can see him moving to third base down the road after he spent the bulk of his time at shortstop in the Rookie-level Arizona League. His strong throwing arm should keep him on the left side of the infield. Chang's speed is average to a tick above and his range is solid for now, while at the same time he earns raves for his ability to slow the game down and not look rushed. That maturity gives him a chance to open 2015 at low Class A Lake County as a teenager.
Brown became one of just two Minnesota high school pitchers taken inside the top two rounds of the draft in the last 30 years when the Indians snagged him at No. 79 overall in 2012 and signed him $800,000. After struggling to find a comfortable delivery in 2013, Brown was able to harness his effort level and incorporate his lower half much better as he made a second run at Lake County. His command was much improved, allowing him to get the most out of his four-pitch mix. His fastball and curveball have the makings of being plus pitches, the heater sitting in the low 90s and getting up to 96 mph with slight cutting action, while his hammer curve is the best in the system. He shows some feel for a changeup that has some armside life, and he also throws an early-count slider. The Indians like Brown's chances to stay in the rotation with his durable, athletic frame. He'll move up to high Class A Lynchburg in 2015.
Perez played the 2013 season while afflicted with Bell's Palsy, a nerve condition that caused temporary paralysis on one side of his face. Healthy in 2014, Perez enjoyed a breakout year and served as Yan Gomes' understudy in Cleveland after being called up in July. Perez has long been known for his defense, but his offense took a major step forward in 2014 and gives him a chance to be more than just a defense-first backup. He shows outstanding bat-to-ball skills and takes short swings, allowing him to let the ball travel deep in the zone. Aside from being healthy and actually able to see the ball out of both eyes, the other big difference for Perez in 2014 was a more aggressive swing rather than a contact-oriented one, indicating he could have close to average power. Perez remains a standout defender. He calls a good game, receives the ball well and has an above-average throwing arm. He'll reprise his role as Gomes' backup in 2015.
The Indians drafted Moncrief, a two-way player in high school and junior college, as a power-armed pitcher in 2008, but his mound career came to an end a year later after he compiled a 7.75 ERA over two stints in Rookie ball. He has fared much better since converting to the outfield in 2010. The Indians laud Moncrief 's ability to make adjustments over the course of a season, and his second-half turnaround in 2014 boiled down to simplifying his approach and showing the plate discipline he had the year before. He has good hands and a short swing that should enable him to hit for solid averages. He'll show aboveaverage raw power, primarily to his pull side. How much of that power he'll be able to tap into in games is more of a question. He's a serviceable defender in right field, for he runs well for his size and still has a plus throwing arm. Moncrief remains on the 40-man roster, but with no openings in the big league outfield, he'll have to bide his time at Columbus.
Shoulder surgery cost Adams the entire 2012 season and derailed his career as a starter, but he's taken well to the bullpen and made his big league debut in 2014. Adams attacks hitters with tailing fastballs in the upper 90s. He was clocked at 96-98 mph last season, touched 99 and has hit 100 in the past. He threw a curve and a slider as a starter but has gone to one breaking ball now--more of a slurvy slider. It's a quality pitch, with depth and sharp break in the upper 80s. Adams still throws his changeup and has feel for it, though it's clearly his third option. He did a better job of throwing strikes in 2014 than ever before, posting the lowest walk rate (2.7 per nine innings) of his career at Triple-A Columbus. He does need to do a better job of staying down in the zone, because his stuff flattens out when he elevates. Adams should be in the mix for the big league bullpen again in 2015.
Aguilar got to be winter-ball teammates with Bobby Abreu and Alex Gonzalez in the Venezuelan League following the 2013 season. The two long-time big leaguers helped him to mature his approach, and Aguilar took those lessons into the 2014 season.Aguilar remains the same hulking presence in the batter's box and has big-time righthanded power. He's at his best when he stays within himself and uses the whole field, which frees his hands and allows him to show his power to all parts of the park. His swing does get long at times and he'll start pulling off balls, though he shows good bat speed. A below-average runner and thrower, Aguilar handles himself well enough at first base to not be a defensive liability. With no clear path to everyday playing time in Cleveland, Aguilar may find himself back in Columbus in 2015. The Indians value having his righthanded power around, given how many of their best hitters are lefties.
The Indians may have pushed Rodriguez too much when they sent him to Lake County in 2013 for his first full season, but he punished Midwest League pitchers in his encore, tying for the league home run title (22) and leading it in extra-base hits (57). Rodriguez is cut from the same cloth as Jesus Aguilar as a hulking righthanded-hitting first baseman. His swing doesn't always look picturesque, but he has a fine bat path and he can cover all parts of the plate. He has plenty of bat speed and raw power. Rodriguez piled up his share of strikeouts but was willing to take his walks as well. The onus will be on his bat to carry him. He has worked hard on his conditioning and could be an average defender, but that will never be his calling card. Rodriguez will move up to high Class A Lynchburg in 2015.
Primarily a reliever in college, Kime's repertoire was deep enough that the Indians moved him to the rotation. He sits in the low 90s and tops out at 95 mph with a physical, durable body. Kime's curveball is his best pitch, featuring bite and top-to-bottom depth. He showed improved confidence and feel for his fading changeup as well. The Indians deemphasized his fourth pitch, a slider, early in 2014, but it's useable and did help him once he started throwing it more. Kime tended to get too high with his lead arm in his delivery, and the Indians worked with him to get in better position to be able to repeat his mechanics and thus his control, which will be crucial given that his fastball is fairly straight. Kime has the ingredients to be a starter, but he'll be looking for better results at high Class A Lynchburg in 2015.
The Indians had a busy 2011 on the international market, spending an estimated $3.58 million in bonuses. Lugo accounted for $415,000 of that total and looks like the pick of the litter. It's easy to project on Lugo's athletic 6-foot-5 frame, so he should add velocity to his 90-92 mph fastball. He already gets a lot of out of the velocity he has and improved the consistency of his mechanics. He hides the ball well in his delivery and pumps strikes to the bottom half of the zone. His changeup gets plus grades and he has feel for all of his pitches, including an 11-to-5 curveball and a harder slider. His curve is ahead of his slider now, but both have the potential to be average. Lugo will move up to high Class A Lynchburg for 2015, and his ultimate upside is tied largely to how much velocity he adds.
The Angels paid Clevinger $250,000 a few days before the August signing deadline in 2011 after he had a big summer in the Cape Cod League. His career stalled after having Tommy John surgery in 2012. The Indians remained intrigued and asked for Clevinger when the Angels came looking for bullpen help, and Cleveland got him straight up for righthander Vinnie Pestano in August 2014. The Indians felt like Clevinger had gotten away from the mechanics he'd shown on the Cape, in particular lowering his arm slot. After getting his delivery more over the top, he started showing velocity up to 97 mph at high Class A Carolina. He's a good athlete on the mound and has a feel for spinning the ball, showing three secondary pitches with solid-average upside in his curveball, slider and changeup. the Indians like his potential to remain in the rotation and will continue to develop him there. He'll move up to Double-A Akron in 2015.
Armstrong has battled injuries on and off for years but looks to be finally closing in on the majors. Back to full strength in 2014, Armstrong excelled as closer at Double-A Akron and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. Armstrong doesn't lack for arm strength, running his fastball up to 96 mph and pitching in the low 90s. Getting his delivery more online to the plate helped him improve his fastball command and slash his walk rate from 5.7 per nine innings in 2013 to 3.5 a year later. He complements his heater with a cutter and a slider, which are essentially shorter and bigger versions of the same pitch, and both can get swings and misses. He still has a changeup as part of his arsenal but seldom throws it. Armstrong figures to start 2015 at Triple-A Columbus and should be an option for the big league pen if things go well.
Plutko will live forever in UCLA lore as the ace of the Bruins' national championship team in 2013. He had gone to college after turning down the Astros as a sixth-round pick out of high school and parlayed his success into an 11th-round selection and well-over-slot $300,000 bonus from the Indians in 2013. Plutko's biggest assets remain his pitchability and ability to command the ball, which shows flashes of being elite. As was the case in college, he remains very fly ball-oriented, although his fastball has picked up some velocity, sitting in the 88-92 mph range and touching 93-94. His changeup has the best chance of any of his offerings to be a true plus pitch, while he can mix in a short slider and a bigger curveball well. The Indians liked that Plutko pitched more assertively last season, while his mechanics were already clean and easy and required no real alterations. Plutko could start 2015 back in high Class A although Double-A should come calling if things go well.
Once a standout on the high school showcase circuit, Shane fell in the 2013 draft after he got out of shape over the winter leading up to his senior season. The Indians signed him for $150,000 in the sixth round. Shane has put in the work both in the weight room and with his nutrition to change his body since turning pro, and his efforts began to bear fruit in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2014. The crispness and consistency of his stuff stepped forward as he began to look more like his old self. His fastball, which had dipped into the 87-91 mph range in spring 2013, was back operating in the low 90s, touching 94. He didn't throw his changeup a ton as an amateur, but the pitch has improved to become his best secondary pitch. He also throws a hard three-quarters slider that's usable in the low 80s, and he toys around with a curveball. Shane shows feel for manipulating his secondary stuff and the ability to command the ball to both sides of the plate. Shane should get a shot to go to low Class A Lake County in 2015.
The Indians expected Paulino to be the centerpiece of their 2011 international class after he signed for $1.1 million. Scouts had forecasted that Paulino would have to move off shortstop since his amateur days, and the Indians pulled the plug on him in May 2014, shifting him to left field with Lake County after he'd made 13 errors in 24 games. His defensive struggles had started bleeding over to his offense, and the position switch did seem to free up his approach. The Indians still like his bat. Paulino has a compact swing and a natural feel for timing, allowing him to handle plus stuff. He could grow into average power but he hits more to the gaps now, which hurts his profile if he stays in the outfield. The club envisions him handling any of the three outfield positions, though the fact Paulino's speed is just average will likely keep him on a corner. Paulino has age on his side as he heads to high Class A Lynchburg in 2015.
Merritt finished strong with a 2.35 ERA in the second half of the 2013 season at low Class A Lake County and carried that momentum into high Class A Carolina in 2014, leading the system in ERA (2.58). The Indians added him to the 40-man roster after the season. He stands out most for his command and feel for the zone, and he has issued just 1.5 walks per nine innings for his career. His clean delivery helps him locate any of his pitches anywhere he wants, and he shows a feel for adding and subtracting velocity. What Merritt lacks is a true plus pitch, which limits his upside. He has gotten stronger each year he's been in the system, and his fastball works at 88-92 mph now. He has an athletic frame and the Indians hope he can add a tick or two on his fastball. A curveball and changeup are his main secondary offerings, both projecting to be average. He can also a mix in a slider but didn't need it much last year. Merritt profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter and will move up to Double-A Akron in 2015.
Wolters has become one of the more unique prospects in the minors as a player who can catch one day and play middle infield the next. Drafted as a shortstop in the third round in 2010, he signed for $1.35 million, but his career outlook changed drastically in 2013 when he shifted behind the plate. A good athlete with a compact frame, he has soft hands and a quick transfer on throws that helps his average arm play up, and he caught 47 percent of basestealers in 2014. The Indians have told Wolters he can always go back to the infield, and he continues to see intermittent action at shortstop and second base, but he has embraced catching. Putting in so much time on defense has understandably taken away from Wolters' offense. His simple lefthanded swing can get long at times, but he has a feel for the barrel and good strength for his size. He joined the 40-man roster in November to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft. A return to Double-A Akron or move to Triple-A Columbus should be in play for 2015.
Hockin grew up learning about the game from his grandfather, the late Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. His baseball bloodlines also extend to his uncle Cam Killebrew, who played three years in the minors, and older brother Chad Hockin, who pitches for Cal State Fullerton. Grant was set to go to UCLA before the Indians lured him away with a $1.1 million bonus as their 2014 second-round pick. The UCLA connection is fitting since Hockin is often compared with former Bruins ace Adam Plutko, whom he now joins in the Indians system, as a righthander who lacks a wipeout pitch but shows advanced command and feel for pitching. Hockin is a good athlete and has a clean delivery and three-quarters arm slot. He does a good job of leveraging his 89-91 mph fastball down in the zone, and he can touch 94 occasionally. His slider gets the highest marks from among his secondary pitches, showing sharp, twoplane break in the low 80s, but he can also spin a curveball and shows feel for a changeup, both of which can be average pitches. Hockin should get a shot to go to low Class A Lake County in 2015.
Rodriguez's career has had its share of odd twists and turns. Born in the Dominican Republic, he came to the U.S. at age 12 and attended high school in the States before returning to the island. After Major League Baseball decided he wouldn't have to go through the draft, he signed with the Indians for $375,000 in 2010. He looked like one of the organization's top middle-infield prospects for a time, but other players have surpassed him while he had to repeat Double-A Akron in 2014. He saw action at all four infield positions at Akron, though he played primarily second and third base. His pure athleticism is his best asset. He ranges well along with having sure hands and a strong-enough arm to play on the left side of the infield. Whether he'll be able to hit enough to be more than a utility player is the big question. He has some wiry strength, but he can fall in love trying to drive balls and take too many big swings. He's at his best as a contact hitter, and the Indians want to see him improve his pitch selection. He could yet make a run at a big league bench job, but first he must conquer Double-A.