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Zimmer was teammates with his older brother for a year at San Francisco before the Royals drafted Kyle fifth overall in 2012. Bradley developed into a star over the course of the next two years. Before his junior year, he played for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team--a roster that already has produced big leaguers from Michael Conforto and Kyle Schwarber to Carlos Rodon and Brandon Finnegan. When he was done with Team USA, Zimmer kept player in the Cape Cod League and was named playoff MVP. The following spring, he hit .368/.461/.573 with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases and one-upped his brother when he was named an All-American. He became the second first-round pick in the family when the Indians selected him 21st overall in 2014. It marked the third straight year the Indians used their top pick on a center fielder, but Zimmer could end up being more productive than Tyler Naquin (2012) and Clint Frazier (2013). After signing for $1.9 million, Zimmer began his pro career with a solid showing for short-season Mahoning Valley. The next year, he truly broke out. He started in center for the U.S. in the Futures Game, advanced to Double-A Akron and earned a spot on the BA Minor League All-Star team. He accomplished all of that despite playing for the final two months of the season with a hairline fracture in his right foot that wasn't discovered until after the season ended. Zimmer has true five-tool potential and is capable of impacting the game in many ways. He has a smooth lefthanded swing and advanced understanding of the strike zone, enabling him to make consistent contact. He uses the whole field to hit and has had no trouble handling lefthanded pitchers in the minor leagues. He hit just 14 home runs in his college career, but he eclipsed that total with 16 in 2015, and the loft in his swing should translate into more home-run power as he continues to physically mature. He has above-average speed, which is enhanced by his keen instincts on the basepaths and the outfield. He has a good feel for stealing bases and, despite his midseason promotion, his 32 steals in 78 games with high Class A Lynchburg ranked third in the Carolina League in 2015. His power-speed combination gives him a chance to become a 20 homer-20 steal player at his peak. Long and lanky, Zimmer looks a bit unconventional at times in the outfield but has all the tools to play center field. His reads and routes on flyballs have improved in the minor leagues as he focuses on improving his defense. He covers ground well and has above-average arm strength, which could play in right field, if necessary. While at Lynchburg in 2015, Zimmer split time with Frazier in center field, but Zimmer logged the majority of games there and then played the position exclusively at Akron. Zimmer's broken foot derailed the Indians plans to send him to the Arizona Fall League, but the injury isn't expected to have any lingering effects. After trading Michael Bourn to the Braves in August, the Indians have no long term commitments to a center fielder. Zimmer should begin 2016 back in Akron and, if he continues to progress, be on track to take over an everyday spot in Cleveland some time in 2017.
The Indians made Frazier, the 2013 Baseball America High School Player of the Year, the first high school position player drafted that June, and then signed him for a franchise-record $3.5 million as the fifth overall pick. His full-season debut at low Class A Lake County did not go smoothly after a pulled hamstring delayed his start to the year. He has gotten back on track since, earning all-star honors at high Class A Lynchburg in 2015 and finishing the year with a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League. Frazier stands out most for his power, which his exceptional bat speed helps to create. His 16 home runs ranked second in the Carolina League in 2015, behind only teammate Nellie Rodriguez. Some swing-and-miss comes with his power, though he cut his strikeout rate dramatically in 2015, going from nearly 30 percent in 2014 to 21 percent the next year. The Indians helped Frazier make some adjustments to his swing, quieting his hands and helping him to make more consistent contact. His approach has also matured, and he does a better job of not allowing at bats to gt away from him. He is an above-average runner, and the Indians believe he can stay in center field, but Cleveland has stockpiled a large group of center fielders, including No. 1 prospect Bradley Zimmer. While the two were teammates at Lynchburg, Zimmer played mostly center field and Frazier spent more time in right, where his above-average arm will play. After his successful AFL campaign, Frazier is on track to begin 2016 at Double-A Akron.
After a strong showing on the summer-showcase circuit and earning the victory in the gold-medal game in the 2013 18U World Cup with Team USA, Aiken emerged as the best high school player in the 2014 class. The Astros made him the No. 1 overall pick and were on track to sign him for $6.5 million until a post-draft physical led to a difference of opinion about the state of his elbow. He ultimately turned down a reported $5 million offer, becoming the first No. 1 overall pick not to sign in more than 30 years. After considerable fallout from the ordeal, he chose to pitch for IMG Academy's post-grad team, only to leave his first 2015 start injured after throwing just 13 pitches. He had Tommy John surgery six days later, leaving him as the biggest wild card in the 2015 draft. The Indians shocked the industry by selecting Aiken 17th overall and signing him to a deal worth slightly more than $2.5 million. Aiken had no physical problems leading up to the 2014 draft and, when he was healthy, had as much promise as anyone in the country. He had been a wellregarded prospect for years, and won the gold medal game in the World Cup with USA Baseball's 18U national team. But he jumped to the front of the draft class when his velocity increased during his senior year. His fastball touched 97 mph and sat in the low 90s. He located the pitch well to both sides of the plate while mixing in a plus curveball, a promising changeup and a developing slider. His curveball is his best secondary pitch thanks to its depth and sharp bite, while his changeup gives him a third potential plus pitch. He has a clean, fluid delivery, an ideal pitcher's frame and plenty of athleticism. Aiken's rehab has progressed on schedule, and he began throwing off flat ground in September. The Indians believe his makeup and work ethic will help him as he continues his recovery. He likely will begin 2016 in extended spring training before spending most of his time at short-season Mahoning Valley.
The departure of free agent Ubaldo Jimenez gave the Indians a second first-round selection in 2014. Ten picks after taking Bradley Zimmer, they selected Sheffield. He was committed to Vanderbilt, where he would have been teammates with his older brother Jordan, but instead chose to sign for $1.6 million. After a solid pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, he was arrested during the offseason in his hometown and pled guilty to underage drinking and aggravated criminal trespass. Sheffield received probation and the case could be expunged from his record, but the incident was surprising, as scouts had lauded his makeup before the draft. His full-season debut at low Class A Lake County went off without a hitch, and he earned all-star honors as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League while ranking second with 138 strikeouts. On the mound, Sheffield offers an exciting combination of power stuff from the left side and athleticism. He has a chance to have three above-average pitches. His fastball sits around 93 mph and has been clocked as high as 96. His curveball is an out pitch, and he also shows good feel for his changeup, which has improved in pro ball. He does a good job of pitching down in the zone despite his 5-foot-10 stature. He has advanced pitchability and can throw strikes with his whole arsenal but still needs to refine his command. Sheffield was young for his draft class and figures to be one of the youngest players in the Carolina League when he advances to high Class A Lynchburg in 2016. He has the upside of a No. 2 starter if he puts everything together.
The learning curve for Mississippi high school hitters is often steep as they transition to pro ball, but Bradley has had no such trouble. He hit the ground running after the Indians selected him in the third round in 2014, and he helped the Rookielevel Arizona League club claim the title, while winning the circuit's triple crown by hitting .361 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs. He kept hitting as he advanced to low Class A Lake County in 2015, despite an oblique injury that sidelined him for three weeks. His 27 home runs led the Midwest League and were the fourth-most by a teenager in the circuit in the last 50 years. Bradley was one of the younger players in his draft class, but is an advanced hitter with plenty of raw power. He creates excellent bat speed that turns into prodigious power. Like most young hitters, he gets pull-happy at times, but he can hit the ball out to all fields. He has a balancedswing, and keeps the bat in the hitting zone a long time, enabling him to drive the ball the other way. He is aggressive at the plate, but has an advanced feel for the strike zone. Though he struck out nearly 32 percent of the time in 2015, he should be able to cut down on his whiffs as he continues to mature as a hitter and gets used to seeing more offspeed pitches. He is a well below-average runner. Defensively, Bradley has an average arm and is limited to first base. He has improved his glove work in the minors, but all his value is tied to his bat. The Indians promoted Bradley to high Class A Lynchburg for the 2015 playoffs, and he will return to the Carolina League in 2016. He has the potential to be an impact power hitter in the major leagues.
Naquin ended his prolific career at Texas A&M with back-to-back Big 12 Conference batting titles and was drafted 15th overall in 2012. He got off to a quick start in the minors, but has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons. A broken hand cost him the second half of 2014 and delayed his start in 2015. He also spent time on the disabled list in 2015 with a concussion. When he's been on the field, Naquin has produced. His feel for the barrel and quick wrists enable him to make a lot of contact and hit line drives to all fields. He widened his stance as a professional, allowing him to hit for a bit more power, but his game is still more about getting on base and using his above-average speed. Beginning with Naquin, the Indians drafted three straight center fielders in the first round, and he is a superior defender than Clint Frazier or Bradley Zimmer. Naquin's speed and instincts allow him to cover ground easily in the outfield and he has plus arm strength. He likely would have reached the big leagues already if he hadn't been hampered by injuries, and he should be in line to reach Progressive Field some time in 2016. He has been used almost exclusively in center field in pro ball, but his speed and defensive ability figure to make him at least a fourth outfielder in the major leagues.
The Angels drafted Clevinger in the fourth round in 2011 and paid him $250,000 a few days before the August signing deadline after he put together a big summer in the Cape Cod League. He had Tommy John surgery in 2012, derailing the start to his professional career, and he struggled to get back on track. By the time the Indians acquired him in exchange for Vinnie Pestano in August 2014, he looked like little more than a lottery ticket. Just a year later, Cleveland appears to be close to cashing in. Clevinger led all Indians minor leaguers with 145 strikeouts in 2015 and emerged as the ace of a strong rotation at Double-A Akron. He was promoted to Triple-A Columbus for the playoffs and threw 15 1/3 scoreless innings, while helping the Clippers win the International League title. Clevinger was well regarded coming out of junior college and further impressed scouts in the Cape Cod League before signing with the Angels. But his mechanics changed in the minor leagues and his control suffered. The Indians helped him get back to throwing the way he did as an amateur, and he took off. Clevinger's fastball sits in the low to mid-90s, and he's been clocked up to 97 mph. His hard slider is his best secondary offering, and he also mixes in a changeup and a curveball. Though his control has never been especially good, he has the athleticism necessary to repeat his delivery and throw enough strikes. The Indians' most surprising breakout player in 2015, Clevinger will attempt to repeat that success in 2016 as he returns Columbus.
In a strong year for Florida prep pitchers, McKenzie stood out in 2015 for both his amateur track record and projection. He struck out 157 batters in 91 innings as a senior while leading Royal Palm Beach High to the state semifinals. The Indians drafted him 42nd overall and signed him for $2,302,500, the second largest bonus for a player drafted after the first round in 2015. McKenzie presented scouts with a difficult assignment before the draft. While he has excellent present stuff, he is also listed at a rail-thin 6-foot-5, 165 pounds. While some scouts questioned how much weight his frame will ever carry, the Indians are confident that he will grow into his body. They are encouraged in part by McKenzie's work ethic and his dedicated program with renowned trainer Eric Cressey. If McKenzie does eventually fill out, there's plenty to dream on. His fastball gets up to 93 mph, but he more typically pitches in the upper 80s. He gets good depth on his curveball and both it and his changeup have above-average potential. He is a good athlete and has an easy delivery that allows him to throw strikes with his whole arsenal. McKenzie didn't turn 18 until after he signed and barely pitched after throwing so much during his high school season. Still, he is advanced enough to handle an assignment to low Class A Lake County in 2016.
The Cardinals selected Marco Gonzales with their first pick in the first round of the 2013 draft, then doubled up on lefties when they grabbed Kaminsky later in the round. He was leading the Florida State League with a 2.09 ERA at high Class A Palm Beach in 2015 when St. Louis dealt him to the Indians for Brandon Moss at the trade deadline. He made two starts for his new organization before going on the disabled list with lower-back tightness. As an amateur, Kaminsky was known for his true 12-to-6 hammer curveball, but he became more of a sinker/slider pitcher as a pro. The Indians want him to get back to throwing his curveball more often. He isn't overpowering and typically pitches with an average fastball for a lefthander, though he occasionally reaches back for more velocity when he needs it. But he earns praise for his cerebral approach and does a good job of pounding the strike zone. Kaminsky is on track to begin 2016 at Double-A Akron. His overall package gives him a good chance to develop into a back-end starter.
The Indians have challenged Mejia with aggressive assignments throughout his career, with the trend beginning when he made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League as a 17-year-old. He has been one of the youngest players at every minor league stop he has made, and he was one of three teenagers serving as an everyday catcher in the Midwest League in 2015. But the precocious catcher has always proven to be up to the task. Mejia has a good feel for hitting, and the switchhitter consistently makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. His bat speed gives him surprising raw power for his size and he's already doing a good job of tapping into it. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner. Mejia has a rocket arm, but he focused on developing other aspects of his defense in 2015 and made strides. He has also improved his English, a key skill for him to develop a relationship with his pitchers. Mejia still has a lot of work to do, and will have to become more consistent in all phases of the game, but his ceiling as an everyday catcher remains intact. He will advance to high Class A Lynchburg in 2016.
Hillman transferred to the Orlando powerhouse Olympia High for his sophomore year of high school. At the same time, Tom Gordon, the former all-star righthander and father of 2014 Olympia grad Nick Gordon, became his legal guardian and mentor. Hillman credits Gordon's tutelage for many of the strides that he's made in the last few years, leading him to become the fourth Olympia grad in four years to be drafted in the top 60 picks. Hillman saw his velocity and breaking ball tick up on the showcase circuit in 2014, but he was unable to consistently repeat those performances during his senior season. He more typically threw his fastball at 86-89 mph, instead of sitting around 90 and touching 92. His changeup always has been ahead of his curve and earns above-average grades, while his breaking ball has a chance to be an average offering. There remains room for projection in Hillman's 6-foot-2, 183-pound frame, particularly because he'll still be 18 on Opening Day in 2016. He has good athleticism, a quick arm and a clean delivery, making it possible to dream on his potential. Hillman will likely begin his first full season at low Class A Lake County, alongside fellow Florida prep pitcher and 2015 draftee Triston McKenzie.
Gonzalez played every position but pitcher and catcher early in his pro career as a result of the infield depth in the Indians system. But when Cleveland promoted Francisco Lindor from high Class A Carolina in 2013, Gonzalez got a chance to fill the hole left at shortstop. He fared better than expected playing the position full-time and has continued to build on that initial success, and he reached Triple-A Columbus in 2015. Gonzalez struggled at the plate before a few tweaks to his swing led to a breakout in 2014. He didn't quite repeat that success as he advanced to the upper minors in 2015, but he has intriguing offensive tools. He's an above-average runner and has begun to better incorporate speed into his game, and has tapped into the power his bat speed and wiry strength produce. But he'll need to become more consistent at the plate to reach his potential. Gonzalez has outstanding defensive skills. His quickness and arm strength allow him to make highlight-reel plays, but consistency remains an issue on that side of the ball. He has a .957 fielding percentage since becoming a full-time shortstop and made 23 errors in 2015, largely due to mental mistakes. Gonzalez has the tools to be an everyday shortstop, if he can put everything together. But with Lindor manning shortstop in Cleveland for the foreseeable future, Gonzalez's versatility could help him find a role as a utility infielder. He'll continue to refine his game at Columbus in 2016.
Mathias won the Big West Conference batting title as a sophomore in 2014 and put together a solid summer with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. But he suffered a right shoulder injury that even- tually required labrum surgery to repair. He missed the start of Cal Poly's season and was then limited to DH duties until the end of March. But he kept hitting, both in college and during his pro debut. Mathias stands out the most for his advanced feel at the plate. He controls the strike zone and has a good feel for the barrel. He didn't hit for much power even before his injury, but as he returns to full strength he could develop enough pop to produce 10-12 home runs annually. Mathias showed a bit of defensive versatility before his injury, playing first, second and third base for Team USA. He profiles best at second base, where he can be a capable defender. His arm strength, if it comes all the way back, is about average, as is his speed. Coming off a solid showing at short-season Mahoning Valley, Mathias is ready to try his hand at full-season ball, possibly at high Class A Lynchburg in 2016.
Plutko pitched behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer in the UCLA rotation as a freshman, and eventually succeeded them as the team's ace. He led the Bruins to the 2013 national championship and was named Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series. Plutko has made an easy transition to pro ball, leading all qualified Indians minor leaguers in 2015 in ERA (2.39) and WHIP (0.93). He doesn't have overpowering stuff, succeeding instead thanks to his plus control and baseball IQ. His fastball sits around 90 mph, though he showed more velocity at Double-A Akron, getting up to 94. Even at average velocity, Plutko's fastball plays up thanks to his ability to throw it for strikes to both sides of the plate. His changeup is his best offspeed offering and his slider is the better of his two breaking balls. He does a good job of pitch sequencing and understands how to get the most out of his stuff. Plutko can't match the upside of the organization's top pitchers, but there are few doubts that he will pitch in the big leagues. He could again find himself in the same rotation as Bauer as soon as 2016.
The Indians haven't invested heavily in the Cuban free agent market, but in 2013 they signed Diaz for $300,000. After making his U.S. debut in 2014 at high Class A Carolina, he produced an all-star campaign in 2015 at Double-A Akron. Diaz has a good feel for the barrel and a disciplined approach, and he makes a lot of contact as a result. He led the Eastern League in on-base percentage (.412) and walks (78) in 2015. That approach comes at the detriment of power numbers, and he still is learning how to drive the ball. Diaz was primarily a second baseman in Cuba, but has become a gifted defender at third base. He has above-average arm strength and the hands necessary to be a solid defender. Diaz is on track to advance to Triple-A Columbus in 2016 and could soon become the first Cuban to play for the Indians since Danys Baez in 2003.
Chang was a prominent youth player in Taiwan and was one of the top amateur free agents to sign out of Asia in 2013. He made his pro debut the next year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he ranked second in OPS (.986) and third in average (.346). He wasn't able to carry that momentum into his full-season debut in 2015, as he never seemed to get on track at low Class A Lake County. Still, Chang's solid all-around toolset makes him an intriguing prospect. A switch-hitter, he hits well from both sides of the plate and exhibits a good feel for the barrel. His swing is more geared for hitting line drives, but he has more power than his lean, 6-foot-1 frame suggests. Chang's arm and speed are both about average, limiting his upside at shortstop, where he made 25 errors in 2015. The Indians believe he can develop into a capable defender, but he has enough versatility to handle a position switch if necessary down the line. For now, however, Chang will likely start the 2016 season as the shortstop at high Class A Lynchburg.
The Indians have pushed Morimando aggressively since drafting him in the 19th round in 2011. In 2015 he was the youngest member of Double-A Akron's strong rotation, and his performance earned him a place on the Indians 40-man roster in November. Morimando has a solid three-pitch mix and earns praise for his demeanor on the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s with running life that makes it hard for hitters to square up. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, and he also mixes in an average slider. He is slightly undersized but has thrown more than 150 innings in each of the last two seasons. His biggest hurdle to becoming a big league starter is his control, which is slightly below-average. If Morimando can throw strikes more consistently, he has all the tools to be a starter. If not, his stuff and makeup would likely make him a solid reliever.
Twenty-one years after the Indians drafted Manny Ramirez, the club picked Rodriguez out of the same Washington High program in the Bronx. Rodriguez has shown off impressive power in pro ball. He led the Carolina League with 17 home runs in 2015, a season after tying for the low Class A Midwest League crown with 22 homers. Rodriguez produces plenty of raw power and does a good job of getting to it in games. While his pop comes with a large dose of strikeouts, his approach has improved in the minors. He's willing to take a walk, and looks to hit the ball the other way more often. Rodriguez is a bottom-ofthe- scale runner and has below-average arm strength, limiting him to first base, where he is an adequate defender. Righthanded-hitting first basemen can make for a tough profile, but Rodriguez's power gives him a chance to become an everyday player in the big leagues. After finishing 2015 at Double-A Akron, he'll return there in 2016 and stay one rung ahead of fast-rising fellow first baseman Bobby Bradley.
Papi had a productive college career at Virginia and helped the Cavaliers to a runner-up finish at the 2014 College World Series. Scouts viewed him as an advanced hitter, and the Indians agreed, selecting him 38th overall in the 2014 draft and sending him to high Class A Lynchburg for his full-season debut in 2015. But Papi struggled to make the transition to pro ball, particularly after suffering a thumb injury at the end of 2014. It took him a while to regain his strength, though he was driving the ball better in the second half of 2015. Despite his struggles, Papi retained his excellent plate discipline and pitch recognition, and he led all Indians minor leaguers with 80 walks. He has a balanced lefthanded swing but can drive the ball, particularly to his pull side. Papi primarily played first base as a junior at Virginia, but the Indians returned him to the outfield, where he played earlier in his career. His arm and athleticism are both good enough to make him a capable left fielder. Papi will enter 2016 fully healthy and will be eager to prove he can get back on track now that his injury is behind him.
Krieger began his college career as Clemson's shortstop and started his first 101 games for the Tigers at the position before suffering a shoulder injury during his sophomore season. He ultimately required labrum surgery and was limited to DH duties for the first half of his junior season before moving to second base. The Indians selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft but shut him down until instructional league to allow him more time to recover from his injury. Krieger has a good feel for hitting, showing the ability to hit line drives to all fields. He's a patient hitter with a good understanding of the zone. He's an above-average runner but won't provide much in the way of power. Before his injury, Krieger showed the potential to remain at shortstop. He'll have to prove his arm strength has come all the way back and that he can make all the throws required of a shortstop, but he has enough range and hands to give him a chance. Krieger should be ready to make his pro debut in 2016.
Armstrong battled injuries early in his career, including labrum surgery while he was in high school. He has pitched effectively out of the bullpen since the Indians drafted him in 2011, and made his major league debut in 2015. Armstrong primarily attacks hitters with his sinker/slider combination. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, occasionally touching as high as 98 mph. At its best, his slider has a hard bite and acts like a cut fastball. He also occasionally mixes in a curveball against lefthanded batters. He has some crossfire to his delivery, and his control is inconsistent as a result. Armstrong served as closer at Triple-A Columbus in 2015 and Double-A Akron in 2014, but he profiles better as a middle reliever in the major leagues. He will go to 2016 spring training competing for a job in the big league bullpen, and if he doesn't break camp with the team will likely be one of the first pitchers called upon when a need arises.
Merritt had a breakout 2014, when he led the Carolina League in several categories, including wins (13), WHIP (0.95) and innings (160). He built on that success in 2015, and finished the season at Triple-A Columbus. Merritt doesn't have overpowering stuff, relying instead on his command and feel for pitching to get outs. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and he knows how to add or subtract velocity as necessary. His changeup is his best offering, while his curveball needs work to become more of a weapon. He also has picked up a cutter, giving him a pitch he can throw in on righthanded batters. All of his stuff plays up thanks to his plus control. Merritt has issued 1.4 walks per nine innings during his career. His ceiling is as a back-end starter, and he will always have to be fine with his command to succeed, but he showed in 2015 that he can retire more advanced hitters. If he continues to do so, he could make his major league debut in 2016.
While at Florida State, Ramsey drew Tim Tebow comparisons for his on-field performance, leadership skills and strong Christian faith. The Cardinals signed the Rhodes Scholar nominee for $1.6 million as a first-round pick in 2012 then traded him to the Indians for Justin Masterson in July 2014. Ramsey got off to a solid start to his pro career, showing more power than he had in college, but he struggled in his first full season with the Indians, batting .243/.327/.382 in 126 games at Triple-A Columbus. None of his tools stand out, but his intelligent approach to the game helps them play up. He's an above-average runner and is capable of playing anywhere in the outfield thanks to his average arm strength. Ramsey has struggled against lefthanders and likely will end up as a platoon player or a fourth outfielder if he doesn't become more consistent. He'll start 2016 back at Columbus but could break through to the big leagues with a solid performance.
Baker grew up in Juneau, Alaska, and he became the second-highest drafted Alaskan when Cleveland took him in the fifth round in 2012. He impressed in his first full season in 2013, but a broken ankle in 2014 and Tommy John surgery in 2015 have limited him to 74 innings (including the Arizona Fall League) over the past two years. When he's healthy, Baker has some of the best stuff in the system. His fastball can reach the upper 90s, but more typically sits about 92-95 mph. His slider is his best secondary offering, and it has a chance to give him a second plus pitch. Early in Baker's career, he was known primarily as a fastball/slider pitcher, but his changeup made strides in 2013, and it could eventually give him a third quality offering. There's some effort to his delivery, and he'll need to smooth it out to refine his command. Even before Baker's injuries, some scouts believed he was better suited for a role in the bullpen. But the Indians remain hopeful he can make it as a starter. Once he's ready to get back on the mound in 2016, he faces a likely return to high Class A Lynchburg.
Lugo, a native of Venezuela, blossomed in 2013 as a 19-year old at short-season Mahoning Valley. He built on that success as he advanced to full-season ball, but his progression hasn't been fast enough to earn him a spot on the 40-man roster, so the Indians left him exposed to the 2015 Rule 5 draft. He went unselected. Lugo's fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes it with a solid changeup and improving curveball. He has a good feel for the zone, and he throws all of his pitches for strikes. He has a big, athletic frame and has proven to be durable, throwing 252 innings over his first two years of full-season ball. With his combination of size, stuff and feel for pitching, Lugo has a chance to become a solid starter. He advances to Double-A Akron in 2016.
Castro signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2013 and made his pro debut the next year as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Arizona League, skipping past the Dominican Summer League. He was the youngest member of his team in each of his first two seasons, as the Indians continued to push him with an assignment to short-season Mahoning Valley in 2015. A switch-hitter, Castro sprays line drives from both sides of the plate. He doesn't produce much power now, but should be able to develop some as he physically matures. Defensively, he has good hands and infield actions, giving the Indians reason to believe he'll be able to stick at shortstop. Castro earns praise for his baseball acumen and confidence. He should be ready to move up to low Class A Lake County in 2016, where he again figures to be one of the youngest players in the Midwest League.
Son of Royals bench coach and former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, Luke grew up around the game, and that experience is evident in the way he plays. Believed to be firmly committed to Rice before the 2015 draft, Wakamatsu dropped to the 20th round, where the Indians signed him for $290,000. Wakamatsu handles the bat well from both sides of the plate and is an above-average runner. He doesn't drive the ball much yet, but there's plenty of room in his wiry frame for added strength and he should add power as he fills out. Wakamatsu is an advanced defender and has a good chance to stay at shortstop, thanks to his solid arm strength and good hands. Wakamatsu's feel for the game makes it likely that he can handle an assignment to low Class A Lake County in 2016.
As a junior at San Diego State, Allen helped the Aztecs qualify for NCAA Division I regionals in 2014 and was named the school's male student-athlete of the year. He made a smooth transition to the pro ranks after Cleveland selected him in the sixth round that year, and he led all Indians minor leaguers with 46 stolen bases in 2015. Allen's game is built around his plus speed. He has a slashing approach at the plate that produces minimal power but enables him to get on base and use his speed. He does a good job of putting the bat on the ball, and he has walked about as much as he has struck out throughout his career. Allen also makes good use of his speed on defense. He has good instincts, allowing him to get good jumps and cover a lot of ground in center field. After reaching high Class A Lynchburg for the 2015 playoffs, he'll return to the Carolina League in 2016.
The Indians signed Paulino, the son of former major league lefthander Jesus Sanchez, for $1.1 million in 2011, making him the centerpiece of their international class. He made a splash the next year in the Rookie-level Arizona League during his U.S. debut, but stumbled as he advanced to full-season ball and spent most of the next three seasons at low Class A Lake County. Paulino began to turn things around in 2015 and hit much better following a promotion to high Class A Lynchburg. He has the raw tools to be an offensive force. He has quick hands, a compact swing and some power in his lithe frame. Though Paulino signed as a shortstop, scouts long believed he would need to move off the position, and the Indians moved him to left field in 2014. He's still learning the position, but his average speed and arm strength should make him a capable defender. Paulino always has been young for his level and will play all of the 2016 season at age 21. He will return to Lynchburg as he looks to build on his success.
Minnesota's high school ranks aren't known as a hotbed of baseball talent, but Brown showed scouts enough in 2012 to become just the fourth prep pitcher from the state to be drafted as high as the second round. He has not performed consistently in the minors as he adjusts to better competition. Brown's stuff hasn't been a problem. His fastball comfortably sits in the low 90s and reaches 95 mph. He has a good feel for his changeup, and his curveball and cutter give him a solid pair of offspeed pitches. But Brown has struggled to find a delivery that he can comfortably repeat and his control has suffered as a result. He walked 4.9 batters per nine innings at high Class A Lynchburg in 2015. Brown earns praise for his work ethic, and he has the athleticism and powerful build--he wrestled in high school and his dad is a power lifter--to start, but only if he can find a way to throw more strikes.