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McKenzie was sidelined by a minor forearm injury for the first two months of the season that the Indians played very conservatively. He returned to action in June, making his Double-A debut. McKenzie has been solid in his first handful of starts and has even seen his velocity tick up a bit to hit the mid 90s. He’ll look to maintain that during the second half.
The system’s breakout star of 2017 picked up right where he left off. After a strong start to the season in the minor leagues, he made his big-league debut on his 23rd birthday and has continued to succeed in Cleveland. He’s still pitching with plus control in the big leagues and missing bats, traits that helped him quickly slide into the Indians’ rotation.
Jones moved up to full-season ball this season and has found success at the plate after a slow April in which he was hampered by knee soreness. He’s continued to hit the ball hard and doubled his home run total from last year in the same number of games. Jones’ strikeout rate has slowly been lowered to a tick under 25 percent, while his walk rate remains solid and he earns praise for his ability to control the strike zone.
Valera, the Indians’ top signing in 2017 on the international market, has impressed early in his professional career. He skipped over the Dominican Summer League and debuted in the Arizona League less than a year after he signed. Valera combines impressive power with good hittability and is advanced for his age, but a hamate injury cut his pro debut short at the end of June.
Naylor, the younger brother of Padres’ prospect Josh Naylor, was the Indians’ top pick in this year’s draft, going 29th overall, and signed for slightly above pick value. The Canadian native stands out for his hittability and drives the ball to all fields. He has good athleticism and could play third base, but the Indians will keep him behind the plate where his above-average arm strength plays well.
Bradley got off to a poor start to the season in Akron and hit just .114/.202/.228 in April. He’s since bounced back in a big way and he’s produced at about his typical level since the calendar flipped to May and he’s soared back to the top of the Eastern League home run leaderboard. The lefthanded hitter has started to see shifts and lefty specialists deployed against him, which he’ll need to adjust to as he continues to progress in pro ball.
Hankins came into the spring as the top high school player in the draft class. But a shoulder injury interrupted his season and his stuff wasn’t the same once he got back on the mound. He fell to 35th overall, where the Indians signed him to a slightly above pick value bonus. When Hankins is at his best, he has a well-above average fastball with plus life.
Chang impressed with a 24-homer season in 2017 at Double-A and while he won’t repeat that performance after this year moving up to Triple-A, he is putting together another decent year. Chang has mostly played shortstop this year and is turning in his most consistent defensive season. He’s also seen his first action at third base since 2014, as the Indians look to increase his positional versatility as he nears the majors.
Castro is again one of the youngest players in his level and is again holding his own. He hasn’t found his power stroke in Akron after last year hitting a career-high 11 home runs with high Class A Lynchburg, but, after a slow April, he’s found his footing offensively. He still needs work on his consistency defensively, but his tools give him a chance to stay at shortstop.
Hentges is in his first fully healthy season following Tommy John surgery and has already set a career high in innings pitched while running his fastball up to 96 mph and mixing in a plus breaking ball. Listed at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, he gives hitters a tough look and can miss bats with his fastball.
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