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Cleveland Indians Top 20 Prospects for 2017: Mid-Season review

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Checking in on the Cleveland Indians pre-season prospect list.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Francisco Mejia
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

We continue our mid-season organization reviews with a look at the Cleveland Indians Top 20 Prospects from the beginning of 2017. The index for other team reviews can be found here.




This list was originally published February 13th, 2017.

1) Francisco Mejia, C, Grade B+/A-: Age 21, hitting .317/.369/.517 in Double-A, 35% of runners caught, meeting or exceeding all expectations as elite prospect on both sides of ball.

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers - Game One
Bradley Zimmer
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

2) Bradley Zimmer, OF, Grade B+: Age 24, hitting .282/.345/.464 in 209 major league at-bats, 13 steals; power, speed, solid on-base skills, this should all continue.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Triston McKenzie
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

3) Triston McKenzie, RHP, Grade B+: Age 20, 3.64 ERA in 114 innings in High-A, 142/41 K/BB, just 80 hits; only minor flaw is some occasional gopherititis, excellent pitching prospect, A/A-.

4) Bobby Bradley, 1B, Grade B+: Age 21, hitting .239/.333/.453 with 18 homers, 48 walks, 92 strikeouts in 351 at-bats in Double-A; no change really, huge raw power, patience, with batting average concerns; defense has improved.

5) Brady Aiken, LHP, Grade B/B+: Age 20, first round pick in 2015 coming off Tommy John surgery; 4.65 ERA in 104 innings in Low-A, 65/80 K/BB; control has obviously been unacceptable; I’m not sure what to think at this point but he is still young.

6) Rob Kaminsky, LHP, Grade B: Age 22; on DL since the end of April; I had him rated too high here in any event.

7) Greg Allen, OF, Grade B: Age 24, sixth round pick in 2014 from San Diego State, all the rage a year ago but has missed much of 2017 with injuries, hitting just .239/.326/.363 when healthy in Double-A, albeit with 13 steals in 13 attempts and strong glove.

8) Juan Hillman, LHP, Grade B/B-: Age 20, 5.95 ERA in 107 innings in Low-A, 81/38 K/BB, 114 hits; Midwest League sources say he’s not showing the same kind of stuff he demonstrated in high school and got him drafted in the second round in 2015.

9) Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, Grade B-: Age 21, signed out of Taiwan in 2013, hitting .226/.316/.475 with 19 homers, 10 steals, 38 walks, 107 strikeouts in 341 at-bats; contact issues evident but power/speed combo is nice and he can play shortstop.

10) Nolan Jones, 3B, Grade B-: Age 19, second round pick in 2016 from high school in Pennsylvania, hitting .264/.386/.392 in 125 at-bats in New York-Penn League; defense needs a lot of work but bat is quite interesting.

11) Will Benson, OF, Grade B-: Age 19, first round pick in 2016 from high school in Georgia hitting .240/.328/.397 in NY-P, strikeout concerns with 49 in 121 at-bats but high-potential hitter.

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians
Yandy Diaz
Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

12) Yandy Diaz, 3B, Grade B-: Age 25, Cuban, continues mashing in Triple-A, hitting .350/.455/.477 with excellent strike zone judgment and strong defense at third; obviously ready for the majors.

13) Erik Gonzalez, SS, Grade B-: Age 25, hitting .263/.272/.400 in 80 major league at-bats, a fair representation of his abilities.

14) Adam Plutko, RHP, Grade B-: Age 25, 11th round pick in 2013 out of UCLA; proven success in past seasons but having a terrible 2017, 6.71 ERA in 106 innings in Triple-A, 122 hits, 79/41 K/BB; has he finally found a level that he can’t fool with his bag of tricks? Perhaps, but he’s proven people wrong before and may adjust.

15) Tyler Krieger, 2B, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, fourth round pick in 2015 out of Clemson, hitting .224/.295/.346 in 335 at-bats in Double-A, difficult transition to higher level pitching, other skills not enough to compensate so far.

16) Shawn Morimando, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, 19th round pick in 2011; 4.05 ERA in 135 innings in Triple-A, 105/42 K/BB, 145 hits; not overpowering but has a shot as a four/five starter.

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers
Ryan Merritt
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

17) Ryan Merritt, LHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 16th round pick in 2011; effective in Triple-A with 3.14 ERA in 103 innings, 79/25 K/BB; successful in limited major league experience so far including 2016 post-season; deserves a shot.

18) Shawn Armstrong, RHP, Grade C+: Age 26, drafted in 18th round in 2011; 4.22 ERA in 21 major league innings, 18/9 K/BB, a competent middle reliever who could be around for years in that role.

19) Nellie Rodriguez, 1B, Grade C+: Age 23, 15th round pick in 2012 from high school in New York; hitting .167/.259/.345 in 293 at-bats in Triple-A, 136 strikeouts the culprit here; big power but irrelevant if he can’t make contact.

20) Shane Bieber, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, fourth round pick in 2016 from University of California Santa Barbara; 3.18 ERA in 130 innings between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A with ridiculous 121/7 K/BB ratio; no, that’s not a typo; be interesting to see how this holds up in Triple-A.


Tim Cooney, LHP: Injured.
Aaron Civale, RHP: 3.68 ERA in 130 innings in Low-A/High-A, 114/13 K/BB.
Andrew Calica, OF: Hitting .255/.346/.360 in 275 at-bats in High-A.
Matt Esparza, RHP: 3.81 ERA in 111 innings in High-A/Double-A, 93/35 K/BB.

Oscar Gonzalez, OF: Hitting .299/.317/.396 in the New York-Penn League.
Cameron Hill, RHP: 3.52 ERA in 55 innings in Double-A, 41/15 K/BB.
Logan Ice; C: Hitting .228/.322/.374 in Low-A, strong with the glove though.
Leando Linares, RHP: 2.85 ERA in 41 innings between High-A and Double-A, 38/22 K/BB.
Luis Lugo, LHP: 4.74 ERA in 104 innings in Double-A, 69/41 K/BB, a rather blah year.
Mark Mathias, 2B: Hit disappointing .212/.328/.308 in 104 at-bats in Double-A before going down with shoulder injury.
Gabriel Mejia, OF: Just .225/.253/.270 in 89 Low-A at-bats but hampered by injury.
Julian Merryweather, RHP: 4.15 in 100 innings Double-A/Triple-A with 97/24 K/BB.

Thomas Pannone, LHP: Excellent year, 1.99 ERA in 110 innings High-A/Double-A, 120/28 K/BB, trade to Toronto Blue Jays in Joe Smith deal.
Dorssys Paulino, OF: .233/.327/.338 in 275 Double-A at-bats; still just 22 but hasn’t built in 16 progress.
Francisco Perez, LHP: 3.80 ERA in 43 innings in NY-P, 32/14 K/BB.
Ka’ai Tom, OF: Hitting .251/.331/.405 with 21 steals, 378 at-bats in High-A.

I will be away from my computer the next 72 hours most of the time but will try and answer questions when I can. We’ll hit the ground running again on Tuesday and get these reviews finished up.