Cleveland Indians 2020 Top 50 Prospects

George Valera, New York-Penn League All-Star Game. August 21, 2019. Photo credit Jim Zele, @ZelePhotography on Twitter

Despite the flurry of rumors surrounding Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger, the Indians’ minor league system hasn’t seen much change this offseason. The top 50 list has seen a lot of change, however. Highlighted by the ascents of Aaron Bracho and Daniel Johnson, the Indians’ system looks as strong as ever.

The Indians have had two graduations since the midseason list. First, Aaron Civale was called up in August, and he never looked back. In 10 starts, Civale put up a 2.34 ERA while limiting batters to a .216 average. His WHIP was miniscule, finishing at 1.04. Civale figures to be a key member of the Indians’ rotation in 2020.

While it didn’t happen with the Indians, new acquisition Emmanuel Clase spent an equally impressive two months with the Rangers. Clase threw 23.1 innings in 21 appearances while putting up a 2.31 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Look for Clase to deploy his explosive fastball in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen this season.

Two players also dropped off the list. Catcher Eric Haase was designated for assignment to clear room for Clase on the 40-man roster. He’s since been traded to the Detroit Tigers. Infielder Mark Mathias was traded to Milwaukee for 18-year-old catcher Andres Melendez.

After the dust settled, this is what the Indians’ top 50 list has become. My Midseason Top 50 ranks are noted in parentheses next to the player’s name. Stats are combined across all teams a player appeared with in 2019. Included are photos I’ve taken and you can see others on my website Zele Photography – A View From The Bleachers, which features photos from all levels of the major and minor leagues.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1:

1. Nolan Jones, 3B (1)
Opening Day Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA Akron
2019 Stats: 126 G, 535 PA, .272/.409/.442/.851, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 7 SB, 27.7 K%, 18.1 BB%

Jones keeps his spot at the top of this list after a strong finish to 2019. After a brief adjustment period in AA Akron, Jones quickly continued his success from High-A Lynchburg. While his BB% and K% suffered a bit, Jones’ ISO jumped from .139 to .213, and his OPS stayed consistent across both levels. Jones put the ball in the air more in Akron, driving his slugging percentage up 41 points over Lynchburg. With the addition of Cesar Hernandez and Jones’ lack of AAA experience, don’t expect to see him in Cleveland until 2021. An injury to a Cleveland infielder could accelerate that timeline. ETA: 2021

2. George Valera, OF (2)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 52 G, 214 PA, .217/.336/.411/.747, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB, 28.5 K%, 15.0 BB%

It’s a toss-up between Valera and Jones for the top spot, but Valera stays second for now. Valera has the natural talent to become a high-caliber hitter and fielder in Cleveland, but 2020 will be an important year in his development. If he can translate his natural talent into statistical success, expect to see him rise quickly through the system. If the average stays low and the K% stays high, expect to see him held back in A and A+. As it is right now, I’m bullish. I expect to see Valera post strong numbers in Lake County to start the year, and possibly finish the year in Lynchburg. With luck and health, expect to see Valera in Cleveland by mid-2022. ETA: 2022

3. Ethan Hankins, RHP (3)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 60.0 IP, 2.55 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9

Hankins finished 2019 by holding his own in Lake County. While the numbers indicate a bit of an adjustment period in Lake County, look for improvements in 2020. The concern about Hankins has been control of his off-speed pitches. Despite an increased FIP and WHIP in Lake County, he put up an equal BB/9 figure in Class-A ball. I expect Hankins to continue building out his secondary arsenal in 2020 and rapidly move through the Indians’ system. ETA: 2022

 

Tier 2

4. Daniel Espino, RHP (4)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A- Mahoning Valley
2019 Stats: 23.2 IP, 2.80 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9

Espino proved the Indians made the right choice in drafting him with their top pick in the 2019 draft. His strikeout and walk rates are indicative of a pitcher with good control, and his ability to avoid hard contact bodes well for his future. If he can continue building out his secondary arsenal while maintaining a low walk rate, look for Espino to jump into Tier 1 by midseason.  ETA: 2022

5. Tyler Freeman, SS (5)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+ Lynchburg
2019 Stats: 123 G, 547 PA, .306/.368/.410/.778, 3 HR, 44 RBI, 19 SB, 9.7 K%, 4.8 BB%

Freeman finished the season how he started: by putting the ball in play. Across 547 PA, Freeman only struck out 53 times and walked 26 times. He’s proven he can hit, but I’d like to see Freeman bump his OBP with a few more walks this season. When he reaches Cleveland is anyone’s guess. 2021 is the best bet. With Cesar Hernandez on a one-year deal and Francisco Lindor potentially on the trading block, there will likely be an infield opening for Freeman. With a strong 2020 season, expect Freeman to be in the mix for the opening day roster in 2021. ETA: 2021

6. Brayan Rocchio, SS (6)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: A- Mahoning Valley
2019 Stats: 69 G, 295 PA, .250/.310/.373/.683, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 14 SB, 13.6 K%, 6.8 BB%

Rocchio’s first season in the US offered many glimmers of hope for the future. While it would be nice to see his BB% drive a higher OBP, he demonstrated he’s able to hit the ball over the fence while keeping his K% down. Expect to see Rocchio return to Mahoning Valley to start the season, with the ability to move up to Lake County with a strong performance. I’d like to see Rocchi’s power continue to develop as he grows, and I expect him to be in the mix for an infield spot in Cleveland in 2023.  ETA: 2023

7. Triston McKenzie, RHP (7)
Opening Day Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

McKenzie never saw the mound in 2019 due to a back strain suffered in Spring Training. When healthy, McKenzie is arguably the best pitching prospect in the Indians’ system. He has a fluid, repeatable motion he uses to deliver a full repertoire of pitches capable of fooling most hitters. 2020 will be a critical bounce-back year for McKenzie. If he can stay healthy, he’ll quickly rise through the Indians’ system and up this list. If injury fears continue to linger, McKenzie’s status as a prospect will suffer. ETA: 2021

8. Bo Naylor, C (8)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 107 G, 453 PA, .243/.313/.421/.734, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 7 SB, 23.0 K%, 9.5 BB%

Naylor firmly established his status as the Indians’ top catching prospect in 2019. At bat, Naylor showed good power for a catcher, putting up a .178 ISO. He also shined behind the plate, turning in a .985 Fielding% and 58.0 CS%. Given the premium paid for major league catchers, Naylor will control his own fate. Roberto Perez is under team control for three more years, but the Indians will not hesitate to trade him if Naylor proves himself ready for major league action. ETA: 2022

9. Aaron Bracho, 2B (13)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: A- Mahoning Valley
2019 Stats: 38 G, 169 PA, .281/.402/.570/.973, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 4 SB, 17.2 K%, 17.2 BB%

Bracho is the first major mover up the list after a strong showing in his first US season. He put up an incredible .973 OPS while adding a .289 ISO, and he did so with a reasonable 17.2 K%. Considering his young age, expect Bracho’s power to continue to develop as he grows. With Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio in the mix, expect to see Bracho find his home at second base in Cleveland. ETA: 2023

10. Daniel Johnson, OF (15)
Opening Day Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 123 G, 547 PA, 290/.361/.507/.868, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 12 SB, 21.6 K%, 9.5 BB%

Johnson also moves up and into Tier 2 after finishing a breakout performance in 2019. Johnson improved his OBP and SLG, and his K% and BB% both trended in the right direction. His ISO reached new heights, and he improved his LD %. I’d like to see Johnson’s BB% increase slightly to offset his high 2019 BABIP, but given the current composition of the Indians’ outfield, I suspect Johnson will be given the opportunity to work on this at the major league level this season. ETA: 2020

Tier 3

11. Lenny Torres, RHP (10)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

Torres missed the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 15. Prior to his injury, the Indians’ 2018 41st overall pick pitched well in a brief stint in Mahoning Valley in 2018. Upon his return, expect Torres to continue building out his secondary arsenal to go along with his highly rated fastball. The Indians will likely be cautious with his recovery plan, so look to see Torres back on the mound in the second half of the season. ETA: 2023

12. Yu Chang, 3B/SS (12)
Opening Day Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 96 G, 367 PA, .236/.313/.393/.706, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 4 SB, 24.3 K%, 10.4 BB%

Chang had a difficult year in 2019. He spent most of the first two and a half months of the season on the IL with a sprained thumb. 10 days after his return, he was called up to Cleveland and promptly sent back down. He returned to Cleveland in late August, only to see sporadic playing time. Chang still possesses the tools to be a productive major league infielder. Expect to see him get additional playing time, likely in a utility role, in 2020. If he can establish himself as a utility player, Chang may be involved in a mid-season trade given the Indians’ infield composition throughout the system. ETA: 2020

13. Bobby Bradley, 1B/DH (14)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 122 G, 502 PA, .255/.331/.546/.877, 34 HR, 78 RBI, 0 SB, 34.5 K%, 10.4 BB%

Bradley also turned in a stellar 2019 season. He made a major league slugger: He turned in a .567 SLG and .303 ISO for the entire season. Bradley figures to encounter the same situation he did last year. He’ll be blocked by Franmil Reyes at DH (unless the Indians try to put Reyes in RF) and Carlos Santana at first base. If Bradley can reduce his K% and keep putting the ball over the fence at 2019 levels, he’ll force the Indians’ hand one way or another. ETA: 2020

14. Logan Allen, LHP (9)
Opening Day Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 107.6 IP, 5.94 ERA, 5.55 FIP, 1.63 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9

Allen had a somewhat unlucky 2019 season, but his numbers are troubling going forward. He had a combined .345 BABIP across the four teams he pitched for, and his HR/FB% spiked to 18.4%. Allen still has the stuff to be a solid major league pitcher – His K/9 and BB/9 rates are reasonable. He still may become a front-line starter, but at this point he’s starting to look like more of an innings-eater.  ETA: 2020

15. Luis Oviedo, LHP (9)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 87.0 IP, 5.38 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 4.1 BB/9

Oviedo got off to a decent start, but the back injury that derailed his 2018 season did the same in 2019. When healthy, Oviedo continues to possess the arsenal to put batters away. If he’s able to stay healthy for a full season, Oviedo could be a strong 2-3 starter. He must stay healthy in 2020 to warrant consideration in dynasty leagues. ETA: 2023

16. Ray Delgado, IF (17)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 70 G, 291 PA, .242/.299/.337/.636, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB, 25.1 K%, 8.6 BB%

Delgado had an underwhelming year in many aspects. His batting average wasn’t terrible, but his 25.1 K% kept his OBP under .300. It will be important for Delgado to improve his on base numbers and flash some more of the power the Indians saw when they drafted him in the sixth round in 2018. Considering he’s good at all three infield positions but not great at one, Delgado profiles as a utility infield at this stage of his development. ETA: 2023

17. Jhonkensy Noel, IF (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: AZL Indians
2019 Stats: 47 G, 209 PA, .287/.349/.455/.804, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB, 18.7 K%, 8.6 BB%

At 6’1”, 180 lbs. (with some sources putting him closer to 6’ 3”, 230 lbs.), Noel has the build of a major league power hitter. Did I mention he’s only 18 years old? Signed at 16, Noel has put up solid numbers in the DSL and AZL, with the all-important K% trending in the right direction. While he’s played all over the infield, look for Noel to settle in at first base or DH. He’s still several years off, but Noel’s raw talent and power make him a very exciting prospect to watch in the coming years. ETA: 2024

18. James Karinchak, RHP (18)
Opening Day Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 35.2 IP, 1.14 ERA, 5.55 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 20.7 K/9, 4.6 BB/9

Karinchak made the most of his 2019 season. Despite an early hamstring injury that limited his innings pitched, Karinchak proved himself as the heir apparent to the Indians’ closer role. He made five appearances in Cleveland in September, putting up a 1.69 ERA and striking out eight. Look for Karinchak to break camp with the Indians and work in high-leverage situations. ETA: 2020

19. Nick Sandlin, RHP (19)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 26.1 IP, 2.39 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 5.8 BB/9

Sandlin’s season ended July 1 when he went on the IL with a forearm strain. Prior to that, he put up solid numbers, striking out over a batter per inning while avoiding hard contact (14.6 LD%). Health with be the key factor to monitor with Sandlin in 2020. If he’s able to stay on the mound, expect to see him in Cleveland later in the summer. ETA: 2020

20. Will Benson, OF (16)
Opening Day Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+ Lynchburg
2019 Stats: 123 G, 514 PA, .230/.331/.454/.785, 22 HR, 78 RBI, 27 SB, 29.4 K%, 13.6 BB%

Benson continues to be incredibly difficult to project. After an excellent first half in Lake County, Benson could never put it together in Lynchburg. Despite his poor numbers in A+, he still put up a respectable OPS, buoyed by a .454 slugging percentage. It will be interesting to see if Benson can adjust to High-A ball in 2020 like he did to A ball in 2019, but as he moves up, he won’t have the luxury of a half season to adjust to new leagues. Benson remains a high-risk, high-reward pick going into 2020. ETA: 2022

21. Angel Martinez, IF(N/A)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: DSL Indians
2019 Stats: 70 G, 291 PA, .306/.402/.428/.830, 1 HR, 27 RBI, 11 SB, 11.1 K%, 11.1 BB%

Martinez made a splash in his first year as a pro, showing he’s ready for a promotion to Mahoning Valley. All numbers point to a great talent foundation: His average and OBP are exceptional, the power is there and his K% is extremely low for a prospect his age. Don’t be surprised to see Martinez join the Freeman/Rocchio/Bracho conversation before long. ETA: 2024

22. Alexfri Planez, OF(N/A)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: AZL Indians
2019 Stats: 6 G, 25 PA, .333/.360/.542/.902, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 28.0 K%, 4.0 BB%

While he missed most of the year with a broken hamate bone, Planez projects as a fast outfielder with excellent power and contact skills. Conservative team owners should keep a close eye on Planez this year. Aggressive owners should sign him today. ETA: 2024

Tier 4

23. Richie Palacios, 2B (20)
Opening Day Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

Palacios missed the 2019 season while recovering from shoulder surgery. It will be worth watching to see if he can regain the power that saw him reach Lake County as a 20-year-old. ETA: 2023

24. Eli Morgan, RHP (26)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 140.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9

Morgan moves to the top of Tier 4 after a strong season which saw him spend most of his time in AA Akron while making a spot start in AAA Columbus. As his walk rate indicates, Morgan is a control pitcher. He doesn’t overpower opposing batters and doesn’t project to add much velocity, but he effectively uses his three-pitch mix to get batters out. One area of concern is Morgan’s 0.50 GO/AO ratio. Inducing more groundouts will be important for Morgan’s ongoing success. ETA: 2021

25. Ernie Clement, SS (29)
Opening Day Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 101 G, 450 PA, .269/.323/.331/.654, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 17 SB, 7.6 K%, 6.2 BB%

Clement moves up the list partially due to his strong Arizona Fall League performance. Clement has never projected as a power hitter, but he doesn’t strike out often and is capable of stealing a base. If he’s able to slightly improve his on-base percentage and reduce his caught stealing percentage, Clement projects well as a major league utility infielder. ETA: 2021

26. Ka’ai Tom, OF (40)
Opening Day Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 132 G, 554 PA, .290/.380/.532/.912, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 5 SB, 22.7 K%, 12.3 BB%

Tom raised his stock the most on this list after a breakout 2019 season. While his age may limit his fantasy upside, one has to wonder if Tom “figured it out.” The outfielder spent just under half the year in Columbus (51 games vs. 81 games in AA Akron), and put up a better BA, SLG and OPS than he did in Akron. Depending on Spring Training performances, Tom should be in the conversation as a fourth outfielder on Opening Day. ETA: 2020

27. Jose Fermin, IF (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 105 G, 456 PA, .293/.374/.379/.753, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 28 SB, 8.8 K%, 9.6 BB%

Fermin also makes his first appearance on this list. The 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic put up an excellent line in his first year of full-season ball. Fermin spent his time at the top of the order, walking more than he struck out while stealing 28 bases. Fermin doesn’t project as a huge power threat, but his ability to get on base and spark the offense with his legs bodes well for his major league future. ETA: 2022

28. Gabriel Rodriguez, IF (22)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: AZL Indians
2019 Stats: 56 G, 243 PA, .231/.321/.361/.682, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 4 SB, 20.2 K%, 7.8 BB%

The Indians’ top international signing from 2018 put up decent stats in 2018, but there’s room for improvement. The BB% is reasonable, but the K% is too high. Given his stature (6’ 2”, 174 lbs.), I’d like to see Rodriguez increase his power numbers as he develops. The good news: he turns 18 on February 22. As Rodriguez fills out his frame, look for that boost in power, and look for him to move through the system. ETA: 2024

29. Scott Moss, LHP (33)
Opening Day Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 130.2 IP, 2.96 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 4.8 BB/9

Moss also raised his stock with a solid 2019 performance. Much like Eli Morgan, Moss is a control pitcher who effectively uses his repertoire to get batters out. Also like Morgan, Moss needs to get more groundball outs. Moss has limited upside as a starter and projects as a back-of-the-rotation or long relief pitcher in Cleveland. ETA: 2021

30. Oscar Gonzalez, OF (25)
Opening Day Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA Akron
2019 Stats: 125 G, 502 PA, .293/.315/.418/.733, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB, 16.5 K%, 3.0 BB%

Gonzalez was Rule 5-eligible this offseason, but he remains in the Indians’ system. Gonzalez struggled in his 29 games in Akron, but still put up solid overall numbers. The relatively high K% and miniscule BB% will need to be corrected if Gonzalez is going to have a shot at breaking into the Indians’ outfield rotation. ETA: 2022

31. Johnathan Rodriguez, OF (23)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A- Mahoning Valley
2019 Stats: 66 G, 258 PA, .247/.318/.424/.742, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 4 SB, 26.0 K%, 8.1 BB%

The power is there for Rodriguez, but the OBP suffers due to the K%. A decent outfielder with above average speed, Rodriguez is worth following to see if he can reduce the strikeouts this season. ETA: 2023

32. Jose Tena, IF (35)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: AZL Indians
2019 Stats: 44 G, 199 PA, .325/.352/.440/.792, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 6 SB, 22.1 K%, 3.0 BB%

Tena is a small, free-swinging infield prospect from the Dominican Republic. Somewhere, Jose Ramirez is smiling. If Tena can learn to be patient at the plate, he could find himself quickly rising through the Indians’ system. Also like Ramirez, Tena can play any position well. ETA: 2024

33. Bryan Lavastida, C (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 59 G, 244 PA, .335/.410/.481/.891, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 11.5 K%, 11.1 BB%

Lavastida spent all but one game in the NYPL, abusing pitchers to the tune of a .891 OPS. While he’s relatively inexperienced behind the plate – He converted to catcher after the Indians drafted him – Lavastida’s .982 fielding percentage and 55.6 CS% will at least keep him in the running with Bo Naylor as the Indians’ catcher of the future. Lavastida’s first year in full-season ball will be worth closely monitoring. ETA: 2023

34. Carlos Vargas, RHP (24)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A- Mahoning Valley
2019 Stats: 77.2 IP, 4.52 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9

Vargas has been used as a starter to this point, but look for the Indians to quickly transition him to the bullpen. Vargas has a strong two-pitch mix, including a fastball that touches 100 mph at times. He’ll have to learn to miss bats, but absolutely has the talent to be a major league reliever. ETA: 2023

35. Marcos Gonzalez, IF (27)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 11 G, 43 PA, .206/.372/.324/.696, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 25.6 K%, 20.9 BB%

Gonzalez was injured for virtually all of 2019 with a torn labrum. Gonzalez has the talent to move up quickly both in the Indians system and on this list when healthy. Keep a close eye on his first-half production to see if he’s worth stashing on a dynasty team. ETA: 2023

36. Raymond Burgos, LHP (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 36.2 IP, 3.44 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.42 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9

Burgos shows excellent control for a young pitcher, only allowing 3.0 BB/9. Burgos stands 6’5” tall, but only weighs 170 lbs., which has negatively impacted his fastball velocity. With added weight and strength, Burgos could up his velocity and rise through the Indians’ system. ETA: 2023

37. Sam Hentges, LHP (39)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA Akron
2019 Stats: 128.2 IP, 5.11 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.65 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 4.5 BB/9

Henteges struggled with control in 2019, as the 6’8” lefty struggled to consistently repeat his delivery. 2020 will be critical for Hentges. After steadily rising through the Indians’ system, he risks stalling if he can’t improve his command. ETA: 2022

38. Christian Arroyo, IF (37)
Opening Day Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB (Tampa)
2019 Stats: 49 G, 191 PA, .287/.346/.538/.884, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 1 SB, 23.0 K%, 8.9 BB%

Arroyo never played for an Indians’ affiliate after coming over in a midseason trade. When healthy, he projects as a decent infield option with good power and on-base skills. Should an opening occur via injury or trade, Arroyo will have a chance to prove himself as an effective major league infielder. ETA: 2020

39. Andrew Velazquez, IF (36)
Opening Day Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: 70 G, 244 PA, .279/.316/.469/.785, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 4 SB, 23.0 K%, 5.7 BB%

Velazquez and Christian Arroyo have a virtually identical profile. While Arroyo projects as more of a corner infielder, Velazquez splits most of his time between SS and 2B. Velazquez has slightly less power, but he can still put the ball over the fence. ETA: 2020

40. Jose Pastrano, IF (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

Pastrano is the highlight of the Indians’ 2019 international signing class. According to scouts, he has the fielding and contact skills to become an above average middle infielder. Look for Pastrano to spend the summer in the DSL, and look for him to vault up this list in a hurry. ETA: 2025

41. Luis Durango Jr., OF (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 16
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A

The other headline international signing in 2019, Durango follows his father into professional baseball. Projecting 16-year-olds is nearly impossible, but keep an eye on Durango’s development to see if he’s worth stashing in the future. ETA: 2026


Tier 5

42. Steven Kwan, OF (30)
Opening Day Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+ Lynchburg
2019 Stats: 123 G, 542 PA, .280/.353/.382/.735, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 11 SB, 9.4 K%, 9.8 BB%

Kwan put up solid numbers in his first full pro season. While he’s a bit undersized at 5’9” and 175 lbs., the Indians will have to give him the opportunity to succeed if he can repeat his stat line this year. ETA: 2023

43. Cody Morris, RHP (34)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 89.0 IP, 4.35 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.37 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9

Morris is another thrower trying to develop into a pitcher. While he’s not walking many batters, his .271 BAA indicates batters are hitting his pitches. Morris has solid stuff with a mid-90s fastball and respectable slider and changeup. The 6’5” righty will move up this list quickly if he can continue to improve his command. ETA: 2023

44. Jean Carlos Mejia, RHP (32)
Opening Day Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+ Lynchburg
2019 Stats: 33.0 IP, 4.09 ERA, 2.11 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9

Mejia missed the majority of 2019 after spending a significant portion of 2018 on the IL. When healthy, he has the stuff to get batters out, but he has to prove he’s able to stay healthy for a full season before he gets serious consideration as a future bullpen arm. ETA: 2024

45. Junior Sanquintin, IF (48)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: DSL Indians
2019 Stats: 41 G, 209 PA, .249/.316/.370/.686, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB, 21.4 K%, 7.1 BB%

Sanquintin put up reasonable numbers in his trip through the DSL. The potential is there for Sanquintin to develop into a utility infielder that’s good at many things, but great at none. ETA: 2025

46. Jonathan Lopez, IF (N/A)
Opening Day Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: AA Akron
2019 Stats: 33 G, 116 PA, .220/.322/.270/.592, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 23.3 K%, 9.5 BB%

Lopez got two AB in Akron but spent the rest of the season in Mahoning Valley. He projects primarily as a contact hitter with decent fielding skills. ETA: 2024

47. Connor Marabell, OF (28)
Opening Day Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA Columbus
2019 Stats: 131 G, 525 PA, .264/.313/.377/.690, 9 HR, 57 RBI, 8 SB, 10.9 K%, 6.7 BB%

Marabell put up solid numbers between Akron and Columbus, but age is an issue. While he’s certainly a talented baseball player, the Indians have several more promising outfielders throughout the system who will likely receive opportunities before Marabell. ETA: 2021

48. Mitch Longo, OF (31)
Opening Day Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AA Akron
2019 Stats: 90 G, 366 PA, .248/.320/.370/.690, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 11 SB, 19.9 K%, 8.2 BB%

Same as above, but with a higher K%. Longo is probably as good as he’s going to get, and other prospects will likely get chances in Cleveland over him. ETA: 2021

49. Quentin Holmes, OF (41)
Opening Day Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A Lake County
2019 Stats: 112 G, 459 PA, .175/.247/.274/.522, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 23 SB, 34.6 K%, 7.8 BB%

An improved, but still bad year at the plate. Holmes only stays on this list due to his elite speed and strong glove. If he can’t drastically reduce the K%, he’ll stall quickly. ETA: 2023

50. Yordys Valdes, IF (47)
Opening Day Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: AZL Indians
2019 Stats: 43 G, 181 PA, .179/.251/.247/.498, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 15 SB, 29.3 K%, 8.8 BB%

The Indians’ second round pick in 2019, Valdes profiles as a glove-first prospect. Monitor his development at the plate to see if he becomes an outfield option mid-decade. ETA: 2025

 




4 Comments

  1. What are your thoughts on Robert Broom?
    Drafted in 2018 and could begin 2020 in AAA at 23 years old. While he had unsustainable peripherals in AA in 2019, his FIP suggested that he was closer to a 3.36 than his 0.96 ERA suggested, which is still great. He also induces a lot ground balls, has high K-rates, proportionally low walk rates and looks like he could be the third guy in a three headed monster of Karinchak, Clase and Broom.

    • He’s definitely a possibility. At the moment, I’m higher on Sandlin, but Broom could easily fill that 3/4 RHP role if Sandlin’s health concerns continue. Relievers don’t always get super high rankings on our lists, as fantasy value plays into our evaluation. Relievers don’t provide as much value as your high-end starters do, so sometimes they miss the P1500 top 50s when they really are one of the top 50 best baseball players in the organization’s system.

  2. one of the owners in my league has kept brady aiken on his roster every year, even drafted him twice (when he refused to sign his first contract offer). But he isn’t in the top 50 here? any notes on him?

    • Aiken didn’t pitch in 2018, and he only threw 2/3 of an inning in 2019. Prior to that, his numbers weren’t great with Mahoning Valley. While I hope he’s a late bloomer, it’ll take a long run of continued success and rapid rise through the system before Aiken appears on the list.

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