Cleveland Indians Top 20 Prospects

Credit: Wahoo's on First

Credit: Wahoo’s on First

15. Mark Mathias– Second Base

Date of Birth: 8/2/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0/200
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd round (93rd overall) of the 2015 draft

Mathias was a good infielder for the USA college team and he held his own in short season A, skipping any kind of rookie ball after signing. He is a good hitter with mostly average skills all across the rest of the board. He could skip another level somewhere along the lines and he should be a good hitter at the major league level even if his other skills have their downfalls. He could move up the ranks with Krieger if both can stay healthy, but Mathias biggest problem right now is that he’s blocked by Jason Kipnis, so he has to stay impressive at every level along the way. He’s a higher grade C prospect that could reach the majors by 2018.

14. Adam Plutko– Pitcher

Date of Birth: 10/3/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3/195
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Drafted in the 11th round (321st overall) of the 2013 draft

Plutko should start 2016 in Triple-A after dominating A and Double-A in 2015. He could even join the club mid-season and fill in as an above average fifth starter to the rest of the studs in the Indians starting rotation. Plutko isn’t super flashy but he has three pitches that can be above average and can really control a game. He’s the type of pitching prospect where you really know what you’re going to get. He’s going to be a grade B prospect that has a really high chance of making the major leagues.

13. James Ramsey– Outfielder

Date of Birth: 12/19/1989
Height/Weight: 6’0/200
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Acquired: Trade with ARZ on 7/30/2014

Ramsey is entering the age where he is a bit old to be a prospect and his high strikeout rate paired with his low average at Triple-A is a bit concerning on the surface. He needs to be able to hit and do so soon. Ramsey is a former first rounder but he looks like a solid fourth or platoon outfielder at this point, unless he can really break out this season. He will have the first crack at an outfield spot, though I predict he will start the season in Triple-A. He could be an above average hitter with good pop and a decent all-around corner outfielder at some point, but he really needs to show something in 2016. He’s a lower B grade prospect who should see some plate appearances at the major league level in 2016.

12. Triston McKenzie– Pitcher

Date of Birth: 8/2/1997
Height/Weight: 6’5/165
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (42nd overall) of the 2015 draft

McKenzie was a highly sought after pitching prospect in this years draft and adds to the impressive collection of upside and talent that the Indians already have throughout their system.  His impressive first couple of innings in pro ball only help his stock. McKenzie is the guy on this list that could really make a name for himself and move up quickly. The Indians could challenge him in 2016 and send him to the Midwest League, but short season ball seems a bit more likely. He won’t be in the majors in the near future, but by 2020 he could be a name a lot of people talk about. He’s a higher B level prospect with a great fastball and curve and just a great overall ability to pitch.

11. Tyler Naquin– Outfielder

Date of Birth: 4/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2/190
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (15th overall) of the 2012 draft

Naquin’s best tool is and always will be his bat. He can get on base, hit for power, extra base hits, and hit for average. His glove is pretty good too and his arm is a right field arm. I can definitely see Naquin either starting 2016 with the Indians or coming up at some point and sticking around with the club. He’s a high-grade B and could carve out a very solid career. Everything is there for him to succeed and he’s shown all he can at the minors save for maybe some Triple-A seasoning. He just has to prove himself now.

Credit: Baseball America

Credit: Baseball America

10. Francisco Mejia– Catcher

Date of Birth: 10/27/1995
Height/Weight: 5’10/175
Bats/Throws: Switch/Right
Acquired: Signed as international free agent on 7/7/2012

A defensive-minded, switch-hitting catcher, Mejia impressed at age 20 in the Midwest League. He just needs to improve the bat along the way to be a quality starting catcher. He had some power showing already in a tougher league to hit homers and I think as he gets older he will become a better prospect. He definitely has some work to do and is mostly upside at this point, but his glove and arm are really eye-catching. He has an ETA of 2019 and is a B level prospect with high upside.

9. Mike Papi– First Base

Date of Birth: 9/19/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2/190
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (38th overall) of the 2014 draft

Papi is one of my favorite prospects in the system. He didn’t have the best or most impressive 2015 season, but the Indians should keep moving him up because I think he will come around. Papi is another natural hitter. He has a chance to hit for some power and could be a solid first baseman. He could hit for a higher average than most traditional first baseman but with a bit less power. He has 20 homer power, but we will see if it ever shows up. He reminds me of a Freddie Freeman or Billy Butler type hitter at the plate. He could reach the majors sometime in 2017 and is a higher B grade prospect.

8. Juan Hillman– Pitcher

Date of Birth: 5/15/1997
Height/Weight: 6’2/183
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (59th overall) of the 2015 draft

He’s an 18-year-old who has a fastball consistently hitting 92 from the left side, so that’ll get you noticed. The fact that he has three really good offerings already and works with former closer Tom Gordon is a plus too. He has a good feel for pitching and could be a pretty talented left-handed arm. The Indians have a surplus of pitching at both the major and minor league level, so he could be trade bait that gets the Indians a really nice player at some point. Regardless of where he ends up I expect him to be a solid number three with the upside of a number 2. I’d expect the higher B grade prospect to reach the show in 2019.

7. Brady Aiken – Pitcher

Date of Birth: 8/16/1996
Height/Weight: 6’4/205
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 2015 draft

The Astros drafted Aiken first overall and then refused to sign him because of an injury risk. Aiken then waited for the 2015 draft and fell to the middle of the first round and did exactly what the Astros had predicted and got injured. The Indians still picked him up and they have a guy who definitely has number one overall pick talent, but risks and a long way to go. He won’t reach the majors until 2019 at the soonest and has ace potential but he could be a three starter. Due to those risks he’s number seven for me, with the chance to climb and a grade B prospect at this point. His stuff could be devastating one day though. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops as he’s a high stakes case.

6. Mike Clevinger- Pitcher

Date of Birth: 12/21/1990
Height/Weight: 6’4/220
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Trade with LAA on 8/7/2014

He dominated Double-A a year after being sent over for Vinnie Pestano. That trade could be a steal for Cleveland, the team that got all of Pestano’s good years then traded him for a future number two or three it looks like. Clevinger is a high B grade prospect and his fastball-slider combination could get him some starts in Cleveland this year. If his fastball stays in the mid 90s he’s going to be pretty good, and a guy to watch in fantasy leagues too as he will rack up some strikeouts.

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