by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Already equipped with a young rotation loaded with talent, the Indians have numerous intriguing offensive prospects closing in on the Majors. How impressive could the team look come 2017, given their pitching when the likes of Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley or joined by Bradley Zimmer & Clint Frazier? The future appears to be significantly bright in Cleveland, but let’s take a look at who the best prospects on the horizon are:
1) Bradley Zimmer – Outfielder
Grade – A-
ETA – 2016
The 2014 first round draft pick blossomed in his first full professional season, hitting .273 with 16 HR and 44 SB between High-A and Double-A. The average did struggle upon his promotion, hitting .219, with strikeouts being a bit of a concern:
- High-A (335 PA) – 23.0%
- Double-A (214 PA) – 25.2%
Of course he also showed a good eye at the plate (walk rates of 11.0% and 8.4%), so there is reason to believe that he can correct the issue. He’s listed at 6’4” and there’s potential for the power to continue to develop which, when coupled with his ability to steal bases, gives him a scary combination. Think of him as a 20/20 player who should also hit .270+, with the potential to develop into even more than that.
2) Clint Frazier – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017
Frazier spent the entire season at High-A, hitting .285 with 16 HR and 15 SB. He added 36 doubles and 3 triples, showing the potential for the power to further develop as he gets older (he just turned 21-years old) and gains experience. The problem has been the strikeouts, though he did take a step forward last season:
- 2014 (Single-A) – 29.7%
- 2015 (High-A) – 21.3%
When coupled with his good eye at the plate (11.6% walk rate), if he can maintain the improved strikeout rate the potential is there to develop into a strong hitter with massive power potential. How he adjusts to the next level, especially against more advanced pitching, is going to be the key to his long-term success.
3) Brady Aiken – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
We all know his story, as he was drafted with the first overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2014 (but they ultimately didn’t reach an agreement thanks to concerns with his elbow). He subsequently required Tommy John surgery, falling to the 17th pick in the 2015 draft. The fact that Houston used the top pick a year earlier tells us all we need to know about his upside, with the potential to be a true ace. The injury is obviously a concern and brings significant questions, but don’t write him off.
4) Rob Kaminsky – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2017
Acquired from the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline (in exchange for Brandon Moss), Kaminsky posted a 2.24 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.16 K/9 and 2.85 BB/9 at High-A. Throw in a 2.16 GO/AO and there is an awful lot to like in his overall upside. He may not be a fire baller who generates 9+ strikeouts per outing, but he’s got more than enough upside in that department to go along with tremendous control and the ability to generate groundballs. Don’t confuse him with a true ace, but he has #2 starter and a mid-rotation fantasy option written all over him.
5) Bobby Bradley – First Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
First base is generally a tough spot to find prospects, but Bradley brings your prototypical power potential from the position. He hit .269 with 27 HR and 92 RBI over 401 AB last season and the left-handed hitter could ultimately prove to be a 30+ HR slugger. Just how many prospects have that type of ability at this point in time?
The Next Five:
6) Justus Sheffield – Left-Handed Pitcher
Note – The numbers are intriguing (138 K vs. 38 BB over 127.2 IP), but you have to wonder if the 5’10” southpaw could be destined for the bullpen long-term
7) Tyler Naquin – Outfielder
8) Triston McKenzie – Right-Handed Pitcher
Note – The Indians went well over slot to sign him and with 17 K vs. 3 BB over 12.0 IP in his first taste of professional baseball he gave us an idea as to why. He’s definitely a player to watch.
9) Juan Hillman – Left-Handed Pitcher
10) Francisco Mejia – Catcher
Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect lists: