by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Indians made a bold move at the Trade Deadline, as they trade a prospect bounty to acquire Andrew Miller. The move certainly paid off, as Miller helped them reach the World Series, and they actually didn’t leave the system bare in the process. Who are the best prospects remaining? Let’s take a look:
1) Francisco Mejia – Catcher
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018
A switch-hitting catcher who showed a tremendous approach at the plate en route to a 50-game hitting streak? All that he needs is a little bit of power upside… He has that as well! Splitting time between two levels of Single-A last season he posted 11 HR (as well as 29 doubles and 4 triples) in just 407 AB. In other words we could ultimately talk about a 15-20 HR type catcher.
Now his approach, as if the hitting streak wasn’t enough, as he showed strong strikeout rates at each level:
- Single-A – 15.1%
- High-A – 13.0%
Strong approach plus some power? That sounds an awful lot like Jonathan Lucroy, a player the Indians nearly acquired at the trade deadline. Mejia has the potential to be one of the elite in the game at his position.
2) Bradley Zimmer – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017
The trade of Clint Frazier leaves Zimmer as the Indians’ clear top outfield prospect, but his strikeout rate helps to keep him out of the top spot overall:
- Double-A (407 PA) – 28.3%
- Triple-A (150 PA) – 37.3%
While both marks are highly concerning, the Triple-A number is even more jaw dropping when you add in his 1 HR. He does have speed (38 SB), which is going to help, and he also has shown that he can draw walks (13.8% at Double-A, 14.0% at Triple-A). Throw in some home run potential and the total package is there if he can make contact on a consistent basis. That’s a big if, however, and not one that we can ignore.
3) Triston McKenzie – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
We can nitpick and say that we’d like to see more groundballs, having posted a 0.66 GO/AO between two levels of Single-A. We also have to hope that he adds a little bit more bulk to his frame (listed as 6’5” and 165 lbs.), as there will otherwise be questions asked about his ability to handle a full workload. That said, in his 83.1 IP he racked up 104 K vs. just 22 BB as he already has a trio of pitches that he can rely on. He has the potential to develop into a top of the rotation starter, so make sure to keep a close eye on his development.
4) Brady Aiken – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Injury concerns led to Aiken not signing with the Astros after being selected first overall in ’14, so he settled with being selected by the Indians in 2015 instead after having to undergo Tommy John surgery. He struggled with his control upon his return, 21 BB over 46.1 IP, but that’s not uncommon and shouldn’t be held against him yet. Considering he was talented enough to be selected first overall, that alone should tell you what his upside is. While it’s never a guarantee that he can come all the way back, don’t underestimate him.
5) Bobby Bradley – First Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018
He clearly has power, with 56 HR over the past two seasons (he hit 29 HR over 485 AB at High-A last season), and he also can draw a walk (13.1% in ’16). However he needs to make an adjustment, as his 29.7% strikeout rate at this level is incredibly concerning. It’s something that needs to be fixed, and there is time, otherwise he’s going to struggle to hit for strong averages at the upper levels.
6) Will Benson – Outfielder (B-)
7) Greg Allen – Outfielder (B-)
Note: He doesn’t offer much power, but he swiped 45 bases while striking out (78) and walking (77) nearly an identical amount of times. He did add 23 doubles, 7 triples and 7 HR, so he’s not your prototypical 1 HR speedster either. There’s upside, and he shouldn’t be ignored.
8) Yu-Cheng Chang – Shortstop (B-)
9) Nolan Jones – Third Baseman (C+)
10) Yandy Diaz – Third Baseman/Outfielder (C+)
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Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: