Cleveland Indians 2019 Preseason Top 10

Cleveland Indians 2019 Preseason Top 10

1)

Player: Triston McKenzie
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’5” Weight: 165 lbs.
Quick Report: McKenzie came out as one of the most projectable pitchers in his draft class, and has managed to only add a little weight over 3+ years. That said, he is going into is age 21 season with a full year of success at AA under his belt, and still considered projectable. He has a very high leg kick that too often sees pitchers struggle to repeat the delivery, but that isn’t the case here, as he has a fluid delivery and repeats it well. He has a fastball that can run into the mid-90s, a well above-average curve, and advanced feel for a change while showing the ability to spot them all.

2)

Player: Nolan Jones
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: Jones has plenty of arm to stick at third and fields the position well. He has a good approach at the plate and has managed to put up a solid average and decent power numbers thus far. There are concerns with his hands in his swing as they are low and late to load. It will be really interesting to see how he handles more advanced pitching, but the natural ability to drive the ball to all fields with some power is still impressive.

3)

Player: George Valera
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 5’10” Weight: 160 lbs.
Quick Report: There are a ton of moving parts in Valera’s swing, but there is also a fluidity to the swing and good bat control that limits the concern of all the actions. He can find himself on his front foot and/or with his hands below the ball a bit much, but there is still plenty of growth ahead of him. Some feel he can stick in center long term, but I don’t see the body staying lean enough to stay there. I do feel he has the arm to play right but there is enough bat to be just fine if he eventually lands in left.

4)

Player: Luis Oviedo
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: 170 lbs.
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 170 lbs.
Quick Report: I was lucky enough to see Oviedo in his stateside debut season in the AZL in 2017 and he jumped out as a follow. Fast forward just one full season later and he is one of the top prospects in the Indians system. He is tall and listed at just 170 lbs. but I wouldn’t be surprised if the real number is 20+ lbs. more than that, and good lbs. at that. He has a low arm slot from a deceptive and repeatable delivery that helps him command four pitches. He has been up to 98 on the gun, with a power slider and good curve while also demonstrating some feel for change. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him at the top of the Indians list this time next year, but the fact he only has two full-season outings under his belt have prevented me from placing him any higher.

5)

Player: Bo Naylor
Position(s): C Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: The younger brother of possibly my favorite personality currently playing Minor League Baseball, seriously, Josh Naylor of the Padres is someone who you can’t help but laugh with when around him; Bo might have the brighter baseball future. His bat can play at any position with a contact first approach, but plenty of pop from the left side. He has a strong arm and excellent footwork behind the plate, but his receiving ability needs plenty of work and his pop times are really hurt due to his lack of accuracy. He has the athleticism to play any of the four corner positions, but will be given the opportunity to stick as a catcher, where he could become elite at the position.

6)

Player: Ethan Hankins
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’6” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: It seems every year there is a right handed prep pitcher who is given the label as the one who may be the first such prospect to go number one overall, two years ago that was Hankins. He wound up getting injured his senior year of high school and wasn’t even the Indians first pick of the draft, but he hasn’t let that slow him down. He has as big a fastball as anybody in the minors, regularly touching 98 with plenty of run. Unlike most power arms, his best secondary offering is his change that has shown the potential to be plus. He needs to find consistency with his curve and/or slider to be a viable long term starter, which is one of the reasons he is not higher on this list. If the breaking balls don’t come along, he cna be a dominant late inning reliever, but if they do he can rise to a front half of a rotation guy.

 

7)

Player: Brayan Rocchio
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Switch Throws: Right Height: 5’10” Weight: 150 lbs.
Quick Report: It was a bit of a surprise to see Rocchio land in the AZL while still a 17 year old last year, but he hit .343 and showed he belonged stateside already. His stance almost looks painful with such an awkward inward knee bend, but his balance and bat skills are excellent. He has plus speed and likes to run, although his reads need work. He is the best bet in this list to stick at short and a good Spring could see him making an aggressive full-season debut come April.

8)

Player: Sam Hentges
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’6” Weight: 245 lbs.
Quick Report: A tall lefty, Hentges keeps his arm inn a high 3/4 slot to create good downhill plane on his fastball that can sit in the mid-90s. His best secondary offering is his change but a recently introduced cutter has some thinking it may be the future out pitch. He also has a solid change and has shown the ability to spot them all. He has a quick leg lift with some hard actions in the movement that make the delivery feel rushed, but it is actually well controlled behind that first quick twitch that also helps create a little deception despite the traditional arm action.

9)

Player: Yu Chang
Position(s): SS/3B Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: In 2014, the talk of the AZL was the guy who won the Triple Crown in the league that year, and a guy I wanted to fit in the top 10 but just couldn’t, Bobby Bradley. While he clearly had the best numbers, the player who made the biggest impact on me was one from Taiwan going by the name Yu-Cheng Chang. Chang is now knocking on the door of the big leagues after reaching AAA in 2018 and playing in the AFL each of the past two seasons. He has raw power to suggest he could be a 25+ HR guy in the big leagues, but he has a lot of swing and miss that will limit his average to around .250. Defensively he has very little that screams shortstop, yet he manages to field the position well thanks to soft hands and a quick release. His future is probably at third base (Francisco Lindor isn’t going anywhere) but he could has started to see time at second too.

10)

Player: Tyler Freeman
Position(s): SS/2B Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Short A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 170 lbs.
Quick Report: Some in the industry feel Freeman has as much upside as any in the Indians system, and that may be true, but I struggle to rank him high in the system given he still hasn’t made his full season debut and he is going into his third season with the organization. Hit bat-to-ball skills are genuinely impressive, getting the bat into the zone quickly with almost no wasted motion. He likely won’t hit for much power at any point, but could be a guy that racks up the doubles by driving the ball into the gaps. I feel he can stick at short but will never be an elite defender there. Given the fact Francisco Lindor is likely to stay in Cleveland a very long time, second base is his most likely path to playing time in the big leagues, several years from now.

Others of Note:

Bobby Bradley – 1B – 22 – AAA
Lenny Torres – RHP – 18 – Rookie

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