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The Indians have a balanced system with good bats, good arms, and fantasy upside at all levels. At the tippy top there’s Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier. Both should arrive in the next two years and the one you like better depends on whether you’re more of a speed freak or a power geek. You really can’t go wrong with either at this point. 2015 was the debut of Francisco Lindor, who exceeded expectations with his bat and was as advertised with his slick fielding at short. Given how hard it is to find offense at the position, it will be interesting to see how strongly fantasy players believe in his rookie year numbers and how high he’ll go in 2016 redrafts. I’m guessing pretty high. The Tribe had, in my humble opinion, a great 2015 draft and walked away with good players at great values. Their low minors is well stocked and it was honestly difficult to choose which players to profile down there.

2015 Graduates
Francisco Lindor | Giovanny Urshela | Cody Anderson | Austin Adams

Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.

Bradley Zimmer, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats:
549 PA, .273/.368/.446, 16 HR, 44 SB, 10% BB, 24% K

Zimmer straight up raked in High-A, then struggled in the second half at Double-A Akron. It came out later that he had a hairline fracture in his foot, and you have to wonder if that contributed to his difficulties. At any rate, even though the stats weren’t there with the jump in level, it’s easy to see why scouts project him to be an everyday major leaguer. He’s a big kid with sneaky speed, a nice left-handed swing, and a frame that looks like it could add even more power. Dream on Carlos Gomez but be prepared for Dexter Fowler.

Clint Frazier, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 588 PA, .285/.377/.465, 16 HR, 15 SB, 12% BB, 21% K

Frazier still has the plus power and huge bat speed that had us drooling over him when he was drafted. He hasn’t put up monster stats yet and a lot of scouting reports still see him having problems with breaking balls, but his plate discipline improved in 2015 and Frazier is still just 21 years old entering this season. He’ll get a taste of better pitching in Double-A, and we may see a bump in the road as he adjusts, but you could actually argue that Frazier is the best fantasy prospect in this system with a 30-homer ceiling and some wheels.


Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.

Tyler Naquin, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats:
378 PA, .300/.381/.446, 7 HR, 13 SB, 11% BB, 19% K

Naquin is an athletic center fielder that profiles somewhere between an everyday starter and a fourth outfielder. He’s like Zimmer Lite, with some pop, speed, and a quicker ETA with more experience in the upper levels. James Ramsey is another prospect to look at in deep formats who offers a bit more pop and a bit less speed than Naquin but is also a fringe everyday outfield guy.

Mike Clevinger, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats:
158 IP, 2.73 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

Clevinger had a great 2015, but most impressive are the 2.3 walk rate and 158 innings pitched. Clevinger underwent Tommy John and missed most of the 2013 season, so those two things point to a solid return to health. He’s a #3 starter ceiling with a good four-pitch mix. There’s currently no room in the Indians’ rotation, but Clevinger should be on your radar in deeper formats and the Tribe has had some recent success developing arms in their system.

Rob Kaminsky, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats:
104.1 IP, 2.24 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 7.2 K/9

The lefty from Jersey has a special place in my heart and soon he’ll have a special slot on a lot of my dynasty rosters. There’s nothing flashy and the only real plus pitch is his curve, but it’s a nasty one and is complemented by good command of the rest of his arsenal. The Cardinals selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft before sending him to Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade. Despite the challenges of moving to the AL, it’s still a good landing spot for a young arm. He has a chance to provide good ratios and decent strikeout numbers to round out a fantasy rotation.

Adam Plutko, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats:
166 IP, 2.39 ERA, 1.5 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

Clevinger and Plutko are similar in that they both proved durable with over 150 innings pitched in 2015, both showed great control with their sub-3 walk rates, and both are on the cusp of contributing to the major league club. If you put a gun to my head, I’d probably cry and wet myself, but then I’d choose Clevinger since he spent the entire season at Double-A and has slightly more fantasy upside. Plutko’s control is outstanding though and should help him carve out a role in a rotation.

Jesus Aguilar, 1B/DH | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats:
570 PA, .267/.332/.439, 19 HR, 0 SB, 8% BB, 20% K

Aguilar is starting to look like a career Triple-A player with no real home on the major league roster. He’s hit for power at Columbus, and has enough pop to be a decent bench bat in the bigs, but it’s a 1B/DH profile that really needs more in the stick to work for fantasy. If Aguilar gets your juices flowing, check out Nellie Rodriguez, who is basically a younger version of Aguilar.

Luigi Rodriguez, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats:
399 PA, .293/.335/.492, 12 HR, 24 SB, 6% BB, 21% K

The good news is that Rodriguez had his best season statistically in 2015. The bad news is he was a 23-year-old in High-A. The really bad news is he was popped for PEDs and suspended 80 games. Shallow leaguers can safely ignore him, but deep leaguers will want to see what a clean season in the upper minors looks like, since there have been flashes of power and speed.

Others: James Ramsey, Nellie Rodriguez, Tony Wolters, Shawn Morimando, Mike Papi


Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.

Bobby Bradley, 1B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A/A+
2015 Stats:
474 PA, .264/.357/.518, 27 HR, 3 SB, 12% BB, 32% K

First base profiles don’t have much wiggle room on the defensive spectrum, so it puts pressure on their bats to perform. Such is the case with Bradley, who has big raw power but also a little too much swing and miss in his game based on the 2015 strikeout rate. Outside of monitoring those whiffs, Bradley looks like he’d work as a fantasy first baseman with 30-homer upside.

Brady Aiken, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: DNP
2015 Stats:
N/A

Aiken is obviously a gamble, but he also has the most upside of any arm in this system. All three of his pitches graded as plus before he underwent Tommy John surgery, and while he won’t pitch this year it’s a good bet he’ll return to top prospect status when he gets back on the mound in 2017. It’s not my cup of tea, but I can see how he might be considered a steal outside of round one in dynasty drafts this winter.

Justus Sheffield, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats:
127.2 IP, 3.31 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 9.7 K/9

As if it weren’t enough that the Tribe has Aiken and Kaminsky in the hopper, they have yet another quality southpaw in Sheffield. He’s more polished than your average teenage arm and should move quickly if he continues to show good control of his arsenal. I like the strikeout upside here for fantasy but there’s still a good ways to go in his development, so he’s not a must-own in shallower leagues.

Triston McKenzie, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats:
12 IP, 0.75 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 12.8 K/9

McKenzie’s stuff isn’t quite the same level as Aiken’s, but he still has an above-average fastball and curve. It’s mostly projection, but scouts think McKenzie can add some velo as he matures. If it all comes together, he could have frontline starter stuff that you didn’t have to pay frontline starter prices to acquire.

Yu-Cheng Chang, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats:
440 PA, .232/.293/.361, 9 HR, 5 SB, 6% BB, 23% K

Chang is a switch-hitter with average pop and speed that should stick on the left side of the infield. His 2015 stat line in A-ball wasn’t quite the encore his owners were looking for after a big debut in rookie ball, but there’s still enough here to monitor in deeper dynasty leagues. Chang should see High-A in 2016 and an offensive rebound would obviously help his value reinflate.

Luke Wakamatsu, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats:
119 PA, .267/.339/.400, 1 HR, 4 SB, 9% BB, 34% K

The scouting reports on Wakamatsu’s tools don’t match up with where he went in the draft. The MLB.com profile mentions that it was assumed he wouldn’t sign, which would explain why he fell so far. Nonetheless, the Tribe landed a switch-hitting shortstop with an average to above average offensive skillset and a good chance to stick on the dirt…in round 20.

Francisco Mejia, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats:
446 PA, .243/.324/.345, 9 HR, 4 SB, 9% BB, 17% K

It’s tough to invest in catchers when they are far away, but Mejia looks like a long-term project that the Indians are committed to. He’s been young and raw for each level, and while his best tools are on the defensive side of the ball, Mejia could blossom into an everyday option behind the plate. He’s one that you can probably wait on before investing in dynasty leagues.

Others: Juan Hillman, Dorssys Paulino, Tyler Krieger, Mark Mathias, Claudio Bautista


2016 Minor League Preview Index

   
  1. Shill Team 6 says:
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    Cheng Chang walla walla bing bang. Oo ee oo ah ah Cheng Chang walla walla bing bang.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      HA! gonna need a new monitor cause I just did a spit take…

      • Shill Team 6 says:
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        @Mike: Glad you enjoyed it!! You know who didn’t like it? Autocorrect. I swear I heard it whisper. “I’m gonna kill you”.
        Took a good 2.5 minutes to type it.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          autocorrect…pffft. thinks it’s so damn smart

          • Shill Team 6 says:
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            @Mike: Google search is just as bad. “You typed this but we’re going to search for that.”
            Humph… Puters. SMH

            • ScreechOwl says:
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              @Shill Team 6:

              I remember having that problem with Netflix in the past.

              I searched for “Hana,” a Japanese film. The results gave me “Hanna” first, even though Hana was available if I scrolled down the list far enough. Apparently, Netflix thought I was more likely to have misspelled the name than to be searching for that particular film.

              I mean, I totally get why, since machine learning and masking algorithms are gonna do what they’re gonna do. It just means that I found quantifiable data that people are more prone to spelling errors than to foreign movies. I’m not sure if that means anything or not (it doesn’t).

  2. Maxwell says:
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    I keep 8 in a 16 man league. I have kershaw, sale, cueto, harper, goldy, mccutchen, tulo, kipnis and tyson ross.i was offered cueto for braun. Should i pull the trigger?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      tough one. I think I’d roll the dice on Braun.

      • maxwell says:
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        @Mike: also if you don’t mind answering, what do you expect out of kipnis? I’m thinking of pairing him with ross to upgrade my offense. Maybe for someone like frazier

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          hmmm…10/20/.270? I’d go after Frazier

    • For an Armenianless vacation come to Akron says:
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      @Maxwell: even having more than 3 of the top of those guys is nuts in 16 man league.

  3. Ra'zbahl Al Ghul says:
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    Finally getting to some juicier systems, Thank you Maik!
    On Plutko, everything I have read says he loves to work up in the zone and relies on defense/getting fly ball outs. It proved to be effective in college, but what’s your take on how that translates to the bigs and progressive field?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      he is a flyball pitcher and Progressive is kinda middle of the pack in terms of homers. Not sure how Cleveland’s defense stacks up. He’s a BORP either way

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Mike: strangely I have watched this kid since he was 15 ( his uncle and dad where teachers and coaches at my high school). He feels like a 5th starter, best case scenario, maybe even a long relief or middle relief type with his ability to not give up the long ball and induce a lot pop ups. Looking at his spray chart you see a lot of his flyballs are not deep flys.

  4. Shill Team 6 says:
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    So if you had to pick a dynasty OF. Pederson or Zimmer? I know Joc came out of the gate gangbusters. But seemed like he couldn’t keep up with the adjustments made against him.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Shill Team 6: its too early to label him based on a large slumping period but there are still enough positives that he has PROVEN on the major league level. He can hit for power, can take a walk (15.7% walk rate), is one of 14 players last year to have an ISO over .200 and a BB/K ratio greater than 0.54, next year he’ll be 24, and his hard contact % is in the realm of Donaldson and Joey Bats. On the flip side the K rate leave a lot to be desired but is still better than Bryant and Crush who also had worse walk rates. Most young players go through adjustments.

      • Shill Team 6 says:
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        @J-FOH: Thanks. What about the whole HR derby messing with his swing theory? I mean it looks like Frazier’s second half could be blamed on it also. Is that something that you guys believe in?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Pederson…they’re basically the same age and Zimmer hasn’t shown anything above High-A…yet

  5. goodfold2 says:
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    all the way caught up with your 16 finished team posts. i was able to find finished top 20 posts for 3 more teams that you won’t get to yet, at least at start of my draft jan 5th. you will have MIN done this week from your schedule, don’t have to worry about them. the last 10 teams will be harder, i’ll have just your last year/minor league ball lists to go off, along with this year drafted guys.
    For KC, which rank would you have for these, don’t worry about ETA’s i’m more concerned with long term values. I’ll list them by Minor League Ball’s ranks.
    A.Russell RHP (gotta be long shot)
    Staumont RHP (likely RP)
    N.Watson RHP (gotta be long shot from age also)
    Gasparini MI
    A.Miller OF (long shot)
    P.Fernandez (long shot, likely RP)
    A.Escalara-Maldonado OF (long shot likely from age)
    A.Fukofuka OF (this guy went nuts in Pioneer League)
    E.Skoglund SP (#4 starter type)
    R.Collins OF
    G.Davila SP
    B.Downes OF
    B.Eibner OF
    X.Fernandez C
    W.Franco CI
    G.Gerabito SP
    M.Strahm SP
    C.Toups MI

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      I haven’t looked into these guys yet :(

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Mike: at least none of them stand out then. nobody else has either, other than this minor league ball post.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @goodfold2: since i listed every possible guy listed from that minor league ball page that isn’t owned most of that list probably wouldn’t be much value at all anyway, probably at least true of the bottom 6 or so guys on it.

          • Mike

            Mike says:
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            yeah it gets really dicey pretty quickly outside the top tens since you’re talking over 300 prospects at that point

            • goodfold2 says:
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              @Mike: trying to figure out where your lists will be by about my 3rd round (when it starts to get really dicey). i currently have 155 available names from your 16 finished teams, and you’ll have by your current schedule 3 more finished by the start of our draft, so if averages hold up 184 names. For the most part i’m best off grabbing biggest upside guys (long shot lolitas). If i’m counting only those i have 97 names, and project at 115 after SF comes out. I’m guessing by the time i get to my 2nd (or more importantly 3rd-5th rounds) round pick a couple more. By the time our draft is over you’ll have likely just finished NYM, our draft likely finished by 26th or earlier. Minor League Ball is pretty far behind you here with only 8 finished (but at least their lists, like yours, are extensive, not just top 10). Baseball America is ahead, with NYM, CUBS, PIT, STL, LAD, NYY, TOR all finished, they’ll have KC done about halfway through my draft, so i’ll likely only get somewhat blanked on HOU and TEX, but of course their lists are only 10 and are D oriented. One idea that might work is if i just run down the 1st-2nd round draft picks that are on teams you haven’t finished yet, that would be less names and eliminating only guys who project as defensive specialist players, lower end pitchers etc. From your lists most floorboreds are gone (since they’ve been drafted in previous years), so about 60% of available names so far are long shot group. We’ll have less supplemental picks this year so probably around 155-160 players drafted from jan 3rd – around jan 26th.

  6. danny almonte says:
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    Any significant prospects going to Reds in the Chapman deal?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      eh, not really. Jagielo maybe

  7. Theo says:
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    Hey Mike,
    How close are Schwarber and Xander keeper wise?
    Do you have a preference between the two of them?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Hmmm pretty close I guess. I like Bogey more

      • Theo says:
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        @Mike: Is part of that based on bogey being a SS and Schwarber looking like a Of long term?

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          Yes def a factor

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @Theo: schwarbs looks like a DH long term.

  8. Nelson says:
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    Why is Frazier talked about as striking out too much, when in fact he Ks less than Zimmer. I dont hear people saying Zimmer will K 30% in the majors like they say about Frazier?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      hmmm, not sure. I’ve only read that he seems to have trouble hitting breaking stuff, not necessarily that he’ll be a high K guy.

  9. Malicious Phenom says:
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    Hey Mike, not sure you are on here today or not, but thought I would ask you 1 question.

    Orlando Arcia or Alex Bergman SS..Best career? As in who should I pickup out of the pair for my future SS.

    thanks as always!

    Hope you had a great New Year!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      you too! I’d go with Arcia for now, but I like Bregman long term

  10. booya says:
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    15 team 5×5 dynasty

    I was offered Cozart for Forrest Wall. Thinking about countering with Wall for Howie Kendrick because I currently have Baez penciled in at 2B [Ketel Marte, Semien & Tomlinson are my only other MI sadly]…but also don’t want to give up a potential future stud in Coors too cheap.

    Thoughts on this?

    Thanks!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Semien is pretty solid in a league that deep

      I’d probably go after Kendrick though, yeah

      • booya says:
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        @Mike: Where do you think he ends up signing?

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          hmmm, not sure. there used to be an offseason needs chart on rosterresource. not sure if they still have it

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