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It’s been a big year for Cleveland sports, but that all takes a back seat to a big week for Cleveland here on Razzball. Earlier in the week Grey gave you his take on top prospect Bradley Zimmer, yesterday we gave you the latest edition of the prospect podcast where we went through the top prospects in the Indians system. Always one to beat a dead horse, today we go over Zimmer and the Indians system again. Will we discuss anything new? Maybe. Sort of depends, if you read Grey’s post and listened along to the podcast, I’d lean toward the affirmative. If not than everything is new. Dollars to doughnuts it’s not a bad system to get hung up on. They have solid talent at the upper levels of the system and solid talent at the lower levels as well. Players like Francisco Mejia, Triston McKenzie, and Greg Allen all enjoyed breakouts. While Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff took home another haul in this year’s draft. Needless to say it’s a fun system to dive into. So let’s dive into it, shall we? The Top Cleveland Indians Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.

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

Bradley Zimmer, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA

Our Supreme Leader here at Razzball the respectable Grey Albright ESQ. already went in on Zimmer earlier last week. I’ll echo his sentiments. Zimmer is a player with an exciting and frustrating profile. He possesses elite speed and on base skills, above average power, and the type of defensive ability that should keep him employed by major league clubs for a decade. The problem is he has major strikeout issues. I don’t mean your typical young hitter learning to hit breaking pitches stuff either. I mean 30%+ oh my god what are you swinging at stuff. If he can reign that in we’re talking about a potential star.

Francisco Mejia, C | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+/A

Coming off one of the most successful seasons in minor league history, it will be interesting to see what his followup looks like. Mejia a switch hitter possesses excellent contact ability from both sides of the plate. You don’t have to look much further than his 50 game hit streak to deduct that though. His power is above average now, but he’s young enough that mid-teens pop should develop. He’s a virtual lock to stick behind the plate, with one of the best arms in the minors and above average catcher defense. On this week’s podcast Halp and I discussed who we would label the top catching prospect in the minors. True to form Halp stuck with his novio Tom Murphy, and I went Mejia. The point is, he’s a 21 year old in A ball and he’s firmly in the conversation.

Bobby Bradley, 1B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+

One of my favorite power prospects in the minors, Bradley is a true three outcome hitter. With elite power and on base skills, particularly for a 20 year old, Bradley is one of the top mashers in the minors. Like most mashers the young first baseman struggles with strikeouts. Ultimately this keeps his average low, so more than likely he’ll always be a batting average drain. The upside is Giancarlo Stanton type power.

Triston McKenzie, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/A-

My favorite of an exciting trio of prep arms selected by Cleveland in the 2015 draft. McKenzie is a string bean at 6’5 165 LBS, leaving him a ton of projection as his body matures. His plus fastball sits in the low 90’s with good control. He mixes in a plus curve, and a plus change. Clean and repeatable mechanics allow McKenzie to throw all three for strikes. The combination of upside and fundamental pitching knowledge make McKenzie one of the most attractive teenage arms to dynasty leaguers.

Brady Aiken, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/RK

After being selected first overall by the Houston Astros in the 2014 draft. Aiken made an ass out of himself and draft history by turning down a cut rate offer of $5 million following a post draft physical revealed an elbow issue. This led Aiken to more or less post grad a year at the notorious IMG Academy. He left his first start after experiencing forearm tightness and the rest is punish porn starring Dr. James Andrews. Aiken’s first crack at pro ball this year was ugly, but all things considered I think he deserves a pass. Certainly a full offseason should do him some good. With three plus pitches, prototype size, and athleticism Aiken has the makeup of a front line starter.

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

Greg Allen, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+

After a breakout year between AA Akron and High A Lynchburg, Allen continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League slashing .269/.380/.449 with 3 homers and 11 steals. Allen is often billed as a 4th outfielder but after an impressive campaign in 2016 that saw him score 119 runs in 129 games, it’s tough to not give him a strong chance to develop into a potential leadoff hitter at the MLB level. Allen’s speed is his best tool allowing him to swipe 45 bases this year.

Yu-Cheng Chang, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+

Signed out of Taiwan for $500,000 back in 2013, Chang has progressed through the lower minors with relatively little fanfare despite being a well regarded prospect. Chang doesn’t have one standout tool but does a little bit of everything well. Should eventually project out as a mid-teens contributor in both home runs and steals. After playing well at high A Lynchburg, should see assignment to AA Akron in 2017.

Yandy Diaz, 3B/OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA

An under the radar Cuban with advanced hit tool it’s funny to think he only netted $300,000 on the same market that dropped $72.5 million on Rusney Castillo. It would only take you about two minutes to identify who the better hitter is. Diaz, hit across two levels of the upper minors this season slashing a combined .318/.408/.446. While his power and speed are middling he still has the ability to contribute in all categories. He also offers versatility from a positional standpoint, with the ability to play multiple positions in the infield as well as the outfield. He’s pretty much a Cuban Ben Zobrist.

Nellie Rodriguez, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA

With 83 homers across four and a half minor league seasons it’s an obvious statement to say that Nellie possesses prodigious power. After slugging 26 homers at AA Akron of the Eastern League in 2016, Rodriguez finds himself on the cusp of the majors in 2017. Another three outcome hitter, if Nellie hopes to succeed at the next level he’ll need to cut back in the strikeouts which has sat in the low 30’s his entire AA career. He looks like a future DH in the making.

Adam Plutko, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA

A member of the same UCLA rotation as MLB starters Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer in 2012. Plutko led the Bruins to a College World Series Championship in 2013 after the two future stars left LA for the professional ranks. The righty does not possess electric stuff, but he knows how induce weak contact and get outs. Looks like a solid back of the rotation type.

Others: Erik Gonzalez, Shawn Morimando, Tyler Krieger, Mark Mathias, Rob Kaminsky, Luke Wakamatsu, Mike Papi

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

Nolan Jones, 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: RK

I ranked Jones 31st on my first year player draft rankings a month or so back, and here’s what I said then. “Pennsylvania prep player blessed with excellent bat speed and great raw power. He’s inevitably tied to first rounder Josh Lowe as two of the top power hitting prep corner infielders, but has yet to show any game power, unlike Lowe.” That’s pretty much what we know so far, the bat speed, raw power, and upside are there, but he’s yet to show it.

Will Benson, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: RK

The 14th overall pick in this year’s draft has been described as a Jason Heyward clone. I think they meant that in a good way. His excellent bat speed, plus raw power, and speed make him a sexy fantasy prospect for the long term. Much like the aforementioned Jones, he’s still a ways a way, with a great deal of growing to do.

Juan Hillman, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: A-

The third prep arm taken by the Tribe in the 2015 draft, Hillman has an interesting back story. Upon transferring to Olympia High in Orlando Florida, he was taken into the guardianship of former Major League star Tom Gordon. Does that make him Dee and Nick’s unofficial brother? On the field he’s a polished prep pitcher with excellent control and good pitchability. Does not have the ceiling of Aiken or McKenzie but has plenty of upside, though it may not be that of a front line starter.

Others: Ulysses Cantu, Connor Capel, Willi Castro, Aaron Civale, Logan Ice, Shane Bieber

Check Out Our Minor League Preview Index for all articles and podcasts on all 30 teams!

 
  1. Saints says:
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    Hay Ralph Thanks for the work. Available players in my draft are:
    Hillman,Rodriguez,Plutko,Chang. Would you rank anyone of them in your “Top 50 First Year player rankings” ? and Where ?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Saints: I’d rank Hillman about 35, Chang about 25, Plutko about 50, and Nellie about 40.

      • Saints says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        Thanks for the answer :)

  2. Lougle says:
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    Ralph –

    I’m in an OBP league and I can’t help think that Allen is getting underrated. He’s a high OBP guy that should get on base enough to steal bases lots of bases and score runs. Is he going to be outside of your top 100? Thanks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lougle: We talk about this on the Podcast this week. He’s on the cusp, as he was older for the Hi-A level. I think he’s in the 85-100 range.

  3. Saints says:
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    Hay Ralph i have my next pick possibilites are Dylan Cozens,Ronald Acuna, Jorge Ona and Bobby Dalbec. Which Prospect would you prefer and pick. First i thought cozens but i read Gregs Rookie Outlook today and now I’m a little bit scared what do you think ?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Saints: I’all go Acuna. He’all rank ahead of all those guys. I wouldn’t be shocked if Cozens is the lowest valued guy come a year from now.

      • Saints says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        Ok so you’re going hard against grey :D :D I will go with your opinion this time hopefully its the right decision :)

  4. Alan says:
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    Wow you the first to compare to Stanton?

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