Dynasty: Cleveland Indians’ 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Since reaching the 2016 World Series, the Indians have been caught in a strange in-between mode, both trying to win titles and at the same time looking to sell off expensive parts. While the direction of the club is a bit murky, they’ve done well in developing a crop of young talent at the big-league level, led by recent prospect graduates such as Shane Bieber, Oscar Mercado, and Aaron Civale to name a few.

With the success of those players, one might think the Indians’ system is running out of steam. But thanks to a large presence in the international market, the farm is only growing stronger and it stands out for its abundance of young talent up the middle (Spoiler: There are 16 MI on the list).

As such, there is no shortage of fun names to chase in dynasty. Here are the top 50 prospects for the Cleveland Indians.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as high.

 

1. 3B Nolan Jones

Age: 21
Highest Level: AA

One could make an argument for a few players at the top spot in the Indians’ system. I like Nolan Jones the best.

For starters, he’s an on-base machine, with a career OBP in the minors of .409 in 340 games. He also has a reputation for not having much power, but he’s coming off two seasons with 19 and 15 homers respectively and has a career .858 OPS as well. His performance thus far has been remarkably consistent, which also makes projecting him a little more palatable in my eyes.

If there’s a knock against him, he’s probably too patient at the plate. He struck out 27.7% of the time last year, as he likes to see a lot of pitches and works deep into counts. But he’s still only 21 and if he’s able to tap into even more power, with his batting eye, he can be an offensive force in fantasy for a long time. His approach also makes him a good target in OBP leagues or points-based formats that reward walks.

There’s a chance Jones gets a late-season call-up in 2020 if the Indians need him for a playoff push, but it’s more likely we see him debut in early 2021.

ETA: 2021

 

2. OF George Valera

Age: 19
Highest Level: A

George Valera is only 19 and already a rock star in dynasty circles. Since signing in the J2 period in 2017, he’s garnered a lot of hype for an advanced approach at the plate that saw him walk 15.4% of the time last year. He also shows developing raw power, so much that I can admit I’ve watched his home run videos on a loop.

Part of me thinks there is too much helium, though, which gives me some pause. Due to injuries, he’s been limited to just 58 games as a pro and in that time, he is a .227 career hitter who had a 27.7% K rate last year. Of course, it should be noted he was young for the level at just 18 years old.

I still like Valera a lot and he remains a desirable target in dynasty leagues. But it would be nice to see him healthy for a full season at Class A this year. If he can do that and hit like many expect he will, it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a top-30 overall prospect by this time next year.

ETA: 2022

 

3. SS Tyler Freeman

Age: 20
Highest Level: A+

Tyler Freeman is the type of prospect who looks totally unassuming on the surface and then before you know it, he’s going inside the top 100 picks of fantasy drafts. I could see that in his future because all the kid does is hit. After reaching High-A last year, he now sports a .319 career average in the minors. He makes a ton of contact, which is kind of his calling card, and while he doesn’t walk much, he has kept his strikeout rates around 10% or less at each stop so far.

The downside is the lack of power. He has just seven career home runs in 213 games, but he did smack 32 doubles last year, so he’s not just a singles hitter, either. Freeman also swiped 19 bases in 2019 and while he’s not a burner, he projects as a steady source of 15 steals in the future. It’s true he lacks the huge upside of some other names on the list, but Freeman’s steady bat deserves a spot in the top three.

ETA: 2021

 

4. RHP Ethan Hankins

Age: 19
Highest Level: A

A first-round pick (35th overall) in 2018, Ethan Hankins stands out with a mid-90s fastball that’s earned 70 grades and plays up thanks to late movement on the pitch. He’s also just a towering presence on the mound at 6’6″, 200 pounds, and it’s possible he squeezes out more velocity as he grows into his frame. His fastball is complimented by three offspeed pitches that grade out to at least average as well.

In 2019, Hankins reached A ball and recorded a 2.55 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 28.6 K% in 60 innings. I’d like to see him hold up under a more robust workload this year, as the Indians mostly kept his innings in check after shoulder tightness limited him a bit in his prep days. If he can do that and trim the walks (12.1 BB%), he’s on his way to becoming one of the top pitching prospects in the minors.

ETA: 2022

 

5. 2B Aaron Bracho

Age: 18
Highest Level: A (Short)

Aaron Bracho is a name creeping up prospect lists. The Venezuelan teenager tore up rookie ball last year, hitting .296 with 6 HRs, 4 SBs, and a 1.009 OPS in 30 games. He also walked more than he struck out, which is impressive for an 18-year-old who sat out of pro ball in 2018 with a fractured arm.

As a switch-hitter with an advanced bat and feel for the strike zone, he should provide solid batting average as he climbs the minor leagues. His power output is harder to peg down, but he shows 20-HR upside. He also possesses a little speed, though for fantasy he’s probably only a modest contributor in that department. I really like his bat overall and place him as a borderline top-100 prospect for dynasty.

ETA: 2022

 

6. SS Brayan Rocchio

Age: 19
Highest Level: A (Short)

Whereas Bracho and Valera each garnered more than $1 million during the international signing period in 2017, the Indians added shortstop Brayan Rocchio for just $150,000. He could end up being the best of the bunch.

As a 17-year-old in rookie ball, Rocchio opened eyes by hitting .335 with 22 steals in just 60 games. The average dropped to .250 in his first stint at A ball (short season) this year, though he still showed strong contact skills and his BABIP was just .276, suggesting he was a bit unlucky.

A safe floor for his power/speed output is likely in the 10 HR, 20 SB range, with potential for more. He’s earned 60 grades on his speed, though it’s noteworthy he has just a 63% success rate stealing bases in the lower minors. He’s already an attractive dynasty asset, but if he can hone his base running and add a smidge more power, he’ll jump up another level.

ETA: 2022

 

7. RHP Daniel Espino

Age: 19
Highest Level: A (Short)

The Indians’ top pick in the 2019 draft (24th overall), Daniel Espino has a nasty fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and has hit triple digits on occasion. To keep hitters off balance, he mixes in an above-average slider as well as a sharp curveball and a developing changeup. A native of Panama, Espino debuted as an 18-year-old this year and made it to the New York-Penn League, striking out 34 batters in 23.1 IP in the process.

There are already whispers of reliever risk with him, mostly due to a long arm action in his delivery. But I’m not too worried yet as he’s still young and his pitch mix is advanced enough to stick as a starter. If he can find consistency with the delivery, the upside is there for a frontline starter.

ETA: 2023

 

8. OF Daniel Johnson

Age: 24
Highest Level: AAA

If you’re looking for an Indians’ prospect who will make an impact in redraft leagues this year, look no further than outfielder Daniel Johnson. The athletic, lefty bat came over in the Yan Gomes trade last offseason and hit .290 with 19 HRs and 12 SBs in 123 games across AA and AAA this year.

Just eyeing the Indians’ depth chart, it’s not hard to see a path to playing time, as he could easily beat out the group of Jake Bauers, Jordan Luplow, and Greg Allen for a corner OF spot. Of course, the Indians could still make a move in free agency, but even so, I expect to see Johnson up in the first half of 2020.

One other thing to note, Johnson really crushed righties at AAA this year, hitting .335 with a .931 OPS. He was far less successful against southpaws, hitting just .235. So, he might be a platoon bat, at least to start his big-league career.

ETA: 2020

 

9. RHP Triston McKenzie

Age: 22
Highest Level: AA

Once upon a time, Triston McKenzie was regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. After missing two months with a forearm injury in 2018 and then sitting out all of this season due to an upper back strain, his stock has taken a noticeable hit.

That said, the lanky 6’5″ right-hander still has a solid three-pitch mix of fastball-curve-changeup, with all three offerings graded as above-average to plus. He’s had success as every level with a career 2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 30.4 K% in 329 innings.

If he can get back on the mound and shake off the rust this year, there’s a chance he could get to AAA and jump right back into the prospect limelight. His recent injury history makes him a risky bet in dynasty, however, so I’d take a cautious approach with him.

ETA: 2021

 

10. C Bo Naylor

Age: 19
Highest Level: A

While still in the lower minors, Bo Naylor has the tools to become the Indians’ catcher of the future. At 6’0″, 195 pounds, he has a much more athletic frame than his older brother, Josh Naylor, and because of that athleticism he has a good shot at sticking behind the plate.

Naylor also has solid power with the bat. In Class A this year he hit 11 HRs, but also had 18 doubles and 11 triples in 107 games. He hit just .243 overall, but the 9.5 BB% shows potential for a good approach and eye at the plate.

Given his age and position, the Indians likely won’t rush him. So, while the future looks bright, there will be some waiting time in dynasty leagues.

ETA: 2022

 

11. OF Alexfri Planez

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

Outfielder Alexfri Planez played in just six games last year due to a hand injury, but that could be a blessing in disguise for dynasty owners. He’s flying a bit under the radar and yet is one of the most promising bats in the whole system.

At just 18 years old with a 6’2″, 180-pound frame, there’s still projection for physical growth, and he’s already showing good power in the lower minors. He has 10 HRs in 67 career games with a .284 AVG and .809 OPS. We have yet to see how he holds up against a full season of pitching stateside, but he’s a nice high-upside bat to target in deeper dynasty leagues.

ETA: 2023

 

12. SS Gabriel Rodriguez

Age: 17
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

Venezuelan Gabriel Rodriguez signed for a team record $2.1 million as part of the 2018 international class. Scouts like his tools both in the field and at the plate, as he’s projected to be above average in virtually every facet of the game.

He made his pro debut in 2019 in both the DSL and AZL, where collectively he hit .231 with three home runs and four steals in 56 games. It certainly wasn’t an exciting debut, but he was just 17 and it’s too early to draw any real conclusions about his offensive game. He’s a name to watch, as he could be a big riser if he breaks out at the plate in 2020.

ETA: 2023

 

13. RHP James Karinchak

Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

Each year in fantasy there’s a group of trendy relievers everybody tries to grab in the later rounds for strikeout and closer upside. James Karinchak is the poster boy of that group in 2020.

Karinchak breezed through the minors with a curveball and upper-90s fastball combo that led to a career 2.73 ERA, and 43.2 K% in 102.1 innings. He was equally impressive in a cup of coffee with the Indians last year and if Brad Hand gets injured, it’s not hard to envision Karinchak getting a crack at the closer’s role. The one weakness in his game is the walks. He had a career 14.4 BB% in the minors, so he’ll need to keep that in check to avoid big innings.

I don’t like to go crazy on relievers in dynasty because the position is often so swingy from year to year, but he’s one of the better arms to target if you’re looking for the next big RP stud.

ETA: 2020

 

14. RHP Emmanuel Clase

Age: 21
Highest Level: MLB

The Indians acquired hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase in the Corey Kluber trade. And while that deal was largely panned by fans, if nothing else it sets up the Indians to have a potentially elite bullpen over the next few years. Clase throws in the upper 90s with a fastball/cutter and compliments it with a sharp slider. His strikeout totals in the minors were solid though not overwhelming compared to the aforementioned Karinchak.

What stands out though is his excellent control. With the Rangers last year, he walked just 6.4% of batters in 23.1 innings, which is consistent with what he showed in the upper minors as well. He could also factor into saves if closer Brad Hand misses any time this year.

ETA: 2020

 

15. OF Will Benson

Age: 21
Highest Level: A+

We all want to live the rotisserie dream and field an entire roster of 20-20 players. The 21-year-old, 6’5″ Will Benson is a toolsy outfielder who could slot right in to such a roster. He went 18-18 with a .974 OPS in just 62 games for Class A Lynchburg this year. But sadly, that’s where the dream ends with him, as he’s been wildly inconsistent in his pro career so far.

After a mid-season promotion to High-A, his production completely fell off, hitting just .189 with 4 HRs and 9 SBs in 61 games. This might not be such a worry, except Benson has yet to hit over .238 in any season since being drafted back in 2016. His strike out rates hover around 30% as well.

I wouldn’t write him off in dynasty, simply because the payoff is really high if things click for him. But given his ups and downs, he’s still more of a long-term project than anything else.

ETA: 2022

 

16. LHP Logan Allen

Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB

Former Padres’ prospect Logan Allen was a popular pick in 2019 to make a splash as a rookie, but between the juiced ball and poor performance, he pitched to a 6.75 ERA and was dealt to the Indians at the trade deadline.

The question then becomes: Can Allen rebound with his new team? He’s still just 22 and it was only two years ago that he put up a 2.54 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in the upper levels of the minors. Given the Indians’ recent success developing pitchers who don’t have big swing-and-miss stuff, I’d be willing to acquire Allen in dynasty as a throw-in piece or just on the cheap while his value is low.

ETA: 2020

 

17. 1B Bobby Bradley

Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB

At one point this year, Bobby Bradley was the home run leader in the minors and on top of the world. Then the Indians called him up and he got a major reality check, striking out more than 40% of the time before getting sent down after just 15 games.

He’s kind of the most prototypical first base prospect ever with his big raw power and high K rates. And to his credit he still had a huge season in AAA, smashing 33 HRs and slugging .567 with a .303 ISO. He’s also shown he can take walks, putting up rates above 10.0% at virtually every stop in the minors.

I’m not going to lie, he’s not someone I’m targeting in dynasty because there’s a real risk he struggles to hit even .230 or .240 in the majors. In OBP leagues, however, he’s a lot more attractive and worth a flier.

ETA: 2020

 

18. RHP Lenny Torres

Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

A prep arm from New York, Lenny Torres was drafted 41st overall in 2018. He’s brimming with potential, thanks to an electric mid-90s fastball and a plus slider that he used to dominate rookie ball in his pro debut. Unfortunately, he underwent Tommy John surgery last April and missed the entire 2019 season. If he can return to the mound later this year and show the same raw stuff that he had pre-surgery, he remains a good arm to stash in deeper dynasty leagues.

ETA: 2023

 

19. SS/3B Yu Chang

Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB

I expected to see more of infielder Yu Chang in Cleveland in 2019, but he never really got going at the plate and didn’t get called up until the summer. In 73 ABs with the Indians, he hit just .178 with 1 HR.

I’m not sure where Chang fits in the team’s long-term plans. He’s coming off two pretty ho-hum seasons at AAA Columbus. Last year, even with the luxury of having the major-league ball, he hit .253 with an 88 wRC+. He has shown power in the minors, though, with 24 homers for AA Akron in 2017. He also offers defensive flexibility; he’s played at second, third, and shortstop, so he could slot in nicely in a utility role if a starting job isn’t open for him.

ETA: 2020

 

20. 2B/SS/3B Angel Martinez

Age: 17
Highest Level: Rookie (DSL)

A versatile infielder who can play an array of positions, Angel Martinez impressed with his bat in the DSL this year as well. He hit .306/.402/.428 in 56 games and also showed some speed with 11 steals. It was a solid debut for a 17-year-old, who for my money jumped ahead of some of the other MI prospects on this list who were held in higher regard coming into the year. There may not be much power in his profile, but he’s off to a promising start and is a player to keep an eye on.

ETA: 2023

 

21. 1B Jhonkensy Noel

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

One of the few promising corner bats in the Indians’ system, Jhonkensy Noel had a successful stateside debut this year with a .287/.349/.455 slash in 47 games in the AZL. He possesses good power, smacking 16 home runs so far in his minor league career (111 games). He also held the strikeouts in check this year, with a solid 18.7 K%. Noel is getting some buzz in the prospect world and could be a big riser if the bat holds up against better pitching in 2020.

ETA: 2023

 

22. RHP Jean Carlos Mejia

Age: 23
Highest Level: A+

It’s hard to believe Jean Carlos Mejia has been in the Indians’ system for six years now. Signed back in 2013, Mejia really came into his own in 2018 when he was converted into a starter and put up a 3.13 ERA and 26.1 K% in A ball. He only started eight games in 2019 due to an abdominal strain, but there’s still a lot to like about his repertoire, which features a standout sinker and a trio of solid offspeed offerings. His control has also been very good, as his walk rates have hovered around 7% or less. If he can stay healthy and get to AA this year, he could become an intriguing arm for fantasy.

ETA: 2021

 

23. OF Ka’ai Tom

Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA

Hawaiian outfielder Ka’ai Tom had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .290 with 23 HRs and 60 extra-base hits in 132 games. It was a bit surprising the Indians chose not to protect him in the Rule 5 draft in December, though none of the other teams ended up selecting him. At 25 years old, he has a chance to be a late bloomer. But he lacks size (he’s just 5’9″) and it’s more likely he settles into a fourth OF role.

ETA: 2020

 

24. LHP Scott Moss

Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA

A former Reds’ prospect, Scott Moss was part of the haul the Indians got back in the Trevor Bauer trade. He has a three-pitch mix that grades out as mostly average, but the lefty has always managed to outperform expectations in the minors. Last year was no exception when he reached AAA and finished with a 2.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 28.9 K%. He still walks too many batters (12.7 BB%), but given his proximity to the big leagues, Moss could get a look in Cleveland’s rotation this year.

ETA: 2020

 

25. 2B Jose Fermin

Age: 20
Highest Level: A

With so many MI prospects in the Indians’ system, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. That’s the case with Jose Fermin, who despite coming off two strong years doesn’t get a lot of respect in prospect circles. At Single-A in 2019, Fermin hit .293 with 6 HRs and 28 SBs in 105 games. More impressively, he showed an advanced batting eye, walking (9.2%) more than he struck out (8.8%). If there’s a weakness, he lacks power and just 20 of his 115 hits this year went for extra bases. Still, his ability to get on base and run could be enticing in fantasy, and he’s one to watch heading into 2020.

ETA: 2022

 

26. SS Junior Sanquintin

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (DSL)

Another international talent the Indians coveted, shortstop Junior Sanquintin signed for $1.25 million in 2018. He’s touted as having excellent bat speed with potential to add pop as he fills out his 6’0″ frame. So far, he’s just a .249 hitter in rookie ball, but it’s also a small sample size at just 51 games. Like many of the other bats on this list, he carries high risk due his age and lack of track record, but the potential is there for a solid all-around player down the line.

ETA: 2023

 

27. RHP Carlos Vargas

Age: 20
Highest Level: A (Short)

Hard-throwing righty Carlos Vargas can hit 100 mph with his fastball, and he compliments it with a sharp slider. He’s been limited by injuries since signing back in 2016, so the track record is still pretty minimal. But in 2019 he managed to stay on the mound and put up a 4.52 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 21.9 K% in 77.2 IP. There’s some reliever risk with him, as reports suggest his third pitch, a changeup, lags behind his other offerings. He’s a nice arm to keep an eye on as he moves up the ladder.

ETA: 2022

 

28. OF Johnathan Rodriguez

Age: 20
Highest Level: A (Short)

When the Indians drafted Johnathan Rodriguez out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in 2017, he was viewed as a raw talent with big upside at just 17 years old. More than two years later, he’s still a raw talent with big upside who is slowly progressing through the lower minors. In short-season A ball this year he hit .247/.318/.424 with 6 HRs in 66 games. The bat probably needs to click next year, or his prospect stock will start to take a hit.

ETA: 2022

 

29. RHP Eli Morgan

Age: 23
Highest Level: AAA

If you look at Eli Morgan’s stats, you’ll wonder why he’s not ranked higher. In 2019, he moved up two levels and reached AAA, recording a 3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 25.4 K%. A former 8th-round pick out of Gonzaga, Morgan has largely gone overlooked by the prospect community because he’s a bit undersized at 5’10″, 190 pounds, and his fastball tops out in the low 90s. He makes up for it with a standout changeup and solid control. He’s a candidate to follow in the footsteps of Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac as an underrated arm who could surprise when he gets the call.

ETA: 2020

 

30. SS Jose Tena

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

Apparently, the Indians have a thing for shortstop prospects. Dominican Jose Tena was in the same international class as Aaron Bracho and Brayan Rocchio, but at 5’9″, 160 pounds, he projects as a more defensive-minded infielder. That said, he hit .325 in the AZL this year, so it’s too early to discount the bat entirely. I just wouldn’t expect a lot of power and with average speed as well; his fantasy prospects look a bit limited.

ETA: 2023                                        

 

31. RHP Cody Morris

Age: 23
Highest Level: A+

The 6’5″, 220-pound Cody Morris had an uneven pro debut this year. He dominated Single-A before earning a promotion to High-A Lynchburg where he was far more hittable and finished with a 4.35 ERA and 1.37 WHIP on the year. Armed with a mid-90s fastball, he flashed good stuff and racked up 111 Ks in just 89 innings. His 28.6 K% shows there is potential to make it as a big-league starter. I expect the Indians will be aggressive in moving him up the chain as well.

ETA: 2021

 

32. RHP Luis Oviedo

Age: 20
Highest Level: A

Venezuelan Luis Oviedo may have been the most talented player the Indians left exposed to the Rule 5 draft in December. But no other teams took a chance on him, as he’s still a developing arm in A ball who had mixed results in 2019 with a 5.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 87 innings. Scouting reports are positive on his mid-90s fastball, though, and he has three offspeed pitches that include a solid changeup. There’s no rush to go after him in dynasty formats yet, but I won’t be surprised if he jumps up the list next year.

ETA: 2022

 

33. RHP Nick Sandlin

Age: 22
Highest Level: AAA

Sidearm reliever Nick Sandlin was on the fast track to the majors before a forearm injury sidelined him at the start of 2019. He still ended up reaching AAA with a 2.39 ERA and 33.9 K% on the season, though he pitched just 26.1 innings. He has a low 90s fastball and a plus slider that generates a lot of whiffs. Barring any additional setbacks, he should reach the majors this year, with potential to become a solid set-up guy for the Indians in the near future.

ETA: 2020

 

34. 1B Joseph Naranjo

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

The Indians’ 3rd-round pick in 2019, Joseph Naranjo is a lefty prep bat out of California. He doesn’t project to have huge power, but he earned the nickname ‘Joey Barrels’ in high school for his advanced approach at the plate. In 48 games in the AZL, he hit .266 with 1 HR and an 11.0 BB%.

ETA: 2023

 

35. 2B Richard Palacios

Age: 22
Highest Level: A

Towson product Richard Palacios missed all of 2019 with a torn labrum. It’s a shame because he had a strong debut with the bat in 2018 when he hit .361 with 6 HRs and 7 SBs in just 45 games. He also moved up three levels to Single-A in the process. He should be healthy to start the year, but it’ll be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects from shoulder surgery on his bat and/or swing moving forward.

ETA: 2022

 

36. SS Ernie Clement

Age: 23
Highest Level: AAA

Ernie Clement is yet another high-contact MI bat in the Indians’ system. He has virtually no power (3 HRs in 248 games), but does have plus speed and tallied 17 steals this year. Unfortunately, he was also caught 10 times and has only been successful in 65% of his SB attempts in the minors. Without an elite batting average, it’s hard to see Clement having much fantasy value. He is close to the majors though and could serve as a utility infielder as soon as this year.

ETA: 2020

 

 37. SS Yordys Valdes

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

Cuban-born Yordys Valdes was the Indians’ 2nd-round pick in the 2019 draft. With the glove his biggest strength right now, scouts have little doubt he can stick at shortstop long term and make all the plays. The bat is a question mark, though. A switch-hitter, Valdes hit just .179 with a .498 OPS in 43 games in the AZL this year. He did steal 15 bases, so there’s some speed upside there. Until the bat improves, though, he’s not someone I’m going after in fantasy.

ETA: 2023

 

38. 2B Raynel Delgado

Age: 19
Highest Level: A

Second baseman Raynel Delgado was born in Cuba, but played high school ball in Florida, which led the Indians to take him in the 6th round in 2018. He had a nice debut in the AZL that year, hitting .306 with a .790 OPS. He struggled a bit in 2019, though, hitting .242 with 2 HRs in 70 games against better competition in A ball. Still, it’s encouraging the Indians are moving him aggressively and it’ll be interesting to see if he can develop some power along the way.

ETA: 2022

 

39. LHP Sam Hentges

Age: 23
Highest Level: AA

A former 4th-round pick in 2014, Sam Hentges had a down year at AA in 2019 with a 5.11 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. Though his arsenal goes four pitches deep, his offerings all grade out as average or slightly above average, which narrows his margin for error. He did strike out nearly a batter per inning, but given he has a career WHIP over 1.50 in 406 innings, his fantasy ceiling is pretty low.

ETA: 2020

 

40. LHP Raymond Burgos

Age: 21
Highest Level: A

Even though his season was cut short at just eight starts due to an elbow injury, Raymond Burgos remains one of the more intriguing young arms in the system. At 6’5″, 170 pounds, he’s the definition of tall and lanky and can reach mid-90s with his fastball. He put up a 3.44 ERA with a 25.2 K% in A ball last year and has shown decent control (7.6 BB%) as well. The health gives me some pause, so I’m taking a pretty cautious approach with his ranking.

ETA: 2022

 

41. C Bryan Lavastida

Age: 21
Highest Level: A

Catcher Bryan Lavastida’s approach at the plate was so good this year his team put him in the leadoff spot. Just a 15th-round pick in 2018, he hit .335 with a .408 OBP and 10.7 BB% in short-season A ball this year. He hasn’t shown much power, but he makes good contact and only struck out 11.5% of the time. A former shortstop, if his defense holds up behind the plate, he could be an interesting fantasy catcher in a few years.

ETA: 2022

 

42. OF Steven Kwan

Age: 22
Highest Level: A+

A 5th-round pick in 2018, Steven Kwan shows an advanced approach at the plate, walking (9.8%) more than he struck out (9.4%) at High-A last year. He also hit .280 and stole 11 bases. His shortcoming right now is the power. He hit just 3 HRs in 123 games in 2019. I think he’ll move through the system quickly, but he’s probably a fourth OF down the line.

ETA: 2021

 

43. OF Oscar Gonzalez

Age: 22
Highest Level: AA

Outfielder Oscar Gonzalez is coming off another solid year at the plate. He reached AA and hit .293 with 9 HRs and 7 SBs in 125 games. Despite making good contact, though, he hardly walks at all (just 3% in 2019) and doesn’t have much speed, so his fantasy prospects are fairly limited.

ETA: 2021

 

44. SS Christian Cairo

Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)

Christian Cairo, son of former big-leaguer Miguel Cairo, is the 10th shortstop prospect on the list. But who’s counting? Cairo was the Indians’ 4th-round pick in 2019 and has a glove-first profile similar to Yordys Valdes. He also debuted in the AZL this year, hitting .178 with seven steals in 46 games. I don’t know what the Indians are planning to do with all these middle infielders, but Cairo will need to show something with the bat to stand out from the crowd.

ETA: 2023

 

45. SS Jose Pastrano

Age: 17
Highest Level: N/A

The Indians stayed active in the international market in 2019 and signed Venezuelan shortstop Jose Pastrano for $1.5 million. Ranked as MLB.com’s 25th best player in the class, Pastrano projects as a solid defender who is still developing at the plate. He just turned 17 in September and should make his pro debut in 2020.

ETA: 2024

 

46. RHP Hunter Gaddis

Age: 21
Highest Level: A (Short)

A 5th-round pick in 2019, Hunter Gaddis is the highest-drafted player ever from Georgia State University. He has a fastball in the mid-90s and made an immediate splash in the minors last year, racking up a 40.8 K% in 33 innings. He’ll be used as a starter and could move pretty quickly through the lower levels.

ETA: 2022

 

47. LHP Kyle Nelson

Age: 23
Highest Level: AAA

Lefty reliever Kyle Nelson shows no signs of slowing down. He’s dominated hitters at every level with a fastball/slider combo despite the fastball sitting in the low 90s. He went up two levels in 2019, reaching AAA and putting up a 2.28 ERA and 37.3 K% in the process. He could even be in contention for a bullpen role out of Spring Training.

ETA: 2020

 

48. SS Marcos Gonzalez

Age: 20
Highest Level: A

Marcos Gonzalez was the Indians’ top international signing in 2016. He flashed a solid hit tool in rookie ball, including a .305/.397/.458 slash in the AZL in 2018. He’s been hampered by injuries, however, and played just 11 games in 2019. He’ll need to show he can stay healthy to move higher up the list.

ETA: 2023

 

49. RHP Robert Broom

Age: 23
Highest Level: AA

In just two years, reliever Robert Broom has flown through the minors. He got to AA this year and put up a miniscule 0.73 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 62 IP. He doesn’t have premium velocity and sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but he throws from a sidearm slot and does a good job limiting hard contact with his offspeed offerings.

ETA: 2020

 

50. OF Mitch Longo

Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

Mitch Longo’s successful run through the minors finally hit a roadblock at AA last year. A bit of an overachiever, the former 14th-round pick hit .248 with a .690 OPS in 90 games. It wouldn’t be that worrying except he’ll likely need to repeat the level as a 25-year-old. He has tallied double-digit steals for three straight seasons though, which is why he’s still a little intriguing.

ETA: 2021

Featured Image by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com)

Nick Randall

Cardinals fan and writer living in Chicago. Enjoy 80s films but not so much 80s music. I also post about my adventures in fantasy baseball at Betteroffbaseball.com

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