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Burning River Baseball’s 2017 Cleveland Indians Prospect Rankings: #41-50

Burning River Baseball’s top 50 Cleveland Indians prospects start today with the last ten. Voting on the list and providing individual write ups were Joseph Coblitz, Michael Melaragno, Justin Lada, Caitlin Boron, Gavin Potter, John Hutchison, Peter  Conti and Jay Alan. Ten players will be posted each day with the full list available on November 6th.

50. Luis Lugo – Left Handed Starting Pitcher
2011 International Free Agent
Age: 23
Level: AA Akron

By Michael Melaragno
Lugo has the prototypical starter’s body, but is lacking prototypical major-league arm speed. This is why I project Lugo to be a future member of the bullpen. In fact, I suspect he could make his major league debut as a reliever in 2018.

Hockin begins his road to recovery in 2017 Extended Spring Training in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

49. Grant Hockin – Right Handed Starting  Pitcher
Drafted 2014, Round 2
Age: 21
Level: SS Mahoning Valley

By Joseph Coblitz
The Indians had high hopes for Hockin when they took him in the second round in 2014, but he pitched in just nine games before losing all of two seasons to Tommy John surgery. Slowly making his way back in 2017, Hockin started in extended Spring Training and had impeccable control. He eventually made it up to Mahoning Valley, where he continued to have a good walk rate, but saw his strike out numbers dip and his hit rate increase. Because he was a high school pick he isn’t too far behind for his age, but what he accomplishes in his first full season back in 2018 (probably in Lake County) could be a big indicator for his future with the franchise.

Gonzalez gets ready to swing during a 2017 Extended Spring game in Goodyear, Arizona. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

48. Marcos Gonzalez – Short Stop
2016 International Free Agent
Age: 18
Level: DSL Indians

By Joseph Coblitz
Gonzalez only turned 18 in the last month, but already has a solid season of professional play under his belt. He started with the Indians in extended Spring Training this year and was impressive in all facets, but especially with his glove and base running. A full summer of play in the Dominican has potentially exposed some flaws in that defense as he committed 20 errors in 55 games, but the bat and baserunning were still solid as he had a .371 OBP and 14 steals.

Not the normal short stop profile, Gonzalez has a bit of power and walks more than he strikes out, something none of his other DSL Indians teammates can claim this year. He is the only member of a 2017 Indians DSL team to make it into the top 50 and with good reason. It may be a few years, but Gonzalez definitely has the talent to go far.

Paulino takes a hack during minor league Spring Training. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

47. Dorssys Paulino – Left Field
2011 International Free Agent
Age: 22
Level: AA Akron

By Michael Melaragno
The Indians “Top Prospect” in 2012, according to Baseball America, has been through everything in the intervening five years, but he’s still just 23 and still shows the bat-to-ball skills that intrigued the Indians brass back when Mark Shapiro was GM. In fact, the city of Eastlake named a street after him. Not really, but they should have after he played there three straight seasons. The problem is that his power never truly developed and doubles pop is a tough profile for a starter in left field, even with Paulino’s approach. That problem surfaced again in Akron this past season as he slugged only .365 and hit only .257. If he can somehow start putting more balls over the fence, his OBP could push him to a low-end starter’s role.

Hill pitches in relief for the Mesa Solar Sox in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball.com

46. Cameron Hill – Right Handed Relief Pitcher
Drafted 2014, 17th Round
Age: 23
Level: AAA Columbus

By John Hutchison
In his fourth professional season, Cameron Hill was an all-star for the AA Rubberducks and earned a promotion to AAA at the end of August. Hill has mostly been a reliever in his career as he’s progressed up the organizational ladder and served as an effective closer for the Rubberducks in 2017 converting 13-of-15 save opportunities. Importantly, he has remained healthy through this point of his career.

He has the ability to get a strikeout when needed with 222 Ks in 252.2 innings, but is not primarily a strikeout pitcher who dominates with high-velocity. Rather, with a career WHIP of 1.06, he is a guy who has decent control and limits the number of hits and walks allowed per inning.

As a right-handed reliever, Hill has a less promising future than a lefty would in terms of a long-sustained success in MLB, but he provides organizational depth and could possibly earn a call-up to the Majors at some point  in 2018 as a middle reliever, depending on what the Tribe might do with other free agents to be such as Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith.

45. Jesse Berardi – Short Stop
Drafted 2017, 10th Round
Age: 21
Level: SS Mahoning Valley

By Caitlin Boron
Berardi is a solid shortstop drafted by the Indians earlier this year. His bat is pretty good at is stands but I feel the leg kick that balances his timing in his stride could be something he might need to grow out of down the line to optimize his hitting. He doesn’t have a much power, doesn’t steal much when on base and he doesn’t walk a ton, so getting small hits in big situations may need to carry him until he makes an adjustment that will separate him from the rest of the middle infielders in the pack.

44. Ernie Clement – Short Stop
Drafted 2017, 4th Round
Age: 21
Level: SS Mahoning Valley

By Caitlin Boron
Clement can do quite a few things to balance what he can’t (or hasn’t so far). Where he’s great at getting on base via the single, the extra base hits and homers are few and far between. He doesn’t walk very much either, but has a good eye for the pitch he wants to make an impact.

In Mahoning Valley he played at short and second, and he wouldn’t surprise me if they ween him off short stop as he progresses upward. Clement could hit Lake County to start 2018, and should definitely be there by mid-season if he doesn’t start there out of the gate. 

Marabell getting an at bat during a Major League Spring Training game in 2016. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball.com

43. Connor Marabell – Right Field
Drafted 2015, 25th Round
Age: 23
Level: A+ Lynchburg

By Justin Lada
After Marabell’s half season at Low-A Lake County where he posted a 147 wRC+ (six homers, 11 steals) with a 13.2% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate it looked like the Jacksonville University product was possibly going to turn into a steal as a 25th round pick. However, that was his age 22 season, which is on the upper level of the age group in the Midwest League. Since his call-up to High-A in the second half of that season, he’s posted 85 and and 80 wRC+ marks with the Hillcats. The walk rate remained steady and the strikeout’s only crept up minimally. Marabell’s offensive problem is that over the last two seasons he’s hit almost 50% ground balls or above.

Marabell has played all over the outfield, but is best profiled defensively in the corners. Further, many have thought that he’d wind up at first base, which he played in college, but he has yet to appear in a game there professionally. The Indians like players of his profile because he puts the ball in play and walks enough with some pop. Marabell is probably a fourth outfielder/first base type down the line if he continues to move up in the system, but it’s more likely he’s an organizational player because of his limited offensive profile due to his batted ball profile. If he can manage to get more balls in the air though, his solid power could make him a fringe-bench option if everything goes right for him the next few years.

Isaacs takes a swing during a 2016 Extended Spring Training game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

42. Todd Isaacs – Left Field
Drafted 2015, 15th Round
Age: 21
Level: A Lake County

By Justin Lada
I would first, recommend following Todd Isaacs on Twitter @_TIsaacs10 for the laughs and a look at his apparel line “Don’t Blink.”

Why “Don’t Blink?” Well, Isaacs is pretty fast. He’s 37-of-41 in three partial years of his young carer in 601 plate appearances. The problem for Isaacs is in his career .289 on base percentage. Getting on base to use that speed hasn’t worked in his favor. His 27.4% career strike out rate and just a 3.1% walk rate have a lot to do with that. His speed should allow him to run higher BABIPs, as it did in 2016 in Mahoning Valley (.442) which propped up his slash line, but is still way too high to be taken seriously.

Isaac’s makes the top 50 for his speed mostly, but also has a little thump in the bat (.153 ISO in 2017 at Lake County). In order to both get on base to use the speed or even see how much power he truly has, Isaac’s needs to work on cutting down on his strikeouts. Speed also helps Isaacs in the outfield where he played a decent center field in 2017 when healthy and also played a decent right field. His speed makes up for what he lacks in route running and his reads were solid in the limited looks I had at him when he was healthy, but as a raw 21 year old, that’s to be a bit expected.

Isaacs has as much personality as he does speed, both of which are good things about him. The Bahamian born OF will be 22 next season and will likely be repeating Low-A, which puts him a little behind and any improvements he makes will be looked at with an eye towards his age relative to the level, but if he finds a way to cut down on the strikeouts and get on base a little more, he can start making a case to give the Carolina League a try and prove he can put that speed to use.

Kaminsky throws during a 2017 MLB Spring Training drill. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

41. Rob Kaminsky – Left Handed Starting Pitcher
2015 Trade from Cardinals for Brandon Moss (Drafted 2013, 1st Round by StL)
Age: 23
Level: AA Akron (DNP in 2017)

By Gavin Potter
Once a top-100 prospect, Kaminsky’s status has declined over the past few seasons. He missed all but five innings of 2017 due to a throwing arm injury, and had back issues in 2015 and 2016. Even when healthy, Kaminsky didn’t look great, sitting 88-90 mph, and struggled to generate swings and misses, averaging just 6.46 K/9 since 2015. The lefty still has a strong curve ball, meaning if his issues continue, he could serve as a LOOGY at the MLB level.