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Top Ten Cleveland Indians Prospect Rankings 2015

For the past two days we have been taking a deep look into the top prospects for the Cleveland Indians and finally, we have reached the top (you can see 21 through 30 and 11 through 20 by clicking the links). Below follow the top ten currently in the system who have yet to see time in Cleveland. Prospects were voted on by Joseph Coblitz, Mike Melaragno, Kevin Gall, Danny Cunningham, John Hutchison, Caitlin Boron and Jennifer Coblitz with Joe, Kevin, Danny, John and Caitlin handling the write ups.

10. Justus Sheffield – LHP

Indians 1st Round (31) Draft Pick in 2014
Age: 19 G GS IP SO ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
2015 A 26 26 127.2 138 3.31 1.36 9.7 2.7 0.6
Sheffield pitches in the AZL in 2015. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Sheffield pitches in the AZL in 2015. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

While he had some issues in the off-season that he had to deal with, Sheffield rebounded well in his first full minor league season in Lake County. Like many of the pitchers in the top 30, Sheffield is left handed and that combined with his blazing fastball and good breaking stuff has made him an excellent strike out pitcher. While he does get hit a little more often that he would prefer, he does a great job keeping the ball in the park, allowing just eight home runs in his first 148 professional innings. He’s still extremely young and one of many promising high school pitchers drafted in recent years. Expect a promotion to Lynchburg to start 2016, but for the Indians to ultimately take things slow with Sheffield. – Joe

9. Yandy Diaz – 3B

Indians 2013 International Free Agent (Cuba)
Age: 24 GP HR SB AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+
2015 AA & AAA 136 7 8 .309 .403 .402 13% 12% 139
Diaz steps to the plate for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Diaz steps to the plate for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Diaz is the least talked about Indians prospect on the rise. The Cuban infielder came on extremely strong in the second half of the 2015 season as the RubberDucks’ primary third baseman. Coming out of Cuba, he wasn’t nearly as highly regarded as Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. After missing a good chunk of time in 2014, Diaz was able to stay healthy for the 2015 season and have a very good one in Akron before being promoted to Columbus very late in the season. Expect Yandy to open the season in AAA, but potentially reach Cleveland at some point in 2016. – Danny

8. Rob Kaminsky – LHP

Cardinals 1st Round (28) Draft Pick in 2013, Trade for Moss
Age: 21 G GS IP SO ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
2015 A+ 19 19 104.1 83 2.24 1.23 7.2 2.8 0.0

Acquired in the mid-season trade that sent Brandon Moss to the Cardinals, Kaminsky instantly became one of the Indians’ best pitching prospects. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the Indians best, ahead of Brady Aiken, and a Top 100 prospect in Major League Baseball. Kaminsky’s arsenal features a fastball, curveball, and changeup. His curveball is his best pitch and is lauded as one of the best in the minors. Kaminsky may begin next season in Lynchburg, where he finished the season, but don’t be surprised if he gets a bump up into AA Akron to start the year. – Kevin

7.  Triston McKenzie – RHP

Indians 1st Round (42) Draft Pick in 2015
Age: 18 G GS IP SO ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
2015 R 4 3 12.0 17 0.75 0.58 12.8 2.2 0.0
McKenzie sets before throwing a pitch in AZL Indians action in 2015. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
McKenzie sets before throwing a pitch in AZL Indians action in 2015. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

By far the most impressive pitcher I had the opportunity to watch in Arizona this year, McKenzie is the youngest player in the top 30 and possibly the one with the most potential. He pitched very little in the AZL this year after being drafted out of High School, but what he did was on a whole different level. At 6’5″ 150 pounds, his mid-to-high 90’s fast ball appears to come out of nowhere and the 17-20 year old hitters were obviously confounded by it, swinging and missing at an incredibly high rate and when they did put the ball in play, it was hit weakly.

On an anecdotal note, in one game he pitched in the same game that Gavin Floyd made a rehab assignment in. After the $4M Floyd got knocked around, Mckenzie completely shut the offense down, just like he did every time out. He needs to lengthen his arm out still, but it’s conceivable he could be in Lake County by next season. – Joe

6. Michael Clevinger – RHP

Angels 4th Round (135) Draft Pick in 2011, Trade for Pestano
Age: 24 G GS IP SO ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
2015 AA 27 26 158.0 145 2.73 1.06 8.3 2.3 0.5
Clevinger stands ready during PFP in Spring Training. -Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Clevinger stands ready during PFP in Spring Training. -Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

The Vinnie Pestano trade turned out rather well for the Indians when they acquired Mike Clevinger, a right-handed pitcher, from the Angels. The right-hander stands at 6’4” with long arms and a very easy throwing motion. His fastball tops out at 95 although he his more consistently between 92-93 MPH. Off of his fastball, his complimentary pitches are a change-up, slider, and 12-6 curve. His change is his most effective ‘swing-and-miss’ pitch. Clevinger has major league quality stuff, and should eventually reach the big leagues. He pitched this year in Akron, and should open up the 2016 season in Columbus, possibly making a trip to Cleveland along the way. Clevinger will be in Cleveland by 2017 at the absolute latest. – Danny

5. Tyler Naquin – CF

Indians 1st Round (15) Draft Pick in 2012
Age: 24 GP HR SB AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+
2015 AA & AAA 84 7 13 .300 .381 .446 11% 19% 140
Naquin gets an at bat early in MLB Spring Training 2015. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Naquin gets an at bat early in MLB Spring Training 2015. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Before Naquin was drafted, there was a complete dearth of MLB-caliber outfielders in the organization’s ranks. Since he’s been drafted, the organization has stockpiled high ranking outfielders and it has pushed Naquin further and further down the team’s prospect rankings. There’s a great chance that Naquin makes his MLB debut sometime next season after spending much of 2015 in Columbus. Naquin has always been known for his great defense, including a strong arm that can play in any outfield position. While his bat isn’t his strongest asset, he is a solid hitter and showcased some pop this past season that will help his big league chances. He’ll most likely fill the role of 4th outfielder for most of his career, but has the potential to be a starter because he does so many things well. – Kevin

4. Bobby Bradley – 1B

Indians 3rd Round (97) Draft Pick in 2014
Age: 19 GP HR SB AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+
2015 A & A+ 110 27 3 .264 .357 .518 12% 32% 149
Bradley takes a swing during the 2014 AZL Championship Game. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Bradley takes a swing in a 2014 AZL play-off Game against Texas. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Bradley showed how little the AZL is valued as he rocketed up the rankings this year after hitting 27 home runs in Lake County when he should have already been in the top ten after winning the Triple Crown and MVP in the AZL the year before. Unlike other potential “power” hitters like Jesus Aguilar and Nellie Rodriguez, Bradley is a much more complete all around player and hasn’t yet been saddled with the “slow bat speed” label. There is a little worry since his average dropped 100 points from one year to the next and that his strike out rate dramatically increased in 2015, but considering his age and the fact that he has already made it to Advanced A, Lynchburg, he is far ahead of schedule. At probably the weakest position in the Indians system, Bradley is a stud and is the most likely of all Indians’ minor league free agents to make it to the Majors. – Joe

3. Brady Aiken – LHP

Indians 1st Round (17) Draft Pick in 2015
Age: 19 Did Not Play (Tommy John Surgery)

Being able to grab Aiken at the 17th slot in this past year’s draft could go down as the steal of the draft. The former #1 pick in the 2014 draft, Aiken has been compared to Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw. Aiken has a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, to go along with a great curve ball and change-up. Coming into the 2014 draft he was considered the most polished pitcher in a draft that featured multiple future pros (Carlos Rodon, Aaron Nola, Brandon Finnegan). Barring any setbacks related to his recent Tommy John surgery, Aiken should make his pro debut somewhere near the middle of next season. Once he does, don’t be surprised if he shoots up not only the Indians organizational prospect rankings, but the league-wide rankings as well. – Kevin

2. Clint Frazier – CF & RF

Indians 1st Round (5) Draft Pick in 2013
Age: 21 GP HR SB AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+
2015 A+ 133 16 15 .285 .377 .465 12% 21% 147
Frazier takes a lead off second during an Arizona Fall League game for the Scottsdale Scorpions. - Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Frazier takes a lead off second during an Arizona Fall League game for the Scottsdale Scorpions. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

After a sub-par first full season in professional baseball, Frazier got off to another slow start to begin 2015 and many Indians fans were beginning to think the young slugger would end up being a bust. However, from July on through to the end of the season Frazier was the best hitter in the entire organization. Long known for having great bat speed as well as great natural power, Frazier cut down on his strikeouts dramatically and began draw far more walks than the previous season. It seemed as if something finally started to click for Frazier and he finally began to show the promise that made him the 5th overall pick in 2013. Had he showcased this type of ability for a full season, it’s very likely he would have headed up these rankings. While Bradley Zimmer and him figure to anchor the next group of Tribe All-Stars, Frazier’s youth and potential make him the more likely of the two to continue to grow and improve as a player. – Kevin

1. Bradley Zimmer – CF & RF

Indians 1st Round (21) Draft Pick in 2014
Age: 23 GP HR SB AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+
2015 A+ & AA 127 16 44 .273 .368 .446 10% 24% 140
Zimmer takes a swing in Major League Spring Training 2015. Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball
Zimmer takes a swing in Major League Spring Training 2015. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Many Indians fans are beginning to clamor for Tribe outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer the same way they were on Lindor watch the past couple of seasons. Zimmer is not quite as highly regarded as Lindor was, but he is the closest thing to Lindor’s potential that the Indians have right now in their farm system. Zimmer, who started the season in Lynchburg and finished it in Akron, is a very athletic, lanky, outfielder who was drafted with the 21st pick in the 2014 draft by Cleveland. This past season he tore up the Carolina League before being promoted to AA Akron in July. He produced extremely well in Akron until the end of the season. Zimmer suffered a hairline fracture in his foot, which could be in part to blame for his slowdown in production towards the end of the year. Indians fans should expect to see Zimmer open the season in AA and progress to AAA Columbus at some point in the season. Zimmer should arrive in Cleveland no later than 2017. – Danny

Interested? Confused? Annoyed? See how each writer voted and feel free to comment with each writer on twitter or Burning River Baseball on facebook.

Joe (@BRBBlog)
Mike (@melaragno_22)
Kevin (@KGall216)
Danny (@DCunninghamCLE)
John (@JohnHutchison)
Caitlin (@cle_ItIsGone)

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