50. Jake Miednik – LHRP – Age: 22
Drafted 2018, Round 20
One of five extremely successful left handed relievers taken by the Indians during the 2018 draft, Miednik walked just two batters in his first 18.2 innings while striking out 25. Although old for his level, Miednik’s power arm has a lot of promise and could shoot through the system quickly.
49. Alexfri Planez – CF – Age: 17 – Unranked in 2017
2017 International Free Agent
I was only able to see Planez for a limited time this spring and it was enough to showcase his incredible defensive skills. After the 16 year old went to the Dominican Summer League he was able to showcase his offensive skills to the world as he hit .279/.319/.482 with nine home runs, three triples and 18 doubles in 61 games against players who were often one to three years older.
His young age will keep him from flying up the minors (he doesn’t turn 18 until next August), but he should be in Arizona next year. For now, he remains the Indians best prospect that essentially no one has ever heard of.
48. Jonathan Engelmann – RF – Age: 22
Drafted 2018, Round 31
SS Mahoning Valley
Engelmann started his rookie season slowly and missed a couple weeks due to injury in late July/early August, but came back on fire. He hit four of his five home runs from August 8th on while batting .400/.464/.740 and that doesn’t include his 3 for 5 performance in the AZL Indians 2 semi-finals loss to the eventual AZL champion Dodgers. It’s an extremely small sample size and it was against players below his age level, so we won’t get too excited yet, but Engelmann definitely has great potential. Although he only played three games for the Scrappers at the end of the season, it would be nice to see him go straight to Lake County next year to see how he plays against his peers.
47. Marcos Gonzalez – SS – Age: 19 – 2017 Rank: 48
2016 International Free Agent
A high energy player, Gonzalez took a step back in many ways in 2018 as his steals dropped and strike outs increased, but at the same time he improved his power and OBP. There should be significant worry about his arm defensively and it is surprising that on a team that moved players around so much defensively (AZL Indians 1) he didn’t play anywhere except short. While he has good range and a decent glove, 32 errors in 90 games is not something to overlook. His bat should play at any infield position and it will be interesting to see if the Indians try him at second next year, possibly holding him in short season ball.
46. Alex Royalty – RHSP – Age: 21
Drafted 2018, Round 8
SS Mahoning Valley
After a brief beginning in the Arizona League, Royalty was promoted both to Mahoning Valley and the starting rotation. Ultimately, he had a 1.59 ERA supported by a 2.0 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 in 22.2 innings during his rookie season. Like many other pitchers from the 2018 draft, he’s difficult to truly evaluate given the fact that college pitchers have generally started out in Mahoning Valley or Lake County, but this season the Indians sent every single draft pick to Arizona. He should be in the rotation in Lake County next year where he will face more significant competition.
45. Ruben Cardenas – RF – Age: 21
Drafted 2018, Round 16
SS Mahoning Valley
Cardenas had a solid .308/.415/.455 line during his rookie year including an absurd .556 OBP during his limited time with the Scrappers. A very mature hitter with a refined approach, he walked more times than he struck out in 2018 (23 to 20) and was three for four when attempting to steal. He was less reserved in the field where he has no problem giving everything he has. One of his most notable plays came when he ran into a wall going after a foul ball that he didn’t catch, but he didn’t let that slow him down. He is one of many players (including many outfielders) who will fit somewhere between Lake County and Mahoning Valley and, given his age and ability level, he should rise to the Captains.
44. Shane McCarthy – RHSP – Age: 22
Drafted 2018, Round 18
SS Mahoning Valley
McCarthy has a nearly identical story to Royalty except that he pitched nearly as many innings in Mahoning Valley as Royalty did overall and he walked just four batters this year in 41 innings. This lead to such silly numbers as a 0.854 WHIP, 0.88 ERA and 0.9 BB/9. Again, he probably should have started the season with the Scrappers and ended in Lake County, but the creation of two full rosters in Arizona necessitated the extra personnel at the lowest level within the US. At the moment, I’d say that Royalty has the higher ceiling of the two and McCarthy the higher floor which gives him the advantage in the rankings for the moment.
43. Ernie Clement – SS – Age: 22 – 2017 Rank: 44
Drafted 2017, Round 4
After playing exclusively in Mahoning Valley in his rookie campaign, Clement shot all the way up to Akron in his second season. While he split his time between second and short initially, Clement was used exclusively at short in 2018. He had a good offensive season, largely supported by his incredible, but short, stint in Lynchburg where he hit .346/.425/.421. Outside of the Carolina League, Clement showed almost no power although his high walk rate was consistent at each level. Although he doesn’t have the ceiling of many of the Indians short stop prospects (he’s ranked fifth among pure short stops on this list), his walk rate and defense provide him with a solid floor.
He should start 2019 back in Akron, but will most likely quickly surpass Eric Stamets (assuming he is still with the Indians next year) and could be the starting short stop for Columbus by early 2019 (Yu-Cheng Chang is almost certainly heading to third if he stays with the team). This could push Clement more towards a utility man role in the majors, although his inability to steal bases and lack of versatility in the field could hurt him.
42. Li-Jen Chu – C – Age: 24 – 2017 Rank: 37
2012 International Free Agent
With Francisco Mejia in San Diego and Eric Haase ending the year in Cleveland, Chu has become the Indians only real high level catching prospect (and the #2 catcher on this list). Chu has been fairly average defensively, although nowhere near as strong as he was prior to his 2015 Tommy John surgery. Offensively, he has been very consistent over his past two seasons, hitting .272/.340/.425 in 2018 with 22 doubles and 10 home runs. While they don’t blow you away, he is a solid hitter for a catcher. While the trade of Mejia opens things a bit, it will still be hard for Chu to break into the majors with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez signed long term and Haase being a considerably better defender. He and Haase will likely spend 2019 in Columbus where they will remain emergency reserves for the time being.
41. Shao-Ching Chiang – RHSP – Age: 24 – 2017 Rank: 22
2011 International Free Agent
Chiang hit AAA for the first time this year, his seventh with the Indians, and didn’t take to it as well as hoped. While he was never considered a top pitching prospect for the Tribe, Chiang’s numbers in Lynchburg in 2017 and Akron in early 2018 made it seem like he could have a Major League future. Chiang is not the typical Indians starter, striking out just 5.7 per nine during his career, but he has great command (1.6 career BB/9) and is a superb ground ball inducer (46% of balls in play in 2018).
While still extremely young for AAA, the Indians will have to add Chiang to the 40 man roster now or risk losing him to minor league free agency. While he is extremely unlikely to break into an Indians rotation featuring five dominant strike out heavy starters, he could be extremely useful in the bullpen as a double play specialist.