20. Dalbert Siri – RHRP – Age: 23 – 2017 Rank: 40
2014 International Free Agent
The top ranked reliever who wasn’t drafted in 2018, Siri has an incredible affinity towards missing bats with a 12.1 career K/9 raised to 13.4 in 2018 with the Hillcats, his highest level to date. Control, however, is a major issue as he walked 29 in 47.2 innings with two hit batters and seven wild pitches. He’s hit 15 batters in his last three seasons and has never had a BB/9 below 4.0. Siri is currently working out with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and if he can improve his walk rate there (currently 7 strike outs and 3 walks in 7.2 IP), he could be in Akron next year and possibly Cleveland by 2020. Of all the Indians relievers, Siri seems to be the most likely candidate for ace closer of the near future, but he has a lot of work ahead of him before that could happen.
19. Aaron Bracho – SS – Age: 17 – 2017 Rank: 38
2017 International Free Agent
While he hasn’t played in an official game, I have seen Bracho play in both practices and unofficial games. Even so, there is little to say until the highly touted short stop can play through an entire season. He was on the roster for the Dominican Summer League Indians in 2018, but spent much of the year in Arizona while rehabbing an arm injury. Since he will only be 17 when the 2019 minor league season starts, he will likely stay in Arizona for extended spring and possibly the full Arizona League season that he missed in 2018.
18. Connor Marabell – RF – Age: 24 – 2017 Rank: 43
Drafted 2015, Round 25
How long can a prospect be called underrated before he is rated? By placing Marabell in the top 20 Indians prospect, I’m officially rating him. Over the last three seasons Marabell has had 45, 18 and 31 doubles and in 2018 he set career highs in both triples (5) and home runs (13). His low walk rate and career .312 OBP are concerning, but he doesn’t strike out as much as hitters within the system who have a similar OBP (see Oscar Gonzalez and Will Benson from the 21-30 list).
A good, but not great defender, Marabell has an excellent arm and improves significantly when playing right field (his normal position) compared to center. While he is a good baserunner, he is not a base stealer. This is unfortunate as he has MLB potential, but it is likely as a bench player so this could diminish his value.
17. Andrew Calica – CF – Age: 24 – 2017 Rank: 8
Drafted 2016, Round 11
While Bradley Zimmer was long considered the top outfielder in the Indians farm system, he has yet to really break out in the big leagues. Drafted two years after Zimmer and just a year younger, Calica has put up similar and in some cases better numbers when comparing his first season in Akron to Zimmer’s. While he doesn’t have quite as much power, he is a solid doubles hitter and has similar speed. What he misses in home run production he makes up by striking out less often and having greater efficiency on the bases. In fact, 2018 was Calica’s best season yet on the bases, taking 27 of 32 attempts.
Three years into his professional career, Calica has yet to have a bad season and is slated to be the starting center fielder in Columbus next year. Defensively, he is below both Zimmer and Greg Allen, so when he does reach Cleveland (possibly late 2019 or early 2020), he will probably move to a corner outfield spot.
16. Brayan Rocchio – SS – Age: 17 – Unranked in 2017
2017 International Free Agent
Rocchio may end up being the surprise signing of the 2017 international free agent class that included Valera and Bracho. He began his rookie season in the Dominican Summer League, but was quickly promoted to Arizona, putting together a .335/.390/.442 line across both rookie levels. He can play 2B and 3B, but was primarily used at short stop this year where he was a truly impressive defender. He has everything you could ask for from a middle infielder defensively with great range, speed, glove work and good control with his throws to first.
At the plate he makes good contact and strikes out far less than most of his contemporaries. Once on base, he’s an extremely aggressive base runner who took 22 bases in 35 attempts in 2018. He won’t turn 18 until next January, so the Indians may prefer to keep him in short season for now, but his abilities are advanced enough for Lake County.
15. George Valera – OF – Age: 17 – 2017 Rank: 23
2017 International Free Agent
Somehow the player who was ranked 23rd last year despite not playing in any games has moved up to 15th while playing in just six. This is largely because I was able to see Valera play in unofficial extended spring training games and am more comfortable evaluating him at the high level that many others who have never seen him have.
Valera has good power, a good eye at the plate and a great arm in the outfield, although I don’t believe he is quick enough to stick in center field. Unfortunately, he broke his hamate bone early in the AZL season and missed almost all the year. Because of this, he will likely return to the AZL for another season, although at just 17 (for a few more days), he still will be young for the league.
14. Richie Palacios – 2B – Age: 21
Drafted 2018, Round 3
A Lake County
The first of quite a few 2018 draft picks to be promoted multiple times in their first season, Palacios brings speed, power and a great eye at the plate. He wasn’t in Arizona long enough to really gauge his defense, but in his short time with the franchise no flaws have developed offensively. He will likely start the season next year in Lake County, but if he continues to rake there, he will quickly surpass the other middle infielders in the system as he has surpassed them in these rankings.
13. Luis Oviedo – RHSP – Age: 19 – 2017 Rank: 65
2015 International Free Agent
A Lake County
Oviedo’s rank of 65 last year was based on seeing him pitch in person and his underlying stats as his surface stats were awful, but this season everything lined up as he posted a 1.88 ERA in Mahoning Valley over 48 innings before his promotion. A pitcher with great command and a solid curve, Oviedo struck out 11.4 per nine compared to just 1.9 walks with the Scrappers. While this was his third year with the Indians, Oviedo is still just 19 and will be considerably younger than the average A ball player when he starts with the Captains in 2019. He’s still a few years away from the big leagues, but he definitely has potential to be a back end MLB starter.
12. Adam Scott – LHRP – Age: 22
Drafted 2018, Round 4
It was a really small sample size, but Scott was extremely impressive in his first professional season, moving all the way from the rookie leagues up to high A. He has great velocity for a left hander and a full compliment of pitches. Scott didn’t stick around in any level very long, but also didn’t struggle at any point. His quick promotion is likely a sign that the Indians don’t think he is far from the majors and he could be called up to Cleveland as soon as 2019.
11. Nick Sandlin – RHRP – Age: 21
Drafted 2018, Round 2
Either the 2018 draft was the best for the Indians in years or I’m completely overrated a whole bunch of players, but seven of the top 20 prospects came from that group with three more coming out of the international free agent class of 2017.
In any event, Sandlin is the fastest moving rookie for the Indians since Kyle Crockett, reaching AA in his first professional season (Crockett also hit AA in his first year, then pitched just 15 more games in his second season before hitting the majors). Sandlin had his first truly poor game on August 27th and would have just two bad ones all year, both in Akron. His overall numbers speak for themselves, particularly his 1.1 BB/9 and 13.5 K/9. Crockett was 21 when drafted and 22 when he hit the big leagues and it’s easy to see this same path for Sandlin. If you’re worried about comparing him to Crockett, Cody Allen was also promoted to the big leagues in his second season and he turned into the greatest closer in team history.