Top 15 Indians MiLB Corner Outfielders for 2019: Big Boppers on Top

Top 15 Indians MiLB Corner Outfielders for 2019: Big Boppers on Top

Indians

Top 15 Indians MiLB Corner Outfielders for 2019: Big Boppers on Top

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The second group of prospects ranked by Burning River Baseball in 2019 were the following corner outfielders. Because most players who are used primarily in right or left field are interchangeable throughout the minors, they have been separated into a top 15 list from the center fielders who are more firm in their position. The list below shows the top 15 Indians prospects that are primarily used in a corner outfield position.

Removed from the 2018 top 15 have been Todd Isaacs and Michael Tinsley, who were released, Dorssys Paulino, who entered free agency after the 2018 season and still hasn’t signed, Jhon Torres, who was traded to St. Louis for Oscar Mercado, and Pedro Alfonseca, who will be considered with the center fielders.

15. Mike Papi – Age: 26 – 2018 COF Rank: #3
1st Round, 2014 Draft
AAA Columbus

By Stacy Hannan
The Indians drafted Papi in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, making him the 38th overall pick. Papi was coming off an All-American season for the University of Virginia, and was considered one of the more advanced hitters in that draft. Since then Papi has simply failed to develop with the Indians. In 502 minor league games, Papi has a .237 batting average and 41 home runs. Last season, in 83 games with AAA Columbus, Papi hit .247/.373/.412 with seven HR, and spent time on the IL with back soreness. His best minor league season to date was 2017, where in 87 games with AA Akron, he hit .267 with 10 HR.

This season with Columbus, Papi is off to a slow start. He’s hitting .226/.333/.323, without a HR to date. Papi has not seen much playing time with the Clippers so far this season, and it is likely that sooner or later he will be left behind in favor of outfield prospects with higher upside. It appears that Papi, 26, peaked during his college career and what we’ve seen is about the best we are going to get out of him. Papi did receive a non-roster invitation to major league spring training this year. And with the state of the Indians’ outfield situation, if Papi can show anything in Columbus this season they may keep him around him in hopes he can provide some sort of offensive spark for the Tribe. At the very least he will continue to fill a roster spot in Columbus until the system’s younger outfielders develop.

Holland rips a double to right during a 2019 extended spring training game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

14. Korey Holland – Age: 19 – Unranked in 2018
14th Round, 2018 Draft
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Holland is more of a center field type than corner outfielder, although he has generally been used in the corners to this point due to roster composition. He has great speed and a line drive stroke at the plate that leads to a ton of singles, but little power. He has a good approach at the plate, leading to a solid walk rate and great OBP considering his moderate average. Once on base, he makes the most of it and stole seven bases in eight attempts last year in the Arizona League. Holland is deserving of a bump to Mahoning Valley this year and could amount to a decent depth option in the outfield.

Left fielder for the 2018 AZL Indians, Farhat, is far away and wearing a hat. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

13. Cody Farhat – Age: 22 – Unranked in 2018
23rd Round, 2018 Draft
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Farhat was both a late draft pick and a late addition to the Arizona League Indians in 2018, managing to get into just 20 games. With such a limited sample, we can gain almost as much information from his .292/.418/.434 line from his junior and final season at Texas Tech. Farhat is a capable, but not spectacular left fielder, a fact that places him light years ahead of many of the corner outfielders in the Indians system. He is an effective, although not particularly aggressive base runner and, at this point, a light bat. While he is not particularly aggressive on the bases, he is at the plate and this has allowed him to avoid strike outs and walks, instead focusing on taking the first pitch that he likes and putting it in play.

12. Ka’ai Tom – Age: 24 – 2018 COF Rank: #5
5th Round, 2015 Draft
AA Akron

By Stacy Hannan
The Hawaiian born Tom was drafted by the Indians in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, out of the University of Kentucky. He comes from an athletic family – his brothers, father, and grandfather all played collegiate baseball – and Tom was Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota’s back-up quarterback in high school. Tom showed some promise in 2015 with short season Mahoning Valley, and in an injury shortened 2016 with Low-A Lake County. But since advancing to High-A in 2017, Tom’s production and development has been underwhelming. In four seasons with the Indians organization – including last season with AA Akron – Tom is a .257/.347/.403 hitter with 27 HR and 53 stolen bases.

About a month into this season with Akron, Tom has yet to produce. He’s batting .174/.268/.267, with one HR and no stolen bases. He also has 22 strikeouts in 86 AB’s. Like Mike Papi who was drafted a year before him, Tom, 24, may soon find himself lost in the shuffle of higher upside outfielders soon to advance through the Indians’ system.

Cespedes demonstrating his power during 2019 extended spring training. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

11. Cristopher Cespedes – Age: 20 – 2018 COF Rank: #14
2014 International Free Agent
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Possibly the most corner outfielder of all the corner outfielders on the list, Cespedes brings prodigious power and incredibly poor defense. Possessing almost no range and less than the greatest baseball mind, Cespedes is fully depending on his bat, an aspect of his game that is yet to appear in official US games. His best season was in 2017 when he hit .314/.381/.523 in the Dominican Summer League, but he has been unable to repeat that success stateside. Now 20 years old, Cespedes has hit well in extended spring training, but will have to advance to A ball soon or the Indians will have to give up on this once exciting prospect.

Lynchburg HillCats OF Jodd Carter batting vs Wilmington Blue Rockes 26 Apr 2019. -Russell J Bennett BurningRiverBaseball

10. Jodd Carter – Age: 22 – 2018 COF Rank: #13
24th Round, 2014 Draft
A+ Lynchburg

By Pete Conti
Jodd Carter is extremely strikeout prone as he already has twenty-five Ks in just twenty one games total. He has only sixteen hits to match and it is highly unlikely that he will be a contributing favor in the teams success granted that the season is still in the early stages. His strikeout total will assuredly climb more and more as the year progresses unless something drastically changes in Carter’s plate approach.

Carter will most likely not be getting any promotions to higher levels of pro baseball in his career because of that fact that he strikes out more than he gets on base. He needs to develop his approach at the plate in order to get success in that aspect of his game before he starts to notice positive results when he swings the bat most importantly when there are runners in scoring position.

Longo plays left for the Rubberducks during a 2019 MiLB spring training game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

9. Mitch Longo – Age: 24 – 2018 COF Rank: #12
14th Round, 2016 Draft
AA Akron

By Pete Conti
Mitch Longo has a .294 average in nineteen games with the RubberDucks with nine runs scored in that span. He is not noted for his power as he only has one home run on the young season whereas Longo has driven in 12 RBI this far because of the fact that he relies more on his ability to be a contact hitter rather than one who swings for the fences.

While it is predicted that his offensive numbers won’t be as significantly high among his teammates, Mitch Longo has been a consistent name in scoring opportunities for Akron dating back to last season when he played for the Hillcats.

Jerez skies one during a 2019 extended spring training game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

8. Miguel Jerez – Age 21 – 2018 C Rank: #9
2016 International Free Agent
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Jerez changed so much over the last year that he may as well be considered a completely different player now. Heading into 2018, he had a career line near .210/.300/.300 and was a catcher transitioning to first base. In the Arizona League, however, he found himself as a fair defensive left fielder and the holder of incredible power. He rewrote the record books with 14 home runs (he hit just two in his first two seasons) and added 11 doubles as well for a .577 slugging percent. He has a long swing that can hurt him against more established pitchers, but at his current level, he has no comparison when considering his power.

7. Ruben Cardenas – Age: 21 – Unranked in 2018
16th Round, 2018 Draft
A Lake County

By David Wood
Cardenas is in his first full year in the Cleveland farm system. Last year he slashed .308/.414/.455. He did that over 37 games in rookie ball and five games in Mahoning Valley at the end of the season. This season he has started the year in Lake County. He has definitely shown some potential at the plate. After a season in Lake County we should have a better idea of where Cardenas ceiling as a prospect might be.

Rodriguez takes a rip during a 2019 extended spring training game in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

6. Johnathan Rodriguez – Age: 19 – Unranked in 2018
3rd Round, 2017 Draft
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Rodriguez had some hype after being taken in the third round out of Puerto Rico a couple years ago, but he has yet to make it out of rookie ball. While he has some power, he has had issues catching up with a solid fast ball and regularly makes mistakes on the bases and in the field that should be beyond an athlete of his caliber.

In the end, he has a great bat and a great arm, but Nacho needs to put considerable work in to maximize their value. He should play in Mahoning Valley once the short season begins and we should get a more significant look at him at that level.

5. Jonathan Engelmann – Age: 22 – Unranked in 2018
31st Round, 2018 Draft
Extended Spring Training

By Joseph Coblitz
Engelmann has played first, right and center so far in his short career with Cleveland, but his dynamic arm, solid glove and comparatively limited range make him a perfect fit for a corner spot. In 2018, Engelmann missed a bit of time with injury, but still managed a .551 slugging percent including one home run and one triple in his three game stint in Mahoning Valley. His advanced approach at the plate made him a contender to start in Lake County this year, but after another injury set him back, he is likely to begin the year with Mahoning Valley. Expect the college pick out of the University of Michigan to advance quickly though, probably hitting A and potentially
hitting high A in 2019.

Marabell scores during a 2018 Arizona Fall League game with the Glendale Desert Dogs. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

4. Connor Marabell – Age: 25 – 2018 COF Rank: #6
25th Round, 2015 Draft
AA Akron

By Stacy Hannan
Marabell hails from Jacksonville, Florida, and that is where the Indians found him in the 25th round of the 2015 draft (Jacksonville University). After spending 2015 with short season Mahoning Valley, Marabell got off to a quick start with Low-A Lake County in 2016. That year he hit .311 in 95 games before getting promoted to High-A Lynchburg to finish the season. From there he’s advanced through AA and seen some time in AAA, and has quietly developed his game along the way.

Marabell hit .275 between AA and AAA last season. He spent most of the year with Akron, hitting .296/.315/.448 with 13 HR. He struggled a bit in his 31 games with Columbus, hitting .214 in 31 games. He has started this season back in Akron, mostly due to the glut of outfielders the Indians assigned to AAA to start the season. Although Marabell is off to a slow start with the Rubberducks this season (.218, 0 HR in 27 games), Marabell has a knack for putting the ball in play and avoiding strikeouts (this season he has only 14 strikeouts in 101 AB’s). His batting average should improve as he gets more at bats, and if he continues to develop then he should find his way back to AAA as the Indians continue to weed out the excess outfielders on the Clippers’ roster. Marabell may not grow into a major league all-star, but he makes enough contact and has enough pop in his bat to find success in the major leagues. Marabell, who stands 6’1 and 195 lbs., can play either corner outfield spot effectively, although he projects better to left field in the long run. The Indians could use a contact bat in their line-up and it will be interesting to see if Marabell gets his shot in the near future.

Lynchburg HillCats OF Gonzalez Batting vs Wilmington Blue Rockes 26 Apr 2019. -Russell J Bennett, BurningRiverBaseball

3. Oscar Gonzalez – Age: 21 – 2018 COF Rank: #2
2014 International Free Agent
A+ Lynchburg

By David Wood
Oscar Gonzalez has improved every year since entering the Tribe’s farm system. In four plus seasons he slashed .278/.306/.422. So far, in 111 at bats this year, Gonzalez is hitting .351, slugging at a .480 clip with an OPS of .844. As usual he still needs to walk more and strikeout less. However, it seems as if he raises his batting average every year. He is a decent fielder with a good arm. If he continues to hit, eventually he will force his way into the picture in Cleveland.

Benson warms up with Dominguez during 2017 extended spring training. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

2. Will Benson – Age: 20 – 2018 COF Rank: #1
1st Round, 2016 Draft
A Lake County

By David Wood
Will Benson’s profile hasn’t really changed since he came to the Tribe in 2016. He is still one of the best athletes in entire farm system. He hits for power. He can run. He is a good defender, with a terrific arm. Benson’s ceiling will be determined by how much he can hit. He has become a high OPB hitter already with all the walks he draws. Benson is batting ,265 with a .961 OPS. If he can maintain or build on those numbers he will be an all star in Cleveland very soon.

Valera rips a double down the line for Lake County during the final spring training game of 2019. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

1. George Valera – Age: 18 – 2018 COF Rank: #4
2017 International Free Agent
Extended Spring Training

By David Wood
Valera signed with the Indians in 2017 along with Aaron Bracho and Bryan Rocchio. This group could potentially make up one third of the Indians starting lineup sooner rather than later. Valera has been limited to just 18 at bats so far due to an injury last season. However, everyone seems to agree that once he gets on the field this summer the results will speak for themselves. By all reports Valera has a smooth swing and an advanced approach at the plate. He also can play all three outfield positions and can run as well. Right now we are all just waiting for him to get on the field so he can back up the hype train with some on field production.

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