They’re playing baseball. No more talk. Actually playing.
Let that sink in for a moment while it’s about five degrees in the greater Cleveland area.
When you watch the games, chances are you’ll see some guys you may have heard a lot about or never heard of by about the fifth inning when the regulars finish their short day.
Enter – prospects. So myself and Kyle Downing have decided to put our heads together and rolled out an Indians prospect list in order of strength of position.
So we start with what was the most barren group for the Indians about three years ago, but is now their top asset – outfielders.
Justin’s Top 10
1. Bradley Zimmer
2. Clint Frazier
3. Tyler Naquin
4. Mike Papi
5. James Ramsey
7. Greg Allen
9. Bryson Myles
10. Anthony Gallas
I have Zimmer ahead of Frazier, because while Frazier’s tools are louder and have a higher ceiling across the board, I find there’s alikelier chance that Zimmer reaches his ceiling. Frazier’s second half in 2013 was encouraging that he can develop. For me,Naquin will be a big league outfielder but as a fourth outfielder. He strikes out too much and doesn’t offer enough pop to be a regular on a first division team. But these rankings were done with total future in mind, just current development. That’s whyPapi is ahead of Ramsey, though Ramsey is further along in his development,Papi isn’t far behind because of his college reputation.
Jul 16, 2013; Hollywood, CA, USA; Clint Frazier at the 2013 Gatorade National Athlete of the Year Awards at the W Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
I’m unsure on Moncrief’s future at this point, though his power and arm from right field are tantalizing. Some people weren’t as high on Allen’s debut – he stole 30 bases in 52 games and comes from a good college program at San Diego State. I refuse to give up on Washington. His 70 games last year were his second most played and he went .294/.402. I still think he has enough pop to hit 10 homers and play solid defense in left or center. Myles went through an injury last year but all the tools are there just ready to break through. Gallas continues to put the numbers up and despite the tough Double-A circuit, he did it again in 2014.
Last chance: It would seem Washington is always on his last chance, but he’s survived. I would go with Dorssys Paulino because his move to the outfield was by necessity but given the Indians new OF depth in the minors, he seems to be destined to start in Lake County again. Age is still on his side (20) but he needs to learn to listen to coaching about changing his swing and approach and show where that hit tool everyone raved about as a 17-year-old went.
Breakout candidate: 27 walks, 26 strikeouts, 30 stolen bases in 52 games at Mahoning Valley in his pro debut. The switch hitting Allen could start the year in Lake County and get settled into pro ball and surprise some.
Sleeper prospect: He wasn’t on my list but I still think Jordan Smith has a chance to keep himself on the map. His frame still says he should find some power if he gets a little more aggressive in his approach. He’s also been willing to take a walk but he’s never quite learned to turn on pitches. A second year in Double-A might be the year he needs to learn.
Kyle’s Top 10
1. Clint Frazier
3. Tyler Naquin
4. James Ramsey
5. Mike Papi
6. Carlos Moncrief
7. Anthony Gallas
8. Dorssys Paulino
9. LeVon Washington
10. Bryson Myles
I picked Frazier because of his louder tools. I think he has the higher ceiling, though I think Zimmer is closer to contributing in the major leagues. It also seems more likely that Zimmer will stick in center field. It was pretty close for me. I feel like Ramsey’s speed makes him a true center fielder, and his tools are far more polished than Papi’s. I’m not even convinced Papi will stick in the outfield, though he does perhaps have the better power tool overall. That’s his only advantage, however, and Ramsey has proven himself at AAA.
Last Chance: LeVonWashington- He’s been in the Tribe’s system for four years now without rising above Class A Advanced;somethinghighly-touted second round picks don’t usually do. He’ll enter 2015 as a member of theLynchburgHillcats (the Tribe’s new High-A team), and will actually be above the average age of players there. The good news is that his plate discipline was fantastic last year; he finished the year with a .402OBP. However, he’s running out of time to prove himself and has been left off of most Indians top prospects this year, for good reason. If he doesn’t manage to sustain thathighOBP and improve his sub-.400 slugging percentage (he plays left field so he needs to have some power to crack the major leagues), he might not be with theclubmuch longer.
Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians infielder Tyler Naquin takes part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Breakout Candidate: Tyler Naquin- Now that it seems all but certain that he’ll stick in center field, the only question that remains for Naquin is whether or not he’ll hit enough to be a valuable major-league player. One stat that jumps out at me is his improved contact at AA last year before an injury cut his season short. His batting average took a dramatic leap last year to .313; it had never been higher than .277 at any level of the minors. If he manages to develop a bit of power (something his 6’3″ frame suggests is possible), he could end up having a Brantley-like breakout season in 2015 and earn himself a promotion to AAA.
Sleeper Prospect: Anthony Gallas- He’s never been a highly ranked prospect and has spent a lot of time toiling in the low minors. However, he managed to break out and tear it up in High-A ball last year, and somewhat remarkably improved that breakout in 73 games with the Rubberducks in AA. If he keeps this up, he could end up making his way to Columbus this season, which is good for him because he’s already 27 and is running out of time.
Combined Top 10 OF prospects