Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #24 Tyler Krieger

Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #24 Tyler Krieger

With an advanced approach at the plate, middle infielder and 2015 draftee Tyler Krieger comes in at number 24 on our 2016 Cleveland Indians Top Prospect countdown.

Who is Tyler Krieger?

Krieger was the Tribe’s fourth-round draft pick this past summer, signing for $400,000 (about $52,000 under slot). Originally a 35th round draft pick out of high school by the Seattle Mariners, he instead decided to take his talents to Clemson where he became a three-year starter and standout middle infielder for the Tigers.  The 22-year-old switch hitter stands 6’2” and weighs about 170 pounds. He has not made his professional debut yet as the Tribe was cautious with him due to a shoulder injury he played through during the 2015 season.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Krieger’s best attribute is his hit tool. He spent three years in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), hitting .312/.404/.394. His junior, and final, year was his best as he hit .339/.448/.419.  He is a line drive hitter that puts the ball in play well. He’s also shown off some plus plate discipline. In 803 plate appearances, he struck out just 99 times.  He’s maintained a near 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as well with 94 walks in his college career. 

Krieger also provides some speed having stolen 42 bases in college including 33 over his final two seasons.  Defensively he’s always been considered solid, showing the ability his sophomore year to handle shortstop going forward. However, he suffered a shoulder injury (labrum) that forced him to be the Tigers’ designated hitter early in 2015 and then slide over to second base to finish the year. He looked good at second in the short time he spent there.

Where Krieger is clearly lacking is in the power department. He hit just three home runs in his college career. While power tends to be the last thing to develop with prospects, it’s an area that Krieger is likely to always struggle with. There is some hope he could develop enough pop to hit 10-12 home runs a year but anything more is likely wishful thinking.

Where Does He Go From Here?

Krieger is set to make his professional debut this spring. Assuming everything checks out medically, he should open in full-season ball with the Class-A Lake County Captains.  The question then becomes, where does he play there?  As mentioned last week, fellow top 30 prospect Willi Castro could open the season there. How the Tribe handles the shortstop duties there could get interesting.

Krieger could play some second base perhaps; however, the Cleveland Indians did announce Krieger as a shortstop when they drafted him, which likely indicates they intend on playing him there versus second base. Wouldn’t completely shock me to see him get some looks at third base as well as the Tribe has said they like Kreiger’s versatility, though I still expect to see him get more work at shortstop than anywhere else

Krieger is a hard player to rank given he has yet to play for the Indians organization. His skill set is one that lends itself well to professional ball; however, he needs to stay healthy as he’s already 22 and will be bit on the old side for A-Ball. His advanced approach at the plate could help him advance quickly and his ceiling may ultimately rest in his ability to stick at shortstop as his lack of power plays best there. With a good (healthy) year he’s a guy I could see being a top 15 prospect in the Tribe’s system by this summer.