Cleveland Indians 2016 Top 30 Prospects Review – No. 18 to 13

Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Indians SP Ryan Merritt
Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Reviewing the Cleveland Indians 2016 Preseason Top Prospects – No. 18 to 13

As we dive back into our top prospect reviews, we look at six more players who made up the heart of our Cleveland Indians’ preseason top 30 list. Included are a trio of players that made their big league debuts along with three bats who had varying degrees of success throughout the season.

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#18 Nellie Rodriguez, 1B

Coming in at number 18 on our preseason top prospect list was first baseman Nellie Rodriguez. The big right-handed bat spent all of 2016 at Double-A Akron where he continued to show off his power and eye at the plate. He hit .250/.352/.474 with 26 home runs and 86 runs batted in for the Rubberducks. His .224 ISO (isolated power) was the highest since his first pro season back in 2012. He also walked 13-percent of the time, marking the third time he’s reached that mark or better. He also added 28 doubles and a pair of triples for a total of 56 extra-base hits in 2016. He played exclusively first base and has since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Future Outlook: While the power and walks are great to see, Rodriguez also struggled with strikeouts, as he struck out 32.1-percent of the time in 2016, which was a career high. His 186 total strikeouts were tied for the most in all of Double-A this year as well. He is Rule 5 Draft eligible this fall so the Indians will have an interesting decision to make on him. He’s a bit similar to Jesus Aguilar though with a quicker bat. I’d expect him to be rostered and he could begin the year in Triple-A, though, depending on how crowded that team gets he could start the year back at Double-A. He’s a guy that didn’t truly improve his stock but is still a prospect to keep an eye on outside of the top ten.

#17 Adam Plutko, RHP

Plutko came in at number 17 on our preseason top prospect list and spent 2016 across three levels, including making his big league debut late this season. He began the season at Double-A Akron where he made 13 starts going 3-3 with a 3.27 ERA. He was promoted midseason to Triple-A where he picked up mostly where he left off going 6-5 in 15 starts with a 4.10 ERA. He was a very late September call-up for the Indians, making his debut out of the bullpen and throwing 3 2/3 innings in two appearances. The 25-year-old righthander doesn’t have the big strikeout numbers of some of the Tribe prospects but also doesn’t walk many, posting a 1.5 BB/9 at Double-A this season. He’s a control pitcher who’s good at eating up innings, throwing 165 innings in 2016, the second straight year he’s reached that plateau.

Future Outlook: A former college teammate of Tribe starter Trevor Bauer, Plutko is a pitcher who has a big league future ahead of him thanks to his control and workhorse-like ability. He may never be a top of the rotation guy but should settle in as a backend type guy with relative ease. He’s blocked by several pitchers in the Indians’ organization though so remains to be seen how much opportunity he gets in Cleveland. He was going to be Rule 5 Draft eligible this year so his addition to the roster this September wasn’t a huge surprise. He could fight for a fifth rotation spot this spring depending on how the offseason goes but most likely he’ll return to Triple-A Columbus to continue to provide depth in the rotation.