#14 Luke Wakamatsu, SS
One of the youngest members of our preseason list, Wakamatsu came in at number 14. Just 19 years old, the 2015 draft pick only appeared in 17 games for the Short-Season Mahoning Valley Scrappers this season due to a shoulder strain. He hit .232/.312/.304 in just 77 plate appearances but did continue to show off a solid approach at the plate with a 7.8-percent walk rate. The switch-hitter started all 17 games he played in at shortstop.
Future Outlook: The injury was very unfortunate for the young Wakamatsu though he’s young enough that it shouldn’t be a huge loss for him. Provided the shoulder heals fine he should be right back with Mahoning Valley in 2017 and playing shortstop. If he impresses enough early in extended spring training he could get a bump to Class-A Lake County as well if the club wants to be aggressive with him. For a young guy, he has a good feel for the game thanks to his father, Don Wakamatsu. I was very aggressive with my ranking of Wakamatsu before the season and am still very high on the kid though missed time could bump him down a bit heading into the 2017 season.
#13 Mike Papi, OF/1B
Coming in at number 13, Papi had an up-and-down season for the second straight season. After a mediocre 2015 campaign, Papi returned to Advanced-A Lynchburg to start the year where he was mostly the same hitting .236/.370/.450 in 40 games for the Hillcats. The average was identical to 2015 and the on-base percentage was virtually the same thanks to his 17.3-percent walk rate. However, he did improve in the power department hitting seven home runs in those 40 games and posting an impressive .214 ISO (isolated power). This prompted his promotion to Double-A Akron where he continued to struggle in the batting average department but still drew his walks and hit for some power. In 78 games with the Rubberducks, he hit .228/.340/.398 with eight home runs and 16 doubles. He split time between the outfield and first base playing a total of 92 games in the outfield (including one in center field) and 11 at first base.
Future Outlook: Papi has been a bit of a disappointment since being a late first round/supplemental pick in 2014. He was considered an advanced college bat and has struggled to hit some weaker pitching in the lower levels. The walks though are still there and the developing power may have saved his stock as a prospect. He also has held his own in the outfield and could possibly play there rather than just first base at the big league level. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter will return to Double-A next year to begin the year though with a hot start could find himself in Triple-A quickly with an outside chance of seeing the Cleveland Indians roster in September, though a 2018 debut still seems more likely. Could possibly still be a Carlos Santana replacement in a couple years…
More than half the way through our preseason top 30 prospect list, we’ve seen a wide range of prospects with some making their big league debuts while others have struggled missing time with injury. Next up, we’ll begin looking at the Cleveland Indians’ top 12 prospects, including at least one player who could play a key role for the Tribe in the playoffs.