Cleveland Indians 2016 Top 30 Prospects Review – No. 12 to 7
#10 Yandy Diaz, 3B/OF
Coming in at number 10, Yandy Diaz was one of the most talked about prospects in the upper levels to not see the big league club this season. He initially began the year at Double-A Akron due in part to fellow third baseman Giovanny Urshela manning the spot at Triple-A Columbus.
Diaz lasted just 26 games with the Rubberducks before being promoted to Triple-A. He hit .286/.445/.381 with Akron, including a ridiculous 21.8 percent walk rate. Diaz then appeared in 95 games with the Clippers, putting up even better offensive numbers batting .325/.399/.461. His walk rate dropped quite a bit though still a very solid 11.3 percent. He also added seven home runs, 22 doubles, and three triples while at Columbus and was named a member of the 2016 Futures Game, playing for the World Squad.
He suffered a leg injury late in the year but was able to come back and finish the season as the team fell in the International League playoffs. He also opened up his defensive repertoire more this year playing third base, second base and the outfield. He had played almost exclusively third base since coming over from Cuba but was originally a second baseman in his home country and is athletic enough to handle the outfield.
Future Outlook: Diaz was a guy many felt should have been a late season call-up to help in the outfield, especially versus left-handed pitching. Whether the injury played a part or the club just didn’t want to add him to the 40-man roster yet (he’s still not Rule 5 Draft eligible), the end result was Diaz staying home while the club clinched the division title.
Diaz is in a great spot heading into 2017 though. I would not expect him to make the opening day roster (though said the same about Naquin), but he could be up before Memorial Day depending on how the Indians attack the offseason. His ability to play the infield and outfield give the team options on where to put him especially with Jose Ramirez able to move around as well. I could easily see the 25-year-old being the 2017 version of Naquin and competing for the Rookie of the Year.
#9 Francisco Mejia, C
Maybe the most nationally talked about prospect still in the system, Francisco Mejia came in at number nine on our preseason top 30 list. Mejia made headlines this year with his 50-game hitting streak that was one of the longest in minor league history. He began his season (and streak) at Class-A Lake County where he was repeating the level after a so-so year at the plate in 2015. This time around Mejia had no issues, batting .347/.384/.531 with seven home runs, 17 doubles, and three triples in 60 games for the Captains.
He received a midseason promotion to Lynchburg where he didn’t skip a beat, batting .333/.380/.488 with four home runs, 12 doubles, and a triple in 42 games for the Hillcats. Mejia also continued to improve defensively as a catcher, throwing out 43 percent of would-be base stealers this year at each level. Like Diaz, Mejia was also named a member of the 2016 Futures Game and was Yandy’s teammate on the World Squad.
Future Outlook: The soon-to-be 21-year-old switch-hitter really impressed this season and was nearly a member of the Milwaukee Brewers as he was the centerpiece of the failed Jonathan Lucroy deal. He is a top-100 prospect in the eyes of many publications and figures to jump into the top five in the Tribe’s system next year. The one knock on Mejia is his attitude/drive as he has been suspended for not hustling at times. Some of that could be his age and maturity and if he can get past that he has a chance to be a true franchise catcher with All-Star (superstar?) potential.
If not for his speed he’d be that true “five-tool” player scouts talk about and given his position on the diamond, speed is not something many will care about. He likely will start 2017 back at Lynchburg though seeing him at Double-A would not be out of the question either.