Reviewing the Cleveland Indians 2016 Preseason Top Prospects – No. 6 to 1
Today we finish our top prospect reviews by looking at the six prospects who were tops in the Cleveland Indians system. Four are former first round picks by the Indians while a fifth was a former first-rounder acquired in a trade. The last is a slugger, the likes we may not have seen in the Tribe’s system in over a decade.
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#6 Triston McKenzie, RHP
Coming in at number six on our preseason top prospect list was Triston McKenzie. A supplemental 1st Round pick in 2015, McKenzie had one of the best years among Tribe farmhands. The big 6’-5” right-hander was just 18 years old for most of the year that began in June with the Short-Season Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In nine starts, he went 4-3 with a minuscule 0.55 ERA. He struck out 55 in just 49 1/3 innings of work (10.0 K/9) while walking just 16 (2.9 BB/9). He was then promoted to Class-A Lake County where he made six starts going 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA. He continued to dominate hitters, striking out nearly 13 per nine innings while walking just 1.6 per nine. His WHIP at both levels was under 1.00 as well and his FIP at Lake County was an outstanding 1.97.
Future Outlook: Just how young is McKenzie? Consider this, he was not even three months old the last time the Cleveland Indians were in the World Series back in 1997. Despite the youth, McKenzie was a man among boys this year proving that the low minors weren’t much of a challenge. My preseason ranking was one of the more aggressive ones out there and even I was impressed with just how dominant he was. He cemented himself as the best right-hander in the Tribe’s system and could stake claim to the best pitcher period in the system. He’ll get some top 100 love next year I’m sure from the major publications. His stuff and size are what teams dream of when they look for a future Ace. McKenzie still has a long way to go as he’ll likely start back at Lake County and won’t sniff the big leagues for a couple years but getting to Advanced-A Lynchburg next year is very doable with the upper levels around the corner.
#5 Rob Kaminsky, LHP
A former top 100 prospect in all of baseball, left-hander Rob Kaminsky came in at number five on our preseason list. Acquired a year ago from the St. Louis Cardinals for Brandon Moss, Kaminsky had a rough start to his Tribe career. He spent all of 2016 at Double-A Akron where he had an up and down season. He didn’t look like a top five prospect in the first half of the year, going 4-5 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 15 starts. However, he turned things around in the second half going 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 10 starts. He averaged over six innings a start as well in those starts (63 innings). Not a big strikeout guy, he relies on command and keeping the ball down to have success. He struck out just six per nine innings but allowed just seven home runs in 137 innings of work (0.46 HR/9).
Future Outlook: Kaminsky is no longer a top five prospect with the Indians and really shouldn’t be considered for top 100 status overall. His stuff while good isn’t there with some of the other pitchers in the system. That said, he was just 21 years old for nearly the entire season (he turned 22 the last week of the minor league regular season), making him the second youngest to play for the Rubberducks this season (Cortland Cox appeared in three games and is two months younger). He’ll return to Double-A next year where he’ll still be one of the younger pitchers in the league. He’s still a top ten prospect in my eyes with big league ability, just will take some more maturing and developing.