Cleveland Indians 2016 Top 30 Prospects Review – No. 6 to 1
#2 Bradley Zimmer, OF
The Cleveland Indians’ top prospect according to many, Zimmer came in at number two on our list. Drafted out of college in the 1st Round in 2014, Zimmer has proven to be the advanced college bat the team wanted. He continued his steady climb through the system, beginning the year at Double-A Akron before finishing off at Triple-A Columbus. In 93 games with the Rubberducks, Zimmer hit .253/.371/.471 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, and six triples. He also swiped 33 bases while walking an impressive 13.8-percent of the time. His stint in Triple-A wasn’t as rosy though and he hit his first real rough patch of his big league career. In 37 games, he hit just .242/.349/.305 with one home run and five doubles. He maintained a good walk rate (14.0-percent) but struck out a staggering 37.3-percent of the time. He continued to play mostly center field, appearing there in all but nine of his games this season (all in right field).
Future Outlook: Despite the struggles at Triple-A, Zimmer is still one of the best prospects not only in the Indians’ system but in all of baseball. He’s a legit top 30 prospects who some would call a true five-tool player. He must get the strikeouts under control though before he can take the next step in his career. Tyler Naquin showed one can still be effective even while striking out but as we saw with him in the second half it can become an issue. Zimmer is proving to be solid defensive outfielder as well and while center field may not be his best long term fit he could play it at the big league level. He has the arm to handle right field as well if he moves to the corner and the bat that fits. The soon-to-be 24-year-old will head to camp next year likely with an outside shot of making the club but a return to Columbus is more likely with an early June call-up in the mold of Francisco Lindor circa 2015 a very real possibility…
#1 Clint Frazier, OF
The man with arguably the best hair in the minor leagues, Clint Frazier came in as our number one prospect in the Cleveland Indians’ system this past March. The fifth overall pick back in 2013, Frazier is two years younger than Bradley Zimmer and put up numbers on par or better. Like Zimmer, he split 2016 between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Unlike Zimmer though, Frazier finished the season in the New York Yankees’ system as he was the main piece in the huge Andrew Miller blockbuster this summer. Before the trade, Frazier hit .276/.356/.469 in 89 games with the Rubberducks, slugging 13 home runs, 25 doubles, and a triple. He appeared in just five games with the Clippers before the trade, batting just .238 with no home runs. After the trade, he hit just .228/.278/.396 in 25 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. He split time between all three outfield spots this year as well. He was also the third member of the Cleveland Indians’ organization to be named to the 2016 Futures Game, along with Yandy Diaz and Francisco Mejia.
Future Outlook: The trade of Clint Frazier was one of the biggest shocks the Indians system has seen in ages, even more so than when Drew Pomeranz was dealt in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Frazier is a top 25 prospect in baseball and like Zimmer is likely to see the big leagues at some point in 2017. One issue with Frazier is durability as he’s suffered several smaller injuries the last couple years. He also doesn’t walk as much as a player like Zimmer or Diaz though his 10.5-percent rate at Double-A was solid. He had a higher ceiling than any other position player in the upper levels but his floor is also lower. A huge loss for the Indians though the price they had to pay to get Miller who could be the biggest key to the Cleveland Indians’ World Series aspirations…
Next: Indians 2016 Top 30 Prospects Review: No. 12 to 7
So there you have it, the final reviews of our preseason top prospects. Quite impressive how well the top guys played as typically you’ll see several take huge steps back. We didn’t see any Chuck Lofgren or Dorsyss Paulino-type seasons this year. For the most part, the only players we’ll see missing the list are the players no longer in the system (Justus Sheffield, Frazier, etc.) or the ones that have graduated from prospect status (Naquin, Mike Clevinger, etc.). In the coming days, we’ll also take a look at some prospects who did not make our preseason list but had big 2016 seasons and have vaulted themselves to top prospect status heading into 2017.