Cleveland Indians: Movement in the new Tribe Top 30 prospects

On Wednesday, MLB Pipeline released the new top 30 prospects lists for the Cleveland Indians.

MLB Pipeline’s annual rankings of the best prospects in baseball is continuing this week and the Cleveland Indians saw some big changes in their list this year.

To no one’s surprise, Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie top the list. That much was known after the Top 100 came out last month. Mejia is ranked as the 11th best prospect in all of baseball while McKenzie comes in at #24.

Also, sticking in the third spot on the list is first baseman Bobby Bradley. Bradley hit 23 bombs in Double-A last year and is getting close to the big leagues and should be ticketed for Triple-A to start 2018.

So the top three spots remain the same, but where does everything else line up?

Who moved up?

Nolan Jones turned in a solid 2017 campaign, hitting .317 with four homers, climbing one spot from the fifth spot on last year’s list to fourth. Shortstop Willi Castro, outfielder Will Benson, and righty Shane Beiber all made climbs in the top 10. Castro is up to the fifth spot now, Benson moved up one position, while Beiber was just outside the top 10 last year, but comes in at the eighth spot in 2018.

One of the biggest risers was 17 year old outfielder George Valera. He was signed last July for $1.3 million and climbed from the 25th spot all the way up to #11 this year. He was one of the top international prospects last signing period and Valera has a very bright future ahead of him, though the big leagues are a long way off for him, but his bat is said to be legit.

Also, shortstops Tyler Freeman and Aaron Bracho made moves up the board, sitting at spots 14 and 15 respectively. Both of them are teenagers with very high ceilings but are very far away from putting on a Cleveland Indians uniform at the moment.

Who moved down?

Both outfielder Greg Allen and shortstop Yu Cheng Chang moved down a couple spots but remained in the top 10. Allen has a chance to compete for an Opening Day roster spot while Chang figures to be blocked at shortstop by Francisco Lindor for the foreseeable future.

Speedy outfielder Quentin Holmes dropped out of the top 10, falling from 6th to 13th after a horrible season in Rookie ball, where he hit just .182/.220/.289 with 61 strikeouts in only 41 games. Still, the 2016 second rounder has a very high ceiling but he needs to hit if he’s going to reach it.

Infielder Ernie Clement and lefty Shawn Morimando both tumbled several spots and sit near the edge of the list. Some guys fell off completely, including pitchers James Karinchak and Juan Hillman, who were ranked 15th and 17th respectively last season. But when your ERA hovers around 6.00 for the season, things like that will happen.

New faces making the list

When some players fall off the list, that means someone new has to come on. The highest ranked new face on the list comes in at #17 with left handed pitcher Sam Hentges. Last season, Hentges returned from Tommy John surgery last season and was able to get back into a groove. He pitched to a 2.04 ERA in five starts for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. He’s still working back to full strength but the potential is there.

Also joining the list this year is catcher Eric Haase, who basically split time with top prospect Francisco Mejia in Double-A last year.  He comes in at #20 after having a monstrous season in 2017, knocking 27 homers with a .930 OPS. He will sit behind Mejia on the depth chart, who still has to break through incumbents Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes to earn playing time in the big leagues. Rest assured, the Indians catching future is in good hands.

Outfielders Ka’ai Tom and Mitch Longo also make the list for the first time this year. We recently covered how Longo was an under-the-radar prospect, and the guys at MLB Pipeline must have agreed because he is on their radar now. Longo is listed 27th while Tom is 24th.

Righty Elijah Morgan is also making his debut appearance on this list at 28th after being an eighth round pick last June. He dominated in Low-A ball, pitching to an astounding 1.03 ERA in 35 innings. He may not become a starter in the big leagues, but the kid can pitch.

The top 30 lists are always a fun place to look at all the young talent in baseball. The Cleveland Indians may not have one of the highest rated systems, but it is chock full of very young talent that, while not very close to the big leagues, has a ton of upside.