3 underrated prospects in the Cleveland Indians farm system
The Cleveland Indians Top 30 prospects were recently updated and there were a lot of moving parts. Perhaps the biggest move was a change at the top of the list with Nolan Jones losing his spot as the club’s No. 1 prospect. However, some of the most shocking things on the list were things that didn’t happen rather than what did.
The good news is that when players appear to be lower on the list than they should be, that typically means the prospect pool is deep. While that’s true for the Tribe in most cases, these three players should still be ranked higher on the list. They’ve proven themselves to be promising prospects and need to be looked at with higher regard from around the league.
A 24-year old right-handed pitcher, Cody Morris finally broke into the Top 30 for Cleveland with the latest update, coming in at No. 23. While it’s great to see Morris on the list, and well deserved, 23 still seems a bit low to what he’s been able to showcase this season.
Taken in the seventh round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of South Carolina, Morris had a few bumps during the 2019 season, but his 2021 campaign has been nothing short of impressive. He started in Rookie ball, but quickly was called up to Double-A Akron in July. After a strong start there, he made a move up to Triple-A Columbus where he’s been able to sustain that production over two starts.
In total between Akron and Columbus, Morris has seven starts this season totaling 28 innings. Over that stretch he has allowed just three runs for an ERA of 0.96. He’s also struck out 42 batters while giving up only 15 hits and 10 walks. Opposing hitters are batting .156 against him with just one home run.
Morris is only No. 23 because he’s lacked consistency so far. While this season has been highly productive, his 2019 campaign didn’t have the same luck. Being that he’s already in Columbus, if he can prove this isn’t a fluke stretch he could crack the big leagues before the season is over.
A steady riser on the prospect list this season, Richard Palacios is now up to No. 15 in Cleveland’s farm system. At just 24-years old, the third round pick from the 2018 MLB Draft out of Towson has strung together a strong 2021 campaign. He’s spent time with both Akron and Columbus and it seems like he hasn’t missed a beat in the transition.
Palacios caught the attention of scouts and fans alike in Double-A when he started out with a .299/.389/.496 slash line that he sustained over 66 games played. He was also able to log 24 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 36 RBI while adding 10 stolen bases to his stat line.
Now with 16 games under his belt in Columbus, it’s been essentially more of the same with a very small dip. His slash line is down to .280/.390/.380 with five doubles and six RBI on top of five stolen bases.
What is the most promising about Palacios is his versatility. In Akron he played second base in addition to all the outfield spots. As for Columbus, he’s mostly been at second and center field. If he can maintain his offensive production while moving around the field, that’s a huge plus.
Given that second and the outfield are arguably Cleveland’s two biggest weaknesses in the field right now, Palacios could soon be in the mix to see time at the major league level. His ability to play both will give him a unique advantage as well.
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Perhaps the biggest snub from Cleveland’s Top 30 prospects list is outfielder Steven Kwan. Kwan will turn 24 in September and he’s still in Double-A, but the fifth round pick from 2018 out of Oregon State is showcasing skills that could make him one of most underrated players in the entire organization.
Unlike Morris and Palacios who have moved around this year, Kwan has spent the entire 2021 season with the Akron Rubberducks. Playing in 43 games, he’s been able to slash .335/.405/.543 with 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 25 RBI. He’s also been able to draw 19 walks with just 20 strikeouts.
Kwan has played every outfield spot this season with just two errors in total with most of his time coming in center. Given his impressive stats at the plate, one might wonder why he hasn’t been called up yet, or at least played more in Akron. If he keeps this up, that question will only become louder. Especially with an organization that has struggled to find consistent outfield play.