2019 Minor League Thread

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AZ_

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Will Brennan has three hits in 4 of his last 5 games.

Probably due for a promotion to Mahoning Valley soon.

Aaron Bracho up to .270 with a OPS over 1.000, also on promotion watch IMO.
 

AZ_

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Mid-Season Top Prospects 1-5

1. Tyler Freeman - 20 - MI - High A

Born to play the game. Freeman has an 80 grade makeup and intangibles set. I've made the Alex Bregman comparison before, but I think it really exemplifies how well Freeman approaches the game and knows the nuances of all aspects of it to improve his game.

He began this year by leading the Midwest League in LD% at 26.5%, and the lowest SwingingStrike%, whiffing just 4.5% of the time when he swings. Now in High-A, he's started on fire with multiple multi-hit games in his first week.

His high contact, hard-hitting approach is ripe to develop more power as he grows, and figures to stick at a middle infield spot for the long-term, slotting in at SS or 2B with enough arm and intangibles to be an above average regular at either.

He's the top prospect in the system for me, and I think he should be a Top 20 prospect in baseball. It all depends on how high you think his ceiling is, I think it's a HOF caliber player if the power comes.


2. Nolan Jones - 21 - 3B - Double-A

Rarely have the Indians had a player so advanced with regards to his patience and approach. Consider for a moment that Carlos Santana had a BB rate of around 15-16% coming up through the system. Jones enters today around 20% over a pretty healthy sample size of ABs.

Consider also his 21% Line Drive rate, a significant number and among the league leaders for his level.

Now the downside, Jones cannot hit lefties at all. It's hard to project him as an every day regular player in the big leagues until he can improve upon a .161/.372/.323 slash line against them. The lack of power is the most alarming thing, because while he can still get on base, you can't really know if that is going to translate upward as he rises. The hope is that he's not being challenged or seeing many hittable pitches, but he should have every opportunity to figure it out.

Additionally, Jones lacks a big league position right now. He's athletic enough to stick at 3B, barely, but questions remain about his long term viability there and range for the position. He'll get a chance to work with Justin Toole, and John McDonald will certainly be helping his development while in Akron. Huge few months for him at this level. But overall I think he'll eventually be a solid big league regular with All-Star potential if he can begin to show some power against LHP.


3. Triston McKenzie - 22 - RHP - Double-A

Has not pitched in 2019 due to a back issue, which highlights his biggest weakness as a prospect, his frame. He's so slender and lanky that he's a prime candidate for injury given his workload as a starter. Its the biggest thing standing in the way of reaching his potential, as he also missed time in 2018 due to forearm soreness.

His frame taketh away in 2019, but when healthy, his arm length gives his fastball some really good whip and sits in the lower-mid 90s. His hammer curve presents a solid second offering, which likely grades out as a plus pitch in most scouting reports. Also uses a good changeup that has plus potential, which would give him three above average offerings.

Strong K and BB rates project him as a top end starter, combined with his repertoire, make him a prime Top 20 prospect candidate when healthy. Until he is, I think he's firmly on the outside of such a designation and probably is living on potential alone. 2019 seems all but lost at this point, so 2020 will be a make or break year for his standing within the organization.


4. George Valera - 18 - OF - SS Low-A

We've discussed his hitting mechanics on here and the comp's being thrown around, but I think his bat speed and whip is elite level. 24% LD rate shows that he's beginning to make some more consistent, substantial contact, and he's seen the most pitches in the NYPL to this point in the season.

He's putting together quality at-bats, though his 14% SwStrike is an area for improvement, but he's hitting a HR on 30% of his fly balls, which is crazy good for his age.

Will move up to full season ball next season, and with a full and healthy off-season should provide a potential launching point for him to get into the Top 50 prospects in baseball, if he's not there already. Future starting OF with All-Star potential.


5. Ethan Hankins - 19 - RHP - SS Low-A

Throwback power pitcher with an elite FB, topping out at 98 with good life. Absolute hammer curveball projects as plus, but he has the tendency to lose command with it. That is currently his best secondary offering, but the development there along with that of his slider and changeup (both of which are below average) will determine his future as a potential big leaguer.

He's been nearly unhittable this season without that development, which speaks to just how good he can be if he's able to develop those secondary offerings. He had trouble with injuries in his high school career, but for right now he appears to be healthy and developing nicely. His ceiling is that of a front of the rotation starter with ace potential, but he has a wide gap between that and his floor.

Putting faith in the Indians development staff, and how he's looked thus far in 2019, I'm comfortable projecting him here in front of some pretty good high end talent in this system.
 

AZ_

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Mid-Season Top Prospects 6-10

6. Gabriel Rodriguez - 17 - SS - DSL

One of the purest swings from the right side I've seen from a young player in this system, Rodriguez could go skyward as a prospect with huge tools at the plate. From a comp perspective, his swing reminds me a bit of Alex Rodriguez, where he can utilize an inside-out approach to go the other way or get out in front of pitches up in the zone with power to the pull side.

He's all projection now, showing some power in the Dominican league before likely heading stateside before next season. It will be fascinating to see where his body ends up physically, which could dictate his future position. Right now, he's likely going to stay at SS until he proves otherwise. He has already played a bit of 3B this summer.


7. Brayan Rocchio - 18 - SS - SS Low-A

Slotted into the lineup along with Valera, Rocchio has not had the impact I'd hoped for in his first season above the AZL. The biggest issue thus far has been a lack of line drives, with 42% GB and 42% FB rates thus far in a short sample in Mahoning Valley. The 14% LD rate is not acceptable for a player of his caliber at that level, and needs to improve quickly if he's going to reserve this spot in the off-season list.

From a talent perspective, he's got everything you'd look for. Strong mechanics in his swing from both sides of the plate, with a noticeable uppercut swing through the zone. His swing from each side is markedly different with regards to his pre-pitch movement and bat placement, which is odd. Defensively, he can absolutely stick at SS and has some of the softest hands in the system. He can really pick it.

Nicknamed "the Professor" for his baseball IQ, something the Indians value very highly (and I do as well, hence my love for Tyler Freeman). He'll have no shortage of opportunity for ABs, as there is little ahead of him at SS now that Freeman has a 2-level lead. Should open next season at Lake County as the everyday SS.


8. Aaron Bracho - 18 - SS - Rookie

Another bonus baby from the 2017 international class, Bracho is stout body who has shown enough for me to bring him into the Top 10. Improving his approach and willingness to take walks (19% BB rate), with another uppercut approach similar to that of Jose Ramirez (and the aforementioned Rocchio). Difference thus far is that he's catching barrels at a higher clip.

He's a bit less advanced than Rocchio defensively, but he seems to be pretty well known for soft/fast hands that could make him stick at 2B. If he can't stick in the middle, I don't know where he goes, because his arm isn't good enough for 3B and he'll never have enough to play an OF role effectively. Ceiling is a MLB regular with power potential at 2B, which is a pretty nice asset if he can put it all together.


9. Bo Naylor - 19 - C - Low-A

Hasn't quite hit the ball the way we expected him to, but has been better in the last month and a half (.794 OPS since 6/1). Very athletic for a backstop, the Indians are going to put in as much work as possible to keep him behind the plate, and he's nabbed 36% of base runners thus far on steal attempts. 12 errors in 55 games isn't great, but without context or video its impossible to decipher how the development is going defensively.

Pretty good pure hitting mechanics, fluid LH stroke and good bat to ball skills, though his K rate has risen to 24% this season. Nearing 20% LD rate in the Midwest League is nothing to sneeze at, but the organization will take it slow and steady with him, as they should. His athleticism and arm would present good value if he can stick there, but if they abandon it he could move to 3B where he played in HS. If he does, I'm not sure he's a future big league regular.


10. Daniel Johnson - 24 - OF - Triple-A

The move over to the Indians has been nothing short of a clear development win for Johnson. BB rate is up, he's being patient and seeing more pitches, in line with an organizational approach that is tailor made for his pull side swing.

Plus speed, plus plus arm strength and can play all three OF positions. His floor appears to be a platoon bat at the big league level, though Johnson has improved his approach vs LHP and sustained an OPS of .781 so far in 2019.

He's close to getting his first chance at big league action, which could benefit his swing type and raw power thanks to the juiced ball.
 

Kevalier

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Good stuff @AZ_ I wasn’t aware that Nolan Jones’ numbers against LHP were that alarming, but there is still a ton to like about him as you mentioned.
 

sportscoach

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Good stuff @AZ_ I wasn’t aware that Nolan Jones’ numbers against LHP were that alarming, but there is still a ton to like about him as you mentioned.
Sounds like his floor may end up the way of Chisenhall because he may end up in the OF as a platoon. Could be a way worse floor. Chisenhall is a good player when/if healthy and hits righties pretty well.

It feels like Freeman will end up our #1 prospects overall in due time. Jones has fielding/platoon things to work out. McKenzie has had injury issues, which has slowed down his progress.
 

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How highly does the Tribe front office value Kyle Nelson? It seems like a young left handed reliever could be valued around the league and I didn't see his name pop up much the past few pages.
 

Derek

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How highly does the Tribe front office value Kyle Nelson? It seems like a young left handed reliever could be valued around the league and I didn't see his name pop up much the past few pages.
Relief prospects don’t typically have much value in trades.

I’m looking forward to seeing him in Cleveland soon.
 

Randolphkeys

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Relief prospects don’t typically have much value in trades.

I’m looking forward to seeing him in Cleveland soon.
I get it that Perez can't pitch forever, but I was surprised he wasn't even on the 40 man. Lefty relievers have value in my eyes, but you guys follow this more closely than I do.

He is a local product from S.F. and thought he'd be an interesting trade target.
 

Urban

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I get it that Perez can't pitch forever, but I was surprised he wasn't even on the 40 man. Lefty relievers have value in my eyes, but you guys follow this more closely than I do.

He is a local product from S.F. and thought he'd be an interesting trade target.
If you look at the Indians 40 man, there are very few prospects on the list that haven't made an appearance for the Indians. I think the only ones are Henteges and Jean Carlos Mejia. The only reason to have them on there would be to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Players are only eligible for that if they have been in the minors for 4 years (if they were drafted at 19 or older) or 5 years (if they were drafted at 18 or younger)

He was drafted in 2017, so no need for him to be on the 40 man.
 

daddywags

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I think they like Nelson. He's been moving steadily up through the system and is in AA at 22 years old. I read a piece about him in the ABJ a few weeks ago. He's throwing high 90s IIRC and he's very much in the longer term bullpen plans.

ETA: I recalled incorrectly. He sits around 92 and has two plus sliders. He made the AA all star game and is averaging over 10 K/9 on his minor league career. Good prospect. Apparently BA rated him the top lefty reliever in our system.
 
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Derek

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I get it that Perez can't pitch forever, but I was surprised he wasn't even on the 40 man. Lefty relievers have value in my eyes, but you guys follow this more closely than I do.

He is a local product from S.F. and thought he'd be an interesting trade target.
Unless you are protecting them from the rule 5 draft, there’s no reason to add a prospect to the 40 man until you call them up.
 

Randolphkeys

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If you look at the Indians 40 man, there are very few prospects on the list that haven't made an appearance for the Indians. I think the only ones are Henteges and Jean Carlos Mejia. The only reason to have them on there would be to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Players are only eligible for that if they have been in the minors for 4 years (if they were drafted at 19 or older) or 5 years (if they were drafted at 18 or younger)

He was drafted in 2017, so no need for him to be on the 40 man.
Unless you are protecting them from the rule 5 draft, there’s no reason to add a prospect to the 40 man until you call them up.
Yeah, my main reason for asking is that Henteges has been cold dog shit as a lefty prospect this season, and Nelson has a brighter future. Thanks for the explanation.
 

sportscoach

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Yeah, my main reason for asking is that Henteges has been cold dog shit as a lefty prospect this season, and Nelson has a brighter future. Thanks for the explanation.
Hentges's consensus around here also says he should be a bullpen arm and not a starter. Also AA is the true test of the pitchers in the organizations mind, so I didn't doubt Hentges was going to end up redoing AA next season after his not so great of start. He just turned 23, has some potential stuff, but his control is still lacking, and Tommy John in 16, so he should be getting closer to being full strength. Let's wait til next season to judge Hentges overall.

Now to also be fair, Nelson has struggled overall as well at Akron this season. 8 runs in his last 10.2 innings hasn't showed him in a very good light either. We feel both guys right now will probably end up in the pros at one point, but right now they have to figure out AA pitching and progress that way.

Kaminsky was another high prospect who hasn't proven much because of injuries, but most of the left handers pitching wise seem to be at AA right now (9 left handed pitchers at AA). We will see as the season finishes how well these guys do since we do need lefties at the pro team here soon (I don't trust Olson long term and Perez is older).

Overall though the Indians in the next season or two should have a boatload of potential talent coming up in the bullpen. Civale, Scott and Hentges, we don't know if they will stay as starters or not. Then we have the list of Karinchak, Sandlin, Broom, Nelson, who look like they will make the pro team in the next season or two. The Indians also picked up recently Stephens and Maton, who are projected to compete as well for a big league spot possibly next season at some point. Then other guys include Hill, Martinez, Kaminsky, who either Indians were high on at one point or where high prospects. I think the future is bright for the Indians bull pen at the end of the day.
 
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