Monthly Prospect Watch – Checking in on the Indians’ Top Prospects
In this series here at CST, we will be checking in on how the top 5 prospects in the Cleveland Indians’ system are faring. We will use MLB.com Prospect Pipeline’s ranking for the 2014 Cleveland Indians’ Top 5 Prospects. Let’s see how some of the Indians’ brightest young stars fared as we approach the halfway point in the season. All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
1. Francisco Lindor SS – Class AAA Columbus
2014 Season Totals: .279 BA (134-481), 10 HR, 60 RBI, 28 SB
After being promoted to AAA Columbus in July, Lindor showed that it would take a bit of time for him to adjust to the better pitching in AAA, but it sure didn’t take him long. After seeing his batting average hover around the .220s after being called up, Lindor has brought that mark all the way up to .281, which is right around his season average at AA Akron. Lindor has hit for a high batting average at every level so far, which is encouraging to see now that the path is relatively clear for him to make his mark at the MLB level. With the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera behind us, Tribe fans could see Lindor in Cleveland as soon as calendars flip to September, which is when the major league rosters expand to 40 spots. This time would be valuable for Lindor, who is projected to be the Opening Day starter at shortstop come 2015. I am sure he would feel much more comfortable heading into his first full MLB season with at least a month of big league action under his belt.
2. Clint Frazier OF – Class A Lake County
2014 Season Totals: .268 BA (120-448), 12 HR, 49 RBI, 12 SB, 17 2B, 6 3B
While Frazier is still years away from his debut in the MLB, you can already see glimpses of his five-tool potential at just 19 years old. Frazier has picked up his average to a respectable .268, after starting his first two months of Single-A ball with a .230 batting mark. He has also shown great strides in run production, belting 12 home runs and driving in 49 on the season. While he struck out a freakishly-high 149 times this season, Frazier has shown his ability to move around the diamond, posting solid numbers in stolen bases and extra base hits. The Indians will likely wait for Frazier to cut down on the Ks before they think about promoting him.
3. Tyler Naquin OF – Class AA Akron
2014 Season Totals: .313 BA (95-304), 4 HR, 30 RBI, 14 SB, 12 2B, 5 3B
Naquin has not played since the beginning of July due to hand surgery. The former Texas A&M Aggie was having a solid season at the plate, so it will be interesting to see how he fares after coming back from his injury, if he does so by the conclusion of the season. There have been growing trade rumors surrounding Naquin, especially after the Indians acquired fellow outfield prospect James Ramsey from the Justin Masterson trade.
4. Bradley Zimmer OF – Class A Mahoning Valley
2014 Season Totals: .314 BA (50-159), 4 HR, 30 RBI, 9 SB, 11 2B
Zimmer has truly been impressive in his first professional season in the Indians’ organization. After being drafted by the Tribe in June, Zimmer has taken no time to adjust, hitting above .300 in his first couple months in the minors. Not only is he hitting well over .300 on the season, but his OBP of .402 might be the most encouraging statistic for this young player. If Zimmer can continue to get on base at an efficient rate, he will likely be on the fast track to the MLB, since he is already 21 years old.
5. James Ramsey OF – Class AAA Columbus
2014 Season Totals: .302 BA (100-331), 16 HR, 52 RBI, 23 2B
Since coming over to the Indians’ organization in the Justin Masterson deal, Ramsey has continued his strong season showing with the Columbus Clippers. The outfielder is batting .307 with the Clippers, with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in just one month of work. Ramsey’s power is certainly encouraging, as he has launched at least 16 home runs in each of his 2 full seasons as a professional. While there is a stop-gap at the MLB level for a corner outfielder, Ramsey, at 24 years old, could potentially make the team in Cleveland at the beginning of the 2015 season as a backup outfielder.
By Jay Cannon