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Giovanny Urshela rated as Indians' #4 prospect. Vote on #5

LGT readers are high on Giovanny Urshela. I can't imagine why...

Kyle Robertson, Columbus Dispatch

Let's Go Tribe is putting together its own ranking of the top Indians prospects. Here are the previous entries in the series:

#1: Francisco Lindor

#2: Clint Frazier

#3: Bradley Zimmer

In this round of voting (for the first time), no one received a majority of the votes, but there was a still a pretty comfortable margin of victory:

  • OF Tyler Naquin 11%
  • LHP Justus Sheffield 6%
  • C Francisco Mejia 29%
  • 3B Giovanny Urshela 49%
  • OF James Ramsey 5%
Let's Go Tribe (as a community) is now officially high in Urshela, who is no higher than #7 on any of the prospect lists linked to below. I can't say I'm surprised to see him this high though, because he had a tremendous 2014, and I'd expect recent production to weigh more heavily for fans than it does for major scouting outlets. Does that mean we're wrong to view him as such a strong talent? No (well, we might be, but not because there's necessarily anything wrong with our thought process), though the belief held by some that Urshela should be the starting third baseman come Opening Day might be jumping the gun a bit.

Anyway, back to Urshela's tremendous 2014...

Urshela has been praised for plus defense at the hot corner for quite some time, but prior to last year he'd posted below-average numbers at the plate. Some of this was attributable to him being young for each league he'd been in, but without seeing more offense, it was hard to get overly excited about his future. The Indians left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft at the end of 2013, and no one bit on him. Good thing.

Urshela posted a batting line of .300/.347/.567 in 24 Double-A games to start the 2014 season, quickly earning himself a promotion to Columbus. Once in Triple-A his numbers fell off some, but were still impressive, especially for a 22-year-old who also provides real defensive value. In 104 games with the Clippers, Urshela hit .276/.331/.473. He hit 13 home runs (to go with 5 in Akron) and had a total of 46 extra-base hits in in 395 Triple-A at bats, which is a great rate. His wRC+ for Columbus was 120.

In addition to the great-looking power numbers, Urshela also posted his best walk rate since 32 games of rookie ball back in 2009. Urshela walked in 7.0% of his Triple-A plate appearances. That's still not a great figure, but it's more than double the figures he put up in the previous three seasons, and could be a sign that he's developing better pitch recognition, something he'll need if he's to succeed at the MLB level.

Urshela's year wasn't over though. After the American season ended, Urshela went to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he posted huge numbers. He hit .398/.424/.556 in 108 at bats before suffering a knee injury that ended his winter season. At first the injury was thought to require surgery, but ultimately the team's medical staff decided that wouldn't be necessary. He is expected to be fully operational by the time the 2015 season begins.

Urshela would not have survived another Rule 5 draft, so he was wisely added to the 40-man roster in December. Lonnie Chisenhall hit well enough in 2014 to merit the starting third base job for 2015, and if he can continue that production (while maybe evening it its distribution, rather than the extended hot and cold streaks he had last year) and play the kind of defense he did in the second half, he'll be a good player for the Tribe. If Urshela keeps doing what he did in 2014 too though, he could be a better option very soon.

Who do you think is the #5 prospect in the Indians system? Remember to let us know in the comments which players you think should be joining the voting soon.