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Cleveland Indians top prospect list: #17 Tony Wolters

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An infielder turned catcher is #17 on your list of top Indians prospects.

Tony Wolters
Tony Wolters
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Let's Go Tribe is putting together its own ranking of the top Indians prospects, with readers voting on each entry. Here are the previous entries in the series:

  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Clint Frazier
  3. Bradley Zimmer
  4. Giovanny Urshela
  5. Francisco Mejia
  6. Tyler Naquin
  7. Bobby Bradley
  8. James Ramsey
  9. Justus Sheffield
  10. Erik Gonzalez
  11. Mike Papi
  12. Mitch Brown
  13. Jesus Aguilar
  14. Yu-Cheng Chang
  15. Carlos Moncrief
  16. Luis Lugo
In this week's balloting, four prospects got at least 15% of vote, but Tony Wolters won by a comfortable margin:

  • Shawn Morimando 5%
  • Ryan Merritt 19%
  • Cody Anderson 20%
  • Grant Hockin 4%
  • Nellie Rodriguez 17%
  • Tony Wolters 35%
Tony Wolters was already a decent prospect before the 2013 season. The Indians selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft, and he had put up some nice numbers in Carolina in 2012 (.260/.320/.420). The issue that Wolters faced was that the Indians were loaded in middle infielders, especially with Jason Kipnis moving to second base from the outfield. In spring training two years ago, Terry Francona saw Tony Wolters in Arizona and suggested that he move from second base to catcher, which isn't a very common shift; normally you'd see a second baseman move to a more easier position (third base, or the outfield).

But Wolters has adjusted extremely well to the change, and is now considered a good defensive catcher. Last season, 47% of Eastern League runners attempting to steal off him were thrown out, which is an outstanding rate no matter what level you're playing at. Tony struggled at the plate in his first season in Akron, but he's young enough (he turns 23 in June) to still develop some power. But defense is probably going to end up what will get Wolters to the big leagues. Given the strides he's already made in this short a time, he could very easily make a career for himself as a backup catcher in the big leagues. Heck, he could also play second and shortstop at the major-league level in a pinch, which could make him very valuable given how small major-league benches tend to be.

Wolters will probably return to Akron in 2015, and should see some time in Columbus by the end of the season. He's already on the 40-man roster, so he could conceivably be called into action at some point this year, though I would imagine the Indians would rather have him play every day in the minors.

Who do you think should be the #18 Indians prospect?

Remember to also let us know in the comments which player you think should join the voting next. At least four of the players in this week's poll will fail to make the top 20, so now is the time to push hard for whatever pet cause you may have.

Other Indians top prospect lists: