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Cleveland Indians Top Prospects: #20 Nelson Rodriguez

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Our community prospect rankings concludes with a young slugging first baseman.

Not pictured: Nellie Rodriguez
Not pictured: Nellie Rodriguez
J. Meric/Getty Images

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
  17. Tony Wolters
  18. Cody Anderson
  19. Ryan Merritt

The final vote was very close, with all six players getting at least 10% of the vote, and the top four within four votes of each other. Nellie Rodriguez pulled out the win with 23% of the vote.

  • Shawn Morimando 17%
  • Grant Hockin 18%
  • Nellie Rodriguez 23%
  • Adam Plutko 11%
  • Eric Haase 13%
  • Dylan Baker 18%
The Indians selected Rodriguez in the 15th round of the 2012 draft. Rodriguez was a graduate of George Washington HS in New York City, the same high school that Manny Ramirez attended. After spending his first professional summer in Arizona, the Indians promoted him to Lake County in 2013, and the 19-year-old struggled in a difficult hitters' league. He spent the second half of 2013 in Mahoning Valley, where he hit much better, and when he returned to Lake County in 2014, he was a much-improved hitter, slugging .482 in a notoriously pitching-friendly league.

Rodriguez has as much power potential as anyone in the system (and that includes Clint Frazier). He finished tied for first in the Mdwest League with 22 home runs, and hit 32 doubles (4th in the ML) as well. He has struggled making contact (he struck out 142 times in 550 PA last year), which he'll need to improve upon as he moves up the organizational ladder. But the upside is enormous, especially with right-handed power coming at such a premium in today's game.

The Indians will send Rodriguez to Lynchburg (Carolina League) this April, and will face another challenge. He'll turn 21 in June, which will be young for the league, so there's still plenty of time for development. I wouldn't expect him in the majors that quickly, but the wait could be worth it.

Thank you for participating in this series, whether it be as a voter, a nominator, or commenter.

Other Indians top prospect lists: