clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tyler Naquin is our No. 8 Cleveland Indians prospect for 2016. Who should be No. 9?

Naquin beat out Adam Plutko to earn the eighth spot on our community rankings.

Tyler Naquin
Tyler Naquin
Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Plutko had a surprisingly solid showing, but in the end you selected Tyler Naquin as the organization's 8th-best prospect by a comfortable 11% margin (41% to 30%). The other three candidates (McKenzie, Mejia, and Diaz) combined for 28% of the vote.

Naquin was selected by the Indians in the first round of the 2012 draft, a junior from Texas A&M. In college he played mostly right field, and that created some concerns about his future. Naquin didn't project to hit for much power, so if he couldn't make the transition to center field, he'd be consigned to "tweener" status, something no outfield prospect wants to be labeled as.

But those fears proved to be unfounded, as Naquin made an easy transition to center field, and looks to be an above-average defender at the major-league level. That alone will make Naquin a major-league player of some sort. In 2015 he showed improvements in his offensive game, posting an impressive .887 OPS in Akron before heading to Columbus. He was solid in his first AAA experience, but missed the last few weeks of the season after a hip injury. That injury also cost him a spot in the Arizona Fall League, which would have been a great jumping off point for 2016. But even so, the Indians added Naquin to the 40-man roster this winter, and he'll have a legitimate shot to make the club this spring, battling with Abraham Almonte for the starting center field spot.

The two questions we have yet to answer about Naquin are (1) Can he hit enough to be a starter? and (2) Can he stay healthy? Naquin missed two chunks of the 2015 campaign with injuries, and will need a healthy block of games to prove himself either in Columbus or Cleveland. The next couple of years are very important for his career; he's entering what should be his defensive peak, and Bradley Zimmer is a year or so away from the majors. Abraham Almonte is penciled (not penned) in as the team's center fielder, so the opportunity is there for Tyler to play meaningful games for the Indians in 2016. Otherwise, he'll be a fine reserve fielder for a years to come.



(ages listed are for 2016 season)

Yandy Diaz (Age 24)
2015 (AA): 564 PA, 7 HR, 8 SB, .315/.412/.408, 143 wRC+

Shows a great eye at the plate and draws walks at a prolific rate. Emerged last season as a potential future option for the Indians at third base. Power is still underwhelming.

Triston McKenzie, SP (Age 18)
2015 (R): 12.0 IP, 0.75 ERA, 1.73 FIP, 39.5 K%, 7.0 BB%

One of two high school pitchers drafted in the first round by the Indians in the 2015 draft. Great fastball that should pick up velocity as he grows into his 6'5" frame. Advanced for his age (19), but not expected to make the Majors earlier than 2019.

Francisco Mejia, C (Age 20)
2015 (A): 446 PA, 9 HR, 4 SB, .243/.324/.345, 99 wRC+

19-year-old catcher had a lot on his plate in 2015 and wasn't overwhelmed by the challenge of full-season baseball following a slow April. Threw out 34% of potential base stealers, and managed a young and talented pitching staff.

Adam Plutko, SP (Age 24)
2015 (AA): 116.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 19.4 K%, 5.0 BB%

Not as high of a ceiling as other Indians pitching prospects, but a great track record in the minors and could join the rotation as a fourth or fifth starter in 2016.

Shawn Morimando, SP (Age 23)
2015 (AA): 158.2 IP, 3.18 ERA, 3.64 ERA, 19.5 K%, 9.9 BB%

Has been a dependable starter his entire professional career, and young for his league at each stop. Still waiting for that big breakout season. Added to 40-man roster this winter.