Let’s kick things off with the actual rankings from Baseball America:
- Francisco Mejia, c
- Bradley Zimmer, of
- Triston McKenzie, rhp
- Brady Aiken, lhp
- Bobby Bradley, 1b
- Yu-Cheng Chang, ss
- Will Benson, of
- Nolan Jones, 3b
- Erik Gonzalez, ss/2b
- Greg Allen, of
Bradley Zimmer has kind of been the top guy in the Tribe system for the past 2-3 seasons ever since he was drafted out of the University of San Fransisco in 2014, but he’s been supplanted by a switch-hitting catcher from the Dominican Republic after having a bit of a down year spread across Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, dropping his batting average to .250 (from .273 in 2015) and having a a career high 171 strikeouts (from 131 in 2015).
Francisco Mejia rose to fame this season thanks in part to an incredible 50-game hitting streak which spanned across Single-A Lake County and High-A Lynchburg. He did all this despite nearly being traded at the deadline for Jonathan Lucroy before Lucroy nixed the deal due to the no-trade clause in his contract.
Mejia had an insane slash line of .342/.382/.514 in 2016, and could debut in Cleveland as soon as 2018 so maybe it’s a good thing that trade never went through. (The trade also would have include No. 6 Chang, No. 10 Allen and reliever Shawn Armstrong).
Personally, the only quibble I have is that 25-year old Cuban defector Yandy Diaz isn’t included in the top 10. Diaz had an incredible 2016, winning the batting title of the Triple-A International League with a .325 average despite being transitioned from third base to a utility role during the season. Diaz also had an incredible .403 OBP on the year thanks to his high walk rate. He should expect to play a serious role with the Indians in 2017 with his major league ready right-handed bat. I think he could be the next Jose Ramirez.
Based on the substance of the article, Baseball America is a big believer in the Indians developmental system. Despite losing four of their top 10 prospects this year to trades (Justus Sheffield and Clint Frazier) and graduation (Tyler Naquin and Mike Clevinger), they simply restocked with a solid draft and had several players explode onto the scene from the lower levels.
By comparison, MLB Pipeline’s updated list has the same players in the top 10 (in a different order) except for Greg Allen, who they replaced with Diaz.