In another vote that almost required a tiebreaker, second baseman Mark Mathias narrowly edged out Mike Papi to be named our No. 18 Cleveland Indians prospect for 2016. The Indians selected Mathias in the third round (93rd overall) of the 2015 draft and he spent his entire season playing in Low-A.
At 21 years old, Mathias hit the ground running in the minors, showing a good approach at the plate, walking in 11.9 percent of his plate appearances while striking out in only 12.2 percent. He did not hit for much power -- only two home runs -- but if he can keep up that discipline at the plate he could rise through the minors sooner rather than later.
According to Minor League Ball (who also ranked Mathias as the Indians No. 18 prospect) scouts are still on the fence about Mathias' defense, despite good numbers in the field so far. Even in college, he was never scouted as a great defensive second baseman, but his bat should be able to make up for it.
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 19 PROSPECT FOR 2016?
(ages listed are for 2016 season)
Jesus Aguilar, 1B (Age 25)
2015 (AAA): 570 PA, 19, 0 SB, .267/.332/.439, 121 wRC+
Had short stints at the major-league level in 2014 and 2015, but still considered a prospect as he not exceeded 130 at-bats. Shows great power potential but has yet to put it all together in the majors.
Eric Haase, C (Age 23)
2015 (A+): 370 PA, 9 HR, 3 SB, .247/.341/.456, 133 wRC+
Took a big step forward offensively last season, his first full year at High-A. High strikeout rate (30.8%) is an issue, but he drew a lot of walks (9.7%) and could break out in 2016.
Mike Papi, OF (Age 23)
2015 (A+): 505 PA, 4 HR, 6 SB, .236/.362/.356, 117 wRC+
Supplemental pick of the 2014 draft who showed a great approach at the plate after a slow start in 2015.
James Ramsey, OF (Age 26)
2015 (AAA): 503 PA, 12 HR, 3 SB, .243/.327/.382, 107 wRC+
Once a promising future outfield for the Indians (or at least a trade piece), but may be a dreaded "AAAA" player as he has struggled to make it out of Triple-A. Potential fourth outfielder who could debut as soon as 2016.
Ryan Merritt, LHP (Age 24)
2015 (AAA/AA): 171.0 IP, 4.05 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 15.6% SO, 2.8% BB
Has been a success at each level despite perceived limitations. May not be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but looking more and more like an MLB starter, and that's worth something, right?