Earlier in this series we covered Bobby Bradley and Nellie Rodriguez, right-handed first basemen who could be power threats in a big-league lineup eventually. This right-handed first baseman doesn't have quite the power that the other two do, but he is on the cusp of helping the team.
The Indians signed Jesus Aguilar way back in 2007 (which makes him one of the longest-tenured players in the organization) and has slowly but steadily made his way up the minor-league ladder, making lengthy stops at every level in the organization. 2015 saw him as a mainstay on Columbus' International League-winning team; he hit .267/.332/.439 for the Clippers, which was a step down from 2014's campaign.
Aguilar will turn 26 at the end of the June, and with the "up or out" mantra that rules baseball, if he can't make a spot for himself on the major-league roster this year, I don't see him surviving another year on the 40-man roster. He's a decent defender at first base, so if the Indians need a short-term replacement for either Mike Napoli or Carlos Santana, they won't hesitate to use him in the field. But he's not going to stay in the majors by fielding his position; he's going to have to produce at the plate, and thus far (small sample size, of course), he's struggled against big league pitching. He has developed a good eye at the dish, but will he be able to hit for power against pitchers who rarely make mistakes over the plate?
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 20 PROSPECT FOR 2016?
Note: this is the final vote.
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?
Luis Lugo, LHP (Age 22)
2015 (A+): 125.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 21.7% SO, 9.5% BB
Big (6'5") left-handed pitcher who still has time on his side. If the rotation doesn't work on, could easily be a late-inning reliever.