Today and tomorrow, I'll be reviewing the last two drafts, where many feel the Indians really started turning things around in their minor league system. If you want to turn back time for immediate reactions to this draft, you can find the original LGT review here.
For comparisons on how these prospects were viewed just a year ago, take a look at Andrew Kinsman's 2015 review here.
1 (21). Bradley Zimmer. CF/LHH. Age 21. $1.9MM bonus.
Having made the playoffs after winning 92 games in 2013, the Tribe owned the lowly 21st pick in the 2013 draft, which they used on an outfielder out of the University of San Francisco.
Here is Indians Amateur Scouting Director Brad Grant's take at the time:
"We are really excited to get Bradley with the 21st pick. It's a really good combination of speed, defense, power and hitting ability. He's had really good track record of success with Team USA and at the University of San Francisco."
"We've spent a lot of time gathering a lot of information on him. What makes him special is his unique combination of skills, and to have him in center field is very exciting." Source.
Zimmer made an immediate impact, hitting very well in A- Mahoning Valley and earning a late-season promotion to Lake County. He started 2015 with High-A Lynchburg and was quickly promoted to Double-A Akron after an offensive explosion, although he has stalled out a bit there. Zimmer is currently ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Tribe system and while he hasn't quite had the season we've hoped for yet in 2016, his numbers are up across the board compared to his 2015 stint in Akron when he was dealing with a hairline foot fracture.
Despite playing 10 fewer games in Double-A thus far compared to last season, Zimmer's already collected more triples, home runs and walks comparatively, although that's also come with more strikeouts, something he's going to have to manage as he continues to develop his Major League skill-set.
1 (31). Justus Sheffield. LHP. Age 18. $1.6MM bonus.
Drafted out of Tullahoma High School, Sheffield has progressed nicely through the Indians minor league system. Despite an embarrassing arrest following his first season in the organization, Sheffield has not been distracted and has steadily advanced up the organization's ladder.
The 2014 Gatorade National Player of the Year has remained healthy and is currently enjoying his best season yet in terms of ERA (3.00), innings per start (5.3), batting average against (.233), WHIP (1.23) and ground ball percentage. The only downsides are his strikeouts are lagging behind his 2015 totals and his walks are up a bit. Still just 20 years old, Sheffield looks like he could be a factor in the Indians rotation for years to come.
1A (38). Mike Papi. OF/LHH. Age 21. $1.25MM bonus.
Papi hasn't been as successful as some of the other names on this list, but he's had his moments. Many compliment his Major League approach at the plate, where his walk rate has increased each season. While he's slumped a bit in May of this year, he warned Carolina Player of the Week early in the season and his power has surfaced, already nearly doubling his best career total in less than two months during his repeat stint at A+ Lynchburg.
2 (61). Grant Hockin. RHP. Age 18. $1.1MM bonus.
There's not much to say about Hockin just yet. He pitched nine games in 2014 then missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery and is likely expected to pitch at some point this year for either AZL or Mahoning Valley.
3 (97). Bobby Bradley. 1B/LHH. Age 18. $912.5K bonus.
Bradley has been mashing ever since he was drafted. Currently 19 years old, Bradley won the AZL Triple Crown in his first taste of pro ball, then crushed 27 home runs last season for Lake County. He currently is tied for the organization lead this season in home runs with 10. Strikeouts will always be a problem for him, but his walk rate is steadily increasing as pitchers have started avoiding the center of the strike zone and his plate approach improves.
4 (128). Sam Hentges. LHP. Age 18. $700K bonus.
Hentges is being brought along slow and steady as a starting pitcher. Still just 19 years old, he has a nasty 11.4K/9 strikeout rate this year in his first taste of full-season ball, although he needs to improve his walks and overall contact rate. If he can get some better command, he could be a serious contributor down the road.
5 (158). Julian Merryweather. RHP. Age 22. $20K bonus.
After a slow start to his career including a stint in the bullpen, Merryweather was having a breakout year in 2016, only surrendering five earned runs in his first eight starts combined to the tune of a 1.01 ERA. Merryweather looks like a tremendous bargain thus far, but he's currently on the 7-day disabled list. Hopefully, it's nothing too serious because he was looking at a potential midseason promotion with the way he's been pitching.
6 (188). Greg Allen. CF/SH. Age 21. $200K bonus.
A stud center fielder, Allen has done an incredible job setting the table from the top of the order wherever he's played. Allen possesses plus speed on the basepaths and is on pace to swipe about 75 bases this season for Lynchburg. He has a solid approach at the plate, striking out about the same amount as he walks and he's hit above replacement level at all levels thus far.
7 (218). Simeon Lucas. C/LHH. Age 18. $168.2K bonus.
A catching prospect out of high school, Lucas hasn't done much. He has yet to make it out of the AZL Rookie league and batted .188 last season in 28 games.
8 (248). Micah Miniard. RHP. Age 18. $350K bonus.
Miniard is expected to start 2016 with A- Mahoning Valley. He showed improved command last season, only walking 2.3 batters per nine innings while striking out 6.6 per nine.
9 (278). Alex Pantoja. SS/RHH. Age 18. 144.6K bonus.
A native of Puerto Rico, Pantoja just turned 20 and batted .309 last year in a repeat stint in the AZL. This earned a midseason call-up where he struggled. Hopefully, he can continue to develop his bat as he progresses through the system because he doesn't any power.
10 (378). Steven Patterson. 2B/LHH. Age 21 10K bonus.
Patterson advanced to Lake County last season, batting .191 and was subsequently released prior to the beginning of the 2016 season.
16 (488). JP Feyereisen. RHP. Age 21. $80K bonus.
An absolute steal, Feyereisen is likely going to be the first member of this draft class to taste the Major Leagues. He reaches the high 90s with his fastball and impressively began his 2015 season in Lake County with 15 straight scoreless appearances out of the bullpen. He's currently the set-up man for Akron and will likely be following closer Ben Heller to Triple-A at some point this season.
17 (518). Cameron Hill. RHP. Age 20.
Another steal, Hill has looked great at every level thus far in his career. The Redlands Community College product kept his ERA below two in his first two seasons and appears to have figured out Advanced A hitters, picking up four straight scoreless outings for the Hillcats as he's settled into the back end of the bullpen.
18 (548). Taylor Murphy. OF/LHH. Age 21.
A solid, above-average outfielder, Murphy has progressed nicely through the system and was called up to Double-A Akron this season after starting the year batting .341 in Lynchburg. He's continued to hit in Akron and has settled in nicely as the third outfielder there alongside Zimmer and Clint Frazier, already picking up five doubles in just 10 games.
27 (818). David Speer. LHP. Age 21.
Speer might just be the feel-good story of this entire draft. An Ivy League product out of Columbia, he could be the Indians LOOGY of the future. His ERA has steadily dropped each season and sits at an astonishing 0.42 this year after only giving up one run in 21.2 innings for Lynchburg.
AA: 3 (Bradley Zimmer, JP Feyereisen, Taylor Murphy)
A+: 9 (Justus Sheffield, Mike Papi, Bobby Bradley, Julian Merryweather, Greg Allen, David Speer, Luke Eubank, Cameron Hill, David Armendariz)
A: 5 (Sam Hentges, Jared Robinson, Bobby Ison, Nathan Winfrey, Dominic DeMasi)
A-: 4 (Micah Miniard, Alex Pantoja, Simeon Lucas, Jodd Carter)
AZL: 5 (Grant Hockin, Jordan Dunatov [suspended], Gian Gonzalez, Argenis Angulo, Juan Gomes)
Signed players/Still in the organization (30/25)