Despite the field doubling in size to 10, no one was a match for third base prospect Nolan Jones, who had more than twice the amount of votes as second and third place finishers Juan Hillman and Ryan Merritt with 34 percent of the total.
Just like fellow 2016 draft pick Will Benson, Jones is pretty much all potential at this point. On pretty much all draft boards this past June, Jones was rated as a first round talent ahead of Benson, but he slid deep into the second round due to fears of high bonus demands and being unable to sign. Thus, he fell right into the Indians' lap with the 55th overall selection.
Jones reported directly to the rookie league AZL Indians after signing and while he didn't have the best debut, he still glimmered with potential thanks in part to a very high walk rate of 17.2 percent of plate appearances. The 18-year old was transitioning from shortstop to third base and from what early scouting reports are saying, he definitely has the make-up and arm strength to stay there.
That being said, Jones is clearly a work in progress at this point. His frame and bat speed should definitely translate to the power expected of a corner infielder, but it hasn't appeared yet as he didn't go deep in his 32 game stint in the AZL. He also will definitely need to work on his strikeouts as he whiffed a wild 36.6 of his plate appearances.
2017 should be a very important year in Jones' development as the prospect showcases what he's been working on with Indians coaches and trainers all offseason.
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WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 12 PROSPECT FOR 2017?
Shawn Armstrong, RHP (Age 26)
2016 (AAA): 49.0 IP, 1.84 ERA,2.19 FIP, 35.3 K%, 14.2 BB%
2016 (MLB): 10.2 IP, 2.53 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 15.9 K%, 11.4 BB% 2011 eighteenth round pick,
Armstrong spent the bulk of his time during 2016 in AAA where he struck out seemingly everyone with his mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. He struggles with walks quite a bit, but he can blow hitters away with a couple of advanced pitches. Expect to see Armstrong out of the bullpen for Cleveland in 2017 at some point.
Willi Castro, SS (Age 19)
2016 (A): 548 PA, 7 HR, 16 SB, ..259/.286/.371, 90 wRC+
2016 (A+): 9 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, .222/.222/.222, 18 wRC+
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2013, switch-hitting short stop out of the Dominican Republic. Spent the majority of 2016 in A-ball, strikeouts spiked as did his power. Good speed on the bases, hardly walks at all.
Aaron Civale, RHP (Age 21)
2016 (A-): 37.2 IP, 1.67 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 20.0 K%, 5.7 BB%
2016 third round pick, Civale is a power arm transitioning from the relief role to starting. His innings were limited in his pro debut due to the college 2016 season, but he should be ready to stretch out in 2017.
Erik Gonzalez, IF (Age 25)
2016 (AAA): 460 PA, 11 HR, 12 SB, .296/.329/.450, 122 wRC+ 2016
(MLB): 17 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, .313/.353/.313, 83 wRC+
Blocked at SS by Francisco Lindor and likely to be passed as a utility player by Yandy Diaz. Still a capable major-leaguer who could find a permanent home somewhere in a trade.
Juan Hillman, LHP (Age 19)
2016 (A-): 63 IP, 4.43 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 16.8 K%, 8.6 BB%
2015 second-round pick with boatloads of potential. Had a 25 inning scoreless streak last season before tiring down the stretch.
Tyler Krieger, 2B (Age 22)
2016 (A): 299 PA, 3 HR, 15 SB, .313/.385/.427, 141 wRC+
2016 (A+): 257 PA, 2 HR, 6 SB, .282/.369/.405, 118 wRC+
2015 fourth round pick, a high average hitter with a good amount of speed on the base paths. Doesn't strike out a lot and walks at a decent clip. Could find himself in Akron at some point in 2017.
Ryan Merritt, LHP (Age 24)
2016 (AAA): 143.1 IP, 3.70 ERA,3.85 FIP, 15.4 K%, 3.9 BB%
2016 (MLB): 11.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 16.2 K%, 0.0 BB%
2011 sixteenth round pick, hero of the 2016 ALCS to propel Cleveland to their first World Series since 1997. Has pinpoint control and a brilliant curveball that he can locate anywhere. Fastball tops out in the high-80s, does not walk anyone. Could end up in Cleveland in 2017 as a starter if someone goes down with injury.
Shawn Morimando, LHP (Age 24)
2016 (AA): 93.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 19.0 K%, 9.4 BB%
2016 (AAA): 59.0 IP, 3.51 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 18.2 K%, 8.3 BB%
2016 (MLB): 4.2 IP, 11.57 ERA, 9.79 FIP, 18.5 K%, 18.5 BB%
Began 2016 in AA, moved up to AAA mid-season and was a late season call-up for Cleveland. Could be a back of the rotation starter or a reliever. Fastball sits in the low to mid-90s. Secondary pitches, including slider and changeup, are good compliments. Command is an issue moving forward.
Adam Plutko, RHP (Age 25)
2016 (AA): 71.2 IP, 3.27 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 22.2 K%, 4.2 BB% 2016 (AAA): 90.0 IP, 4.10 ERA,3.97 FIP, 17.7 K%, 9.0 BB%
2016 (MLB): 3.2 IP, 7.36 ERA, 6.69 FIP, 16.7 K%, 11.1 BB%
2013 11th round pick, excellent control of his 4-pitch repertoire. Won't succeed on "stuff", but has good pitch selection and precision. Could see some time in Cleveland in 2017 as a spot starter or a bullpen arm.
Nellie Rodriguez, 1B (Age 22)
2016 (AA): 579 PA, 26 HR, 1 SB, .250/.352/.474, 129 wRC+
2012 15th round pick, Rodriguez continued to mash as he spent a full season in Akron. Strikes out at an alarming rate, but also saw an uptick in walks last season. Drove in 85 RBIs to lead the RubberDucks in 2016