clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let’s Go Tribe’s top Cleveland Indians prospects for 2017 (11-20)

As voted on by the community.

MLB: ALCS-Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The list of our top 10 Cleveland Indians prospects for 2017 was full of familiar faces. The Francisco Mejias and Bradley Zimmers of the world should be familiar to almost anyone who calls themselves a Tribe fan with an eye to the future. Getting past the top 10, though, things can get interesting.

By some voters’ admissions, there were some picks made here solely on the campaigning of other commenters, which is perfectly fine — that’s part of the fun of this whole process. Our No. 11 through No. 20 prospects are a mix of interesting, if not thrilling prospects, some former high draft picks, and a handful of players who made their major-league debut but did not garner enough playing time to shed their rookie (or prospect) status.

Also worth noting in these rounds of voting, the pool of available players for each rank was expanded from five to ten. This is done because of the aforementioned unfamiliarity with some of these prospects, and because the case can be made for most of these guys to be the No. 11 overall prospect, let alone No. 20.

Here is how the votes turned out:

Top prospects voting results, 11-20

Prospect # Prospect name Runner-up Total votes Winner votes % of votes
Prospect # Prospect name Runner-up Total votes Winner votes % of votes
11 Nolan Jones Juan Hillman 191 64 33.51%
12 Ryan Merritt Juan Hillman 248 93 37.50%
13 Juan Hillman Erik Gonzalez 202 63 31.19%
14 Erik Gonzalez Shawn Armstrong 157 79 50.32%
15 Shawn Armstrong Nellie Rodriguez 167 39 23.35%
16 Adam Plutko Tie* 138 36 26.09%
17 Shawn Morimando Tyler Krieger 128 46 35.94%
18 Nellie Rodriguez Tyler Krieger 108 40 37.04%
19 Tyler Krieger Andrew Calica 163 70 42.94%
20 Mark Mathias Andrew Calica 136 27 19.85%

*Nellie Rodriguez and Shawn Morimando

Please also note that Baseball America’s top prospect list was only top 10, so I’m not counting them in the comparison results. Thus, only John Sikels’ Minor League Ball list is being compared against ours.

No. 11: Nolan Jones

(MiLB: 8)

Nolan Jones joins Will Benson as the only 2017 draft picks to make our top-20 list. And as another fun fact, the two are also currently roomates.

As for on the field accomplishments, Jones showed a great eye at the plate as a member of the Indians’ Rookie League squad, slashing .257/.388/.339 with a 17.2 percent walk rate. Jones, 18, failed to homer in his debut season, but the Holy Ghost Prep graduate could have an exciting role as the Indians’ future third baseman and potential clubhouse leader, if early scouting reports are to be believed.

What you said

mcrose: “Jones is rawer than we thought, just getting serious about baseball the last couple years, really. He’s got a ways to go before he gets to the point that Papi even crossed our radar, already a polished college hitter.”

No. 12: Ryan Merritt

(MiLB: 18)

You should know who Ryan Merritt is by now. The 24-year-old rookie pitched the Indians into the World Series with a solid four innings of work in Game 5 of the ALCS. Shortly after that, Indians fans the world over bought out his entire wedding registry as a way of saying thanks.

Merritt is a typical lefty, in that he doesn’t exactly throw heat, but he has a handful of effective pitches. In a very limited bullpen role last regular season, he allowed two earned runs in 11 innings of work. His minor-league numbers point a pitcher who will not strike many batters out, but he will rarely walk more than two batters a game.

What you said

Andrew Kinsman: “[Tweet]. No news yet on whether he will be sending out thank out you notes to those who voted for him in the LGT top prospect poll…”

No. 13: Juan Hillman

(MiLB: 9)

After a scorching start to the season, in which he allowed just three earned runs in 30.1 innings, fatigue clearly played a part in Juan Hillman’s overall average season for the Low-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

I was thrilled to be able to see him pitch in person, but that was late in the season when he looked constantly gassed. That game, on August 30 against the Williamsport Crosscutters, ended up being one of his worst of the year — 3.0 innings, four earnedr uns, two walks, and a home run allowed. That one game still hasn’t soured my opinion of the exciting young prospect who could eventually wind up a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

What you said

SOTV: “He’s still just 19 and less than two years out of high school. Still has everything scouts saw when he was drafted very highly, albeit with inconsistent performance.”

No. 14: Erik Gonzalez

(MiLB: 13)

Gonzalez, another victim of Francisco Lindor’s unrelenting greatness, would probably be a starting shortstop on another team, or at least a more-prominent utility player. Instead, the talented young shortstop was relegated to a bench role on the Indians, though he did record five hits and scored twice in his limited 17 plate appearances.

What you said

RabbiHick: “I admit that Gonzalez’s main detriment to me is probably that 3B/SS/2B is hopefully set for the forseeable future, so I lean towards pitching.”

No. 15: Shawn Armstrong

(MiLB: 19)

I was sure 2016 would be the season Shawn Armstrong would finally get a solid look in the Indians bullpen, but it never happened. He pitched just 10 games in the majors, allowing three runs and striking out seven in 10.2 innings. Unfortunately, eh also issued five walks, which is a consistent issue for the right-hander. He has never had a walk rate below 12 percent at any level, and he walked 14.2 percent of the batters he faced in Triple-A last season.

At this point, there’s nothing left Armstrong can really do to earn a shot with the Indians. He just needs an opening and he needs to throw 97-mph fireballs.

No. 16: Adam Plutko

(MiLB: 14)

Adam Plutko quietly made his major league debut last season with two relief appearances down the stretch. His debut against the Chicago White Sox couldn’t have gone better — two strikeouts, two hits, no runs in 1.2 innings — but he followed that up with a three-run disaster in his next appearance against the Detroit Tigers.

No. 17: Shawn Morimando

(MiLB: 17)

Shaw Morimando’s unconventional debut came after a very unconventional 19-inning game against the Toronto Blue Jays. In the game following that marathon, Terry Francona implemented his first “bullpen day,” calling upon several relievers to complete the game, including Morimando.

No. 18: Nellie Rodriguez

(MiLB: 20)

Although he was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft, Nellie Rodriguez remains in the Indians organization. The 22-year-old slugger belted a career-high 26 home runs in 2016, but his strikeout rate still sits at an alarming 32.1 percent. He should get significant playing time in Triple-A next season.

No. 19: Tyler Krieger

(MiLB: 16)

A lot of prospects had great seasons for the Single-A Lake County Captains, which may have caused Tyler Krieger’s brilliant campaign to be a little drowned out. One year after being drafted in the fourth round, the 23-year-old slashed .313/.385/.427 in Lake County before a promotion to the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. While in Lynchburg, his previously inflated BABIP (.401 in Single-A) dropped a bit to .355, but he still did an excellent job getting on base at a .369 clip.

No. 20: Mark Mathias

(MiLB: n/a)

Mark Mathias rounds out our top-20 prospect list. The 22-year-old broke into Double-A last season, but only briefly for 16 plate appearances. The vast majority of season was spent in High-A where he slashed .274/.359/.405 with five home runs.