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Cleveland Indians Minor League Player of the Week: May 5 - May 11

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Who were the top Tribe prospect performers the past seven days?

If having a 51.1 consecutive innings streak without giving up an earned run wasn’t impressive enough, Thomas Pannone also took home POTW honors, collecting 33 percent of the votes last week to just beat out Yandy Diaz.

This week, there’s an event split in nominations between pitchers and position players, and all four levels are represented.

Without further ado, here are the Tribe's top minor league performers from the past week:

* * *

Luke Wakamatsu (A, SS) - .381/.480/.667

An absolute steal taken by the Indians in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB draft, Wakamatsu has dealt with some bad luck in his minor league career, having his 2016 season derailed due to injuries.

Thankfully, the son of Don Wakamatsu seems to be getting back on track after a slow start to the 2017 season. The 20-year old shortstop is currently riding a seven game hitting streak which includes three doubles and a home run. He was also the hero of Lake County’s 11-inning extravaganza on May 6th with an RBI that tied the game in the ninth and the go-ahead RBI in extra innings.

Wakamatsu also reached base safely with three walks and a HBP this week, although his nine strikeouts are troubling. His current strikeout rate of 27 percent will need to dip if he wants to become a bonafide top prospect, but he’s also young for his level and can hopefully continue developing that part of his game.

Aaron Civale (A, RHP) - 0.00 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 0.29 WHIP

A third round pick in last year’s draft, Aaron Civale was on an innings limit in 2016 for Low-A Mahoning Valley, but he’s more than making up for lost time this season,

Civale was downright brilliant this week, throwing seven innings of shutout baseball in his lone start while giving up just two hits, striking out seven and walking none. Control has been key for Civale, as he’s currently number one by a landslide in the Midwest League in K/BB ratio with a ridiculous 13.7. Thus far on the season, he’s struck out 41 batters in 41.1 innings while walking just three.

If Civale can keep putting up these kind of numbers, I won’t be shocked one bit to see him get promoted to High-A Lynchburg at least by the Midwest All-Star break.

Triston McKenzie (A+, RHP) - 0.00 ERA, 21.0 K/9, 0.33 WHIP

This is the least surprising pick out of everyone this week.

The number one pitching prospect in the Indians system, Triston McKenzie put on a performance this past Tuesday that will be incredibly difficult for anyone in the entire minor league system to top.

In just six innings, the lanky right-hander struck out a whopping 14 batters, walked one and gave up one hit. That means he struck out 14 of the 20 batters he faced in total. That’s downright insane! If he had kept up that pace for nine innings, he’d have broken Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood’s major league record of 20.

McKenzie has been filthy this season. He currently leads the High-A Carolina League in strikeouts with 44 and is fifth in ERA at 1.95, and you have to remember that he’s doing this as a 19-year old against players on average four years older than him!

Mike Papi (AA, OF) - .400/.455/.550

Could Mike Papi be turning a corner?

Originally drafted as a first round compensatory pick in 2014, Papi was expected to have a Major League approach at the plate with the potential for plus power and serious on base percentage ability.

Up to this point, the ability to draw walks has been the only thing he’s been able to do consistently as Papi has draws bases on balls at about a 15 percent career clip, but he’s never batted above .236.

Papi showed signs of life last season by hitting 15 home runs, and he’s been making some excellent contact in 2017. On a team that features Greg Allen, Tyler Krieger, Francisco Mejia, Bobby Bradley and Yu-Cheng Chang, it’s Papi who actually has the highest batting average, currently sitting at .302 on the year.

The 24-year old collected eight hits this week and has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 games, nearly getting nominated for POTW last week as well. Three of his eight hits this week were for extra bases and he reached base safely at an impressive .455 clip.

Papi’s prospect status has dimmed in recent years, but everyone deserves a second chance!

Bradley Zimmer (AAA, OF) - .347/.464/.565

Bradley Zimmer this week showcased exactly why many feel he’s a five tool player.

In six games, Zimmer collected eight hits, three for extra bases including a home run, he walked four times, was struck by a pitch and stole three bases.

He also threw out a runner at the plate to help preserve a 3-2 victory for Triple-A Columbus.

Yes, the strikeouts continue to be an issue as Zimmer whiffed eight times this week, and he’s currently sitting at a 30 percent K/rate on the season, but he’s more than making up for the punchouts with everything else he brings to the table.

Ryan Merritt (AAA, LHP) - 2.07 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.23 WHIP

While Ryan Merrit’s numbers aren’t going to blow your mind this week, the most important thing he did was repeat them.

Merritt tossed two quality starts, lasting over six innings each time and giving up two runs or less in both appearances for Triple-A Columbus.

Most impressively, he outdueled number one Tampa Bay pitching prospect Brent Honeywell yesterday by throwing 6.1 innings and giving up just one run while striking out seven.

The 2016 ALCS hero got off to a slow start this season, but he’s turned it around in May and his season ERA now sits at a respectable 3.95.

Poll

Who was your minor league player of the week in the Tribe system?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Luke Wakamatsu (A - 6G, 8-21 for .381, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, HBP, 9 SO)
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Aaron Civale (A - 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 7 K)
    (0 votes)
  • 75%
    Triston McKenzie (A+ - 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K)
    (89 votes)
  • 5%
    Mike Papi (AA - 6G, 8-20 for .400, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, HBP, 4 SO, SB)
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Bradley Zimmer (AAA - 6G, 8-23 for .347, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, HBP, 8 SO, 3 SB, CS)
    (9 votes)
  • 7%
    Ryan Merritt (AAA - 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 K)
    (9 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now

Previous Winners

Thomas Pannone (33%) - Week of 4/28-5/4
Tyler Naquin (28%) - Week of 4/21-4/27
Erik Kratz (31%) - Week of 4/14-4/20
Conner Capel (35%) - Week of 4/6-4/13

Most Nominations

Triston McKenzie - 3
Sam Haggerty - 2
Thomas Pannone - 2
Mike Papi - 2