With a narrow victory over King of the Strikezone Shane Bieber, outfielder Greg Allen is our No. 4 Cleveland Indians prospect for 2018. Blink and you might have missed his MLB debut last season, but you can expect to see more of the six-foot speedster in 2018 and beyond.
Before he set baseball world on fire to the tune of a .229/.282/.343 slash and a home run in September, Allen displayed his speed and excellent center field defense for the Akron RubberDucks of the Double-A Eastern League. His first month of the season was solid enough — though void of power — but he missed the entirety of June with a bizarre wrist injury.
In an otherwise typical at-bat against the Altoona Curve, Allen began to show signs of trouble gripping the bat and shook his hands in apparent pain before even taking a swing. He did not return for the second inning, and it was later revealed that he suffered a broken hamate bone. After missing a month then rehabbing briefly in the Arizona Rookie League, Allen returned to the RubberDucks through August before getting his call to the majors in September.
In some ways, Allen would be redundant on the Indians’ roster as a full-time player. Bradley Zimmer has shown himself to be a great defender in center field, he can make contact, and he has more power than Allen. But there could be a tipping point where Allen’s defense is so elite that it makes sense to shift Zimmer to right or left field and let the pair dominate the outfield while someone else wonders why they’re standing in the field doing nothing for nine innings.
Allen made the jump from Double-A straight to the majors last year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get quite a bit of time in Triple-A with the Columbus Clippers in 2018. He’ll get his fair shot in spring training, of course, but he didn’t look ready to play everyday in his month-long debut last season, and there’s no reason to have him sitting on the bench in Cleveland. Whenever he does break through to an everyday role, his speed will be something to watch — in the absolute worst case scenario he’ll be a hell of a pinch-run option for Terry Francona.
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 4 PROSPECT FOR 2018?
Will Benson, OF (Age 19)
2017 (A-): 236 PA, .238/.347/.475, 10 HR, 7 SB, 13.1 BB%, 33.9 K%, 146 wRC+
Strikeouts are an early red flag, but patience at the plate and power make him an an exciting prospect at 19 years old.
Willi Castro, SS (Age 20)
2017 (A+): 510 PA, .290/.337/.424, 11 HR, 19 SB, 5.5 BB%, 17.6 K%, 115 wRC+
One of the younger players at his level each season. Hit more home runs last year (11) than his first three professional seasons (10).
Yu-Cheng Chang, SS (Age 22)
2017 (AA): 508 PA, .220/.312/.461, 24 HR, 11 SB, 10.2 BB%, 26.4 K%, 110 wRC+
Displayed a significant power surge in 2017 in his Double-A debut, but at the cost of increased strikeouts and a major drop in batting average.
Nolan Jones, 3B (Age 19)
2017 (A-): 265 PA, .317/.430/.482, 4 HR, 1 SB, 16.2 BB%, 22.6 K%
Took a leap in his Low-A debut showcasing improved power, an elite eye at the plate and reduced strikeout percentage. Defense at third base needs work.
Shane Bieber, RHP (Age 22)
2017 (A): 5 GS, 29.0 IP, 25.6 K%, 0.8 BB%, 3.10 ERA, 1.91 FIP
2017 (A+): 14 GS, 90.0 IP, 22.9 K%, 1.6% BB, 3.10 ERA, 2.50 FIP
2017 (AA): 9 GS, 54.1 IP, 22.4 K%, 2.3% BB, 2.32 ERA, 2.18 FIP
Continues to have immaculate control at every level of the minor league system while maintaining an above average strikeout rate.
Who should be the No. 5 Indians prospect?
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