Let’s kick things off with the actual rankings straight from Baseball America.
1. Francisco Mejia, C
2. Triston McKenzie, RHP
3. Bobby Bradley, 1B
4. Nolan Jones, 3B
5. Shane Bieber, RHP
6. Yu-Cheng Chang, SS
7. Willi Castro, SS
8. Greg Allen, OF
9. George Valera, OF
10. Will Benson, OF
By comparison, last year’s rankings, which were also topped by Francisco Mejia, graduated Erik Gonzalez and Bradley Zimmer due to service time. Brady Aiken was still a top five prospect last year, but a rough 2017 has seen him tumble well out of the top 10.
The biggest jump has been Shane Bieber, a 2016 fourth round pick by the Indians who has showcased the best control of any pitcher in all of minor league baseball. In 197.1 innings pitched since being drafted, Bieber has walked just 12 batters while striking out 183. Yeah, not bad.
Top pitching prospect Triston McKenzie has been Mr. Consistent, continuing to dominate opposing hitters. He answered several questions about his durability by pitching a full injury-free season in 2017 with High-A Lynchburg and he led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts.
Also getting some love is 2017 international signing George Valera, who hasn’t even debuted professionally with the Indians. With the Indians not having a first round pick in 2017’s MLB draft, Valera was the highlight of the team’s additions to its farm system. He is expected to debut in the DSL this summer.
Baseball America also lists the best tools in the system. Aaron Civale has the best slider while Logan Ice is the best defensive catcher. I’m sure this will come as a shock, but Bobby Bradley is the best power hitter while Mejia is the best hitter for average. You can find the rest of the tools in the actual BA article, which also comes with an intriguing prospect chat where Teddy Cahill answers questions about the Indians system that I highly recommend.
MLB Pipeline’s top 10 features eight of the same players, with Bieber ranked 11 and Valera ranked 25. It has Indians top 2017 draft pick Quentin Holmes and 2016 third round pick Aaron Civale ranked instead.