It’s not often a back-up catcher sees his prospect stock soar, but Eric Haase had a sensational 2017 season.
Playing behind top Indians prospect Francisco Mejia at Double-A Akron, Haase forced the Indians to put his bat in the lineup every day with a huge power surge due to some adjustments he made to his swing plane.
After having previously topped out with 17 home runs in 2014, Haase blasted 27 long balls in 2017, good for third in the Eastern League. His .574 slugging percentage led all Indians minor league players and was second in the Eastern League. He did this without raising his strikeout rate and actually increased his walk-rate by nearly five percentage points
Not bad for a back-up.
The 25-year old has taken the long road to becoming a decent prospect, drafted in the seventh round out of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan in 2011. His defense behind the plate is average to above average, throwing out 38 percent of would-be basestealers in 2017.
The Indians added Haase to their 40-man roster in the offseason, so look for the slugging backstop to make his MLB debut at some point in 2018 should the need arise for a catcher.
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 14 PROSPECT FOR 2018?
Matt Esparza, RHP (Age 23)
2017 (AA): 17 GS, 94.2 IP, 17.8 K%, 8.9 BB%, 4.94 ERA, 5.14 FIP
2017 (A+): 9 GS, 47.0 IP, 20.3 K%, 5.6 BB%, 3.26 ERA, 4.25 FIP
Drafted in the 14th round from UC Irvine in 2015, Esparza struggled a bit in his jump to AA. Has managed to hold batters to a sub-.300 BABIP at all levels of play since single-A. Still fairly young for the AA level and is the subject of the #TeamEsparza hashtag across LGT.
Tyler Freeman, SS (Age 18)
2017 (R): 144 PA, .297/.364/.414, 2 HR, 5 SB, 4.9 BB%, 8.3 K%, 116 wRC+
The second pick by the Indians in the 2017 draft, Freeman had the most success of any prep player that debuted in the system last season. Might have trouble sticking at shortstop.
Quentin Holmes, OF (Age 18)
2017 (R): 169 PA, .182/.220/.289, 2 HR, 5 SB, 4.7 BB%, 36.1 K%, 39 wRC+
The first pick by the Indians in the 2017 draft. Holmes was the fastest player in the draft and possesses, legitimately, 80-grade speed. Plenty of room for development hailing from a northern climate in New York.
Mitch Longo, OF (Age 23)
2017 (A+): 20 PA, .563/.650/.688, 0 HR, 2 SB, 20.0 BB%, 10.0 K%, 283 wRC+
2017 (A): 232 PA, .361/.431/.530, 4 HR, 18 SB, 9.9 BB%, 15.1 K%, 170 wRC+
Despite missing the beginning of the season with an injury, had the most impressive offensive performance of any Indians prospect in 2017. Also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts.
Ryan Merritt, LHP (Age 25)
2017 (MLB): 4 GS, 20.2 IP, 7.9 K%, 4.5 BB%, 1.74 ERA, 3.06 FIP
2017 (AAA): 18 GS, 116 IP, 18.0 K%, 5.3 BB%, 3.03 ERA, 4.78 FIP
The 2016 ALCS hero was once again above average in both Triple-A and when making spot starts for the Indians in 2017. Doesn’t have the best stuff, but can get outs at the Major League level due to excellent control as long as he’s not left in the game too long.
Julian Merryweather, RHP (Age 26)
2017 (AAA): 16 GS, 78 IP, 21.3 K%, 7.0 BB%, 6.58 ERA, 3.89 FIP
2017 (AA): 9 GS, 50.2 IP, 25.5 K%, 4.9 BB%, 3.38 ERA, 3.10 FIP
Has the best-rated fastball in the Indians system, hitting the upper 90s. Struggled after being promoted to Triple-A in 2017 but has the command to succeed. Should make his MLB debut in 2018.
Johnathan Rodriguez, OF (Age 18)
2017 (R): 119 PA, .250/.381/.333, 0 HR, 0 SB, 17.6 BB%, 19.3 K%, 108 wRC+
The youngest player in the 2017 MLB draft, has a good eye at the plate and a great throwing arm. Has a very projectable frame at 6-foot-3 with the potential to develop power although he doesn’t have any yet.
Who should be the No. 14 Indians prospect?
This poll is closed