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Julian Merryweather is our No. 17 prospect. Who should be No. 18?

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The hardest-throwing arm in the Indians’ system will start the season at Triple-A Columbus

Peoria Javelinas v Mesa Solar Sox Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Julian brings the heat. With the top rated fastball in the Indians’ system, Julian Merryweather glided through the lower levels of the minor leagues with solid peripherals. From A- to AA, his xFIP hovered near 3.00, with small blips up in his first season and upon his first promotion to AA in 2016.

Last season, another bump occurred. Merryweather reached Columbus and his xFIP grew to 3.89. That wasn’t his only issue at the highest level of the minors — he also posted his highest walk rate (15.7%), highest HR/9 (1.5), and saw a slight decrease in K/9 (8.77).

We need to provide a little bit more context for those numbers, though. Between Akron and Columbus Merryweather averaged the highest K/9 total of his career. He’d never previously allowed a HR/9 greater than .76, and battled a BABIP of .388 during his 78 innings in Columbus. This is largely related to the most intriguing increase of all: he allowed twice as many fly balls during the second half of 2017 than he did in the rest of his minor league career.

Was it simply a statistical fluke that made it look like Merryweather had met his match? Or is the trio of his fastball, curveball, and changeup simply not good enough to cut it at any level higher than AA? Expect this season to offer clues. I think paying close attention to the continuing development of his changeup and his aggressiveness in attacking hitters will be good indicators as to whether we can expect him to make it all the way to the Show.


WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 17 PROSPECT FOR 2018?

Aaron Bracho, SS (Age 16)

One of the top international prospects signed by the Indians in 2017. Earned the largest signing bonus of any Indian that year at $1.5 million. Could move to 2B due to lack of arm strength. Bat is his biggest strength, could hit for power and average as he develops.

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.

Ernie Clement, 25 2B-SS (Age 21)

2017 (A-): 187 PA, .280/.315./343, 0 HR, 6 SB, 3.2 BB%, 6.4K%, 99 wRC+

The Indians selected Clement in the 4th round of the 2017 MLB draft. He won a National Championship while playing at Virginia University and tallied a 21-game hit streak at Mahoning Valley last season.

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.

Brady Aiken, LHP (Age 21)

2017 (A): 27 G, 132 IP, 14.9 K%, 16.9% BB%, 4.77 ERA, 5.76 FIP

It’s probable that no prospect will far as fall on this and other Indians’ prospect lists. In his first full season of baseball after Tommy John surgery Aiken struggled. All the tools remain, but the path back from a torn UCL is never easy.

Mike Rivera, C (Age 22)

2017 (A-): 53 PA, .170/.231/.234, 0 HR, 0 SB, 22% K, 5.7% BB, wRC+ 43

Mike Rivera won the college World Series with Florida and was picked in the sixth round by the Indians in 2017. The offensive numbers look terrible because they are, but the glove is already MLB ready. He showed some pop in college, and if he develops into even a tolerable hitter the glove will earn him time in the Majors.

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.


Poll

Who should be the Indians No. 18 prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Aaron Bracho
    (41 votes)
  • 9%
    Matt Esparza
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Ernie Clement
    (2 votes)
  • 31%
    Quentin Holmes
    (39 votes)
  • 13%
    Brady Aiken
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Rivera
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    Johnathan Rodriguez
    (12 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now