Third base prospect Nolan Jones is our No. 2 Cleveland Indians prospect for 2018, improving from his No. 6 ranking last year. Jones was a top-rated high school prospect in the 2016 draft, but dropped to the second round due to signability concerns.
In his first taste of Low-A ball in 2017, Jones was at or near the top of the New York Penn League in batting average (.317), on base percentage (.430), doubles (18), total bases (105) and was tops in walks (43), cementing himself as a stellar contact hitter with a patient approach.
It wasn’t until 2018, however, that Jones tapped into the power potential scouts had suggested he possessed due to his 6-foot-4 frame.
Jones had only hit four career home runs heading into last year, but playing full-season ball for the first time at Lake County, he blasted 16 home runs while slashing .279/.393/.464. Jones also maintained his elite 16.2% walk rate from Low-A.
Jones earned a late promotion to High-A Lynchburg, where his numbers actually improved, increasing his walk rate to a ridiculous 20% while slashing .298/.438/.471 at just 20 years old.
#Indians 20yr old (3B) prospect Nolan Jones 2018 (Top 10) minor league ranks amongst all players w/ at least 500 PA:— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) January 9, 2019
5) BB% 17.1%
6) OBP .405
6) HR/FB 21.8%
8) wRC+ 151
10) wOBA .401 pic.twitter.com/s2076BNesu
The biggest knock on Jones has been his defense, and while he’s still a work in progress, he’s making improvements. Jones was abysmal defensively in 2017, committing 22 errors in just 133 chances for a .835 fielding percentage. In 2018, he made 27 errors in 276 chances, improving his fielding percentage to .902.
Jones proved he can play at High-A last year in his 30-game stint, but the Indians might repeat him there if they want to be patient with him. That being said, I hope they give him a chance to prove himself at Double-A. He’s clearly proving he can both hit, hit for power, and walk. Once that glove gets up to snuff, he could easily be the third baseman of the future.
Ethan Hankins, RHP (Age 18)
2018 (R): 2 GS, 3.0 IP, 42.9 K%, 0.0 BB%, 6.00 ERA, 1.07 FIP
2018 first round compensatory pick has the most potential of any arm in the Tribe system. Fastball nearing triple digits with life to it and the makings of a great change-up and curve.
George Valera, OF (Age 18)
2018 (R): 22 PA, .333/.409/.556, 1 HR, 1 SB, 13.6 BB%, 13.6 K%, 162 wRC+
Top international signing in 2017, skipped the DSL entirely and debuted in Arizona last year. Looked incredible in SSS before broken hamate bone ended his season early.
Tyler Freeman, SS (Age 19)
2018 (A-): 301 PA, .352/.405/.511, 2 HR, 14 SB, 2.7 BB%, 7.3 K%, 168 wRC+
2017 second round competitive balance pick, Freeman is one of the best pure hitters in the Tribe system. He torched the New York Penn League in 2018, although his walk-rate is concerning.
Yu Chang, SS (Age 23)
2018 (AAA): 518 PA, .256/.330/.411, 14 HR, 4 SB, 8.5 BB%, 27.8 K%, 109 wRC+
2018 (AFL): 93 PA, 337/.396/.523, 4 HR, 1 SB, 7.5 BB%, 17.2 K%
Chang’s average improved in 2018, although his power dropped from 24 home runs to 14 in his first taste of Triple-A. He stood out in the Arizona Fall League and will compete for the Indians’ utility spot this year.
Brayan Rocchio, SS (Age 17)
2018 (DSL): 111 PA, .323/.391/.434, 1 HR, 8 SB, 4.5 BB%, 12.6 K%, 140 wRC+
2018 (R): 158 PA, .343/.389/.448, 1 HR, 14 SB, 6.3 BB%, 10.8 K%, 137 wRC+
Venezuelan signed in 2017, same class as Valera, destroyed the DSL and was promoted to the AZL quickly. Many scouts said he was the best player in the AZL last year, exploding up Tribe prospect rankings as a result.
Who should be the No. 3 Indians prospect?
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