Coming over as part of the trade that sent World Series Champion Yan Gomes to the World Series Champion Washington Nationals, Daniel Johnson was not exactly a household name. Despite showing occasional power and a cannon for an arm, he was nowhere to be seen on MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospect lists, and he barely made the Nationals’ top-10 in 2017.
Determined to not let the injury slow him down, he came to Cleveland with a revamped swing, and it showed in the form of a .253/.337/.534 slash in Double-A with 10 home runs and a 9.6% walk rate. He was quickly promoted to Triple-A where he still maintained a .306/.371/.496 slash and nine home runs.
It was almost a calendar year ago that Johnson showed off the kind of power that any All-Star outfielder should dream of — he blasted a 436-foot home run off of Evan Grills that left the bat at 112 miles per hour. He then proceeded to hit a combined 19 home runs in the two highest levels of the minors, leading to the big question: When does he get promoted?
The Indians declined to call him up in September, despite the potential boost he could have given a team that needed one final push for the playoffs. Unless Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen simultaneously catch fire, we’ll surely see Johnson in the majors at some point this season.
Daniel Espino, RHP (Age 19)
2019 (R): 6 GS, 13.2 IP, 30.2 K%, 9.4 BB%, 1.98 ERA, 4.20 FIP
2019 (A-): 3 GS, 10.0 IP, 40.0 K%, 11.1 BB%, 6.30 ERA, 2.60 FIP
2019 first-round pick struck out a third of the batters he faced in Rookie ball and only got more deadly in Low-A as a 19-year-old. Fastball sits in upper 90s, occasionally touching triple digits. He. Is. 19.
Ethan Hankins, RHP (Age 19)
2019 (A-): 8 GS, 38.2 IP, 27.9 K%, 11.7 BB%, 1.20 ERA, 3.22 FIP
2019 (A): 5 GS, 21.1 IP, 29.8 K%, 12.8 BB%, 4.64 ERA, 4.28 FIP
2018 first round comp. pick blew away hitters at short season ball and earned a late promotion to full season Lake County. His strikeout rate is impressive, but he’ll need to cut down on walks as he moves through the system.
Bo Naylor, C (Age 19)
2019 (A): 453 PA, .243/.313/.421, 11 HR, 7 SB, 9.5 BB%, 23.0 K%, 110 wRC+
The 2018 first round draft pick skipped Low-A entirely and debuted in full-season ball in 2019. After a slow start, put up above average numbers, including posting double digit home runs, triples and doubles as a catcher.
Brayan Rocchio, SS (Age 18)
2018 (A-): 295 PA, .250/.310/.373, 5 HR, 14 SB, 6.8 BB%, 13.6 K%, 107 wRC+
Venezuelan signed in 2017, held his own as one of the youngest players in the New York Penn League in 2019 while improving his walk rate and power.
George Valera, OF (Age 19)
2019 (A-): 188 PA, .236/.356/.446, 8 HR, 6 SB, 15.4 BB%, 27.7 K%, 142 wRC+
2019 (A): 26 PA, .087/.192/.174, 0 HR, 0 SB, 7.7 BB%, 34.6 K%, 14 wRC+
Struggled to make consistent contact but posted elite on-base and power numbers in short season ball, earning a late promotion to full season Lake County.
Who should be the No. 5 Indians prospect?
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