Super athletic slugger Will Benson is our No. 18 Cleveland Indians prospect, moving up one position from his 2019 ranking, where he was No. 19.
A former first round pick in 2016, Benson had a season of extremes in 2019. He began the year by repeating at Single-A Lake County, where he flourished.
In 62 games for the Captains, Benson slashed .272/.371/.604 with 18 home runs and 18 stolen bases, leading the league in both categories at the time of his promotion to High-A Lynchburg. Benson had an insane 172 wRC+ during his repeat stint in Lake County, which included a four-homer game. His four-homer game was voted a top three moment in minor league baseball in 2019.
Benson earned Player of the Week three times with Lake County and was a mid and post-season All-Star for the Midwest League.
He finished the season as one of only two players in all of minor league baseball with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Now onto the bad news. Benson continued to strike out at an alarming rate in 2019. Despite walking at an elite 14.3% clip, he also struck out in 30.1% of his at bats with the Captains.
He finished the season playing 61 games for High-A Lynchburg, and while his strikeout rate dropped to a career low 28.6%, his hard contact rate plummeted. Benson slashed just .189/.290/.304, hitting just four home runs the rest of the season despite only having four fewer plate appearances than Lake County, where he slugged 18 of them.
Benson has loud tools, with an 80-grade arm, 70-grade power, above average speed and decent defense with an ability to draw walks, but he will go as far as his as his current below average hit tool will take him.
Look for Benson to begin 2020 in High-A Lynchburg, where hopefully he can put up similar numbers to his first half of 2019 in Lake County.
Yu Chang, SS (Age 24)
2019 (AAA): 453 PA, .253/.322/.427, 9 HR, 0 SB, 9.2 BB%, 23.7 K%, 88 wRC+
2019 (MLB): 49 PA, .178/.286/.274, 1 HR, 0 SB, 13.1 BB%, 26.2 K%, 50 wRC+
Slowed by injuries in 2019, but made his MLB debut and showcased improved patience against MLB pitchers. Potential full-time utility candidate for the 2020 season with room to grow.
Jose Fermin, 2B (Age 20)
2019 (A): 456 PA, .293/.374/.379, 6 HR, 28 SB, 9.2 BB%, 8.8 K%, 123 wRC+
Former top Indians international signing in 2015 had his second straight year over 120 wRC. Walked more than he struck out in his full-season debut for Lake County.
Bryan Lavistada, C (Age 21)
2019 (A-): 240 PA, .335/.408/.483, 2 HR, 3 SB, 10.4 BB%, 11.3 K%, 165 wRC+
2019 (A-): 4 PA, .333/.500/.333, 0 HR, 0 SB, 25.0 BB%, 25.0 K%, 162 wRC+
Converted catcher drafted in the 15th round in 2018 has done nothing but impress both offensively and defensively since making his pro debut. Also threw out 35% of would-be basestealers in 2019.
Angel Martinez, SS (Age 17)
2019 (DSL): 261 PA, .306/.402/.428, 1 HR, 11 SB, 11.1 BB%, 11.1 K%, 134 wRC+
One of the top Indians international signings from 2018, Martinez was the top performer of Tribe DSL players in 2019, showcasing patience at the plate and speed on the basepaths.
Eli Morgan, RHP (Age 23)
2019 (A+): 6 GS, 33.2 IP, 32.8 K%, 4.1 BB%, 1.87 ERA, 2.70 FIP
2019 (AA): 18 GS, 102.0 IP, 24.1 K%, 7.26 BB%, 3.79 ERA, 3.75 FIP
2019 (AAA): 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 9.1 K%, 9.1 BB%, 5.40 ERA, 4.62 FIP
Morgan’s excellent control combined with the best changeup in the Tribe system allowed him to advance three levels in the 2019 season despite a lack of elite velocity. Morgan started extremely strong both in High-A and Double-A, but tailed off as the season wore on.
Jhonkensy Noel, 1B/3B (Age 18)
2019 (R): 209 PA, .287/.349/.455/.804, 6 HR, 5 SB, 18.7 K%, 8.6 BB% 114 wRC+
One of the youngest and most powerful international sluggers in the Tribe system, has showcased an above average hit tool at both rookie levels thus far in his career.
Luis Oviedo, RHP, (Age 20)
2019 (A): 19 GS, 87.0 IP, 19.0%, 10.5 BB%, 5.38 ERA, 4.41 FIP
Started a career-high 19 games in Single-A last season, but struggled with walks and a lowered strikeout rate. Features one of the best changeups in the Indians system.
Alexfri Planez, OF (Age 18)
2019 (R): 25 PA, .333/.360/.542, 1 HR, 0 SB, 4.0 BB%, 28.0 K%, 139 wRC+
Venezuelan gaining traction in prospect rankings due to size, age, athleticism and power potential. His 2019 season was cut short due to a hamate injury.
Nick Sandlin, RHP (Age 23)
2019 (AA): 15 G, 17.1 IP, 36.0 K%, 10.7 BB%, 1.56 ERA, 3.46 FIP
2019 (AAA): 9 G, 9.0 IP, 29.7 K%, 18.9 BB%, 4.00 ERA, 6.40 FIP
Sidearm-throwing reliever taken in the 2nd round of the 2018 MLB draft. Likely would have made it to the Indians if not for a pair of 2019 injuries, which slowed his ascent through the system.
Carlos Vargas, RHP (Age 20)
2019 (A-): 15 GS, 77.2. IP, 21.9 K%, 7.4 BB%, 4.52 ERA, 3.36 FIP
Flamethrowing right-handed starter who can approach triple digits with a low to mid-90s slider. Improved control in 2019 saw him get hit more, but showed flashes of brilliance, like final 2019 start with 7.0 scoreless innings.
Who should be the No. 19 Indians prospect?
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