Former first round competitive balance pick Triston McKenzie is our No. 3 Cleveland Indians prospect for Let’s Go Tribe, dropping down from his No. 1 ranking in 2019 and his No. 2 ranking in 2018.
McKenzie lost a bit of his luster after injuries have stalled his last two seasons. He missed the entire 2019 season after experiencing an upper back strain in Spring Training. Reports showed him throwing in Arizona, but he never got back on the mound for the regular season.
McKenzie also had a delayed start to his 2018 season with a forearm issue, although when he did pitch, he was sensational. In 16 starts for the RubberDucks, he went 7-4 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 87 strikeouts and a .191 opponents’ batting average over 90 2/3 innings. He also closed the season strong with 5.0 shutout innings.
The recent injury issues perhaps make some LGT readers forget just how good McKenzie has been when healthy.
In 2017, McKenzie led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts, earning the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Year award, whiffing 186 batters in 143 innings with a 1.05 WHIP and a 3.03 FIP. He was selected to the Future’s Game that season at just 20 years old.
McKenzie was most dominant of all in his second professional season when he started at Low-A Mahoning Valley, sporting a ridiculous 0.55 ERA through nine starts where he fanned 55 batters in 49 innings. He then struck out 49 batters in just 34 innings after being promoted to full-season Lake County that same season.
Now 22, all signs say McKenzie is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off. Standing 6-foot-5, he has a deceptive delivery which aids his already low to mid-90s fastball. McKenzie also has a curveball Fangraphs thinks can be worth a 60 grade and a decent change up.
Depending on whether he’s been able to develop his game while rehabbing, McKenzie could start the season in Double-A or Triple-A for the Indians this season and now that he’s been added to the 40-man roster this past November, it’s possible he makes his MLB debut if an opportunity arises, although there are multiple MLB-ready arms at the top of the Tribe system at the moment.
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.
Daniel Johnson, OF (Age 24)
2019 (AA): 167 PA, .253/.337/.534, 10 HR, 6 SB, 9.6 BB%, 23.4 K%, 152 wRC+
2019 (AAA): 380 PA, .306/.371/.496, 9 HR, 6 SB, 8.9 BB%, 20.8 K%, 120 wRC+
The Centerpiece of the Yan Gomes trade broke out in 2019 by dominating both Double-A and Triple-A and earning a trip to the Futures Game. Potential five-tool player with power, speed, contact, arm and defense.
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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