Contact-hitting shortstop Tyler Freeman is our No. 3 Cleveland prospect after raking in 40% of the vote yesterday, dropping one spot from his No. 2 rankings last year. He previously was ranked No. 5 in 2019 and was No. 16 in 2018.
A second-round compensation pick by Cleveland in 2017, Freeman has excelled at every level he’s played.
After posting a 116 wRC+ in rookie ball the year he was drafted, Freeman exploded into relevancy in 2018 slashing .352/.405/.511 at Low-A and winning the New York-Penn League’s batting title by 21 points and beating the third-best hitter by nearly 50 points. He had a ridiculous 168 wRC+ and his 29 doubles in a shortened season topped nearly every full-season player in the Cleveland organization that year.
Freeman earned a promotion to full-season ball in 2019 and continued to impress, slashing .292/.382/.424 for the Captains and not only earning mid-season All-Star honors with his 138 wRC+ but also earning a promotion to High-A Lynchburg, where he actually improved both his batting average to .317 and also dropped his strikeout rate to single digits at 9.1% despite practically having the same amount of at-bats at both levels.
While his 2020 season was canceled, Freeman was a participant in the preseason games against Pittsburgh, scoring a pair of hits, then was an invite to the expanded roster in Lake County, getting opportunities to hit against some of the best pitchers in the entire organization day in and day out.
A criticism of Freeman has been his lack of power, hitting just seven home runs thus far in his MiLB career, but he apparently has been working on adding strength because he blasted at least eight home runs alone while playing at the taxi squad this past summer, according to a story from Rotowire last August.
If that additional pop is legitimate, Freeman is going to become a serious threat to become the top prospect in the system once Jones and McKenzie graduate this season.
Look for Freeman to at least begin the 2021 season in Double-A, and if Cleveland is feeling particularly aggressive, he could start the season at Triple-A.
Aaron Bracho, SS (Age 19)
2019 (R): 137 PA, .296/.416/.593, 6 HR, 4 SB, 16.8 BB%, 15.3 K%, 162 wRC+
2019 (A-): 32 PA, .222/.344/.481, 2 HR, 0 SB, 15.6 BB%, 25.0 K%, 141 wRC+
Injury kept him from debuting in 2018, but the DR native made up for it in 2019, rebuilding his hype by posting incredible numbers in the AZL and earning a promotion to Mahoning Valley.
Daniel Espino, RHP (Age 20)
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. The first Tribe prep prospect to earn a promotion the season he was drafted since Francisco Lindor.
Bo Naylor, C (Age 20)
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. Posted double-digit home runs, triples and doubles as a catcher. Younger brother of outfielder Josh Naylor.
Brayan Rocchio, SS (Age 19)
2019 (A-): 295 PA, .250/.310/.373, 5 HR, 14 SB, 6.8 BB%, 13.6 K%, 107 wRC+
One of the top shortstop prospects in the Tribe system. Advanced for his age and possesses the tools to be a big part of the Tribe's future, although he's yet to play full-season ball.
George Valera, OF (Age 20)
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+
Has impressed in a small sample size, and was invited to Cleveland’s expanded roster in Lake County in 2020, but needs to put together some at-bats during full-season ball this year to prove himself.
Who should be the Cleveland’s No. 4 prospect?
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