Sweet-swinging outfielder George Valera is our No. 4 Cleveland prospect after raking in 42% of the vote yesterday, improving two spots from his No. 6 rankings last year. He previously was ranked No. 3 in 2019 and was No. 10 in 2018.
A centerpiece of Cleveland’s vaunted 2017 international draft class, Valera hasn’t had a ton of pro experience yet due to a hamate injury in 2018 and the pandemic in 2020, but from what limited exposure he’s had, he’s impressed.
Valera showcased power to all fields during his 46-game stint with former Cleveland Low-A affiliate Mahoning Valley in 2019, where he led the league in home runs before missing two weeks with an injury and then getting promoted to full-season.
The 20-year-old put up an impressive 142 wRC+ with the Scrappers, combining his elite power with a career-best 15.4% walk rate.
Valera had the opportunity to participate in Cleveland’s intrasquad games as the team prepared for the 2020 season, at one point smoking an RBI single off future Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
Valera spent the 2020 summer with the expanded roster in Lake County, where, according to an article from Baseball America, Cleveland Vice President of Player Development James Harris said he “accelerated his development because he was able to face advanced pitchers, and a few major league guys.”
With the outfield a major concern moving forward for Cleveland in 2021, Valera’s development could be extremely interesting. I’d expect him to at least begin the year at (now) High-A Lake County, if not higher, depending on where management feels he’s ready to play.
Staying healthy will be a priority if Valera is finally going to break out, as MLB Pipeline predicted for him this year.
Gabriel Arias, SS (Age 20)
2019 (A+ San Diego): 511 PA, .302./339/.470, 17 HR, 8 SB, 4.9.8 BB%, 25.0 K%, 120 wRC+
The top prospect return from the Mike Clevinger trade with San Diego, Arias is a middle infielder with serious pop, although has work to do with his patience at the plate and pitch selection.
Aaron Bracho, 2B (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.
Who should be Cleveland’s No. 5 prospect?
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