Slugging shortstop prospect Gabriel Arias raked in 52% of the vote to earn No. 8 Cleveland prospect for 2021, his debut in the LGT top 20 rankings.
The headlining piece in the Mike Clevinger trade, Arias signed out of Venezuela in 2016 and was promoted aggressively, never playing in the DSL and instead debuting in the AZL in 2017, where he slashed .275/.329/.353 and earned a promotion straight to full-season Single-A Fort Wayne despite still being 17 years old.
Arias spent his entire 2018 season in Single-A, where he struggled to make consistent contact, slashing .240/.302/.352, but something interesting happened — he hit his first six home runs.
The Venezuelan wasn’t known for his power when he was signed as a glove-first shortstop, but he continued to improve the loft on his swing, and it came to a head in 2019.
In his High-A debut at 19 years old, Arias slashed .302/.339/.470 over 120 games while blasting 17 home runs, earning mid-season All-Star honors
While Arias’s walk rate dropped to 4.9%, his strikeout rate surprisingly dropped as well, although it still was a semi-alarming 25%.
While there was no minor league season in 2020, Arias participated in San Diego’s expanded roster, then was added to Cleveland’s after the Clevinger trade. San Diego allegedly worked extra hard last offseason on helping Arias improve his pitch recognition ability.
Arias has maintained his plus defense at shortstop, which makes him one of the most powerful shortstop prospects in the minor leagues heading into the 2021 season. I expect him to debut at Triple-A, and an MLB debut could be right around the corner if that pitch recognition work paid off.
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.
Joey Cantillo, LHP (Age 21)
2019 (A): 19 GS, 98.0 IP, 34.7 K%, 7.3 BB%, 1.93 ERA, 2.15 FIP
2019 (A+): 3 GS, 13.2 IP, 25.4 K%, 11.1 BB%, 4.61 ERA, 4.98 FIP
Former Padres 16th round pick has soared through their system. Possesses stellar control and an elite change up, but doesn’t blow away the radar gun.
Ethan Hankins, RHP (Age 20)
2019 (A-): 8 GS, 38.2 IP, 27.9 K%, 11.7 BB%, 1.40 ERA, 3.22 FIP
2019 (A): 5 GS, 21.1 IP, 29.8 K%, 12.8 BB%, 4.64 ERA, 4.80 FIP
Tops out at 97 mph with strikeout stuff, but command issues and injuries have slowed his development.
Daniel Johnson, OF (Age 25)
2020 (MLB): 13 PA, .083/.154/.083, 0 HR, 0 SB, 7.7 BB%, 38.5 K%, -71 wRC+
Saw a brief cup of coffee in the shortened 2020 season, but other than picking up his first career hit and walk, he didn’t have much to show for it and was sent back to the taxi squad.
Carson Tucker, SS (Age 18)
Cleveland 2020 1st round MLB draft pick
The younger brother of Pirates MLB player Cole Tucker, Carson possesses plus speed and sprays hits to all fields, but has yet to debut in the minor leagues.
Who should be Cleveland’s No. 9 prospect?
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