Keith Law today released his annual top-100 list of MLB prospects and it includes a striking number of Cleveland prospects. Six in total made the cut, led by Triston McKenzie at No. 12 and Nolan Jones dropping all the way to No. 86.
The full list can be seen behind The Athletic’s paywall (and you should read it, of course), but at a glance, Cleveland’s names on the list are as follows:
- 12. Triston McKenzie
- 42. Bo Naylor
- 76. George Valera
- 78. Tyler Freeman
- 86. Nolan Jones
- 99. Brayan Rocchio
A couple of things stand out right away. As previously mentioned, Jones — who is often listed as Cleveland’s first or second-best prospect — is No. 86 overall and Cleveland’s fifth. Prior to last season, he was ranked 35th on Law’s top-100 list, the only Cleveland prospect to make his 2020 list.
Keith Law notes some well-known concerns with Jones’s game such as his struggles against left-handed pitching and the possibility that he will be three true outcome player and not much else. He does note that Jones would probably have the chops to stay at third base, but the presence of José Ramírez is the driving force behind him moving to the outfield. Nothing there seems too out of the ordinary — it all depends on how much you think Jones can improve between now and whenever he gets regular playing time.
On the positive side, Law has Bo Naylor at No. 42 overall and as Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect. The catcher and brother of Cleveland outfielder Josh Naylor garnered pure praise from The Athletic. Most notably, Law praises Naylor’s work on his defense behind the plate:
Naylor continues to make great progress behind the plate, to the point now where he’s not just likely to stay there but has a chance to end up a plus defender with the glove and arm, a testament to his athleticism and his work ethic.
Most of what I have read about Naylor has put him as good enough but not great behind the plate, but if he has truly worked his butt off to become an outstanding fielder he’ll have a bright future in Cleveland. They love defensive catchers like few others, and they know how to find them.
The rest of Cleveland’s prospects are clustered around the bottom quarter of the list. Twenty-year-old Brayan Rocchio sneaks on at No. 99, with notes about his comparisons to some guy named Francisco Lindor and the chance he could stick at shortstop with considerable upside on offense.
Geoge Valera is only No. 76, which is considered a war crime in some parts of the Cleveland Prospect Kingdom. He’s still on a top-100 list, so of course there is a lot to be excited about, but he carries the same concerns for any young prospect with massive power potential — if he can’t improve his contact rate and stop chasing he’ll be in trouble. At only 20 years old and with one of the sweetest swings in the minors, he’s got time to figure it out.
For some non-Cleveland perspective, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco tops the list (as he does every list) followed by San Diego Padres pitcher MacKenzie Gore, Atlanta Braves outfielder Cristian Pache, Seattle Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Nate Pearson.