Again, as in the previous top 10 post, listed here with brief mostly subjective observations. More detailed comps and analyses may follow in subsequent posts.
11: Bo Naylor. Falling out of the top 10 after an aggressive promotion to AA (skipping high-A altogether) led to an underwhelming season at the plate. But young Naylor is a catcher first, handling a top notch pitching staff, and his isolated metrics of walk rate and decent power stayed relatively consistent. A repeat at AA where he can now concentrate on his offense will be telling. He is being groomed as Cleveland's mainstay catcher of the future.
12: Jose Tena. Typically left outside the circle of attention granted others in his 2017 signing class, Jose's best comp in age and position is to Brayan Rocchio. A close look across their 2021 metrics show remarkably similar performances, altho Tena spent the entire year at A+ Lake County and Rocchio earned a mid-season promotion to Akron. A solid defender, Tena is now in the conversation regarding Cleveland's future infield, starting at AA next year.
13: Steven Kwan. Had one of the best years of any tribe prospect, resulting in his addition to the 40 man roster this offseason. A diminutive, bat control type outfielder (K rate less than 10%), Kwan broke thru in 2021 posting startling BA and power numbers at both Akron and Columbus, one of the few on the farm to reach the .200 ISO threshold. A steady defender at any outfield position, Steven could very well see time in Cleveland this year, especially if his recent power surge proves more than mirage.
14: Bryan Lavastida. Converted to catcher just before being drafted in 2018, Lavastida has worked hard at his new craft, and donned the tools of ignorance across three levels in '21, ending up at Columbus after a great offensive campaign that showed an excellent balance of hitting, slugging and plate discipline (.836 ops). A year older than his fellow backstop Naylor, Bryan has a chance to be the starting catcher at Columbus at age 23, a step and throw away from the majors. He could also see a position change if they are betting on his bat.
15: Richie Palacios. At age 24 last year, Palacios made up for developmental time lost to injury and covid, performing equally well across the top two rungs of the minor league ladder, showing excellent plate discipline (14% walk, 16% k rates) with consistent gap power and plus speed (20 steals). At second base, Richie's road to Cleveland is somewhat narrow, and so saw time at all three outfield spots as the season progressed. We may see the transition to OF accelerated in '22, as he and fellow Clipper Nolan Jones move away from the infield dirt in hopes of a Cleveland callup.
16: Konnor Pilkington
16: Peyton Battenfield. Both Konnor and Peyton came into the system this past year as a result of mid-season trades (with the ChiSox and Rays, respectively), slotted right into our AA rotation, each performing quite well (K/9 over 10 with excellent .200 or less BAA's) at the same age level. Konnor is a lefty, Peyton throws from the right, each with a big durable starter's frame, so I rank them equally here. They are basically a year ahead of our similar home grown cohort (Allen, Curry, Burns) and should be part of a strong all-prospect AAA rotation at Columbus next year. The number and quality of AA-AAA starters in the system is a real strength, and I may post a spreadsheet that highlights the plus metrics of this group.
18: Xzavion Curry. How can you not root for a guy named Xzavion? Not that Xzay needed a token reason - his performance across 3 levels in his first full year as a pro (2019 draftee from Ga Tech) earned him the attention of coaches and scouts. Along with his teammate for much of the year, Logan Allen, Xzay pitched with command and control (K/BB over 6!), relying on a heater at 91-94 supplemented by a curveball with a late drop into or out of the zone. Like Allen, a smallish frame for a starter but a delight to watch as they each worked quickly and filled up the zone with strikes. Curry seems to be getting the most out of his frame and effort already, but proving he can duplicate his success against higher level hitters next year at AA will move him up the list.
19: Petey Halpin. Drafted by Cleveland as a prep OF in a 2020 draft that included Carson Tucker and Isaiah Greene, Halpin was the only one that began his year in full seson ball, placement being the most telling sign of internal evaluations. Halpin proved equal to the task, immediately making his presence felt at the plate, in the field and on the bases. A medium sized athletic CF'er batting from the left side, he showed power and patience, many of his extra base hits being of the "off the fence" variety while holding down a srong walk/strikeout ratio. He is a fun player to watch, like a young Grady Sizemore, and he will stay ahead of his prep cohort by opening the year in high-A Lake County as a teenager.
20: Angel Martinez. Signed after the more highly ranked (and more expensive) Gabriel Rodriguez and Junior Sanquintin in 2018, Angel has already proven to be best all around baseball player of that international class. Able to play any infield position, with a smooth whippy swing and a good eye from either side of the plate, Angel is a 5 tool player that can easily vault up the prospect ranks as he plays into his natural tools. His 2021 campaign was a tale of two halves, breaking out with two months of .900 ops play followed by three of sub .600. Whether he was pressing or opposing pitchers found holes to exploit, his all around game and potential bode well. He should start at high-A next year, turning just 20 later this month.
21-25: As I said, despite not including many younger or newer players for consideration, I felt this list needed to go 25 to mention several that deserve note.
Tanner Burns was drafted ahead of Logan Allen, and while he did not advance to the next level as Allen did, had an excellent pro debut at high-A, with a K rate above 10 per nine innings. He will start '22 at AA, and needs to hone his command before top 10 consideration.
Oscar Gonzalez hit over 30 home runs and batted close to .300 across AA and AAA. Although his pitch selection improved, his low walk rate and average at best outfield play hold him back from what would seem to be an open spot in the Cleveland OF. His natural power is exciting, and he could see time in Cleveland next year if he can improve in these two areas.
Ethan Hankins is a big stud of a pitcher, a top 10 prospect when healthy. 2021 was a wash due to TJ surgery, but he should be healthy and ready to go in '22. The injury combined with the lost covid year puts him in reset mode. His placement and restrictions to start the year will be telling, as he will be 22 in May.
Lenny Torres and Josh Wolf. I lump these two together because they are the same age, had virtually identical seasons of inconsistency and flashes of brilliance, and they both still look like kids waiting to fill out their frames. Each with high draft pick resumes and excellent stuff, striking batters out and walking them as well at high rates. Both still young in their pro experience, looking to harness command of their arsenals. Both should start at high-A Lake County with no restrictions and great expectations at the age of 21.