7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Lindor remains on top in Tribe's Top 20 list
Shortstop joined by outfielder Frazier as Cleveland's leading prospects at midseason
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Francisco Lindor, SS
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 5 (Preseason: 10)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 70 | Overall: 65
Lindor has been on the fast track since the Indians made the Puerto Rico native the eighth overall pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He played in the All-Star Futures Game as an 18-year-old in '12, and he returned there this July.
Lindor is an elite defensive shortstop, and many scouts consider him to be the best defender in the Minor Leagues. He has a strong arm, and he ranges well to both sides. At the plate, Lindor makes a lot of contact, and he shows good pitch recognition. He doesn't have a lot of power, but some believe he will develop solid pop as he fills out. Lindor is a good runner, and his baseball instincts help that play up on the basepaths. He also earns praise for his leadership and makeup.
After speeding through the lower levels of the Minor Leagues, Lindor is on the cusp of making an impact in Cleveland.
2. Clint Frazier, OF
Preseason rank: 2
MLB Top 100 rank: 49 (Preseason: 48)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 65 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Frazier was the first high school position player selected in the 2013 Draft, and he got a $3.5 million signing bonus, the largest the Tribe has given out. Cleveland was delighted to be able to take him with the fifth overall choice, and the club envisions him as a future five-tool center fielder.
Frazier stands out most for his power, which his exceptional bat speed helps create. His advanced approach at the plate and his short swing help him to consistently barrel up balls. Defensively, Frazier should be able to cover enough ground to stay in center field, but if he does have to move, his strong arm would profile well in right field.
Frazier isn't overly physical, which gives some scouts pause, but his overall array of tools and his makeup help him overcome any concerns about his size.
3. Tyler Naquin, OF
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
A prolific career at Texas A&M that included back-to-back Big 12 batting titles helped make Naquin the 15th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He's moved quickly since, reaching Double-A Akron in his first full professional season. Naquin's development hit a snag this year, however, when he was hit by a pitch and broke his wrist in June.
When he's healthy, Naquin makes a lot of contact, thanks to his feel for the barrel and his quick wrists. He widened his stance during the 2013 season, a change he thinks will allow him to hit for more power. While Naquin is driving the ball better and has some pop, his game will always be more based on speed and getting on base.
Naquin was a right fielder in college, but he has proved he can handle center field as a professional. His above-average speed, arm and instincts make him a quality defender.
4. Bradley Zimmer, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Zimmer's older brother, Kyle Zimmer, went fifth overall in the 2012 Draft, and he reached Double-A in his first full pro season. Bradley didn't quite match his older brother on Draft day, but he could also move quickly through the Minor Leagues.
Zimmer has a nice package of tools, with his bat standing out the most. He has a sweet left-handed stroke, and he manages the strike zone and recognizes pitches well. Zimmer's body has enough strength and leverage to possibly produce plus power if he were to add some loft to his swing, though he's content to spray line drives all over the field for now.
Zimmer enhances his solid speed with keen instincts, which make him an asset on the basepaths and in the outfield. The Indians believe he can play center field, but his strong arm means he will fit well in right if he does have to move.
5. Jose Ramirez, 2B
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 65 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Despite not having played above Class A Lake County before 2013, Ramirez ended the year in Cleveland. In doing so, he became the first of the Indians' coming wave of middle-infield prospects to make his Major League debut.
Ramirez's game is well suited for the top of the lineup. His swing is geared to hitting line drives, and he doesn't often strike out. Ramirez makes good use of his plus speed, leading the Eastern League with 38 stolen bases in 2013.
Ramirez's best position is second base, but his versatility allowed him to play three infield positions during his brief Major League stint. He might have the most value to Cleveland as a utility infielder, but his tools are enough to make him a regular, if given the opportunity.
6. Francisco Mejia, C
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 30 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
The Tribe skipped Mejia over the Dominican Summer League, sending him straight to the Arizona Rookie League in 2013. He handled the aggressive assignment with aplomb, both offensively and defensively.
Mejia is wiry strong, and his bat speed creates impressive raw power. He also shows a good feel for hitting, consistently hitting line drives from both sides of the plate. Defensively, Mejia is advanced for his age. His athleticism and well-above-average arm and receiving skills are more than enough to make him an everyday catcher in time.
Still just a teenager, Mejia has some maturing to do, and the Indians want him to improve his English so he can better communicate with the pitching staff. He's still a long way away, but he already has the organization excited about his potential.
7. Justus Sheffield, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Sheffield's brother, Jordan Sheffield, had a chance to be a first-rounder in 2013, but he ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery and wound up at Vanderbilt. Justus had a bit more luck than his brother, and he was selected in the first round by the Tribe this June.
Sheffield is very similar to his older brother, except that he is a left-hander. He has a compact build, plenty of arm strength and impressive secondary stuff.
While he lacks size, Sheffield could develop three solid or better pitches. He already works with an 89-92 mph fastball that can hit 94, and both his mid-70s curveball and his changeup are advanced for a high schooler. A quality athlete with a clean delivery, Sheffield throws strikes with ease.
8. Erik Gonzalez, SS
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Following Lindor's promotion to Double-A Akron in 2013, the Indians made Gonzalez the regular shortstop at Class A Advanced Carolina. He had played seven positions during his career because of the organization's infield depth, but he fared better than expected as an everyday shortstop, and he earned a spot on the 40-man roster at the end of the season.
Gonzalez has a plus arm and moves well laterally, giving him plenty of range. His above-average defense means he won't have to hit a ton to be an everyday player, but he has made some necessary adjustments to his swing. Gonzalez has good bat-to-ball skills, and he is an above-average runner.
Gonzalez earns high marks for his makeup. That, along with his versatility, will help him as he progresses toward Cleveland.
9. Joe Wendle, 2B
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The Indians selected Wendle in the sixth round of the 2012 Draft, after he helped lead West Chester to the Division II national championship that spring. The next year, in his first full professional season, he was named Cleveland's Minor League Player of the Year.
Wendle's lone standout tool is his hitting ability. He has a good approach at the plate, and he uses the whole field to hit, squaring up balls with his short, compact swing. Wendle has some pop, but his swing is more suited to hitting line drives than hitting for power.
Wendle is a steady, capable second baseman. The Indians were pleased with his progress this season, before he suffered a broken hamate bone in June, likely ending his season prematurely.
10. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
Preseason rank: 19
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 20 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
After being left exposed in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft, Aguilar set the Double-A Akron record for RBIs in a season, with 103 in 2013, and he earned a spot on the Tribe's 40-man roster. He then returned to his native Venezuela for winter ball, and he hit 18 home runs in 58 games, the second most in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Aguilar's raw power was unquestioned even before his big 2013. Scouts are divided, however, on whether he'll hit well enough in the Major Leagues to make use of it. Aguilar's swing isn't rhythmic, and his aggressive approach leads to some swing-and-miss in his game.
Though Aguilar is athletic for his size, he's limited to first base defensively. As a right-handed-hitting first baseman, he's tough to profile, but he'll go as far as his bat will carry him.
11. Cody Anderson, RHP
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Anderson was a reliever at Feather River Junior College, but the Indians believed his size, strength and delivery would make him a good starter. He showed why when he reached Double-A Akron as part of a breakout 2013, and he was named the organization's Pitcher of the Year.
Anderson returned to Akron this year, but he hasn't been able to build on his breakout season. He remains relatively new to starting, and Cleveland still believes he has what it takes to be a solid starter in the big leagues.
Anderson's fastball sits in the low 90s, and it routinely hits 96 mph. His power curveball is his best secondary offering, and he also throws a cutter and a changeup. Anderson repeats his easy smooth delivery well, and he has solid command as a result.
12. Dorssys Paulino, OF
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The son of former Major League left-hander Jesus Sanchez, Paulino signed with the Indians in July 2011. He made a splash in the Arizona Rookie League during his U.S. debut the following year, but he has struggled in two stints in the Midwest League.
Paulino stands out for his bat, and he has the ability to be an above-average hitter. His quick hands and compact swing enable him to make a lot of contact. Paulino is a slightly above-average runner, and he has shown some power, but how much he develops will depend on how he fills out his wiry frame.
Originally a shortstop, the Indians moved Paulino to the outfield this year. He has played primarily left field, and he's responded to the change well.
13. Giovanny Urshela, 3B
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Urshela was regarded as one of the top prospects in Colombia when Cleveland signed him in 2008. Now, after slow but steady progress through the Minor Leagues, he is close to realizing that potential and helping the Indians in the Majors.
Defense has always been the strongest part of Urshela's game. His arm, glovework, range and ability to make plays while coming in all make him an above-average defender at third base.
At the plate, Urshela isn't quite as advanced, but he has made strides recently. His hand-eye coordination makes him difficult to strike out, even though he is something of a free-swinger. Urshela has a good feel for hitting, and he makes good use of his solid raw power.
14. Mike Papi, 1B
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Both Papi's father and his brother played college baseball, but Mike became the first in his family to reach the professional ranks when the Tribe selected him in Competitive Balance Round A.
Hitting in the middle of Virginia's lineup, Papi helped lead the Cavaliers to a second-place finish in the College World Series this spring. His plate discipline and pitch recognition were as good as any college hitter in the 2014 Draft class. Papi is more of a line-drive hitter right now, but there is some slugging potential in his left-handed swing, plus excellent bat speed and good balance at the plate. He is a solid corner outfielder, and he has also been used at first base.
Virginia's home park is not hitting-friendly, and many Cavaliers hitters have gone on to hit better at the next level. The Indians believe Papi could be the next to do so.
15. Dylan Baker, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Baker grew up in Juneau, Alaska, and he became the second-highest drafted Alaska native when Cleveland took him in the fifth round out of Western Nevada Junior College in 2012.
Baker's fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 97 mph. His slider is his best secondary offering, and it has a chance to give him a second plus pitch. Early in Baker's career, he was known primarily as a fastball-slider pitcher, but his changeup made strides in 2013, and it could eventually give him a third quality offering.
Baker's delivery has some effort to it, leading some scouts to think he is better suited for a role as a power reliever. The Tribe believes he can continue to refine his control, and the club could see him as a starter. A broken ankle cost Baker most of the first half of this season, but the Indians remain excited by his upside.
16. Carlos Moncrief, OF
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Moncrief was a two-way player at Chipola Junior College, and he began his professional career as a pitcher. Cleveland moved him to the outfield in 2010, and he steadily worked his way up the ladder before breaking out at Double-A Akron in '13.
Big and strong, Moncrief produces impressive raw power. He has made significant improvements to his overall approach at the plate, honing his pitch-recognition skills and cutting his strikeout rate. Defensively, Moncrief has a plus arm, and he is a capable right fielder.
Moncrief's left-handed power is likely enough to make him a solid platoon player. If he's able to continue to build on the adjustments he's made at the plate, however, his upside is much more than that.
17. Adam Plutko, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 45| Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
As a freshman, Plutko was the third member of UCLA's rotation, pitching behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. He eventually became the Bruins' ace, and he led them to the 2013 College World Series championship.
Plutko was a well-regarded recruit coming out of high school, but his stuff took a slight step back in college. That was especially true of his fastball, which now sits at about 90 mph after touching the mid 90s in high school. Though the Indians feel Plutko might be able to get some of his old velocity back, he has proven he can succeed without premium stuff, thanks to his control and high baseball IQ.
While Plutko doesn't have the biggest upside, he has a good chance to become a solid starter in the big leagues.
18. Tony Wolters, C
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The Indians drafted Wolters as a shortstop, and he played the infield for two full professional seasons, advancing to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2012. But the glut of middle infielders in the organization and the recommendation of manager Terry Francona led the Tribe to move Wolters behind the plate in '13.
Wolters has handled the move well, and he's developing into a solid defender at his new position. Offensively, he's a solid hitter with gap power.
While Wolters has a chance to develop into a regular catcher, Cleveland has continued to give him some work in the infield, and the club sees him as a potential super-utility player capable of being in the lineup every day, albeit at several positions.
19. Luis Lugo, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Lugo has been the youngest member of the pitching staff in each of the past two years, but he has held his own. The Venezuela native was something of a late-bloomer, and scouts believe there is still room for projection in his big frame.
Lugo's fastball already sits around 90 mph, and he mixes it with a solid changeup. His curveball has made strides this year, becoming a much more consistent offering. Lugo has a good feel for the zone, and he throws all of his pitches for strikes.
The Indians think Lugo's size, stuff and feel for pitching will help him develop into a solid starter.
20. Sean Brady, LHP
Preseason rank: 18
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Brady was among the top Florida high school pitchers in the 2013 Draft class, and the Tribe made him its fifth-round selection in June. He was more polished than most high schoolers, and he made an easy adjustment to the professional ranks.
Brady's fastball sits in the upper 80s to low 90s. He mixes it with a curveball and a changeup, both of which project to be Major League-average offerings. Brady has a clean delivery, and he has a good feel for his whole arsenal.
Brady's advanced stuff and understanding of his craft help make up for his lack of projection. He could move faster than most high school pitchers, and he profiles as a solid big league starter.