LOD’s 2019 Offseason Top Prospects: Cleveland Indians #5-#1
Here at Legends on Deck our passion is prospects and the offseason presents an outstanding opportunity for us to showcase some of baseball’s top up and comers. Throughout the offseason, we will be bringing you the top ten prospects from all 30 organizations. We will start with the Arizona Diamondbacks and work our way alphabetically all the way through the Washington Nationals. This series is the opinion of Jake Berry, Senior Editor at Legends on Deck and does not reflect any official MLB rankings.
#5 – RHP Luis Oviedo
2019 Opening Day Age: 19 ETA: 2021 Top Future Pitch: CH
2018 Stats (Rookie/Single-A): 5-2, 2.05 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 67 SO, 17 BB
Oviedo’s repertoire features four pitches, a mid 90’s fastball, two breaking balls and a solid changeup. The above average combination of his FB/CH will be the Venezuelan righty’s calling card, but develping his breaking balls will be what really takes him over the top. Oviedo also has a great frame that he could add some size, strength, and velocity to as he matures physically.
#4 – OF George Valera
2019 Opening Day Age: 18 ETA: 2021 Top Future Tool: Hit
2018 Stats (Rookie): 18 AB’s, .333/.409/.556, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB
It’s easy to fall in love with the offensive profile that Valera possesses. The 18 year old left handed hitter has a ton of movement in the box, but still produces a quick power stroke that is coupled with solid plate discipline. The 2017 J2 signee was off to a hot start in the first week of the AZL last season before suffering a broken hamate bone.
#3 – RHP Triston McKenzie
2019 Opening Day Age: 21 ETA: 2020 Top Future Pitch: FB
2018 Stats (Double-A): 7-4, 2.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 87 SO, 28 BB
A dynamic fastball/curveball combination highlights the 6’5 right handers repertoire and he is steadily adding a changeup to top it off. While facing a tough Double-A Eastern Division at just 20 years old for the majority of 2018, McKenzie posted a 2.86 ERA and 1.00 WHIP across 90.2 innings pitched. He is already a great pitcher, but scouts love the projectability that McKenzie possesses as well.
#2 – 3B Nolan Jones
2019 Opening Day Age: 20 ETA: 2020 Top Future Tool: Hit
2018 Stats (Single-A/High-A): .283/.405/.466, 19 HR, 66 RBI, 2 SB
Perhaps my favorite prep hitter from the 2016 draft, Jones is the complete package offensively with above hit, power, and plate discipline. He was a shortstop at the time of the draft, but the Indians have since moved him to third base where his defensive skill set will play up a little bit more. The glove is solid on the Pennsylvania product and with a great arm, he could prove to be a plus defender at third base. (We also need to mention, the Indians have a couple of awesome guys on the left side of the infield that will make it hard for anyone to break through to the majors.)
#1 – RHP Ethan Hankins
2019 Opening Day Age: 18 ETA: 2022 Top Future Pitch: FB
2018 Stats (Rookie): 3 IP, 6 SO, 0 BB
The Forsyth County, Georgia product has one of the best prep arms I have ever seen in my scouting days, and trust me we have a lot of good arms coming out of Georgia. The 6’6 fireballer had some shoulder issues that left clubs concerned, but the Tribe snagged him 35th overall in the 2018 draft. Not only does the fastball live in the high 90’s, it also runs like nobody’s business. While I do love the heater, honestly my favorite thing about this righty, other than the fact that he is from Georgia… or that he is 6’6… or that he throws a 97mph fastball… that has movement… is that his best secondary pitch is a well-developed changeup. You all should have known with a FB/CH combo like that, he was my number one.
Featured Image: Nolan Jones – Courtesy of Mathew Carper/Legends On Deck