Cleveland Indians: Top Prospect Update

Mar 17, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; (Editor's Note: Caption Correction) Cleveland Indians center fielder Bradley Zimmer (78) singles during the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; (Editor's Note: Caption Correction) Cleveland Indians center fielder Bradley Zimmer (78) singles during the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Baseball America ranked the top-10 prospects in the Cleveland Indians farm system — here is an early season update on their progress.

The Cleveland Indians 2017 farm system was ranked 18th by the folks over at Baseball America in February. Bias aside, the number seems quite low for an Indians organization chock-full of homegrown talent.

Therefore, only time will tell if Baseball America’s ranking proves to be accurate – but it can’t hurt to keep an eye on the organization’s top prospects. With that thought in mind, for the remainder of the season I’ll be providing weekly updates on the organization’s top-10 prospects, according to Baseball America.

The list includes several high-profile names many Cleveland Indians fans are sure to recognize – while several may be relatively unknown. Without further ado, here is a (very) quick bio of the organization’s top prospects:

10- Greg Allen, OF

Cleveland Indians
Mar 6, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Greg Allen (70) during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Between Double-A Akron and High-A Lynchburg, Allen hit .295, drew 77 walks and tallied an on-base percentage of .416 – oh, and he stole 45 bases. His exceptional range makes him a well-above average centerfielder with a bright future.

2017 Stats: Akron RubberDucks (AA), G- 8, AB- 25, R- 5, HR- 0, RBI- 0, AVG.- 320, SB- 3, OBP.- 393

9- Erik Gonzalez, SS/2B

Cleveland Indians
Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Erik Gonzalez (9) grounds out during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Gonzalez appeared in 21 games for the Indians during the 2016 season – and displayed useful versatility. The 25-year-old saw time at shortstop, second base, third base and even right field. Between Triple-A Columbus and the big-league club, Gonzalez hit .292 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI.

2017 Stats: Columbus Clippers (AAA), G- 8, AB- 37, R- 4, HR- 2, RBI- 3, AVG.- .216, SB- 0, OBP.- 237

8- Nolan Jones, 3B

Jones is the Tribe’s 2016-second-round pick out of Holy Ghost Prep in Pennsylvania. His only professional experience thus far is with the Indians Arizona League team – where he hit .257 in 109 plate appearances. The 18-year-old has “outstanding raw power, arm strength and quickness,” according to Baseball America.

2017 StatsN/A (AZL Indians)

7- Will Benson, OF

Benson, another 18-year-old, was selected in the first round of last year’s MLB Amateur Draft by the Indians. He’s a towering presence, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 225 pounds – Benson looks more like a football prospect. In 158 at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League, Benson hit .209 with six home runs and 27 RBI – while showing excellent plate discipline (22 walks).

2017 Stats: N/A (AZL Indians)

6- Yu-Cheng Chang, SS

Cleveland Indians
Oct 18, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Mesa Solar Sox infielder Yu-Cheng Chang of the Cleveland Indians against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Sloan Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Chang is just one of many talented middle-infielders the Indians have at their disposal within the organization. The 21-year-old is currently with Double-A Akron, and performing at a high level. Last season in High-A Lynchburg, Cheng hit .259 with 13 home runs and 70 RBI in 417 at-bats.

2017 Stats: Akron RubberDucks (AA), G- 8, AB- 26, R- 7, HR- 3, RBI- 9, AVG.- .269, SB- 1, OBP.- .387

5- Bobby Bradley, 1B

Bradley, the Tribe’s 2014 third-round selection, is currently with Double-A Akron. The 20-year-old slugger has hit for power at every level during his ascension through the organization’s farm system. Bradley hit .235 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI in 485 at-bats with High-A Lynchburg in 2016. He also drew 75 walks – contributing to his exceptional .344 on-base percentage.

2017 Stats: Akron RubberDucks (AA), G- 8, AB- 25, R- 3, HR- 1, RBI- 3, AVG.- .120, SB- 1, OBP.- .290

4- Brady Aiken, LHP

Aiken, a former 2014 first-overall selection who went unsigned by the Houston Astros, was the Indians 2015 first-round pick. The 20-year-old left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 2015 draft – but the Tribe decided to select him despite the lengthy recovery. Aiken – still attempting to regain his vaunted velocity – had a rough 2016. He made 13 starts between the Arizona League and Single-A Mahoning Valley — posting a 2-5 record with a 5.83 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Aiken did manage to strikeout 57 batters in 46.1 innings – exhibiting the potential scouts see in him.

2017 Stats: Lake County Captains (A-Full), G- 2, GS- 2, W/L: 0-2, SO- 6, ERA- 4.15, WHIP- 2.31, AVG.- .323

3- Triston McKenzie, RHP

McKenzie was the Indians No. 42 overall selection in the 2015 draft – his lanky, towering presence makes him hard to miss. At 6-foot-5 – and weighing just 165 pounds – the 19-year-old right-hander turned in an impressive 2016 campaign. Between Short-A Mahoning Valley and Full-A Lake County, McKenzie tallied a mark of 6-5 in 15 starts – including a sterling 1.62 ERA and .96 WHIP.

2017 Stats: Lynchburg Hillcats (A-Adv), G- 2, GS- 2, W/L: 1-1, SO 10, ERA- 2.53, WHIP- 1.03, AVG.- .225

2- Bradley Zimmer, OF

Cleveland Indians
Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; East outfielder Bradley Zimmer of the Cleveland Indians during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2014-first-round pick had an excellent spring training with the big-league club – adding to an already impressive resume. Zimmer spent time with both Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in 2016. Despite struggling at the Triple-A level after his promotion, the 24-year-old hit a combined .250 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 468 at-bats. Additionally, Zimmer displays major-league level plate discipline – posting a .365 on-base-percentage – and converting that number into 38 steals. His 171 strikeouts may be the only thing preventing his major-league debut.

2017 Stats: Columbus Clippers (AAA), G- 8, AB- 31, R- 6, HR- 1, RBI- 5, AVG.- .258, SB- 3, OBP.- .281

1-Francisco Mejia, C

The 21-year-old Mejia is probably best known for his 50-game hit streak last season – the longest in MiLB since Roman Mejias in 1954.

The Cleveland Indians catcher-of-the-future put up gaudy numbers during split-time with High-A Lynchburg and Full-A Lake County. In 407 at-bats, Mejia hit .342, launched 11 home runs and tallied 80 RBI – all while reaching base at a .382 clip.

Next: Carlos Santana's Extension On The Way?

2017 Stats: Akron RubberDucks (AA), G- 6, AB- 21, R- 3, HR- 0, RBI- 5, AVG.- .429, SB- 0, OBP.- .480