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McKenzie tops latest Indians' prospect rankings

Naquin scratched with hip discomfort; Injury update on Miller
MLB.com @MLBastian

DETROIT -- The trade that sent catcher Francisco Mejia to the Padres last week trimmed off the top of the Indians' prospect rankings. This week, amidst a series of trades around baseball, MLB Pipeline also re-ranked the game's top prospects overall and at the team level.

In the wake of all the changes, right-hander Triston McKenzie is now deemed the Indians' top prospect and the 37th prospect overall in MLB Pipeline's top 100 rankings. On Friday afternoon, Tribe starter Shane Bieber cracked a wide smile when learning that McKenzie now held the top spot in Cleveland's system.

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DETROIT -- The trade that sent catcher Francisco Mejia to the Padres last week trimmed off the top of the Indians' prospect rankings. This week, amidst a series of trades around baseball, MLB Pipeline also re-ranked the game's top prospects overall and at the team level.

In the wake of all the changes, right-hander Triston McKenzie is now deemed the Indians' top prospect and the 37th prospect overall in MLB Pipeline's top 100 rankings. On Friday afternoon, Tribe starter Shane Bieber cracked a wide smile when learning that McKenzie now held the top spot in Cleveland's system.

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"That's awesome," Bieber said.

Last week, the Indians shipped Mejia (No. 1 catching prospect, No. 3 on Padres' top 30 and No. 21 on MLB Pipeline's top 100) to San Diego in exchange for All-Star closer Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Adam Cimber. McKenzie and Bieber then moved up to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the Indians' revised top 30 prospects list.

A right forearm issue kept McKenzie in extended spring training to start this season, but he has made 10 starts with Double-A Akron since making his return on June 7. In 54 2/3 innings, the right-hander has amassed 51 strikeouts against 17 walks with a 2.96 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. McKenzie, 20, is more than four years younger than the average Eastern League pitcher, per Baseball-Reference.

McKenzie -- selected in the first round (42nd overall pick) by the Indians in the 2015 MLB Draft -- has gone 24-14 with a 2.73 ERA since turning pro. In 293 career innings, the righty has 358 strikeouts vs. 87 walks, averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings with a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"He's got that disappearing fastball," said Bieber, who was teammates with McKenzie in the Minors. "Then, when you pair that up with the curveball that he's got, it's extremely tough to hit. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that guy just go out there time after time, seven innings, one hit, 12 K's or whatever. He just knows how to pitch and he knows how to use his stuff. I think he knows who he is as a pitcher, and that's probably his greatest strength.

"It's truly impressive. You forget how young he is, one, because of how successful he is at every level with guys who are a lot older than him. But, too, just how he pitches and creates his game. His mental maturity -- how he knows how to pitch -- you don't see that a lot with younger guys, guys his age."

Quotable
"He's so much of what's good in our game. Everybody can't wait to hear what he says. I heard somebody on TV today say he didn't really think he ever had a bad day. That's just the way he treated people, the way he acted." -- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Jim Thome, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend

Worth noting

• Left-hander Andrew Miller (60-day DL, right knee) completed a 35-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and is now scheduled to make a Minor League rehab appearance with Class A Lake County on Saturday. Barring any setbacks, the tentative plan for Miller after that step will be back-to-back rehab outings on Monday and Tuesday.

• Expect Francona to continue to mix and match with righty Cody Allen and the left-handed Hand in save situations. The Indians' manager added that he is also looking for non-save situations for Allen (7.41 ERA since the start of June, entering Friday) to continue to work on some mechanical adjustments. 

"You might see that happen for the foreseeable future," Francona said. "We're trying to get him on a roll."

• Right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-day DL, right hamstring) is scheduled to throw a simulated game during the Tribe's upcoming series in Minnesota. ... Righty Cody Anderson (60-day DL, right elbow) has resumed throwing long-toss after a shut-down period in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

• Outfielder Tyler Naquin was scratched from the starting lineup in Friday night's 8-3 win over the Tigers due to discomfort in his right hip. Veteran outfielder Rajai Davis got the start in center in Naquin's place. Francona said after the game that Naquin will head back to Cleveland for further examination, with more information expected prior to Saturday's game.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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