Starting spots for Indians' Top 30 prospects

April 4th, 2019

With the 2019 Minor League Baseball season getting underway, here's a look at where the Indians' Top 30 prospects are starting the year. We also identify the prospect who just missed the Top 30 list, a player who didn't make the big league Opening Day roster but should make an impact this year, a prospect who is ready to break out in 2019 and the team's best defensive prospect.

  1. Triston McKenzie (MLB No. 40), RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
  2. Nolan Jones (MLB No. 66), 3B -- Lynchburg Hillcats (A Adv)
  3. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B -- Lake County Captains (A)
  4. Bo Naylor, C -- Lake County Captains (A)
  5. George Valera, OF -- Extended spring training
  6. Bobby Bradley, 1B -- Columbus Clippers (AAA)
  7. Brayan Rocchio, SS -- Extended spring training
  8. Luis Oviedo, RHP -- Lake County Captains (A)
  9. Ethan Hankins, RHP -- Extended spring training
  10. Sam Hentges, LHP -- Akron Rubber Ducks (AA)
  11. Yu Chang, SS/3B -- Columbus Clippers (AAA)
  12. Lenny Torres Jr., RHP -- Extended spring training
  13. Gabriel Rodriguez, SS -- Extended spring training
  14. Aaron Bracho, SS -- Extended spring training
  15. Ernie Clement, SS -- Akron Rubber Ducks (AA)
  16. Jean Carlos Mejia, RHP -- Lynchburg Hillcats (A Adv)
  17. Nick Sandlin, RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
  18. Raynel Delgado, INF -- Extended spring training
  19. Oscar Mercado, OF -- Columbus Clippers (AAA)
  20. Carlos Vargas, RHP -- Extended spring training
  21. Richie Palacios, 2B -- Lynchburg Hillcats (A Adv) -- IL
  22. Daniel Johnson, OF -- Akron Rubber Ducks (AA)
  23. Jose Fermin, 2B/SS -- Lake County Captains (A)
  24. Aaron Civale, RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
  25. Will Benson, OF -- Lake County Captains (A)
  26. Junior Sanquintin, SS -- Extended spring training
  27. Quentin Holmes, OF -- Lake County Captains (A)
  28. Marcos Gonzalez, SS -- Lake County Captains (A)
  29. Eric Haase, C -- Columbus Clippers (AAA)
  30. James Karinchak, RHP -- Akron Rubber Ducks (AA)

Just missed Top 30: Mitch Longo
Longo doesn't have any "wow" tools but he does have good feel for hitting and enough power, speed, arm strength and defensive ability to profile as a useful fourth outfielder. A 14th-round pick out of Ohio in 2016, he batted .275/.337/.410 with eight homers and 18 steals in Class A Advanced in 2018.

On the shelf
Right-handers Triston McKenzie (upper back strain), Nick Sandlin (forearm soreness) and Aaron Civale (lat issues lingering from 2018) are beginning the season in extended spring training and should report to Akron when healthy in the near future. Second baseman Richie Palacios is on the injured list at Lynchburg while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Impact prospect: Oscar Mercado
Acquired last summer from the Cardinals in exchange for a pair of outfielder prospects, Mercado impressed in his first Spring Training with Cleveland, finishing with a .400/.415/.750 line and three homers in 40 at-bats. Though mostly known for his speed and defensive ability in center field, the 24-year-old also has some untapped potential at the plate that he could realize in 2019.

Breakout prospect: George Valera
Signed for $1.3 million in July 2017, Valera carried plenty of hype into his pro debut and got off to a strong start in the rookie-level Arizona League, only to have his season end after six games due to a broken hamate bone in his hand and subsequent surgery. The injury has done nothing to diminish the 18-year-old outfielder's upside, and scouts continue to rave about Valera's gorgeous left-handed swing as well as his ability to apply his power during games at a young age.

Best defensive prospect: Eric Haase
Haase reached the Majors for the first time late last season, seven years after the Indians took him in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft. Though he's blossomed on both sides of the ball during the past two seasons, it's been Haase's defensive gains that have helped him climb the Tribe's depth chart. After throwing out 37 percent of attempted basestealers in 2017, Haase improved that mark to nearly 49 percent in '18 (33 of 68).