Baseball Prospectus has some of the most-respected prospect rankings in the business, and today they released this year's top ten list for the Indians (via Professor Parks, whom you should be following if you care about prospects). The full write ups are subscription only, so I won't share what's said there, but I said, BP does great work, and if you're a big baseball fan, a subscription is certainly worth the cost (remember it when putting your holiday wish list together). Here are the actual rankings:
1) Francisco Lindor (SS)
2) Clint Frazier (OF)
3) Tyler Naquin (OF)
4) Cody Anderson (RHP)
5) Francisco Mejia (C)
6) Jose Ramirez (2B)
7) Ronny Rodriguez (SS)
8) Dorssys Paulino (SS)
9) Joe Wendle (2B)
10) Dace Kime (RHP)
Lindor at the top is a given, Frazier landing at #2 just five months after he was drafted out of high school is both an endorsement of his talent and an indictment of the quality the Tribe's prospect talent at present. Those are the two Indians prospects who will also likely land on all the major top 100 lists released this winter (Lindor in the top 5 of most, Frazier likely somewhere near the middle).
Naquin still doesn't profile as a star, but he had a solid year, put up good numbers in the Arizona Fall League, and looks like a solid MLB-outfielder-to-be.
When I did my 2013 in Review write up on Anderson, I speculated that he might now be the best pitcher in the Indians farm system, and expected him to jump into the top ten, but to go from absent on even top 20 lists all the way to #4 is a pretty remarkable jump, but one deserved by the 2013 Bob Feller Award winner.
Mejia was an international signing, and looks to have tremendous defensive skills behind the plate. He also put up an .872 OPS in Rookie Ball this summer, at the tender age of 17. He's at least three years from Cleveland, but could be a great eventual replacement for Yan Gomes/Carlos Santana.
Ramirez saw a bit of time with the Indians in September, though there's not anyplace for him to play at the moment. He's only 21. Rodriguez is also 21, but this ranking represents a step back for him, as Parks had him at #3 a year ago. Falling back even further was Paulino, who was #2 last time around. He's only 19, so there's a ton of time for him to get back on track. I view all three of these guys more as potential trade chips than future Indians, given where they play on the field. Trade chips are great though, so let's hope they pan out.
Wendle won the 2013 Lou Boudreau award, given to the Indians' top position player in the minors each year. He's 23 and did very well in High-A this year. Look for him to spend most of 2014 with Double-A Akron.
Kime rounds out the list, and like Frazier, he was only drafted this June (3rd round). He'll likely begin 2014 in Lake County, but be sent to Carolina by midseason. Pitching is a huge need for the Indians, so I'm glad to see a second arm appear on the list.
Not on the list but worth noting: Parks did not include Trevor Bauer due to Bauer having thrown a fair amount of Major League innings. I checked in with Parks on Twitter, where he had this to say:
@LetsGoTribe He would rate higher than Anderson. But I don't like Bauer. I don't like his approach; never really did. It won't work.- Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) November 27, 2013
The Indians don't have a great collection of talent on the farm, but it's improved during the last couple years, going from near the bottom to somewhere closer to the middle. Throughout the offseason, as other major outlets release their lists, we'll be sure to keep you updated.