The Cleveland Indians front office has always had a great reputation for building a strong pipeline of prospects.
That’s why it is no surprise the team landed several top prospects in MLB.com’s list of the top 100 prospects in 2021.
The Indians have three players on the list and that should have fans excited.
The future, according to projections, is bright for the franchise.
The Top Prospect in the System
Nolan Jones proved to be a tough out as he hit his way up to @AkronRubberDuck in 2019.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 11, 2021
Nolan Jones is a name fans are going to hear a lot in 2021.
He is the top prospect in the organization and showed up No. 36 overall in the top 100.
The question now is where he will play in the field.
He has risen up the system at third base, but of course that spot is held down by Jose Ramirez.
Any ideas of Ramirez shifting over to second were made obsolete when the team decided to re-sign Cesar Hernandez.
Jones is going to find a way to get playing time.
He is the organization’s top prospect and the outfield may be where he lands.
There is a surplus of players competing for those spots, however, none have the ceiling of Jones.
The 22-year-old has a career .858 OPS in the minors that features an impressive .409 on-base percentage.
Shifting him to the outfield could be a temporary move, or the team may find it is the best fit for him in the long-term.
The Top Pitcher in the System
Triston McKenzie, who fans got a glimpse of in 2020, is ranked as the No. 51 overall prospect.
The 23-year-old made six starts last season and had a 3.24 ERA in eight total appearances.
He is now set as a member of the starting rotation in what will be the first true test of his career.
McKenzie’s name is one fans had been hearing since he was drafted out of high school in 2015.
He still rocks his scrawny build, but provides enough power to be a potential ace in the future.
The right-hander posted an 11.3 K/9 mark in limited action last season.
McKenzie is the top pitching prospect in the system and it will be nice to finally see him on a full-time basis.
A Rising Infield Prospect
Tyler Freeman is ranked No. 98 overall in the top 100.
Indians' shortstops so far this spring:
Andrés Giménez: 4-for-4
Gabrial Arias: 5-for-5
Amed Rosario: 2-for-2
Tyler Freeman: 2-for-4
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 3, 2021
He is now the top-rated shortstop in an organization stockpiling talent at the position.
This could signal a move over to second base in the future, where Freeman has experience.
Freeman was drafted by the Indians in 2017 and rose up to High-A ball in 2019 before the season was canceled in 2020.
He represents one of many elite infield prospects in the Indians system.
Gimenez appears to have locked down the starting shortstop job in 2021, but the Indians have options all over the infield if things don’t go as planned.
A combination of Freeman, Jones, Arias, or Gimenez could all play in the same infield one day if the Indians want to go younger and cut salary.
Having three top 100 prospects is good news for the Indians.
Now comes the hope that all three actually contribute to the team in All-Star roles.