This series is based on a voting exercise from Justin Lada, Joe Coblitz and Willie Hood on the top 10 players at each position in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system. Each position rank is worth a point in voting (#1 rank is 10 points, #2 is 9, #3 is 8, etc.).

The positions covered in this series will breakdown this way: Catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, corner outfield, centerfield, right handed starting pitchers, left handed starting pitchers, and relievers.

Top 10 catchers

Top 10 first basemen

Top 10 second baseman in Cleveland’s organization

10. Jesus Lara (2 points)

Age: 18
Bats: Right
Highest level reached (most games played): DSL Indians

Lara fields a ball at short during a 2019 Indians extended spring training game. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Lara is a peculiar player as he is an OBP machine reaching in 38% of plate appearances in 2019 despite a .203 batting average. In a league that spawned the saying “you don’t walk off the island,” he walked 46 times to 25 strike outs and was hit by an uncomfortable 12 pitches.

Dominican Summer League numbers aren’t great to judge a player by, but in this case they back up what I saw in person in 2019 extended spring training. Right now, he’s a good defender with decent power, but poor contact ability and a preference to take a pitch (even if it hits him) over swinging.

9. Daniel Schneeman (6 points)

Age: 22
Bats: Left
Highest level reached (most games played): Low-A Lake County (70 games)

Schneeman was a late draft pick and a high-contact left handed hitter who was older than the competition in 2019. He has a good approach and puts the bat on the ball. He can also man second base and third base, and shortstop. He’s a nice utility option for the minors and fits the Indians profile looking for high-contact hitters. He doesn’t really profile as an MLB bat long term but gets points here for the good approach/high contact/versatility as a valuable role filler.

8. Andruw Monasterio (8 points)

Age: 23
Bats: Right
Highest level reached: AA Akron

Andruw Monasterio was acquired as part of the Yan Gomes trade along with Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez. The right-handed-hitting middle infielder battled injuries in 2019 costing him a large a portion of the season. Monasterio shows advanced ability to take a walk at the plate, but he lacks power to drive the ball. Defensively, Monasterio has experience at shortstop, second base, and third base. The twenty-four-year-old is an athletic defender with versatility and average speed or better. Now a minor league free agent, there is hope the club can re-sign the Venezuelan native, but it may not be likely with the middle infield’s organizational depth.

7. Jesus Maestre (9 points)

Age: 20
Bats: Right
Highest level reached: AZL Rookie League Red (19 games)

Maestre (pictured at top) began playing in the Indians DSL at age 17 and finally at age 18 showed some results to be brought over stateside. He put up solid numbers hitting in the DSL (.943 OPS). As a 19 year old in the US he didn’t play a ton in the summer and didn’t hit much (.675 OPS) but did show a good aptitude for plate discipline (.383 OBP), walking 11 times to 16 strike outs. Scouting the stat line isn’t what we do, and it’s even less advisable in the complex leagues (DSL/AZL where spring training is) but looking for an idea of the strike zone and the ability to take walks is at least something you can look at as a skill that makes a hitter worth keeping an eye on. He won’t approach the top prospect list for a while, but it’s enough of a potential skill set to land him among the top 10 at the keystone for us in this organization.

6. Rey Delgado (14 points)

Age: 20
Bats: Switch
Highest level reached: A Lake County

Delgado takes a lead off second during an Indians 2020 instructional league game against Cincinnati. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Delgado is a good defender at three positions, although he’s better at second or third compared to short. He has a decent arm and good speed, both in the bases and on the field.

While he’s a good slap hitter, Delgado has almost no power and strikes out a bit too much. He has the base to be a solid player up the middle, but hasn’t actually shown that he is that player as of yet. With that low floor and unknown ceiling, it makes sense that he’s in the middle of the Indians second base situation.

5. Richie Palacios (20 point)

Age: 23
Bats: Left
Highest level reached: A Lake County

Palacios waits for a ground ball while playing second for the Indians during the 2020 instructional league. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Palacios’ career took off like an F1 racer driving straight into a wall. Flying through the system as a rookie in 2018, he had amazing offensive performances at three levels, ending in Lake County. Bringing power, average, speed and a low strike out rate, Palacios had everything you could want in a player. Then he tore his labrum early in 2019 and missed all of that season and obviously all of 2020 as well.

Now, Palacios is working out in Goodyear as he attempts to make up for last time. He still has that super high ceiling, but the timeline has been bumped up severely. He will likely have to start out 2021 in Lynchburg and dominate immediately to make up for the fact that he’s now one of the oldest players on this list despite having played in the fewest official games.

4. Jose Tena (21 points)

Age: 19
Bats: Left
Highest level reached: AZL Indians Blue

Tena heads to first after a bunt attempt during a 2019 AZL Indians Blue game in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

If there is one word that would describe Tena, it is aggressive. In fact, he may be a bit too aggressive. He has great range at short or second, but this often has lead to him overestimating his ability to get outs, leading to poor, hurried throws. He is also a proponent of swinging early in the count, which combined with his speed, leads to a high average, few walks and a lot of K’s. He’s also overly aggressive on the bases, leading to nine times caught stealing in 25 attempts.

Ultimately, the fact that Tena has the raw ability means that he has extremely high potential, but his lack of discipline could hurt him. The positive here is that he already has the abilities that can’t be learned and everything wrong with his game can be fixed. While he’s included on the second base list, he could easily stick at short, but is behind others at a similar level like Brayan Rocchio and Tyler Freeman.

3. Jose Fermin (21 points)

Tiebreaker was who had the higher ranking on two of the three lists

Fermin heads to first after hitting a line drive single during the 2020 Indians instructional league. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Age: 21
Bats: Right
Highest level reached: Low-A Lake County

Fermin has one of the best bat to ball tools in the system, best approaches in the system and baseball IQs. He plays a good second base to boot and can fill in SS. His arm is more suited for second base and he has plenty of speed/range to make it work.

He’s not a big framed player and power might never be a big part of his game, but the bat to ball skills, ability to control the strike zone and hit quality line drives give him enough to be a potentially average bat and play a good second base and run well. He was an easy pick in the top-5 at the keystone in this organization that runs deep with options. He might wind up being something of a high-floor utility type, but the contact skills, approach, speed and glove give him plenty of opportunities to continue being looked at as an option for more in the future.

2. Owen Miller (27 points)

Age: 23
Bats: Right
Highest level reached: AA Amarillo

Miller takes a lead off first for the Indians during 2020 instructional league. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Owen Miller was acquired as part of the Mike Clevinger deal, according to some reports he and backstop Austin Hedges were last minute sweeteners to get the deal done. Miller is more than just an add-on to a blockbuster trade and he is more than the answer to a trivia question. The talented young middle infielder is an advanced hitter that should soon contribute either at shortstop or second base.

The Illinois State product has an advanced bat and will likely hit for average, draw a fair number of walks, and limit self-inflicted damage. While he lacks significant power, he could produce 12-15 homers (fringe-average to average power) per season. Defensively, second base may better suit him. While he is athletic enough to play shortstop, he lacks the arm strength to stay there long term, displaying an average arm. Miller has been compared to former big leaguer Mark Loretta by a few baseball commentators.

1. Aaron Bracho (30 points)

Age: 19
Bats: S
Highest level reached: SS Mahoning Valley

Bracho scores a run against the AZL Royals for the 2019 AZL Indians Blue. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Bracho was part of the Indians massive international signing class of 2017 that included George Valera and Brayan Rocchio, but missed the entirety of 2018 due to an elbow problem, setting him behind the rest of the group. Upon entry, however, he proved to be an advanced hitter with power, patience and and great contact ability. While there were some initial questions as to whether he would play short or second, his lack of range and less than amazing arm will almost certainly keep him at second.

Bracho is, by far, the best hitter on this list in multiple ways and has the highest ceiling. His defense could hold him back, however, as there are quite a few flashy glovemen on this list that can hit decently as well. Of course, Bracho has plenty of time to work on his defense as his bat is already elite.

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