Dynasty Baseball

2021 Cleveland Indians Diamonds in the Rough

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Welcome to the eighth installment of my series 2021 Diamonds in the Rough. In this article, I will breakdown two hitting and two pitching prospects from the Cleveland Indians farm system.

Last time out, I took a look at some of the Cincinnati Reds prospects.

In deep dynasty leagues, the ability to spot high-upside lower-ranked prospects before they become household names in the fantasy baseball community can make a big difference to the long-term success of your team.

To qualify as a diamond in the rough for this series, a player must be currently ranked lower than No. 15 on their team’s latest MLB Pipeline Prospect Rankings.

Check out our 2021 Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rankings to help you dominate your leagues.

2021 Cleveland Indians Diamonds in the Rough

Hitters

Alexfri Planez, OF (Unranked)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 40 Hit | 55 Power | 45 Run | 50 Field | 55 Arm
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie (Arizona League)
ETA: 2025

Cleveland signed Alexfri Planez as an international free agent during the 2017 signing period. Click here to read Dave’s Prospect Profile on Planez.

At only 16 years old and almost two years younger than his average competition, Planez tore the cover off the ball during his 2018 Dominican Summer League Debut. Over 271 plate appearances, Planez compiled a respectable .279/.319/.482, with nine HR, 39 R and 40 RBI. Moreover, Planez posted a great .378 wOBA and 57% of his at-bats resulted in an extra-base hit, including three triples and nine HR.

In addition, Planez displayed surprising speed and base running instincts, racking up five steals in only 61 games. Though catchers caught Planez stealing more times than he was successful (nine), his baserunning aggressiveness was a positive takeaway from his 2018 debut.

After playing only six games in 2019, Planez missed the rest of the season with a broken hamate bone. However, Planez stayed hot during those 25 plate appearances in 2019, posting a slash line of .333/.360/.542.

Though some reports have Planez standing around 6-foot-2 and weighing 180 pounds, others have indicated that the man-child is closer to 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Due to his size, Planez has a lot of moving parts to his swing, including his big leg kick, and has struggled with swing and miss issues.

During his 2018 debut, Planez posted an unsavory strikeout rate over 20%. Further, though Planez has demonstrated excellent hand-eye coordination, as with many young prospects, Planez has had some struggles against breaking balls. However, it is important to keep in mind that Planez was also two years younger than his average competition.

Despite his developing hit tool, Planez has already flashed plus-plus raw power. Planez swings with natural loft and uses his big body and leg kick to generate impressive bat speed.

In the field, Planez has a strong arm and uses his surprising speed for his size to cover good ground. Though Planez has played at both CF and RF, he has a better chance to stick in RF due to his arm and lack of above-average speed, which will likely lose a step as Planez continues to fill out his monster frame.

There is a good chance that Planez would be significantly higher in rankings if he had not suffered a season-ending injury only 26 at-bats into his sophomore season. The hit tool needs refinement, but Planez has a sky-high ceiling due to his massive power and solid glove. Though Planez is already a hot name in prospect circles, I think the hype train is only picking up steam. We are looking at a prime candidate to vault into top-100 prospect lists going into 2022.

Jhonkensy Noel, 1B (Unranked)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 40 Hit | 60 Power | 40 Run | 45 Field | 50 Arm
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie (Arizona League)
ETA: 2025

In addition to Planez, Cleveland signed Jhonkensy Noel as an international free agent during the 2017 signing period.

Similar to Planez, Noel made his debut in the 2018 Dominican Summer League. Over 260 plate appearances in 2018, Noel hit .243/.357/.431 with 10 HR, 34 R, 34 RBI and six steals. Moreover, like Planez, Noel was almost two years younger than his average competition.

During his 2019 sophomore campaign in the Dominican Summer League, Noel basically boosted his numbers across the board, despite being more than two and a half years younger than his average competition. Over 209 plate appearances in 2019, Noel posted an impressive .287/.349/.455 with six HR, 32 R, 42 RBI and five steals.

Against more advanced pitching in his second year, Noel raised his average by over 40 percentage points and lowered his strikeout rate (K%) by 4%. Moreover, Noel compiled more RBI and only two less runs and one less steal in 2019 in 51 less plate appearances than in 2018. It is always a good sign to see a young hitter show improvements against more advanced and much older competition.

Like Planez, Noel’s weakness is his hit tool and his strength is his power. To this point in his young career, Noel has displayed some swing-and-miss issues and has struggled with pitch recognition.

However, Noel has also demonstrated massive pull-side power, regularly posting high-end exit velocities. In 2019, Noel posted an incredible max exit velocity of 119 mph. To put in perspective how insane that actually is, since Statcast’s intro, only six HR in the MLB have gone for over 119 mph. Notably, all ten of the hardest HR since Statcast’s intro were hit by either Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge.

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Further, Noel has posted well above average pull rates and fly ball rates. These metrics bode well for Noel’s chances of maximizing his power down the road.

Noel is surprisingly athletic for his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame (with some reports up to 230 pounds) and possesses incredible raw power. Though Noel has below-average speed, he has accumulated an unexpected number of steals over his first two seasons. Many scouts do not expect the steals to stick, especially as Noel continues to add muscle to his projectable 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, but it is definitely something worth monitoring.

With some improvements to his swing, I expect Noel to rocket up prospect lists in 2021. Noel is a guy that I already have a ton of shares of and I will likely continue to gobble up shares as he approaches his big league debut.

Pitchers

Joey Cantillo, LHP  (#24)

Bats: L | Throws: L
Tools: 50 FB | 60 CH | 50 CB | 55 CNTRL
Age: 21
Highest Level: High-A
ETA: 2022

The San Diego Padres drafted Joey Cantillo, Gatorade’s Hawaii players of the year in 2017, in the 16th round (468 overall) of the 2017 MLB draft. Cleveland acquired Cantillo from San Diego, along with Cal Quantrill, Austin Hedges, Josh Naylor, Gabriel Arias, and Owen Miller, in the Mike Clevinger trade last August. At the time, MLB Pipeline had ranked Cantillo as the Padres No. 9 prospect.

After finding great success in 2018, Cantillo truly broke out in 2019. In 2019, Cantillo led the Padres organization in strikeouts (144) and posted an elite 14.4% SwStr%. For reference, that is the same SwStr% that Yu Darvish posted in 2020, better than both Aaron Nola and Trevor Bauer in 2020.

Over 98 innings in the 2019 Midwest League, Cantillo compiled even better numbers, including a 1.93 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and a whopping 128 strikeouts. In addition, Cantillo posted an excellent 11.76 K/9 and an above-average 2.48 BB/9. Further, Cantillo held hitters to a career-low .264 BABIP against.

On the surface, it would appear that Cantillo struggled through three starts after a late-season call up to High-A. However, Cantillo still showed his signature strikeout stuff, racking up 16 strikeouts over only 13.2 innings. Further, Cantillo sandwiched a five-inning, two-hit, one walk, and six strikeout gem in between two mediocre starts. Though younger than his competition at every level, Cantillo was more than four years younger than his average competition in High-A.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Cantillo has a long frame with some remaining projection. Cantillo’s fastball sits 87-92 mph and tops out at 94 mph. Despite the lack of velocity, Cantillo possesses a high spin rate on his fastball which maximizes its effectiveness.

Cantillo’s best pitch is his plus changeup. The pitch sits 79-80 mph and also helps play up his fastball with his deceptive delivery. Cantillo has shown great command and the ability to generate a ton of swings and misses with his changeup. Though Cantillo’s looping low 70s mph curveball currently lags behind his other offerings, the pitch could develop into an average offering with added spin and velocity.

Cleveland has a good record of developing minor league starters and I think Cantillo will only benefit from the move. I am a big fan of Cantillo’s stuff and his changeup is legit. If Cantillo can continue to add velocity and improve his curveball as he matures, Cantillo could offer mid-rotation upside and provide solid strikeouts and ratios.

Over 168.2 professional innings, Cantillo owns a sparkling 2.51 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with a 221/55 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In the words of Shrek, “that’ll do donkey, that’ll do.”

Scott Moss, LHP  (#28)

Bats: L | Throws: L
Tools: 55 FB | 55 CH | 50 SL | 45 CNTRL
Age: 26
Highest Level: AAA
ETA: 2021

The Cincinnati Reds drafted Scott Moss out of the University of Florida in the 4th round (108 overall) of the 2016 MLB draft. Cincinnati traded Moss to Cleveland as part of the three-team Trevor Bauer blockbuster trade in July 2019.

Moss missed his first two years at Florida after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Further, Moss only pitched 23 innings as a redshirt sophomore on a loaded 2016 Florida team, which also included the likes of A.J. Puk, Dane Dunning, Pete Alonso and Shaun Anderson, all of whom went in the first three rounds of the 2016 MLB Draft.

However, Moss has displayed impressive durability and consistency since draft day. In his first full professional season in the 2017 Midwest League, Moss posted a solid 13-6 record. Moreover, Moss compiled a respectable 3.45 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, 156 strikeouts and 48 walks over 135.2 innings.

However, Moss kicked it into another gear after the trade to Cleveland as part of the Trevor Bauer deal in 2019. In his first two starts with Cleveland in AA, Moss tosses 10 shutout innings with a microscopic 0.80 WHIP and 13 strikeouts. However, Moss also posted an uncharacteristically high walk rate, with five walks in those 10 innings.

Moss continued his success with Cleveland in 2019 after a late-season promotion to AAA. Across four starts over 18.2 innings, Moss compiled an elite 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 23 strikeouts. Yet, Moss’ control issues surfaced again with another step up in competition, as he posted an awful 10.5% walk rate.

Standing at a towering 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Moss has a big, strong frame, which he uses to generate good extension is his delivery. Moss’ fastball sits low 90s mph, topping out at 94 mph, and induces its fair share of swinging strikes. In addition, Moss possesses a slider with plus potential and a solid curveball. At the end of the day, Moss could possess an intriguing three-pitch mix with at least three average pitches.

At this point, Moss is on the cusp on making his big league debut. Moss spent the shortened 2020 in the alternate training site and has pitched some during spring training. While Moss has limped to a 9.00 ERA and 1.80 WHIP over only five innings (including one start) during spring training, it is encouraging to see Moss get some action against advanced competition.

Though Moss will likely start 2021 in AAA, I think he is likely to get a look at the major league level at some point during the 2021 season. Moss does not possess overpowering stuff, but he has demonstrated the ability to miss bats. Through his seasons in the minors, Moss has never posted an ERA above 3.68 or pitched less than 130 innings. Moreover, Moss has compiled an amazing 41-7 record in the minors.

 


Moss will need to continue to work on his control, but he has the makeup to develop into a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter.


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About Matt Wiener

Matt is based in New York and is passionate about fantasy baseball and New York sports. He is a fan of the Yankees, Giants, Rangers, Knicks, St. John's, and Ohio State. You can follow Matt on twitter at @mattydubbz13.

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