Triston McKenzie enters the 2017 season as one of the Indians top prospects and the 6’5” lanky right hander might be the most talented pitcher in the Indians minor league system.
McKenzie started off the 2016 season with the short season Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In his 9 starts with the Scrappers he completely dominated the New York-Penn League posting a 4-3 record with a sparkling 0.55 ERA. In 49.1 innings he struck out 55 batters while walking only 16. Even though he was only 18 years old and most of the hitters were three to four years older than him, he was a man among boys with the Scrappers and on August 3rd he was promoted to Low-A Lake County.
McKenzie made six starts with the Captains going 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA, and in 34 innings he struck out 49 batters while issuing only 6 walks. Even though he was transitioning to a higher level, he improved both his strikeout ratio (from 10.0 K/9 to 13 K/9) and his walk ratio (from 2.9 BB/9 to 1.6 BB/9). His combined ERA for the season was 1.62 and he struck out 104 batters in 83.1 innings.
McKenzie was without a doubt the most impressive pitcher in the Indians minor league system this past season. He projects as a top of the rotation starter with a good low 90’s fastball that tops out around 93 MPH. His velocity should continue to go up as he adds weight and muscle to his lean 165 pound frame and could see his fastball consistently reach the mid to high 90’s. McKenzie also has an above average curveball and will mix in a changeup from time to time.
With his stuff and size McKenzie certainly has the potential to be a staff ace. He is at least three years away from sniffing the big leagues and has most likely positioned himself as the top right hander and quite possibly the top pitching prospect in the Indians organization.
McKenzie will probably begin the 2017 season back in Lake County with the Captains. That said, if he continues to perform and develop the way he did in 2016, he should see a promotion to High-A Lynchburg at some point in the season.