26. Micah Miniard – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 04/12/1996 – Height: 6’7 – Weight: 195 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Miniard was selected by the Indians in the 8th round of the 2014 Draft out of Boyle County High School (KY), and signed for $350,000. He had a commitment to go to school and play baseball at Western Kentucky University had he not signed with the Indians. In 2013 he was named an Under Armour All-American and pitched in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field.
Stuff: Miniard is a young upside arm in the system who brings a lot of length and athleticism along with a good three pitch mix from the right side of the mound. He features an above average fastball that saw a little bit of a bump in velocity last season as it mostly sat at 90-94 MPH and flashed 95-96 MPH on occasion. The Indians believe he has the arm strength to more consistently tap into his top end velocity as he continues to mature, refine his mechanics and work through his strength and conditioning program. He gets so much incredible movement on his fastball that it can lead to some command issues, but he shows a good overall feel for pitching with it to both sides of the plate and to the bottom of the zone. His solid average curveball is his go-to pitch in his arsenal as it shows some good 12-6 action and some good depth, and has a chance to be a plus offering for him once he gets a better feel for commanding it to the bottom of the zone and throwing it in any count. He also mixes in a below average changeup that is a work in progress, and is a pitch that he shows a good feel for and mostly uses to attack left-handed hitters.
Delivery & Intangibles: Miniard is an imposing specimen on the mound as he has a very projectable long, lean frame with some long limbs, and his height and wing span creates some great extension and really allows him to get his fastball on a good downward angle to the plate. His long arm action and late release also creates some deception where his pitches can get on hitters quickly. Pitchers his size often have a hard time repeating their mechanics because they are so long and can easily lose themselves in their delivery, but he shows some good coordination and an ability to consistently repeat his delivery because of his good mechanics and how well he stays on line to the plate. He is a great person who shows some advanced maturity, intelligence and makeup, and is a militant worker who is very consistent with his work. He just works his tail off and is always locked in, and is someone the Indians never worry about being prepared mentally. He is very calm and competitive, so he is not scared to challenge anyone with anything.
Focus: Miniard’s stuff moves so much that one of the biggest keys with him is controlling some of the unpredictable movement his stuff gets. With the additional velocity he gained last year he also gained a lot more movement on his fastball, which resulted in some additional run, sink or cut to it. While the extra movement is nice, the unpredictability means his fastball can run off the plate a tick or allow it to catch too much of the middle part of the plate. The Indians want to work with him on harnessing the command and movement of his fastball and with locating it more consistently to the bottom of the zone. They would also like to see him be more efficient with his outings and learn how to push through the middle innings in order to extend deeper into outings to get through the fourth and the fifth inning so he can more consistently get to the sixth inning. He still has some issues when pitching out of the stretch where things tend to get out of line which impacts his velocity, and he is a little slow to the plate which makes him easier to run on, so the Indians want him to work to be quicker and have better direction to the plate which should help control the running game and also improve the quality of his stuff.
Future: Miniard came into the Indians organization as somewhat of a project considering how raw and inexperienced he was coming out of high school. In the short time he has been in the organization he has made some considerable strides and is now on a normal track with a level by level progression each year. Last season he really impressed at Short-A Mahoning Valley with the way he commanded the zone and how well he pitched overall that he forced the Indians to push him up to Low-A Lake County ahead of schedule and he more than held his own the short amount of time he was there. The Indians really like the progress he has made up to this point and believe he has only scratched the surface at how good he can truly become and will continue to give him innings as a priority starting pitching prospect. He projects as a good middle of the rotation arm who can haul innings, and with his youth, size and stuff he still has the upside to be so much more. He should open the season with a return to the Lake County rotation and if all goes well could potentially finish the season at High-A Lynchburg.
Ranking History: #37 (2016), #39 (2015)