15. Tyler Krieger – Second Baseman
Born: 01/16/1994 – Height: 6’2” – Weight: 170 – Bats: Switch – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Krieger was selected by the Indians in the 4th round of the 2015 Draft out of the University of Clemson and signed for $400,000. He was originally selected in the 35th round of the 2012 Draft by the Mariners but opted to go to college instead. He was a second-team All-ACC selection and a Brooks Wallace Shortstop-of-the-Year Award Watch List member as a sophomore, and as a junior was named a team co-captain and named a preseason first-team All-ACC player by Perfect Game.
Offense: Krieger’s athleticism, good feel for hitting and relaxed, professional approach from both sides of the plate really gives him an interesting offensive profile. He came into the organization as a very advanced, accomplished hitter coming out of college whose bat was his best tool and so far it has translated over to the pro game. He shows a smooth, line drive swing where he is short to the ball and sprays line drives to all parts of the field, and his quick hands allow him to track balls longer and let them get deeper while still being able to make hard contact. His hit tool is above average as he has some very sound swing mechanics and incredible balance which allows him to keep his head still, which leads to better plate discipline and pitch recognition skills because he can see the ball so well. He also has a good setup and load that he repeats well with good rhythm which allows him to be on time more than the average player. His load is a little complicated as he has a toe tap with a slow leg lift as he gets into his hitting position, but it is a great timing element for him. His load along with his quick hands and the ability to control his barrel so well through the zone helps him show such great bat-to-ball ability. His approach is very good as he is patient, which leads to a good amount of walks and a high on-base rate. He also shows some discipline where he is not afraid to lay off pitches early in order to work deeper into a count, recognizes spin well and does a good job of hitting with two strikes. The power is below average and he doesn’t project to add much power, but he shows some good bat speed and barrels up balls at a good rate which allows him to drive balls into the gaps for good doubles power. The Indians believe that if he can add a little more strength and weight to his frame and gets further away from shoulder surgery that he could see an uptick in the power and maybe get to fringe average power.
Defense: Krieger was a shortstop in college but the Indians moved him to second base last year because it is where they believe he can make the most impact as a prospect and stick as a full time player. It doesn’t mean he can’t play shortstop or that they are abandoning him as an option there, it is just that the focus right now is to make him an everyday Major League player and the position he has the best chance at that is at second base. He brings a lot of athleticism to the position with some very good hands and actions, very good first step quickness and good range. His arm strength is below average after shoulder surgery, but it has ticked up some since coming into the organization and continues to get stronger where the Indians believe it can get back to average. His quick transfer and release helps play up his arm, though he does struggle a little with the accuracy of his throws. Where he surprised a little last year was with his defense as he made some notable strides as a defender and really improved overall. He really looks to have a future as a Major League second baseman who is at least an average defender, and could also be a fallback as a utility option because of his athleticism and ability to play almost anywhere in the infield and potentially even left field.
Speed & Intangibles: Krieger has solid average speed which plays up because of how well he runs the bases thanks to his quickness, athleticism, intelligence and overall feel for the game. He is a low maintenance player who doesn’t need a lot of coaching because of how advanced he is and how well he knows his swing and a lot about the game. The Indians really love how he does all the little things right. His work off the field is top notch as he is a hard worker and does a really good job of preparing himself well both mentally and physically for the season and then each day for games. He is a gamer who shows a lot of toughness where he will play through injuries when he is not 100% and just give his all.
Focus: Krieger is a player who has still not shown all he can be and is still finding his comfort at the plate again and the confidence in his shoulder. He underwent surgery in August 2014 to repair a labrum tear to his right shoulder, which really limited him in his final college season to mostly DH duties. The Indians were fully aware of his shoulder issue when they drafted and signed him and decided to shut him down without having him make an appearance in a game in his draft year in order to allow more time to let his shoulder heal and get him right physically. Health was the primary focus for him last season, which he passed with flying colors as he went through the entire season without any setbacks. His arm strength has been slow to return and the overall strength in his shoulder has resulted in less pop in his bat, but he battled through it and put up a good showing last season. Once he settles in and begins to trust his health even more the bat could see a spike in the production department with more extra base hits – especially as he adjusts to pro pitching and continues to get stronger. Now that he no longer has any restrictions and is pretty much back to full health, it is all about getting him stronger and developing him physically. He has to get used to the daily grind of playing every day and the beating his body will take playing the infield. Once he learns how to do the prep work and do everything he needs to do so he can keep his body fresh so he can swing a 100% every day, the Indians believe he is going to make some big strides offensively. While the bat is advanced, the Indians would also like to see him make a few adjustments to help him get a little more consistent with the timing and rhythm of his swing. The Indians also want him to learn to backspin the ball a little more which will create more opportunities to hit a few more home runs and drive balls deeper into the gaps.
Future: Krieger made his pro debut last season after sitting out his Short-A campaign in 2015 to allow more time to recover from shoulder surgery. He really had a good season at the plate hitting at both stops with Low-A Lake County and High-A Lynchburg, though was expected since he came out of the draft as an offensive-minded middle infielder. He more than made up for lost time with a quick advancement through both Single-A levels and looks to be right on track to where he would have been had he been healthy and played in 2015. There was not much power last season (.078 ISO) but he piled up a lot of hits and racked up 39 extra base hits in the process all while showing a good approach with a 10.3 BB% and 21.2 K%. He profiles as a two-hole hitter because of his switch hitting ability, advanced approach, ability to control the bat and above average running ability and at worst looks like he should at least get to the big leagues as a utility player. In a unique scenario, the Indians knew him well coming out of the draft because as a teenager he used to work out with Tim Taker who has been a coach in the system for some time and was the hitting coach at Double-A Akron last season. He looks to be on track to open the season at Akron, though it is possible that he could open with a return to High-A Lynchburg for a month or two before then going to Akron in May or June.
Ranking History: #29 (2016)