Welcome to the 2020 IBI Top 50 Indians Prospect Countdown. This year’s list and reports have been compiled by Indians Baseball Insider Editor-in-Chief Justin Lada, IBI contributor Willie Hood and other IBI staff members.
#3 Brayan Rocchio- SS
Born: 1/13/2001 – Height: 5’10 – Weight: 150 – Bats: Both – Throws: Right
Facts and info: The Indians signed Rocchio for $125,000 as an international free agent from Venezuela. He is from the same July 2nd class as George Valera and Aaron Bracho. Though Bracho ($1.5 million) and Valera ($1.3 million) were much more highly regarded at the time of their signing. Rocchio made his organizational debut in 2017 with the Dominican Summer League Indians producing a .323 BA in 25 games, along with 1 home run, 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 stolen bases. He was promoted in-season to the Arizona League club where he produced a .343 BA in 35 games, along with 1 home run, 10 doubles, 1 triple and 14 stolen bases. In 2019, Rocchio was promoted to the Low-A short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers, where he produced a .250 BA in 69 games, with 5 home runs, 12 doubles, 3 triples, and 14 stolen bases.
Offense: Rocchio is regarded highly for his ability to put the bat on the ball and his advanced eye at the plate. The number of walks he takes is limited by his ability to put the bat on the ball. The young shortstop is a switch hitter with quick hands and wiry strength, he should develop average (50) power or about 15 home runs once he fills out his frame. My views, (several across the season in addition to video) were mostly of the left-handed variety, though I was able to catch a sample of the right-handed approach. Rocchio stands deep in the box with a wide base/feet spread far apart. His front foot is in-line with the front of home plate and his back foot near the backline. Rocchio stands with both knees bent slightly, the knob of the bat sits at shoulder height with the bat up by his ear. He gives the bat a few wags and comes set to swing as the pitcher prepares to make his delivery. His front elbow sits about letter height with his back elbow up slightly higher at shoulder height. He steps with his front leg and keeps his back knee bent slightly as he swings and opens his hips into his swing. Rocchio appears to sequence his parts well and is advanced enough to put the bat on the ball frequently. He appears to utilize similar stances from both sides of the plate with a slight variation in his step stride from the right side of the plate.
Defense: Dubbed “The Professor” because of his high baseball IQ, Rocchio projects well long term as a shortstop. The Venezuelan native displays an advanced defensive approach with his defensive placement and taking angles on balls in play. The 19-year-old features reliable glovework and an average (50) throwing arm. His high-level instincts and sound defensive abilities make him at least an above-average defender. In my views, Rocchio appeared smooth and moved naturally as defender making firm on-target throws to the first baseman. His glovework looked sure and his arm is more than adequate to remain at shortstop long term.
Speed and intangibles: As I have mentioned above, Rocchio is an advanced high IQ player. His instincts help him place himself correctly on the field defensively taking good angles and making good adjustments to the ball. Rocchio is a plus (60) runner on the bases and his quickness helps him in the field too as he displays quality range at shortstop. He has an advanced eye at the plate with a keen ability to put bat to ball. The young shortstop was one of the youngest starting players in the New York – Penn League on average 3 years younger than his peers.
Focus: I believe Rocchio will continue to fill out his 5’10, 150 lb frame and as he does he will need to balance his strength and flexibility. Frankly, I don’t see Rocchio being larger than 180-185 lbs. Though I would expect more of 20-30 lb weight gain to be natural for his frame. That would firm up his ability to drive the ball and improve his average throwing arm. While that is pure projection, Rocchio could continue to improve his baserunning. I didn’t see enough of Rocchio to identify specific issues with the number of caught stealing attempts, but Rocchio appears to be an aggressive base runner, which was a likely factor. Presumptively, age may have played a role in the number of times he was caught stealing with older more advanced pitcher-catcher combinations around the league.
Advanced Stats: In 2019, Rocchio batted .250 and produced a .276 BABIP. The Venezuelan native produced a .123 ISO with 20 of his 67 hits going for extra bases or roughly 30% of hits going for extra bases. Rocchio produced a .310 OBP with a .373 SLG, a .323 wOBA, and 107 wRC+. He produced a 41.6% GB rate with a 40.7% FB rate. Rocchio pulled .48% of hits, with 23.1% going to center, and 28.8% of hits going to opposite field. His 48% pull% indicates the power that is locked in his bat, but Rocchio will have to hit to all fields to get on base and produce like he is capable.
Future: Overall, Rocchio is an exciting blend of youth, polish, ceiling, and floor. The young shortstop projects well as top of the order (1-2) type hitter. While he is not likely bound for superstardom the Venezuelan native has a bright future ahead. I graded the young shortstop as a 50+ player with a ceiling of a 55 player. He is a quality prospect with potential for a plus (60) bat with above average (55) a more likely outcome, average (50) power, plus (60) speed, average (50) arm, and above average (55) defense. Though it is worth noting Rocchio displays more below-to-fringe average (40-45) power currently, he has quick hands and wiry strength that could produce 15 homers as he gets stronger. Defensively, he projects well as a shortstop long term, but he has the capability to man third and second if need be. While Rocchio requires a lot of projection and he has a long developmental path ahead, he has a relatively high floor because of his instincts and tools. Rocchio should start 2020 with the Low-A Lake County Captains.
– Willie Hood