After beginning last season on the injured list, it looks like more of the same for Triston McKenzie.
The top Indians prospect has been diagnosed with an upper back strain and has been shut down indefinitely, the team announced Saturday. McKenzie will continue to be evaluated at Minor League Spring Training in Arizona before the length of his rehab is determined.
Video: Akron's McKenzie ends sixth with K
Last year, a forearm injury delayed the Double-A debut of MLB.com's No. 41 overall prospect until June 7, when McKenzie threw five scoreless innings for Akron. The right-hander went on to make 16 starts for the RubberDucks, going 7-4 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 87 strikeouts and a .191 opponents' batting average over 90 2/3 innings.
That followed a strong 2017 campaign that saw the 42nd overall pick in the 2015 Draft throw 143 innings in 25 starts for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, where he ranked second in the Minor Leagues with 186 strikeouts and compiled a 3.46 ERA.
Offseason MiLB include
When healthy, the 21-year-old is one of the Minors' most promising starters. McKenzie employs a 60-grade curveball that complements a 60-grade fastball that tops out around 95 mph. He also has a plus changeup and solid control -- the 6-foot-5 righty has issued 98 walks over 329 career innings.
To continue his ascent and reach Cleveland, he'll have to get healthy first.