2013 Cleveland Indians Top Prospects


 

System Overview: Coming into the season, the Indians farm system was widely regarded as one of the worst, if not the worst, in all of baseball. After graduating Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, dealing away Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, and the usual array of injuries and general lack of development, the system was very thin, particularly at the top.

This year the Indians’ prospects took a developmental step forward. Francisco Lindor showed the tools to become an above-average starting shortstop. Dorssys Paulino, the team’s top international signing in 2011, dominated in rookie ball. And several other players made strides as well.

The franchise also acquired Trevor Bauer, a potential front-of-the-rotation starter, in a three-team involving the Diamondbacks and Reds and intriguing first baseman Chris McGuiness in the Rule 5 draft.

This is still a fairly vanilla system, particularly once you get past the top three prospects. And it’s one that’s almost entirely dependent upon its young Latin talent, some of which showed some serious plate discipline issues. And the organization, while adding upside high school hurlers Mitch Brown and Kieran Lovegrove through the draft, did so by using the saved money from first rounder Tyler Naquin, who was a reach.

Notes: All the listed ages are what the player will be as of July 1, 2013. A lot of amateur site have a tendency to recycle the same scouting reports available from the well-respected sources within the industry, without adding anything to the overall picture. Any mechanical observations are of my own. Overall rankings are based mainly on numerical data, sans in a few areas (like LeVon Washington, where I went with my gut and experience as a collegiate ballplayer and video scout during my time with Baseball Info Solutions).

 

#1. Trevor Bauer, Age: 22, Position: RHP

Bauer was the key piece acquired in the three-team deal involving the Reds and Diamondbacks. The former #3 overall pick in the 2011 draft is close to being MLB-ready, if he isn’t already.

Of the 156 career minor league innings he’s logged, Bauer’s spent just nine of the below Double-A and has averaged an incredible 11.5 K/9. The lone red flag thus far has been some below-average command, especially against lefties (5.21 BB/9 in his MiLB career). He did, however, show a fairly significant improvement after his demotion back to Triple-A in mid-July, allowing just 3.13 per nine innings.

Projection: At the very least, Bauer is a good number three. And if his command can hold steady near 3.1 BB/9 walks, which is reasonable considering that he averaged just 2.37 BB/9 during his last season at UCLA, he could very easily become a #1.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

#2.Francisco Lindor, Age: 19, Position: SS

After only five games in low-A in 2011, the Indians aggressively — and uncharacteristically for the organization — pushed Lindor to A-ball last season, where he more than held his own as the youngest player in the league, hitting .257/.352/.355. According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, his total offensive production was 2% better than the league average.

Despite being only 18 at the time, Lindor showed an advanced approach at the plate, walking in nearly 11% of his plate appearances and striking out just 13.8% of the time. He showed above-average speed — 28 stolen bases — but could stand to improve on his technique and approach. His power — .098 ISO — isn’t as developed as his other tools, but should ultimately improve to at least league average, though he’ll need to get more loft under his swing; he had a 53.3% groundball rate.

He’ll likely start the year in High-A and could end it with a cup of coffee in Akron.

Projection: Lindor’s one of the games top young talents, and arguably the second best shortstop prospect behind Texas’ Jurickson Profar. He’s a top-of-the-order-type hitter — most likely a number two — who could ultimately end up as a .290/.350/.400, with 25+ steals, double digit homeruns and above-average defense.

Ceiling: 4- to 5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#3.Dorssys Paulino, Age: 18, Position: SS

Paulino, Cleveland’s top international signing in 2011, dominated the rookie level competition, hitting .355/.404/.610 while showing good power and speed, and a decent approach at the plate (8.0% BB% and 16.5% K%). The Indians promoted him to low-A for a 15-game stint, where he became the youngest player in the league, and continued to perform well (.271/.306/.407).

Lindor’s the heir apparent to the shortstop job at the big league level, so Paulino, who committed 25 errors this season, will eventually be moved to another position, maybe third or the outfield.

Projection: Paulino’s offensive ceiling is higher than Lindor’s — particularly his power — and could ultimately become the team’s top prospect. But he’s going to have to show a similar approach and better defense as he moves up the minor league ladder. He could develop into a middle-of-the-order-type hitter, capable of possessing a plus-hit tool.

Ceiling: 4-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

#4. LeVon Washington, Age: 21, Position: OF

Since being drafted in the second round in 2010, Washington was aggressively pushed to A-ball in his first season — where struggled but showed some offensive promise — and was limited to just 13 games in 2012.

But despite the underperformance and subsequent lost 2012, Washington has as much offensive upside as any player not named Paulino or Lindor. Washington possesses an extremely short, quick stroke with double-digit homerun potential, a strong eye at the plate, and could be the fastest runner in the system.

Projection: Despite the two lost seasons, Washington could be poised to make the largest gains as any prospect in the system come 2013. He doesn’t have the arm to play center field and will likely be pushed to left field sometime in the very near future. I remain quite bullish on his overall potential; something around a 3- to 4-win player.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#5. Danny Salazar, Age: 23, Position: RHP

Salazar put together a strong 2012 split between High-A and Double-A, posting a 2.36 ERA in 22 starts with solid peripherals (7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9). Unlike Soto, Salazar’s a year older and did most of his damage against a more age appropriate level of competition.

Salazar’s also had some elbow issues earlier in his career — he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 which cost him a year of development — and the Indians are slowly bringing him back up to speed. He’s only topped 100 innings once in his career and likely will peak at about 120 to 130 in 2013.

Projection: He’s a solid middle-tier prospect who could develop into a decent #3, maybe even a fringe #2, or a dominant backend reliever. The 2013 season will go a long way in determining whether his frame — 6’0” and 190 pounds — can handle the rigors of starting. Salazar does, however, have the potential to move up the prospect charts as anyone in the system.

Ceiling: 3.5 win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#6. Luigi Rodriguez, Age: 20, Position: CF

He’s quite an intriguing prospect, possessing a strong eye at the plate (9.6%), blossoming power (he nearly quadrupled his homerun output this season with 11), and above-average or better speed. His overall offensive production was 9% better than the league average, this despite being one of only 11 players younger than 20 in the Midwest League.

Projection: He’s not quite a blue-chipper, but Rodriguez is a B/B+ prospect capable of developing into a solid leadoff hitter. And if his power continues to blossom — which isn’t a given because of his smallish frame (5’11” and 160 pounds) — he could develop into a lower tier middle of the lineup hitter.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#7. Jesus Aguilar, Age: 23, Position: 1B

Arguably the top power-hitting prospect in Cleveland’s farm system, Aguilar followed up his breakout 2011 season with another solid showing in 2012, hitting .277/.365/.454 before his promotion to Double-A.

His in-game power doesn’t grade out as a plus-tool, but it’s certainly above-average. And he couples that with an above-average eye at the plate — he walked in over 11% of his plate appearances this season — and reasonable strikeout totals (22%).

He’ll begin the year back in Akron and has potentially positioned himself as a September call up.

Projection: Aguilar turns 23 before mid-season, and the fact that he hasn’t seen an extended look at Double-A dulls his prospect shine a bit. With that being said, he profiles as a player capable of hitting .260/.330/.450 with 20- to 25-homerun potential.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#8. Giovanni Soto, Age: 22, Position: LHP

Soto’s a bit underrated. At 21-years-old and in Double-A for the first time, he tossed 121.1 solid innings and posted some strong peripherals — 7.42 K/9 and 3.63 BB/9 — to go along with a 3.93 ERA, despite being one of only three 21-year-old in the Eastern League.

He’s tall and lanky — 6’3” and 180 pounds — with room to fill out and has shown a strong feel for pitching throughout his career. He’s posted solid K-rates throughout his career — 8.1 K/9 — and generated a groundball rate higher than 50% in 2012.

Projection: Soto’s the type of pitcher that typically flies under the radar because he’s not dominating but performs well enough against much older competition to suggest that he could carve out a role in the middle of a rotation. He’s turns 22 in May and could probably more than hold his own at Triple-A, the land of the Quad-A players. But the Indians may play it safe and have him start the year back with Akron. He has the ceiling of a solid number three, but could ultimately settle as a decent backend option for the Tribe’s rotation as soon as 2014.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#9. Tyler Naquin, Age: 22, Position: CF

The Indians reached for Naquin in the first round, drafting the former Aggie with the 15th overall pick. At the time I wrote: But, for now, the Indians have Naquin, a solid high-floor, low-ceiling prospect who’s probably going to settle in around a quality fourth outfielder or starter on a non-contending team, and probably has a ceiling of a .270/.330/.420 hitter.

And through his first 161 plate appearances in pro ball, Naquin has pretty much been just that, hitting .270/.379/.380, showing more patience and less power.

The Indians will likely start him to Lake County — A-ball — to start the season and could aggressively push him through the system given his polished collegiate background.

Projection: Nothing’s really changed. Naquin still looks like a fringe everyday player who will likely settle into a quality fourth outfielder. He’s willing to walk (10.6%), has a rifle in center field, good speed and below-average power.

Ceiling: 2.0- 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

#10. Tony Wolters, Age: 21, Position: 2B

Wolters is a personal favorite of mine, the type of scrappy player that typically gets everything — and then some — out of his God-given talent. He’s a dirt bag…but in a good way.

The Indians have aggressively pushed their young — particularly middle-infield — talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues, and he’s no different. Like Giovanny Urshela and Ronny Rodriguez, Wolters’ final triple-slash line — .260/.320/.404 — isn’t particularly noteworthy until you consider the level of competition: all three players were two years younger than the average Carolina League hitter, each being one of ten players under the age of 21.

Wolters isn’t as physically gifted as many of the other middle-infielders in the system, but he does a lot of things well enough. He’s shown a strong eye at the plate (7.81% BB%), which could improve as he matures, average power, and decent speed.

Projection: Based on pure talent alone, Wolters should probably develop into a solid utility player or a fringe everyday second baseman a la Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs. But, again, he’s the type that could easily develop into a solid three-win player. Don’t sleep on him.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#11. Jose Ramirez, Age: 20, Position: 2B

Ramirez put together a remarkably quiet, impressive campaign for the Captains in 2012, hitting .354/.403/.462 with 15 stolen bases and 20 extra base hits. His offensive production, 45% better than the league’s average, was tied for fourth best, despite being one of only 13 players under the age of 20.

He’s relatively small in stature — 5’9” and 165 pounds — so that could limit his overall power potential and may ultimately cause some problems as he moves up the ladder.

Projection: There’s a lot to like here. He showed a willingness to walk — 7.7% — for a young player in an advanced league; enough speed to become a 15- to 20-stolen base threat, and according to the raw, albeit unreliable defensive data available for minor leaguers, the chops to remain at second base. I’m a bit bearish on his size, so for now I’ll say he looks like a fringe everyday player, but he’ll certainly be a player to watch in 2013.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#12. Ronny Rodriguez, Age: 21, Position: SS

Whereas fellow shortstops Lindor and Paulino show a more complete offensive approach, Rodriguez relied heavily on his power, socking 43 extra-base hits in 2012. The lone red flag for Rodriguez’s offensive game — and it’s a glaring one at this point — has been his complete lack of plate discipline throughout his two years in the minors, though it did show a slight increase this season, jumping from 3.3%  to 3.9% (walk rate). And despite finishing third in the league with 19 homeruns, he was just 5% better than the league average overall.

Projection: He’s still young enough to show some improvement — he was two years younger than the average hitter in the Carolina League — but it would take a drastic turnaround in either his walk rate or porous defense for him to develop into an above-average MLB regular. He could kind of fall into that Quad-A territory eventually or decent platoon player; he’s a .308/.333/.621 hitter against lefties in his  career.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

#13. Chen-Chang Lee, Age: 26, RHP

Lee’s been remarkably consistent throughout his four-year tenure in the Cleveland organization, posting solid strikeout and walk rates all the way up the ladder. Unfortunately, Lee lost the majority of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery.

Projection: He’s already 26 and was probably ready for the big leagues near the end of 2010. With that being said, assuming there aren’t any career threatening setbacks during the end of his recovery, he’ll likely earn a brief call up with the big league team near the middle of the season before shutting him down. He’s still a dominant backend reliever waiting in the wings.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

#14. Mitch Brown, Age: 19, Position: RHP

Brown was an overdraft signing in the second round, agreeing to $800,000, more than $140,000 allotted for the pick.

In 27+ brief innings in rookie ball, Brown was pretty much what you would expect: averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, average-ish walk rates, and a fairly strong feel for pitching. The Indians are typically cautious with young arms, so he’s likely to begin the year in low-A or maybe even a repeat in rookie.

Projection: There’s hardly any data available to accurately assess his future, but the returns so far are pretty positive. Mechanically, he drives well off his bag leg — almost reminiscent of Roy Oswalt — and creates a tremendous amount of arm speed. Barring any type of injury, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be the best pitching prospect in the system by the end of the season.

Ceiling: Too early to tell.

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#15. Bryce Stowell, Age: 26, Position: RHP

Big, big time strikeouts have become rather commonplace for Stowell, who’s averaged more than 12.3 punch outs per nine innings throughout his professional career. Unfortunately, he just can’t seem to stay healthy enough over the last two seasons to force the front office in giving him a shot at the big league level. Since the start of 2011, the 6’2” right-hander has thrown just 67.2 innings.

Projection: Stowell’s command seems to come and go at times, which isn’t as much of a concern now because he continues to pile up the strikeouts. It did take a noticeable step forward in 2012, averaging just 2.79 BB/9. He could be a dark-house candidate for a shot with the big league bullpen coming out of spring training. Long term: Stowell still has the potential to be a very good backend reliever, perhaps even becoming the best on the staff.

Ceiling: 0.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#16. Scott Barnes, Age: 25, Position: LHP

Acquired in the Ryan Garko trade to San Francisco in the summer of 2009, the Indians finally gave up on the idea of using Barnes as a starter in 2012, converting him to a fulltime reliever. And like some of the better relievers in the system, he posted impressive K-rates in 2012 (11.60 K/9).

Mechanically, Barnes is a mess, but the herky-jerkiness of it all works for him. He’s got an above-average left-handed fastball — it averaged 91.8 MPH with the Indians — and two decent secondary pitches (slider and changeup).

Projection: Barnes is the type of guy that could carve out a 10-year career in the bullpen. He won’t be dominant at the big league level, but lefties that can average 8 K/9 are pretty rare.

Ceiling: 0.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Inevitable

#17. Anthony Santander, Age: 18, Position: OF

As a very toolsy 17-year-old, Satander dominated the Arizona Summer League competition during his first year in pro ball, batting .305/.381/.494.

The Venezuelan outfielder, who signed with Cleveland as a 16-year-old for $385,000 in 2011, is a switch-hitter that showed five-tool promise last season, hitting for both average and power (.188 ISO), showing a bit of speed, swiping six bags, playing solid defense in the corners and making four assists.

Projection: Santander did enough to warrant a promotion to low-A, possibly even to A-ball, next season. He’s young, 18, has plenty of projection left in his 6-foot-2 frame, and showed a decent eye at the plate last season. At this point, though it’s still very early in his career, Santander has a shot at developing into an everyday player.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

#18. Chris McGuiness, Age: 25, Position: 1B

After tearing up the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .283/.370/.467, which consequently earned him MVP honors, the Indians nabbed McGuiness with the fifth pick in the Rule 5 draft.

After struggling mightily in 2011, McGuiness reestablished his stock by hitting .268/.366/.474, to go along with 23 homeruns and solid peripherals (13.0% BB-rate and 20.2% K-rate). He’s always shown a strong eye at the plate (14.3% walk rate in his career) to go along with above-average in-game power. The problem, however, is that he’s already in his mid-20s and has yet to play a single game above Double-A.

Projection: McGuiness has handled both lefties and righties equally well, posting an OPS L/R split of  .748/.774 since 2011. The Indians have either first base or designated hitter open, depending where the team plays Mark Reynolds, and McGuiness looks to be the front runner for other spot.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

#19. Thomas Neal, Age: 25, Position: OF

Neal turned in another quietly underrated season with the Aeros in 2012, hitting .314/.400/.467 with 12 homeruns and 11 stolen bases. His total offensive production was 44% better than the league average, the second best mark in the Eastern League.

Projection: Neal’s five-tool-lite. Meaning, he does everything: double-digit speed and power, a solid-average bat, positional versatility, and a reasonably strong arm. The problem, however, is neither of them are plus tools. Solid across the board, sure, they’re just not enough to make him into an above-average regular. Like Cord Phelps, the Indians had a black hole in left field during a lost season and, yet, they never gave Neal the shot to at least earn a back role for 2013.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

#20. Geovanny Urshela, Age: 21, Position: 3B

The 2012 season was a bit of a breakout year for Urshela, who hit .278/.309/.446 with 14 homeruns. Similar to that of his shortstop counterpart, Ronny Rodriguez, Urshela’s lack of plate discipline is equally as troubling. In 475 plate appearances with the Mudcats, the young third baseman managed to walk just 16 times (3.6%).

His power started blossoming this season and his defense made significant strides as well, but his walk rates — or lack thereof — really hinder his overall potential.

Projection: Like Rodriguez, there’s still plenty of time for Urshela to learn the nuances of the strike zone. But at this point in their careers it’s usually the anomaly, not the rule. Right now, he profiles as another Quad-A-type player.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

#21. Shawn Armstrong, Age: 22, Position: RHP

Armstrong made stops at three levels this season, pitching briefly in Lake County before being promoted Carolina for a 26-game stint and finishing up with 20 innings in Akron. All along the way, Armstrong showed tremendous K-rates — at least 9.7 K/9 at each of the stops — but well below-average walk rates.

Projection: The Indians, among any of positional prospects, have not been shy about moving relievers quickly through the system, sans Chen-Chang Lee of course. And Armstrong seems to be on the Cody Allen-type trajectory, but his command issues will certainly limit his overall ceiling. Still, he’s only 22 and has been absolutely dominating in his first full pro season.

Ceiling: 0.5-win player

#22. Cord Phelps, Age: 26, Position: 2B

I’ve been critical — very critical, actually — of the Indians’ refusal to give Phelps regular playing time at the big league, despite owning a career .285/.374/.438 Triple-A line, the team having nothing else to lose in a lost season, and his ability to handle both lefties and righties.

Projection: He’s certainly not an everyday player — his defense is still below-average by all accounts — but at the very least he could be a useful bat off the bench. And certainly more valuable than giving someone like Jose Lopez 200 PAs.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

#23. Elvis Araujo, Age: 21, Position: LHP

Huge left-hander: 6’6” and 215 pounds. He’s lost quite a bit of time due to injury earlier in his career — he didn’t pitch in 2010 and 2011. Like many of the organization’s top hurlers, Araujo, too, suffered from more than a fair share of bad luck. His ERA, 5.00, is more than one full run higher than his FIP (3.72).

He’s probably bound for High-A to start the 2013 season.

Projection: Araujo’s size and age immediately make him an intriguing prospect. Right now he’s more projection than results, but if his K-rates can improve, or at least maintain, as he moves up the ladder he could be an interesting arm to watch. He’s probably a backend starter or reliever now, but has the potential to become a solid mid-rotation arm.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

#24. Dillon Howard, Age: 21, Position: RHP

Out the outside, Howard’s 2012 season was a lost cause as he finished with a 7.90 ERA and a 1-7 record. However, a lot of that can be blamed on bad luck, namely a ridiculously high BABIP (.411) and an equally ridiculous strand rate (40.3%). Otherwise, his peripherals were decent, not great (7.68 K/9 and 3.95 BB/9).

Projection: Much like Brown, Cleveland 2012 second rounder, there isn’t a whole lot of data available for Howard. He’s going to improve by large strides in 2013, if not fundamentally at least through regression. After the season, we’ll have a much clearer picture of his future, though he’ll turn 21 this season and has just 41 career innings under his belt.

Ceiling: Too early to tell.

#25. Felix Sterling, Age: 20, Position: RHP

After flat out dominating the rookie league early in the season, the Indians pushed Sterling to A-ball, curiously skipping low-A.

He predictably struggled in 93 innings of work, posting an unsightly 5.42 FIP. On the positive side, however, he did show decent peripherals — 6.87 K/9 and 3.87 BB/9 — and was done in by, unsurprisingly, some bad luck; he had the lowest — and completely unsustainable — strand rate, 50.8%, in the Midwest.

Projection: The Indians could opt to keep Sterling in A-ball in 2013, where he’d be about a year younger the average pitcher. But I’d be in favor of pushing him up to High-A, given his peripherals and the general attrition rate of young pitchers. Long term, it’s still too early to see where he fits in. We should have a better picture after 2013.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

#26. Jake Lowery, Age: 22, Position: C

Short, squat lefty-swinging catcher, Lowery was the organization’s fourth round pick out of James Madison Univrsity in 2011. He split his time between A- and High-A in 2012, showing a tremendous eye at both levels and impressive power, at least with the Captains.

Overall, he hit .232/.332/.397. But he did walk in more than 13% of his total plate appearances and threw out just shy of 30% of potential base threats.

Projection: He’s far more polished than other Tribe catching prospects and could develop into a semi-starter at the big league level. Throughout his professional career, he hasn’t shown any major issues versus left-handers either (.246/.370/.463).

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

#27. Jordan Smith, Age: 22, Position: RF

Big — 6’4” and 205-pound – outfielder that’s been a pleasant mid-round surprise through two years in professional ball.

Smith, a ninth round pick in the 2011 draft, hit .316/.367/.453 in an age appropriate level (A-ball). He showed the inkling of being a semi-complete offensive hitter: a decent eye, average power, some speed and solid contact rates. But, again, this all comes with a caveat: he’s a polished collegiate player.

Projection: Smith could develop into a useful platoon bat/role player off the bench — he hit .317/.365/.478 against right-handers in 2012 — and for a ninth round pick, particularly of the Indians, he is already a success. There’s plenty projection left given his size too. He’s one to watch.

Ceiling: 1.0-win

#28. Chun-Hsiu Chen, Age: 24, Position: C/1B

I’ve seen enough tape on Chen to know that his overall numbers in his career — .282/.367/.441 — are clouded by slider-type bat speed. And the fact that his power nearly evaporated in his second stint in Double-A — .118 ISO — is also a major red flag.

With that being said, he’s always shown a great eye, and with some experience behind the plate certainly doesn’t hurt his long term prospects either.

Projection: He could easily fall into the Cord Phelps-type role in the Indians organization, which in itself is unfortunate. It looks like he’s no longer a catcher and unless his power reemerges he’s nothing more than a solid minor league bat.

Ceiling: Replacement level to 0.5-win player

#29. Ordomar Valdez, Age: 19, Position: 2B

A very intriguing switch-hitting prospect, Valdez showed an incredible eye at the plate in the Dominican Summer League, walking in more than 15% of his plate appearances. Overall, he hit .284/.403/.339 with 25 stolen bases (in 62 games).

Projection: The lack of power — .055 ISO — is already a concern, and the fact that he’s only 5’9” and 150 pounds doesn’t dispel any of those concerns either. It will be interesting to see where Valdez starts the year — he could potentially skip low-A depending how the rest of the middle-infielders shake out – but if he can maintain an above-average BB-rate than he’s already assured himself of a future utility role, however brief it may or may not be.

Ceiling: 0.5-win to 1.0-player

#30. Kieran Lovegrove, Age: 18, RHP

The big, tall right-hander with plenty of projection was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Like Brown and Howard, there isn’t enough data available on Lovegrove to draw any serious conclusions, but the early returns are reasonably favorable: 7.71 K/9 and 3.86 BB/9 in 21 innings of work.

Projection: He was quite unlucky — his FIP, 3.53, was almost 2.5 runs lower than his ERA — so he should show some signs of progress next season just through regression.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

#31. Mason Radeke, Age: 23, Position: RHP

Radeke, a 35th round pick in the 2011 draft out of Cal Poly, became a swing-man in last season, making a total of 31 appearances, 13 of which were starts.

The right-hander dominated A-ball competition, averaging 9.6 K/9 and just 2.0 BB/9. He made a three-appearance cameo with Akron and could begin the year with them in 2013.

Projection: Despite the sparkling peripherals, Radeke profiles best as a big league middle reliever. As a former collegiate player, he performed up to par against the A-ball competition and will likely be challenged far more against upper levels.

Ceiling: Replacement level to 0.5-win player

#32. Alex Monsalve, Age: 21, Position: C

In three seasons in the system, Monsalve has made small developments in his overall game at each stop along the way. He showed an improved eye (7.3%), better power (.138 ISO), and better overall offensive production; he was 4% above the league average while with the Captains in 2012.

Projection: Cleveland’s relatively deep with decent catching prospects, and Monsalve’s just another example. He doesn’t have one standout tool, but does everything well enough. He could develop into a solid big league backup down the line.

Ceiling: Replacement level to 0.5-win

#33. T.J. House, Age: 23, Position: LHP

There’s not a whole lot that separates House and fellow left-hander Mcfarland. Both shown solid or better control, won’t overpower hitters — House averaged 6.51 K with Akron — and have slowly climbed through the farm system. House, however, hasn’t generated the type of groundballs that Mcfarland does that could help compensate for low K-rates.

Projection: House’s ultimate ceiling falls short of Mcfarland’s, mainly because he doesn’t generate a large amount of groundballs. If everything breaks right, he could be a decent bullpen arm, though.

Ceiling: Replacement Level



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


'2013 Cleveland Indians Top Prospects' have 5 comments

  1. January 10, 2013 @ 7:44 AM Sean

    Joe, Nice ranking and perspective. Two guys I really think will bloom into very productive players are Anthony Santander — I think he will crack the top 10 by the end of 2013 (switch hitting Venezuelan reminds me a lot of Victor Martinez) and also Dylan Baker who was in the AZL this past season. Baker, more advanced than Lovegrove or Brown at this point, has an explosive fastball in the low to mid-90s and a real hard slider that could be a + pitch for him sooner than later. . .

    Reply

    • January 10, 2013 @ 11:47 AM JMWerner

      Thanks for reading, Sean. I’m good you enjoyed it. I’m a particularly big fan of Santander. And, obviously, the returns thus far have been quite favorable. But that’s just in the Arizona Summer League, so we won’t really get a good read of him for probably another year-plus.

      As far as Baker is concerned — and, admittedly, we’re going off of an extremely small sample size — he almost certainly looks headed towards the backend of the bullpen at some point in his career due to control issues. Obviously, we working off of 24-ish innings in his career thus far, but during his final season at Western Nevada he walked 46 in 84.2 innings (4.89 BB/9). He did strike out 126 in that time too, or 13.4 K/9.

      As for Brown, I always try to cautiously rank pitchers, particularly ones that haven’t passed through the feared injury nexus.

      Reply

  2. June 27, 2013 @ 11:47 PM Luke Cecil

    Joe, interested to hear your thought on Bauer’s approach to baseball and his unusual style of preparing for games. Do you think this is an issue going forward with his development? I know its not really an analytical question but it perhaps lowers his chances of reaching his ceiling.

    Reply

    • July 1, 2013 @ 10:58 AM JMWerner

      Luke,
      Personally, I don’t have a problem with the way Bauer warms up prior to the game or even his approach before each inning. His pre-game ritual isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. However, I don’t know of any long-term ramifications of this approach. But if the pitcher feels like it’s not a harm to his arm then I say let him to do it.

      I do think, though, the Tribe is doing Bauer a great disservice by promoting/demoting him so frequently for these spot starts. Unfortunately, I was out of town last week and didn’t see his latest start, but I read that he pitched exclusively out of the stretch. This, to me, sounds like a pitcher that needs to mature mentally more than anything. It sounds as if he’s constantly getting into his own way, doubting himself.

      Bauer, in my opinion, is one of the more talented pitchers in the minor leagues and has a ceiling as a legitimate ace. But they need to let him mature first.

      Reply

  3. July 19, 2013 @ 11:52 AM Untouchable vs. Available: A Look at the Tribe’s Top Prospects as the Trade Deadline Approaches « It's Pronounced "Lajaway"

    [...] he’s available: Prior to the year, I wrote: “He could kind of fall into that Quad-A territory eventually or decent platoon player.” The [...]

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