Pitching Depth in the Cleveland Indians Farm System
Although they haven't received a lot of attention for it, the Cleveland Indians have built up a large stash of pitching prospects. Their top five are Drew Pomeranz (Grade B+), Alex White (Grade B+), Jason Knapp (Grade B), Joe Gardner (Grade B), and Nick Hagadone (Grade B-), but there is more beyond those five, with a big group of Grade C/C+/B- types. Many of them project as relievers, but the sheer depth is an asset in itself. Let's take a look.
Austin Adams, RHP: 24-years-old, can hit mid-90s and posted 1.53 ERA with 51/15 K/BB in 59 innings in High-A. Still working on secondary pitches but has the arm strength to blossom. Grade C+.
Scott Barnes, LHP: 23-year-old lefty, posted a misleading 5.22 ERA in Double-A but with a 137/58 K/BB and 126 hits in 138 innings. Decent fastball, good secondary pitches, deceptive delivery, did well in the Arizona Fall League, could be a fourth or fifth starter. Grade C+.
Kyle Blair, RHP: 22-year-old University of San Diego product, drafted in the fourth round last year. Hasn't pitched in pro ball yet, but pitched well in college and throws strikes with four pitches. Grade B-, can sneak up on the prospect lists this year.
Rob Bryson, RHP: 23-years-old, posted a 2.53 ERA with a 80/21 K/BB in 53 innings at three levels last year. Throws hard, has made progress with his command, and recovered from '09 labrum surgery. Could be a good relief asset. Grade C+.
Cory Burns, RHP: 23-years-old, ground ball artist with a hard sinker from a sidearm delivery, posted 1.96 ERA with 42 saves in A-ball last year, 81/14 K/BB in 55 innings. We need to see how this holds up at higher levels, but his performance is impeccable so far. Grade C/C+.
Preston Guilmet, RHP: 23-years-old, 2.25 ERA with a 79/10 K/BB in 52 innings in Low-A last year. A ninth round pick from Arizona in '09, he was old for the level last year and doesn't have terrific stuff, but he knows how to change speeds and throw strikes. Grade C.
T.J. House, LHP: 21-year-old, 3.91 ERA with a 106/61 K/BB in 136 innings in High-A. His season was actually a bit disappointing in some ways, but he has a good sinker and changeup and is young enough to improve. Grade C.
Josh Judy, RHP: 25-years-old, posted 2.68 ERA with 55/14 K/BB in 47 innings in Triple-A. Low-90s fastball, a good slider, good control, and a terrific winter ball campaign give him some momentum heading into spring training. Grade C+ type as a source of relief innings.
Corey Kluber, RHP: 24-years-old, picked up from the Padres late last year, posted a 3.49 ERA with a 165/56 K/BB in 160 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 169 hits. Average fastball, decent slider and changeup, throws strikes, eats innings. Could be a fifth starter or long reliever. Grade C+, there is something I like about him intuitively.
Chen Lee, RHP: 24-years-old, from Taiwan, 3.22 ERA with 82/22 K/BB in 73 innings, 59 hits in Double-A. Another Indians prospect with a decent arm and good component ratios who could fit in the bullpen sometime soon. Grade C.
T.J. McFarland, LHP: 21-year-old sinker artist keeps ball low and throws strikes, went 11-5, 3.13 with 92/40 K/BB in 126 innings in High-A. Could be fifth starter or LOOGY type. Grade C .
Matt Packer, LHP: 23-years-old, 2.04 ERA with 123/22 K/BB in 133 innings, 142 hits between High-A and Double-A last year. Another sinkerballer with a 2.58 GO/AO, he was just a 32nd round pick from Virginia in '09 but was brilliant last year. He is almost unnoticed nationally but could end up being a real surprise as a fourth or fifth starter. Grade C+.
Vinnie Pestano, RHP: 26-years-old, posted a 1.81 ERA with a 77/16 K/BB in 60 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 17 saves. Pitched five innings in the majors and did enough to earn more chances as a middle relief option. Was a 20th round pick in 2006 from Cal State Fullerton.
Bryan Price, RHP: 24-years-old, posted a 3.25 ERA with a 69/22 K/BB in 69 innings in Double-A. Rice product was a supplemental first round pick by Boston in '08 due to his 90-95 MPH fastball/hard slider combo, but he hasn't been dominant in the minors and seems a forgotten man at this point, but that could be a mistake.
Zach Putnam, RHP: 23-years-old, University of Michigan product, 3.69 ERA with 65/16 K/BB in 76 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Ex-starter has an unusually diverse arsenal for a reliever and throws strikes, could start if you needed him too but maintains his velocity better in the pen. Grade C+, and expect to see him on the roster sometime this year.
Giovanni Soto, LHP: 19-years-old, projectable lefty picked up from the Tigers system last summer for Jhonny Peralta, 2.93 ERA with 107/36 K/BB in 114 innings in Low-A, 97 hits allowed, 1.92 GO/AO. He doesn't throw hard but has a good feel for pitching and is very young. Was drafted in the 21st round from Puerto Rico in '09. Grade C/C+.
Felix Sterling, RHP: Turns 18 next month, from the Dominican Republic, posted a 3.16 ERA with a 57/20 K/BB in 51 innings, 40 hits in the Arizona Rookie League. Raw with his secondary pitches but gets into the low-90s with more velocity possible, has a strong-legged frame. Grade C+ with higher potential.
Bryce Stowell, RHP: 24-years-old, was brilliant in A-ball and Double-A but had control problems (28/17 K/BB in 20 innings) in Triple-A, overall mark was 2.14 ERA with 102/36 K/BB in 67 innings, 42 hits. Outstanding K/IP and H/IP ratios, and he throws quite hard in the mid-90s. If he throws strikes, could be a closer eventually. Grade B-.
Tyler Sturdevant, RHP: 25-years-old, 2.09 ERA with 91/19 K/BB in 65 innings in A-ball, 45 hits. Amazing K/IP ratio last year and his control is solid, too. Was just a 27th round pick in '09 from New Mexico State, where the horrible pitching conditions masked his true ability. Has above average fastball and slider, though we need to see how the stats hold up at higher levels of course given his age. Grade C but interesting.