CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 25: Jason Kipnis #22 hit his first major league hit to drive home Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians to defeat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning at Progressive Field on July 25, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review
I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, finishing today with the Cleveland Indians. This list was originally published November 30, 2010.
This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST. THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES
The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.
1) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Grade B+: .267/.353/.431 with 28 walks, 47 strikeouts in 255 at-bats for Triple-A Columbus. .231/.277/.385 with six walks, 28 strikeouts in 104 at-bats for the Indians. He will improve but I still see him as a future solid player, not a star.
2) Alex White, RHP, Grade B+: Injured much of the year but has performed well when healthy, 1.80 ERA in 40 Double-A innings, 3.60 ERA in 15 major league innings, 13/9 K/BB, 2.33 GO/AO. Traded to Rockies in Ubaldo Jimenez deal.
3) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Grade B+: Hit .280/.362/.484 with 12 homers, 44 walks, 72 strikeouts, 12 steals in 343 at-bats for Columbus. Strong debut in the majors so far, .279/.347/.603 in 68 at-bats. He won't keep that kind of power in a full season but he's going to be really good.
4) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Grade B+: 1.87 ERA with 95/32 K/BB in 77 innings for High-A Kinston, 56 hits. Traded to Rockies in Jimenez deal. In four Double-A starts, has a 21/6 K/BB in 21 innings with just 12 hits allowed with 1.71 ERA. I think he's going to be excellent.
5) Nick Weglarz, OF, Grade B: .179/.360/.306, 36 walks, 43 strikeouts in 134 at-bats for Akron. He can't stay healthy and doesn't seem to do anything at this point except draw walks. Still just 23.
6) Jason Knapp, RHP, Grade B: Out with shoulder trouble.
7) Joe Gardner, RHP, Grade B: Sinker artist traded to Rockies in Jimenez deal. Combined 4.97 ERA with 70/48 K/BB in 109 innings, 120 hits between Akron and Tulsa, 2.03 GO/AO. The low strikeout rate is worrisome and I still think he would be more effective in the bullpen.
8) LeVon Washington, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .227/.342/.328 with 40 walks, 71 strikeouts, 13 steals in 238 at-bats for Low-A Lake County. Fast, draws walks, but lack of power is problematic and a "future batting champion," which some people have projected for him, should hit higher than .227 in Low-A.
9) Nick Hagadone, LHP, Grade B-: 1.59 ERA with 24/7 K/BB in 23 innings for Akron, 14 hits, followed by 3.46 ERA for Columbus with 47/14 K/BB in 42 innings, 28 hits. Ready for a bullpen trial. Lefties hitting just .133 against him.
10) Tony Wolters, SS, Grade B-: Hitting .303/.392/.385 in 221 at-bats for Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League, 17 steals. Needs to polish defense at shortstop, but on-base skills and speed look solid.
11) Chun-Hsiu Chen, C, Grade B-: Hitting .265/.327/.456 with 13 homers, 33 walks, 103 strikeouts in 351 at-bats for Double-A Akron. 33% of runners caught, but passed ball rate is high. Strike zone judgment has slipped but still showing pop.
12) Kyle Blair, RHP, Grade B-: 5.59 ERA with 62/38 K/BB in 68 innings for Lake County, 69 hits. Quite disappointing for a college pitcher who showed some polish last year. Has been used in bullpen since returning from July injury.
13) Bryce Stowell, RHP, Grade B-: Relief prospect has missed much of year with injuries but has been very effective when healthy, 2.43 ERA with 45/17 K/BB in 30 innings at three levels, 14 hits. Has command issues but excellent K/IP and H/IP marks.
14) Cord Phelps, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .299/.381/.490 with 12 homers, 49 walks, 83 strikeouts in 361 at-bats for Columbus. Hit .196/.315/.326 in 46 major league at-bats, drawing eight walks. Won't push Kipnis aside, but could have a nice career as a bench option.
15) Austin Adams, RHP, Grade C+: 3.99 ERA with 118/60 K/BB in 124 innings for Akron, 135 hits. Not a bad year but he has some command issues to work through, though note an improved 25/7 K/BB in August.
16) Tyler Holt, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .258/.370/.334 for Kinston with 69 walks, 93 strikeouts, 30 steals in 395 at-bats. Speed and patience look impressive, but hasn't shown power against higher-level pitching.
17) Scott Barnes, LHP, Grade C+: 3.45 ERA in 99 innings between Akron and Columbus, 107/36 K/BB, 85 hits. Was being mentioned as possible major league promotion candidate when he hurt his knee, out for the rest of the year.
18) Jordan Henry, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .250/.356/.278 with 65 walks, 69 strikeouts, 32 steals in 396 at-bats for Akron. He has good patience and speed, but extreme lack of power hampers him.
19) Vinnie Pestano, RHP, Grade C+: 2.68 ERA with 66/18 K/BB in 47 major league innings, 34 hits. Excellent Cleveland debut in short relief, could take a larger role in the future.
20) Zach Putnam, RHP, Grade C+: 3.71 ERA with 61/19 K/BB in 61 innings for Columbus, 54 hits. Decent season, ready for a bullpen trial.
21) Matt Packer, LHP, Grade C+: 4.18 ERA with 119/26 K/BB in 149 innings for Akron, 13 hits, 1.60 GO/AO. Gets grounders, throws strikes, eats innings, possible fourth starter in the majors.
22) Felix Sterling, RHP, Grade C+: 4.35 ERA with 50/25 K/BB in 50 innings, 47 hits, combined between Arizona Rookie League and Lake County. Live arm, raw, needs experience and command refinements, just 18 years old.
23) Rob Bryson, RHP, Grade C+: Has pitched just 29 innings at three levels, but they have been effective, 1.55 ERA with 38/11 K/BB, 19 hits overall. Could be pen option sometime next year.
24) Josh Judy, RHP, Grade C+: 3.45 ERA with 56/22 K/BB in 47 innings, 43 hits, 21 saves for Columbus. Looked pretty good in four major league innings and will get more chances.
25) Corey Kluber, RHP, Grade C+: 5.61 ERA with 126/64 K/BB in 135 innings, 139 hits, 16 homers allowed for Columbus. Not a great year, but there is still potential here, granted at age 25 he needs to make more progress soon.
26) Chen Lee, RHP, Grade C+: 1.95 ERA with 92/18 K/BB in 65 innings between Akron and Columbus, 44 hits, 1.71 GO/AO Excellent performance all-around, ready for bullpen trial.
The Ubaldo Jimenez trade reduces removes the two best upside arms in the system, although there is still an awful lot of depth in C+/B- types who could fit in the bullpen or back of the rotation. I love Kipnis and Chisenhall should be OK.