Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Cleveland Indians

Danny Salazar - Mike Zarrilli

Starting pitcher Danny Salazar leads Cleveland's 2013 rookie class.

Cleveland Indians (92-70, Wild Card)

HITTERS

Yan Gomes, C:
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 10th round in 2009 from Barry University, Gomes played in 43 games for the Jays last year but got just 98 at-bats, staying under the rookie limit for at-bats. Born in Brazil, the 25 year old hit .294/.345/.481 with 11 homers in 88 games for the Indians. Along with his power, he showed some defensive ability and caught 41% of runners trying to steal on him. He also has experience at first base and the outfield.

Jose Ramirez, INF:
Age 21, Ramirez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. Capable at second, short, and third, Ramirez hit .272/.325/.349 with 38 steals this year for Double-A Akron before a September cup-of-coffee. He went 4-for-12 in the majors. He lacks power, but his speed and defensive versatility make him a player to watch for the future, at least as a utility player and perhaps more.

PITCHERS
Danny Salazar, RHP:
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, 23 year old Salazar was a revelation this year, posting a 2.71 ERA with an outstanding 129/24 K/BB in 93 innings in Double-A/Triple-A. Promoted to the majors, he was a key factor in Cleveland’s playoff run with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts and a 65/15 K/BB in 52 innings, allowing just 44 hits. A year ago, Salazar was a talented-but-enigmatic prospect with a history of injuries and durability problems; many scouts felt he would become a reliever. He has a mid-90s fastball (he can hit 100), a slider, and a splitter/changeup. Top-notch stuff all-around, he throws strikes, and his numbers are no fluke. There is no more talk about him being used in the bullpen.

Cody Allen, RHP:
All the attention directed to Salazar makes it easy to overlook fellow rookie Cody Allen, but he had a strong year in the major league pen, with a 2.43 ERA and an 88/26 K/BB in 70 innings. A 23rd round pick in 2011 out of High Point University, the 24 year old has a mid-90s fastball and a good breaking ball. He should have a long career as a middle relief pitcher and could get a shot at closing eventually.

Trevor Bauer, RHP:
Age 22, Bauer was one of the bigger prospect disappointments of 2013. Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round out of UCLA in 2011, he was traded to Cleveland after conflicts with Arizona management. Bauer spent most of the season with Triple-A Columbus, posting a 4.15 ERA with a 106/73 K/BB in 121 innings. He made four starts for Cleveland posting a 5.29 ERA with an ugly 11/16 K/BB in 17 innings. He was not promoted for the stretch run. Bauer lost a tick off his fastball this year and didn’t repeat his 2012 domination (he went 12-2, 2.42 in the high minors last year). His command took a step backwards, and he continued to puzzle observers with constant mechanical tinkering. Bauer still has the stuff to be a fine major league starter, with a low-90s fastball and a wide array of secondary pitches, but scouts worry that he over-intellectualizes his game. The lack of a September promotion makes a point and it will be interesting to see how Bauer responds in 2014.

Scott Barnes, LHP:
An eighth-round pick by the Giants in 2008 out of St. John’s, Barnes had a fine 2012 season and was expected to take an important role in the Indians bullpen, but ’13 ended up as a lost campaign. He struggled with control problems and injuries, ending up with a hideous 8.48 ERA in Triple-A and a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 big league innings. He did fan 10, and if healthy he still has a chance to be useful in the future. Age 26, he relies on throwing strikes with a sinker, slider, and changeup.

Preston Guilmet, RHP:
Drafted in the ninth round in 2009 from the University of Arizona, Guilmet has an outstanding statistical record and posted a 1.68 ERA with 20 saves and a 72/14 K/BB in 64 innings for Columbus this year. He gave up eight hits and six runs in 5.1 big league innings, and scouts worry that his stuff won’t hold up in the majors. He doesn’t throw hard, but he keeps the ball down and his deception approach was too much for minor league hitters to handle. Age 26, he will battle for a bullpen role next spring.

C.C. Lee, RHP:
Age 26, Lee was signed out of Taiwan in 2008. He performed well in the minors this year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, posting a 2.48 ERA with a 37/10 K/BB in 29 innings at three levels, then fanning four in four big league innings, giving up four hits and three runs. He has always been effective when healthy, showing a low 90s fastball and a deceptive low-angle delivery. He will be in line for a bullpen spot next year.

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