Checking up on the health of all the major league farm systems, here is a look at the pre-season list of Cleveland Indians prospects. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. It is not a new list. These are the pre-season grades and rankings.
1) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Grade A-: 3.84 ERA with 76/45 K/BB in 87 innings for Triple-A Columbus, 5.29 ERA in four major league starts with 11/16 K/BB in 17 innings. I don't know what to think at this point. The stuff is still there, but all of his tinkering doesn't seem to be having a positive effect on his command. He's still a good prospect but his stock has slipped, how much I'm not sure yet.
2) Francisco Lindor, SS, Grade B+: Hitting .315/.392/.427 with 25 steals, 45 walks, 40 strikeouts in 365 at-bats between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron. Contact hitter with plate discipline, steadily-improving pop, good speed, outstanding defense. One of the top prospects in the game; a pure Grade A at his point for me.
3) Dorssys Paulino, SS, Grade B: I really liked his tools entering the season but they are not translating to performance yet; .239/.290/.346 for Low-A Lake County in the Midwest League; also struggling on defense. Youth at 18 remains the key factor here.
4) Mitch Brown, RHP, Grade B-: Horrible start to the season in April in Low-A (21 hits, 21 runs in 16 innings), was put in the disabled list, then started over in rookie ball in June where he got clobbered again in three of his first four outings. He may have turned a corner recently and has pitched well in his last two starts, with a 12/2 K/BB in his last 10 innings. Has 47 strikeouts in 44 innings overall, but with 25 walks, 59 hits, and an ERA over 8.00. Equivalent to having a bad freshman year in college at age 19, so too soon to draw full conclusions.
5) Tyler Naquin, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Hitting .286/.351/.435 with 11 steals, 36 walks, 98 strikeouts in 402 at-bats in High-A. This is pretty much what was expected.
6) Cody Allen, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Very effective in the major league bullpen: 2.51 ERA, 55/14 K/BB in 43 innings, 36 hits. Future closer?
7) Ronny Rodriguez, SS-2B, Grade C+: Hitting .275/.293/.397 in Double-A; hit 19 homers last year but just four this season. Good arm but not a refined shortstop, may fit better at second. Poor on-base skills are a problem.
8) Tony Wolters, C-2B, Grade C+: Hitting .278/.353/.371 in High-A, repeating the level while learning to catch. Hitting is understandably stagnant while he learns a new position. Glove OK so far considering the circumstances.
9) Jose Ramirez, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .278/.337/.368 in Double-A, on DL with ankle injury currently, 33 steals so far. Not a great year, but overall holding his own at age 20.
10) Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .275/.368/.370 in 56 games split between Low-A and High-A, currently injured. He'll take a walk, runs well, throws well, but hasn't shown much power and may end up as a tweener. Just 20.
11) Danny Salazar, RHP, Grade C+: Breakthrough season; 3.04 ERA with excellent 110/23 K/BB in 83 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; pitched great in his first major league start. Durability still in question but the pitching talent is real.
12) Scott Barnes, LHP, Grade C+: ERAs over 7.00 in both Triple-A and the majors; command collapsed in June right before he went on the disabled list; walked six in his last two innings of work.
13) Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Grade C+: Hitting .262/.343/.413 with 11 homers in Double-A. Not a bad hitter, but this isn't enough for a right-handed hitting first baseman to force his way into a job.
14) Chen "C.C." Lee, RHP, Grade C+: Recovering from Tommy John, 2.60 ERA, 27/9 K/BB in 17 innings at three levels. Has always been effective when healthy. I don't see why that will change.
15) Kieran Lovegrove, RHP, Grade C+: 30 innings in the Arizona Rookie League, 3.86 ERA, 26/11 K/BB. Not bad, turns 19 today. Long way off obviously.
16) Giovanni Soto, LHP, Grade C+: Borderline C. Injured almost all year, just nine ineffective innings in Triple-A so far.
17) Elvis Araujo, LHP, Grade C: Has missed almost entire season with elbow injury; two ineffective starts in High-A.
18) Dillon Howard, RHP, Grade C: Suspended 50 games for drug violation.
19) Anthony Santander, OF, Grade C: Hitting .242/.303/.370 in 219 at-bats for Low-A Lake County. Another guy with good tools, youth, but not much performance yet.
20) Chris McGuiness, 1B, Grade C: Returned to Texas as Rule 5 pick. Hitting .265/.371/.446 with seven homers, 40 walks, 55 strikeouts in 249 at-bats in Triple-A. He's got some power but seems unlikely to do enough other things to force himself into a job. 13 whiffs in 34 big league at-bats.
OTHERS: Austin Adams, RHP; Shawn Armstrong, RHP; Dylan Baker, RHP; Rob Bryson, RHP; Chun Chen, 1B-C; Tim Fedroff, OF: Trey Haley, RHP; T.J. House, LHP; Matt Langwell, RHP; Jacob Lee, RHP; Jorge Martinez, 3B; D'vone McClure, OF; Mike McDade, 1B; Alex Monsalve, C; Mason Radeke, RHP; Nelson Rodriguez, 1B; Jake Sisco, RHP; Jordan Smith, OF; Felix Sterling, RHP; Bryce Stowell, RHP; Giovany Urhsela, 3B; LeVon Washington, OF.
Good news/bad news situation with this system.
The big league team is within striking distance of the Tigers. Homegrown Jason Kipnis is outstanding, Cody Allen has been great in the bullpen, and they've done a good job picking some useful players off the scrapheap and identifying under-rated guys like Corey Kluber. Danny Salazar has been excellent and could take a larger role down the stretch, for perhaps fetch a veteran in a trade. Francisco Lindor is blossoming.
On the other hand, Trevor Bauer can probably give you thirty synonyms for "enigma." Several talented pitchers have gotten hurt or are inexplicably ineffective. Recent investments in Latin America have yielded many tools but few players, granted most are still young enough to develop.
Some sleepers bear watching, namely second baseman Joe Wendle and right-hander Cody Anderson at Carolina. Dylan Baker at Lake County could improve quickly with any sort of command step forward. I also like the mixture of talent acquired in the 2013 draft, particularly first-round outfielder Clint Frazier.
Overall, this is an average system that hasn't jelled just yet, but still has enough upside to improve quickly.