Top 20 Cleveland Indians Prospects for 2010
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!
1) Carlos Santana, C, Grade A: Needs a bit more polish with the glove, but looks like a future star to me. Bat looks awesome.
2) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Grade B+: Coming along nicely with his beautiful swing, though I suspect he's two years away from being ready to help.
3) Nick Hagadone, LHP, Grade B: I'm assuming that the Tommy John recovery is complete and that he can take on a larger workload in 2010. Could push into B+/A- category if all goes well.
4) Alex White, RHP, Grade B: Need to see how pro adaptation goes, but like Hagadone he has B+/A- potential a year from now.
5) Hector Rondon, RHP, Grade B: Ceiling isn't quite that of Hagadone and White, but he's a solid guy and will be ready sooner. Scouts complain about secondary pitches being erratic, but he throws strikes with the heater.
6) Michael Brantley, OF, Grade B: Borderline B. I've been pushing Brantley as a prospect since he came out of high school, due to his patience/contact/speed combination. My only concern is that his lack of power will relegate him to a fourth outfielder role.
7) Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Grade B-: Hard to grade given his very erratic track record. He'll look awesome at times, awful at others, you never know what you're going to get. Could be Rookie of the Year. . .or he could post a 5.00 ERA in Triple-A.
8) Nick Weglarz, OF, Grade B-: Like Carrasco, he's hard to rank. When he's going good Weglarz is a monster power hitter with great patience. But injuries hamper him and his body could go bad easily.
9) Jason Knapp, RHP, Grade B-: Would rank higher on pure stuff alone, but I'm afraid his arm might fall off.
10) T.J. House, LHP, Grade B-: Aggressive ranking that others may not share, but he made a successful pro debut in full-season ball with no rookie league experience, has a live arm, and is a lefty. Breakthrough candidate for 2010.
11) Jason Kipnis, 2B-OF, Grade C+: Borderline B- due to his bat, but I want to see how the second base conversion goes in real games.
12) Lou Marson, C, Grade C+: I respect his defense and his contact hitting ability, and he'll have a long career. But I just don't think he'll hit for enough power to be as good as his partisans expect. Will hold down the fort until Santana is ready.
13) Zach Putnam, RHP, Grade C+: Will reportedly move back to starting role, where he projects as an inning-eater type. I like him.
14) Tony Sipp, LHP, Grade C+: Under the 50-inning limit. At worst a very impressive LOOGY, but he gets right-handers out too. If his command sharpens up, he could end up with some saves.
15) Josh Judy, RHP, Grade C+: Hard-throwing reliever with some command, could help in the bullpen very soon and deserves more attention than he's received.
16) Jess Todd, RHP, Grade C+: Didn't look good in Cleveland, but was excellent in Triple-A. Gets grounders, will get more chances.
17) Mitch Talbot, RHP, Grade C+: This is a good pickup from Tampa. An older prospect, but assuming his elbow is OK, he could pull a Randy Wells in 2010. Has nothing left to prove in Triple-A.
18) Scott Barnes, LHP, Grade C+: Strike-throwing deceptive lefty could be fourth starter. Nice pickup from Giants.
19) Eric Berger, LHP, Grade C+: Strike-throwing deceptive lefty could be fourth starter.
20) Jason Donald, SS-2B Grade C+: Injuries hampered him last year. If healthy, could be a fine utility infielder or a short-term starter at second base.
21) Kelvin De La Cruz, LHP, Grade C+: Would rank higher than some of the others on upside alone, but is further away from the majors and has to prove he's healthy.
22) Conor Graham, RHP, Grade C+: Amazing movement and velocity, but needs better control. Nice pickup from Rockies.
23) Jeanmar Gomez, RHP, Grade C+: Finesse righty could be useful utility pitcher/fourth-fifth starter.
24) Alex Perez, RHP, Grade C+: Projectable arm is breakthrough candidate.
OTHERS: (Grade C): Abner Abreu, OF; Hector Ambriz, RHP; Jesus Brito, 3B; Jordan Brown, OF-1B; Clayton Cook, RHP; Paulo Espino, RHP; Joe Gardner, RHP; Jordan Henry, OF; Wes Hodges, 3B; Matt McBride, C-OF; T.J. McFarland, LHP; Beau Mills, 1B; Yohan Pino, RHP; Carlos Rivero, SS; Donnie Webb, OF.
I originally indentified 65 guys who could have been written up as at least Grade C prospects, and it was tough to whittle that down.
Let's start with the hitters. At the top you have Santana, who has everything needed to be a star, and Chisenhall, who is a bit behind him but highly promising. Brantley has been a personal favorite for a long time. Weglarz is something of an enigma, and there's some risk he could devolve into a Quadruple-A slugger. He could also become Jim Thome. I've never been really wild about Marson but he's fine to catch until Santana is ready, and at worst he'll make a wonderful backup. Same with Donald, the other former Phillie who could be a good utility guy but still has a chance to start if '09 was an injury-induced slippage. The hitting is thinner than the pitching and they could use some impact bats beyond the top two.
But the pitching. . .wow, there is a lot of depth in pitching. Hagadone and White have terrific ceilings, even if both still have some unanswered questions. Rondon should also be very good. Carrasco is an enigma, but one that is worth taking a chance on. There is just a huge variety of C+ arms beyond this group, mixing up guys with hot stuff, guys with projection, and guys with pitchability.
All told, the Indians need more depth in impact talent, but they have an enormous number of C+ and intriguing C prospects. They mine Latin America, they've done well in trades, and they pick up some sleepers (Sipp, Judy, House, Berger) in the draft. If Chisenhall and White lives up to their billing, perhaps that presages improvement in the early impact rounds as well.