Today we look at the Cleveland Indians as part of our process reviewing farm systems for 2014. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings. This is a review of 2014, not a preview of 2015.
1) Francisco Lindor, SS, Grade A: Hit .278/.352/.389 in 342 at-bats for Double-A Akron, then .273/.307/.388 in 165 at-bats for Triple-A Columbus, 25 steals, 11 homers combined. Defensive reports remain strong, on-base skills took a hit after his promotion but I think he’ll adjust. Still love him at age 20.
2) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-. 23 major league starts, 4.12 ERA with 132/56 K/BB in 138 innings, 133 hits. Still needs to enhance his command but he’s been brilliant at times and I am optimistic.
3) Clint Frazier, OF, Grade B+: Hit.266/.349/.411 with 13 homers, 56 walks, 161 strikeouts, 12 steals in 474 at-bats for Low-A Lake County. Obvious contact issues and streaky, but overall production was well above average for league context (wRC+120) and he was just 19. More detailed scouting reports will be illuminating.
4) Dorssys Paulino, SS, Grade B-: Borderline C+: Hit .251/.311/.354 with 33 walks, 101 strikeouts in 427 at-bats in Low-A. Not a great year. Reports still emphasize tools for this 19 year old.
5) Cody Anderson, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-: 5.44 ERA in 126 innings for Double-A Akron, 81/45 K/BB, 141 hits, 17 homers. He throws strikes but his statistical profile is otherwise unattractive, slider and change-up need work. Age 23.
6) Ronny Rodriguez, INF, Grade C+: Hit .228/.270/.324 with 25 walks, 92 strikeouts in 413 at-bats for Akron. Age 22, still gets good reports on tools but now has two poor Double-A seasons on his resume. Stock down.
7) Jose Ramirez, INF, Grade C+: Hit .302/.360/441 with 19 steals, 25 walks, 30 strikeouts in 245 at-bats for Columbus, .256/.298/.333 with eight steals in 180 at-bats for the Indians. I think he will improve gradually. Age 21.
8) Francisco Mejia, C, Grade C+: Promising 18 year old, hit .282/.339/.407 with 18 walks, 47 strikeouts in 248 at-bats for Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League. Threw out 32% of runners. Breakthrough candidate for ’15.
9) Tyler Naquin, OF, Grade C+: Hit .313/.371/.424 with 14 steals, 29 walks, 71 strikeouts in 304 at-bats for Akron, wRC+122, fine season ended early by a hand injury.
10) Joe Wendle, 2B, Grade C+: Hit .253/.311/.414 with eight homers, 26 walks, 56 strikeouts in 336 at-bats for Akron. Slowed by hand injury. Older at age 24 so he needs a fast start next year.
11) LeVon Washington, OF, Grade C+: Hit .294/.402/.393 with 45 walks, 63 strikeouts in 252 at-bats for High-A Carolina. Always hits well when healthy, but can’t stay healthy. Age 23.
12) Luis Lugo, LHP, Grade C+: 4.92 ERA with 146/40 K/BB in 126 innings in Low-A, 124 hits. Easy to overlook due to high ERA, but his FIP was much better at 3.86, he doesn’t give up many walks, and the strikeout rate was excellent. Main problem was 16 homers. Age 20. Very intriguing.
13) Austin Adams, RHP, Grade C+: Fine year at Columbus, 2.50 ERA with 52/16 K/BB in 54 innings, 44 hits. Older guy at age 28 but good track record and has good stuff.
14) Tony Wolters, C, Grade C+: Hit .249/.319/.314 with 35 walks, 74 strikeouts in 341 at-bats in Double-A. Age 22, disappointing season with the bat.
15) Carlos Moncrief, OF, Grade C+: Borderline C: Hit .271/.328/.431 with 33 doubles, 12 homers, 38 walks, 130 strikeouts in 480 at-bats in Triple-A. I thought he was good sleeper prospect but he needs more than this to force his way into a job. Age 25.
16) Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Grade C: Borderline C+: Impressive season in Triple-A, .304/.395/.511 with 31 doubles, 19 homers, 64 walks, 96 strikeouts in 427 at-bats. Age 24. Nothing left to prove there.
17) Dace Kime, RHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: 5.22 ERA with 108/56 K/BB in 136 innings in Low-A, 148 hits. Weak season from a college product, age 22, I suspect he winds up in the bullpen.
18) C.C. Lee, RHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: Age 27, split season between Columbus (3.30 ERA, 37/9 K/BB in 30 innings) and Cleveland (4.01 ERA, 24/8 K/BB in 25 innings). In the bullpen mix going forward.
19) Dylan Baker, RHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: Age 22, 4.05 ERA with 28/18 K/BB in 47 innings in High-A, 45 hits. Injured much of season but finished strong in August.
20) Anthony Santander, OF, Grade C: Hit just .184/.260/.270 in 163 at-bats in Low-A, age 19, went on DL in early June and never came off. Status unclear.
The Indians received very useful pitching contributions in the rotation this year from rookies Trevor Bauer and T.J. House.
T.J. House photo by Hannah Foslien, Getty Images
House (3.42 ERA in 16 starts, 73/21 K/BB in 92 innings) was the big surprise; he had fallen to Grade C status after a lackluster ’13 but took a large step forward this year and should be a useful four/five starter going forward. Another key rookie has been bullpen lefty Kyle Crockett, who went from the University of Virginia in 2013 to the majors in just over a year.
There were some disappointments on the farm, a promising group of toolsy infielders not living up to expectations, but more depth has been added and the ’15 list will look considerably different than this. A trade with the Cardinals brought in outfielder James Ramsey who should be ready to contribute next year. The June draft added college outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Mike Papi, highly promising prep lefty Justus Sheffield, and high school first baseman Bobby Bradley, who provided an electric .361/.426/.652 line in rookie ball.
Infielders Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela had good years in the high minors and could contribute next season in the majors. Right-hander Mitch Brown had a nice rebound season in the Midwest League after a shaky ’13 and is still just 20 years old.
Overall, this system needs more impact talent but has more depth in C+ types than some teams, and sometimes those guys will surprise you.