Cleveland Indians: 5 Prospects Who Deserve a Shot This Spring

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2012

Cleveland Indians: 5 Prospects Who Deserve a Shot This Spring

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    After having the likes of Fausto Carmona, C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez in the farm system, it has been a bit of a barren period for Cleveland Indians prospects.

    Those guys helped get the Tribe to within a game of the World Series in 2007.

    After finishing 80-82 last year, the team looks to be turning a corner once again.

    The team has produced a couple of good young players in Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana while some have shown serious promise, like Lonnie Chisenhall.

    There is a window, albeit pretty short, for the Indians to compete for a World Series once again.

    Some fans and experts think the team has a shot at the playoffs as early as this season. As history has shown, once the playoffs start, anyone has a chance.

    Going into the year, the Cleveland roster looks to be pretty set.

    However, here are five prospects the Indians should really keep an eye and give a chance to crack the Opening Day roster.

Nick Hagadone, LHP

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    When the Indians acquired Hagadone in the Victor Martinez trade back in 2009, they knew he was going to be a project.

    Hagadone looks to have really good stuff, but consistency and control can both be problems with him.

    The Inidians called him up for a short time last year, making nine appearances, striking out 11 in 11 innings pitched but he issued six walks.

    The only option for 2012 looks to be working out of the bullpen.

    Hagadone faces a pretty good fight, though, as he and guys Dan Wheeler, Frank Herrmann, Chris Ray and Jeremy Accardo are all battling for a couple of spots.

    Cleveland should really take a risk on Hagadone this year.

    Closer Chris Perez is out with an injury to his left oblique. Hagadone spent time as a closer in college and could be a nice option if Perez misses the first few games of the season.

Francisco Lindor, SS

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    Lindor is still a couple of years away, but he could at least be given a look.

    When the Indians drafted him last year, it was seen as selecting the best player available rather than drafting for need.

    However, Lindor is going to key down the road.

    The Indians dodged a bullet when they re-signed Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year, $4.55 million deal in the offseason.

    If Cabrera has another big year, it could be really hard for Cleveland to keep him. Should Cabrera leave in the next few years, Lindor is going to be there to step in.

    Giving him some time this spring is an opportunity for him to get his feet wet, since it's doubtful that he'll reach the majors at anytime this season.

Ezequiel Carrera, OF

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    In all likelihood, Ezequiel Carrera will make the Indians roster in 2012, but he should be given more.

    He played in 68 games last year, hitting only .243 but adding 10 steals.

    With Grady Sizemore's injury, it could be an opportunity for him.

    Michael Brantley is penciled in as the starting center fielder, but he could be moved over to left field, where he played for much of last year.

    If Carrera can get his average up, he would be the prototypical leadoff hitter. He can get a base hit, then use his speed to advance into a scoring position.

    It's something that Grady Sizemore, despite all of his talent, was never really able to do.

    Carrera is only 24 so it's not as if Cleveland fans have seen him at his peak.

    In the minors, Carrera managed to hit for an average in the high .200s or low .300s so it's reasonable to expect him to hit much better than .243 if given a significant chance.

Nick Weglarz, OF

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    As stated earlier, with Grady Sizemore out, there's an opening in the outfield.

    As of right now, it looks like the Indians are going to play Michael Brantley in center and Shelley Duncan in left.

    Duncan is a serviceable player, but Cleveland could definitely use an upgrade.

    One choice could be Nick Weglarz, although it seems that manager Manny Acta only put Weglarz on the spring training roster to give him some experience rather than a shot at the starting job.

    The talent has never really been in question for him, but injuries have curtailed what progress he's shown in the minor leagues.

    Unfortunately for Weglarz, he didn't stand too much of a chance of making the team because Cleveland brought in experienced players like Felix Pie, Ryan Spilborghs and Fred Lewis to compete for a spot in the outfield.

    Hopefully, he can get a shot at the majors sometime this year and if he can stay healthy, really compete for a spot next year.

Scott Barnes, LHP

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    Last year, Barnes looked to be earning himself a call-up to the majors before he got hurt.

    He had a pretty good 2011 in Akron and Columbus. In 17 starts, Barnes went 8-4 with a 3.45 ERA. He also notched 107 strikeouts in only 99 innings.

    Many project Barnes to be a mid-rotation starter and that's what the Indians will need in the future.

    Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson are going to head the starting rotation for the next couple of seasons, but below them, there could be some chances for Barnes.

    He has really good stuff, as evidenced by his strikeout numbers.

    There's no way he's making the starting rotation this year as Cleveland has Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Kevin Slowey all competing for the fifth spot.

    Still, Barnes has had a pretty good spring. He's only made two appearances but pitched well in them.