The Cleveland Indians have made some interesting trades over the years, acquiring the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana in deadline deals, selling off their hot commodities for potential.
Now, as they sit in first place, they may begin selling off some of their own potential for players who can help them overtake the Detroit Tigers as the AL Central power. Below, you'll find a group of players who are intriguing to other teams, but just as intriguing for Indians fans who are hoping for their first championship since 1948, and first playoff appearance since 2007.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Low-A Lake County
Lindor is the prize of the Cleveland system. He doesn't turn 19 until the 2012 season is over, and he is already holding his own in full-season ball. Currently hitting .307/.354/.453 with five doubles, three triples and three home runs. Lindor also has speed as evidenced by his 11 steals and solid plate discipline, as he owns a 19:10 K:BB ratio in 137 at bats.
A slick fielder along with the abilities at the plate, he is going to be a fast-moving prospect. Asdrubal Cabrera is signed through 2014, his age-28 season, and it isn't out of the question that Lindor will be ready to take over if Cabrera leaves for a lucrative contract elsewhere.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, High-A Carolina
Aguilar is a huge man, standing 6'3" and weighing in at 257 pounds. A right-handed batter, he is currently hitting .312/.386/.541 with ten doubles, five home runs, 16 RBI and a 31:13 K:BB ratio in 109 at bats. His strikeouts could hold him back and he may need to become a DH early in his career, but he can mash. He turns 22 in June, so if he continues hitting well, the Indians could push him.
Scott Barnes, LHP, Triple-A Columbus
Barnes was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Ryan Garko in July of 2009. The lefty out of St. John's has been very effective throughout his Minor League career, compiling a 31-25 record, 3.92 ERA and 9.3 K per 9 over 442.2 innings. He will turn 25 in September, so the Indians need to see what they have here. He hasn't been great in Triple-A this season, but he could be useful out of the bullpen, much like Nick Hagadone.
Chun-Hsiu Chen, C, Double-A Akron
Chen may not ever catch a game for the Tribe with Carlos Santana around, unless they move Santana to first to open up the job for him, which is possible. The Taiwanese catcher will play the whole 2012 season at the age of 23, and he is already hitting .299/.380/.402 with eight doubles and one home run.
Chen had 43 extra-base hits last season, but regressed from his incredible on-base skills that he showed in 2010, when he posted a .404 OBP and had a .924 OPS. He is a right-handed hitting catcher and is a very capable hitter, which always has value on the trade market.
Who is the most important player in the Indians system?
LeVon Washington, OF, Short-Season Mahoning Valley
When you get drafted in the first round in one season and the second round the next season, you must have some serious talent. Washington is one of those "toolsy" prospects who can do just about anything. In six games in 2012, Washington has a .440/.563/.480 line in 25 at bats, but he'll be out another one to three months due to hip surgery in April.
Washington has fantastic plate discipline and was rated as the best athlete in the Indians system by Baseball America. He's a perfect lead-off hitter waiting to happen.
Ronny Rodriguez, SS, High-A Carolina
Last season as a 19-year-old in full season ball, Rodriguez ripped 28 doubles, seven doubles, 11 home runs and stole ten bases. The only issue is that he hit .246/.274/.479 and had an 83:13 K:BB ratio in 370 at bats. This year, Rodriguez has a .224/.256/.345 line with six doubles, one triple and two home runs in 116 at bats, with a 23:4 K:BB.
Rodriguez has solid power out of the shortstop position, but with Lindor in the system, he may not last there. He really needs to work on his plate discipline, but if he improves in that area, he could become a very valuable asset to the Indians and their system.
Robel Garcia, 3B, Low-A Lake County
Garcia is another power hitting prospect with contact issues, posting a .284/.371/.544 line last season, at the tender age of 18, with ten doubles, eight triples and six home runs.
He is struggling a little this season, posting a .220/.288/.307 line with five doubles and two home runs, however, Garcia posted solid on-base skills last season and he does have ten walks this season in 127 at bats. He is a high-risk, high-reward talent.