Future Heroes: Cleveland Indians Minor Leaguers Show Promise

Chris KreitzerSenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2009

The more I watch the Cleveland Indians' minor league position players (Beau Mills pictured left) compete this spring training, the more I have become impressed.
With the WBC adding two more weeks to Cactus League actions, plenty of minor leaguers from all levels have appeared in games. Granted, there is only been a week's worth of games, but I have a strong feeling of good things to come for many of these guys. Here are just some of the highlights...

Luis Valbuena: Yet to get a hit in eight at bats, but has looked great at second and short stop around the bag. Saw him hit in the cages and the ball really popped off of his bat.

Trevor Crowe: Switch hitter has batted already 15 times and looks to be a viable candidate for the fourth outfield spot. Needs to show consistency at the plate, but covers a lot of ground in center and in left.

Beau Mills: Hit his first Cactus League home run Wednesday off of Chad Gaudin which was described as a moon shot. .357 batting average in 14 AB's, driven in four runs to go with a double and a triple. Mills has had some issues with the flip play with the pitcher covering first. Definitely needs to refine his fielding skills, but his bat looks almost ready.

Michael Brantley: Played a decent outfield, has three hits in 12 AB's, seems to be a slap hitter know so he should fill out his lean frame. Hopefully AAA won't be a major adjustment for him as he is only 21 but the coaches seem to feel his work ethic will allow him to progress smoothly.

Here is some footage of Brantley in the cage...

Stephen Head: Cranked a home run in first cactus game against the Giants, looks good at first base and besides his error in right seems to be a future fourth outfielder/utility guy of value.

Matt LaPorta: Four hits in 11 at bats, hit a home run off of Dan Haren, and seems to be playing ok out in left field. Future Tribe slugger should see action with the big league club sometime this summer.

Wes Hodges: 3 for 11, going to be playing a lot with Mark DeRosa in the WBC. Needs to work on all facets of his defensive game but still seems to be the Tribe's future third baseman.

Jordan Brown: 3 for 9, with a home run and two runs batted in. Seems to be the forgotten man this camp as he was left off of the 40 man roster. Jordan has something to prove and I believe can be an everyday first baseman somewhere in the league, just probably not in Cleveland.

Chris Gimenez: Has played all over the field this spring (Catcher, 3rd, Outfield), while two of his three hits have been doubles. Gimenez will be seen up with the Indians sometime this year as his versatility is outstanding. OBP is .538, a stat he has excelled in at every level.

Carlos Santana: Shown a rifle for an arm, is gaining a lot of valuable experience working with the big league club. Santana has looked over matched at times, but has drawn 3 walks in 11 plate appearance which shows he is staying patient and not trying to over impress.

Nick Weglarz: 21-year-old Canadian is 0 for 4 but gained some important time watching the studs of the big league club. It will be interesting to see how many at bats he gets in the WBC for Team Canada.

Here is some game footage of Weglarz in action...

Carlos Rivero: Soon-to-be 21 year old went 2-3 with a double and an RBI in his first game playing in a Major League game with the Indians. Top 10 Tribe Prospect will start the year in Akron and may be a name to watch.


It will be interesting to see how many of these guys contribute to the big league club in the future. I would imagine someone between Hodges, Mills, LaPorta, and Weglarz will be moved for pitching as they are all similar type players (as is Head,Brown, and Michael Aubrey).
The Indians have really went away from overloading camp with the hangers on (Graffanino, Merchan, and Valdez type) and given their young guys shots at major league pitching. These prospects will be donning the blue and red in the next few years so get used to their names now so you have the pleasure of saying, "I remember that guy from Spring Training!"
Cleveland Indians Blog