Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Cleveland Indians' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 21, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Cleveland Indians' Farm System

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    Over the last decade, the Indians have regularly finished each season in the cellar of the American League Central. While their on-field talent has never been that terrible, the Tribe has been unable to develop high-level prospects outside of Jason Kipnis.

    Combine that with some ill-advised trades and you can see why the organization hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2007. Furthermore, it will likely be several long, painful years until the organization returns to contender status.

    Although their farm system ranks comfortably in the bottom third among all organizations, they do have several high-upside prospects in Francisco Lindor and Dorssys Paulino. Beyond that, however, it lacks potential impact prospects and is littered with too many raw, high-risk players.

    The Indians’ lack of pitching prospects is especially dismal, just as it’s been for some time now. And although they added a potential ace in Trevor Bauer last week, but there’s no telling how he’ll ultimately perform in the major leagues. For the record, I’m still a believer.

    After the three aforementioned players, there’s a substantial drop-off within their system, as a majority of their top prospects are still multiple years away from reaching the major leagues.

    Here’s a look at the Cleveland Indians’ top 10 prospects.

10. 2B Jose Ramirez

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 9/17/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 165

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: Nov., 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Turned in impressive full-season debut at Low-A Lake County in 2012, batting .354/.403/.462 with 54 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and 26/24 K/BB in 67 games; 5’9” doesn’t involve much projection; switch hitter with a simple swing and direct path to the ball; lots of hard contact; strong top hand and bat-to-ball ability; potential for a legitimate plus hit tool; drives the ball despite undersized frame; can be overaggressive at the plate; projects for below-average power.

    Natural second baseman; arm is weakest tool though sufficient for the position; smooth, clean actions; above-average speed lends to similar range; solid glove and hands; second-base-only prospect; value will always be tied to his hit tool.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A 

9. RHP Cody Allen

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/20/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 23rd round, 2011 (St. Petersburg College)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Opened 2012 season at High-A Carolina but finished in the major leagues; registered a 1.87 ERA, 11.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 43.1 minor league innings; 3.72 ERA in 29 big league frames; fastball has some weight and sits in the low-to-mid-90s with ease; jumps out of his hand; throws a hard, plus curveball; misses plenty of bats and should also post a high K/9; refined command could make him a solid big league closer.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

8. OF Luigi Rodriguez

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 11/13/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 160

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Sept., 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Incredibly raw but has some intriguing tools; batted .268/.338/.406 in full-season debut at Low-A Lake County; hit tool leaves plenty of room for improvement; bat can drag through the zone at times; too much swing-and-miss with current approach; can struggle against quality velocity; physically strong for his size for some pop, but doesn’t project for more than average power.

    Rodriguez is a excellent defensive center fielder highlighted; easy plus speed gives him similar range; should be able to remain in center field; reads and routes were vastly improved this past season; arm is decent and a clean fit in center; it may take some time for his bat to catch up to his defense, but when it does, he could be a solid up-the-middle talent in the major leagues.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A 

7. RHP Danny Salazar

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/11/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2006, Dominican Republic

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Logged only 14 innings before needing Tommy John surgery in early 2011; made a strong return in 2012 and reached Double-A for the first time; registered a 2.36 ERA with 76/27 K/BB in 87.2 innings over two levels; 22-year-old is undersized at 6’, 190 pounds, but showcases a power arm; repeats delivery with consistency; still undecided whether he profiles more as a starter or reliever.

    Lightning-quick arm generates a plus fastball in the mid-to-high-90s with late life; slider projects to be a second plus pitch with sharp break; changeup is fringy and underdeveloped; more of a show-me offering at the moment; command has been better than expected; will continue to be developed as a starter, but electric fastball-slider combo could make him a dynamic big league reliever.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

6. OF Tyler Naquin

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/24/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 175

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Texas A&M)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: In my opinion, one of the biggest overdrafts in 2012 at No. 15; projectable frame at 6’2”, 175 pounds; enjoyed mediocre professional debut at Short-Season Mahoning Valley, batting .270/.379/.380 in 36 games; left-handed bat is mature though not necessarily projectable; lacks the power for a corner outfield position; hit tool could be average, but I’m skeptical that he can really swing wood; works counts in his favor; consistently barrels fastballs but poor pitch recognition regarding breaking balls; primarily upper body swing; loose, active hands allows him to lace line drives across entire field; bat is mostly attractive as a center fielder.

    Natural outfielder capable of playing all three positions; arm is loudest tool and a legitimate cannon; baits runners to test him; prospect stock is tied to his ability to remain in center; tweener profile otherwise; if bat never develops, Naquin could still be a viable fourth outfielder.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

5. RHP Mitch Brown

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 4/13/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (Century HS, Minn.)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Cold-weather pitcher who proved to be surprisingly advanced in profession debut; 6’1”, 175-pound will allow him to add strength, though he’s not overly projectable; pure arm strength; efficient delivery with clean, repeatable mechanics; stuff is advanced for his age and lack of experience; needs to consistently pound lower half of strike zone to be effective at higher levels.

    Fastball sits in the low-90s on downward angle; can reach back for a few more ticks when necessary; curveball has plus potential but can be too slurvy; doesn’t always repeat release point; cutter is presently average with potential to add a grade; have to love the 18-year-old’s pitchability; shows mound presence and always has a plan; huge gap between present and future; upside of a mid-rotation starter.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

4. SS Ronny Rodriguez

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 4/17/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 170

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Oct., 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Spent entire age-20 season at High-A Carolina where he batted .264/.300/.452 with 19 home runs and 88 strikeouts in 126 games; benefited from hitter-friendly California League; excellent athlete with a host of impressive but raw tools; aggressive swings result in consistent, hard contact; strong, quick hands yield plus bat speed; above-average power potential; eliminating some of the swing-and-miss in his game should improve utility of hit and power tool; struggles to recognize breaking balls from right-handers.

    Athleticism is obvious at both middle infield positions; strongest defensive attribute is plus arm; more than enough for left side of infield; rushes footwork at the position which results in too many throwing errors; actions seem forced at times; may end up at second base despite arm strength.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A 

3. 2B/3B Dorssys Paulino

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/21/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2011 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Paulino was highly impressive in professional debut, posting a 1.015 OPS with 26 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases as a 17-year-old in the rookie-level Arizona League; plate discipline was challenged following a promotion to New York-Penn League; 6’, 170-pounder has room to add more strength; wrists and forearms are loaded with quick-twitch muscles; plus bat speed; hit and power utility already present; feel for the strike zone and hard contact; plus runner; more likely to possess plus hit than power in the major leagues; shouldn’t be as easy

    Likely to stick at second base at the major league level; may see time at third base, but definitely not a shortstop; solid glove with improving defensive actions; average arm strength with a quick transfer and release; excelled in professional debut but still plenty of uncertainty tied to his ongoing development.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Class-A Short-Season

2. SS Francisco Lindor

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/14/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 175

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Montverde HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Was bumped directly to Low-A for full-season debut; switch-hitter turned in strong season at the plate, batting .257/.352/.355 with 24 doubles, 27 stolen bases and 78/61 K/BB in 122 games; noticeably wore down towards the end of the season; works deep counts and demonstrates feel for strike zone; advanced pitch recognition and approach; will collect plenty of extra-base hits, but has ceiling of average power; potential for above-average hit tool from both sides; above-average speed but advanced and instinctual base stealer; tons of natural ability and highly advanced skill set.

    Defensive wizard; honestly, he may be the best defensive shortstop once he reaches the major leagues; does things at the position that no 18-year-old should be able to do; plus glove with soft hands; above-average range; always gains momentum toward target; accurate, above-average arm; defense would play in the major leagues right now; if his bat develops like it should, Lindor should be a perennial All-Star shortstop.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

1. RHP Trevor Bauer

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/17/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (UCLA)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Opened 2012 season at Double-A Mobile and posted a 1.68 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 48.1 innings; promoted to Triple-A Reno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League where he registered a 2.82 ERA over eight starts; called up to the majors in late June and registered a 6.06 ERA with 13 walks in 16.1 innings; command issues and hesitancy to attack hitters was obvious; traded to Indians in mid-December as a part of a three-team, nine-player deal.

    Fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with some late arm-side action; flattens out when left up in the zone; curveball is an absolute hammer and a second plus pitch; explosive, torque-oriented delivery makes it especially deceptive and difficult to recognize out of his hand; loaded arsenal also features a tumbling splitter, slider and above-average changeup.

    Dominated in the minor leagues but struggles were overwhelming in big league stint; tried to nibble at the strike zone rather than trusting his pure stuff; tried to fool hitters with deep arsenal; more concerned about executing perfect pitches; concerns about his makeup and coachability made his time with the Diamondbacks short-lived; now in a much more favorable position with the Indians; should break camp as No. 3 starter for Tribe.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB