Two of the four full-season Cleveland Indians starting rotations were announced today without any real surprises. Triple A Columbus will consist of Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, Kirk Saarloos, and Jack Cassell. The last spot going to Cassell (brother of Chiefs' QB Matt Cassell) is a mild surprise as he was used primarily out of the bullpen in Cactus League action. With the way Scott Lewis has been shelled the past cactus league outings (15 runs in 6 2/3 innings), the three lefties down I-71 should stay ready to be called up soon. Saarloos is a solid veteran who could be used in a pinch.
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As for Double A Akron, the rotation rounds out with Chuck Lofgren, Hector Rondon (pictured left), Steven Wright, Josh Tomlin, and Frank Herrmann. Most Tribe fans aren't too familiar with these young hurlers, so let's examine each of them and see what 2009 may bring.
Lofgren is a former big time prospect looking to regain his top status within the organization. A great piece by Tony Lastoria of Indians Prospect Insider can be found here.
Rondon is probably the Tribe's number 1 pitching prospect. The 21 year old out of Venezuela impressed Manager Eric Wedge during his first career Cactus League action as he pitched 3 shut out innings, allowing just 1 hit, 0 walks and 3 K's. His fastball has a real pop to it and he locates his secondary stuff (slider, curve). Some feel Rondon may be ready for the Majors late this summer as his fastball is often clocked in the 94-96 MPH range.
You can add phenom Hector Rondon to the list -- the 21-year-old will open at Class AA Akron. He has a fastball in the 94 mph range with an excellent change-up and really impressed manager Eric Wedge and the coaching staff. He could be ready by midseason. Terry Pluto/PD
More on Rondon to come in a future Down on the Farm Report.
Steven Wright was drafted in the 2nd round out of Hawaii in 2006. Posted a 3.66 ERA between Single A Kinston and Double A Akron in 28 starts. Seems to be a solid rotation option (with a possible bullpen future) down the road and one of the top 20 arms in the system.
Tomlin seems to be an in between starter/reliever guy who has put up some great stats (2.94 career minor league ERA) who can do a little bit of everything. He made a spot start in Buffalo last season (3 ER in 7 innings) which was a huge jump from his regular role a Single A Kinston. The 24 year old seems to have a bright future with the Tribe with his versatility and past success.
Frank Herrmann pitched at both Double A and Triple A for the Indians in 2008 and threw fairly well. Frank went undrafted out of Harvard and has rocketed through the system. He struck out 10 in a spot start for Buffalo in 2008 and will help headline the staff in Akron in 2009. Probably should be up in Columbus right now, but will have to wait his turn as the big league club sorts out their own rotation issues.
The future seems bright for the Columbus and Akron starting rotations respectively. If only the major league clubs' top five looked so promising.