Most of the Cleveland Indians top prospects currently are playing ball in Ohio for minor league teams(LaPorta, Brantley, Rondon, Santana, etc.), or the big league club (Huff, Valbuena, Sipp), but there is a future star currently ripping up the Carolina League down in Single A Kinston that will soon be playing a lot closer to Progressive Field. With the organization still not completely settled on an infield for the future, top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall might be just be the fixture Cleveland has been looking for.
2008 First Round Selection helped the K-Tribe win yesterday with a two run homerun as Kinston defeated Wilmington 3-2. It was Chisenhall's team leading ninth home run of the season. He now leads the Carolina League with 42 RBI and is tied for second in home runs. Lonnie has posted .305 AVG .384 OBP .519 SLG .903 OPS in 48 games this season, pretty impressive stats for a 20 year old in his first full season in pro ball. Chisenhall's defensive stats stand out, but not really in a good way.
The former Gamecock made a position change over the offseason, moving from shortstop to second base. This season he has already committed 16 errors in 41 games over at the hot corner. Chisenhall was able to work all last season and spring training with former Indian and current Rookie ball Manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers Travis Fryman, who had to make the same transition during his time with the Detroit Tigers
. Fryman made the move flawlessly, and Lonnie seemed to take in everything his coach had to teach him. Usually your best athlete on a baseball team is put at shortstop, so I don't envision it being a problem for Chisenhall. With the Indians Farm system looking increasingly week at 2B, SS, and 3B at the higher levels, the team has a lot riding on this guy.
The Pitt Community College product has been named Carolina League Player of the Week twice already this season and has hit three grand slams already this season. He has a line drive swing that looks quite pure from the left side. Chisenhall probably needs to develop a bit better plate discipline by drawing more walks to help him move on up to Akron. I wouldn't be surprised to see him possibly moved to 2nd base sometime in his minor league career if continues to struggle at third base. He has the arm for any position in the infield, so it will be interesting to see where he projects as a Major Leaguer. As he gets older and stronger, I imagine his power numbers will increase even more.
I would consider Lonnie Chisenhall as one of the top 10 prospects in the Indians organization today. He is progressing rapidly through the system with a possible AA appearance in 2009 at the age of only 20. With current Indians' contracts up in a few years, (Martinez, Peralta), the team will be in desperate need of an impact bat. Chisenhall just maybe that guy.