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Stock Up, Stock Down for Cleveland Indians' Top 10 Prospects for Week 1

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Cleveland Indians' Top 10 Prospects for Week 1

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    Paul Sancya

    The Cleveland Indians' minor league affiliates have played through the first week of their 2014 seasons. Some of the team's top prospects are off to great starts, while others, not so much. 

    Early-season minor league numbers can be volatile, given the fact that a good deal of prospects are dealing with an adjustment period in their first games at a new level. Others, who have more minor league experience under their belts, tend to hit the ground running and we'll see a little bit of both over the course of this article.

    The aim of this repeating piece is to help keep you informed as to the performances of the team's top-10 prospects on a semi-weekly basis. In each version of this article, I'll recap the player's 2013 stats, while also providing updated 2014 stats, weekly stats, an overview of the player's season and week and, finally, an up or down label on the player's prospect stock.

    Bleacher Report's Adam Wells ranked the team's top-10 prospects prior to the start of spring training—you can find those prospect rankings here. So, to start the year, that's the order you'll find those prospects ranked in this and future versions of this piece.

    We'll kick things off with Adam's No. 10 prospect, Jesus Aguilar.

     

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

     

10. Jesus Aguilar, 1B

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    2013 Stats

    130 G, .275/.349/.427, 16 HR, 0 3B, 28 2B, 105 RBI, 66 R, 0 SB, 107:56 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    4 G, .583/.667/.1000, 1 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB, 2:3 K/BBB

     

    Overview

    First baseman Jesus Aguilar put up a fantastic 2013 season with the Indians' Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League. Over 130 games played, Aguilar managed a .275/.349/.427 slash line with 16 home runs, 28 doubles, 105 RBI, 66 runs scored and a 107:56 K/BB ratio. 

    Aguilar followed up that outstanding showing with an unreal performance in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he slashed .327/.403/.597 with 18 home runs, seven doubles, 50 RBI and a 43:27 K/BB ratio over 226 at-bats.

    Aguilar has outstanding raw power, which could be an elite tool as he reaches maturity, and that power was on full display in the Venezuelan League.

    This year, Aguilar was invited to spring training and had a real shot at the 25-man roster when Jason Giambi went down with a broken rib. Unfortunately, Aguilar was unable to capitalize on that opportunity and failed to log a single base hit over 15 at-bats.

    After being cut from spring training, Aguilar was assigned to Triple-A Columbus, an entirely new level for the 23-year-old. In four games with the team, Aguilar has picked up right where he left off in the winter, slashing .583/.667/.1000 with a home run, two doubles, two RBI, two runs scored and a 2:3 K/BB ratio.

    It's only his first 12 at-bats, but Aguilar has been outstanding in his early-season debut at Triple-A.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4 G, .583/.667/.1000, 1 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB, 2:3 K/BB

     

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9. Ronny Rodriguez, SS

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    2013 Stats

    116 G, .265/.291/.376, 5 HR, 6 3B, 25 2B, 52 RBI, 62 R, 12 SB, 76:16 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    4 G, .133/.235/.200, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB, 4:2 K/BB

     

    Overview

    After a decent showing in 2012, Ronny Rodriguez struggled through a 2013 season in which his numbers dipped across the board. Consider the two seasons in the chart below.

    SplitsGABHR2B3BAVGOBPSLGK%BB%
    201212645419204.264.300.45218.2%3.9%
    20131164685256.265.291.37615.3%3.2%

    Rodriguez did see a single-point improvement in his batting average, as well as a dip in his strikeout rate, however, his OBP dropped below the .300 mark, and the 76-point reduction in his slugging percentage is a little disconcerting.

    It should be noted that 2013 was Rodriguez's first season in Double-A ball. If he's able to rebound at the same level in 2014, then we could overlook his 2013 season moving forward.

    Unfortunately, through the first week of his 2014 season, Rodriguez has done little to turn things around. Over 15 at-bats, the 22-year-old owns a disappointing stat line, including a .133/.235/.200 slash line, one double, two runs scored and a 4:2 K/BB ratio.

    Rodriguez will need to rebound off of a disappointing 2013 season, as well as a shaky start to his 2014 campaign, in order to avoid hitting a prolonged plateau in Double-A ball.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4 G, .133/.235/.200, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB, 4:2 K/BB

     

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8. Trevor Bauer, RHP

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    2013 Stats (Combined MLB & MiLB)

    26 GS, 7-9 W-L, 138.1 IP, 4.29 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, 1.31 K/BB, 8.7 H/9

     

    2014 Stats

    1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.50 K/BB, 3.0 H/9

     

    Overview

    Trevor Bauer has the potential to be one of the best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, he's been arguably the most confusing prospect to take the field over the last three seasons.

    To this point, Bauer's struggles have been well documented, and they reared their ugly head again in 2013. Despite receiving high praise in numerous prospect rankings from sites like Baseball America, Baseabll Prospectus and Bleacher Report, Bauer turned in the worst full-season performance of his professional career.

    Over 22 starts with Triple-A Columbus, Bauer allowed a 4.15 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP over 121.1 innings pitched. The 23-year-old also put up some disappointing ratios last season, averaging 7.9 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 1.45 K/BB and 8.8 H/9—the first three metrics represent his worst minor league totals.

    Bauer also made four big league starts last year, in which he allowed a 5.29 ERA, a 1.82 WHIP and 8.5 BB/9 over 17 innings pitched. It wasn't a good year by any means, but Bauer still came into spring training this year with a legitimate chance to make the roster as the team's fifth starter.

    Although he was eventually cut and re-assigned to Triple-A, Bauer could find his way back to Cleveland very quickly if he's able to put everything together here in 2014.

    Bauer looked great in his 2014 debut. The young righty went six innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out nine.

    Though he'll need more starts like this to do it, Bauer could make a serious push for a spot in the big league rotation sometime this season. 

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.50 K/BB, 3.0 H/9

     

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7. Dace Kime, RHP

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    2013 Stats

    9 G, 0-2 W-L, 24.2 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, 1.63 K/BB, 6.9 H/9

     

    2014 Stats

    1 G, 0-1 W-L, 3.1 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 1.50 K/BB, 21.6 H/9

     

    Overview

    The Indians snagged Dace Kime in the third round of the 2013 MLB draft, and immediately worked on trying to convert him into a starting pitcher. The 22-year-old served primarily as a reliever at the University of Louisville, but did make some starts with the team during the 2013 season.

    Upon arriving in Cleveland, Kime was assigned to the team's Low-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. In nine starts with the team, Kime managed a 2.92 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP over 24.2 innings pitched. While those numbers aren't bad, he did issue walks at a rather high rate—5.4 BB/9—and it's something he'll need to improve upon during the 2014 season.

    This year, the Indians bumped Kime up to Single-A Lake County, and he's already made the first start of his 2014 campaign. The young righty was only able to get through 3.1 innings in his only start against the Lansing Lugnuts, and he surrendered six runs—five earned—on a whopping eight hits and two walks.

    If there are any positives to take from Kime's week, fans can take solace in the fact that it's very early, and he still struck out three batters over just 3.1 innings of work.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 0-1 W-L, 3.1 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 5.4, 1.50 K/BB, 21.6 H/9

     

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6. Dorssys Paulino, SS

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    2013 Stats

    120 G, .246/.297/.349, 5 HR, 3 3B, 28 2B, 46 RBI, 56 R, 12 SB, 91:30 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    4 G, .188/.235/.250, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 46 RBI, 56 R, 12 SB, 91:30 K/BB

     

    Overview

    After an outstanding showing in his 2012 debut, Dorssys Paulino struggled in 2013 after receiving an aggressive assignment to Single-A Lake County. Over 120 games played with Lake County, Paulino slashed a paltry .246/.297/.349 with five home runs, three triples, 28 doubles, 46 RBI, 56 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.

    Paulino hardly had the season the team envisioned for him when they gave him the assignment, but the results are somewhat unsurprising given his age, in comparison to the league he was playing in. This year, the 19-year-old will look to get back on track, as he was re-assigned to Single-A to start the 2014 season.

    Through the season's first week, Paulino is suffering through some similar struggles at the plate. In his first four games, Paulino has just three hit hits to his credit and is striking out at a 17 percent clip. Though his strikeout rate is actually quite good, his 5.8 BB% needs some significant improvement. 

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4 G, .188/.235/.250, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 46 RBI, 56 R, 12 SB, 91:30 K/BB

     

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5. Tyler Naquin, OF

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    2013 Stats

    126 G, .263/.334/.405, 10 HR, 6 3B, 30 2B, 48 RBI, 78 R, 15 SB, 134:46 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    4 G, .188/.278/.250, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 0 SB, 6:2 K/BB

     

    Overview

    In his second professional season, Tyler Naquin put forth a solid first full season across two minor league levels—High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron. Over 126 games, the Texas A&M product slashed .269/.334/.405 with 10 home runs, six triples, 30 doubles, 48 RBI, 78 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.

    Naquin followed up with a strong showing this spring. In 19 spring at-bats, the 22-year-old put up a .263/.440/.421 slash line with one home run, two RBI, six runs scored, an 8:5 K/BB ratio and a stolen base.

    Naquin was assigned to Double-A Akron to start the 2014 season, a level at which he struggled during the 2013 season. Through the first week of the 2014 season, Naquin is struggling again at Double-A.

    Over four games, Naquin sports a .188/.278/.250 slash line with just one extra-base hit, one RBI, one run scored and a startlingly high 33 percent strikeout rate. Naquin won't maintain that 33 percent strikeout rate through the regular season, but it will be interesting to see how he improves as the season moves forward.

    Prior to the start of the 2014 season, Naquin looked poised to make the jump to the big league level as soon as this September. He'll have to rebound from a poor start in order to actualize that goal.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4 G, .188/.278/.250, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 0 SB, 6:2 K/BB

     

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4. Francisco Mejia, C

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    2013 Stats

    30 G, .305/.348/.524, 4 HR, 1 3B, 9 2B, 24 RBI, 16 R, 3 SB, 18:5 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    A relative unknown prior to the 2013 season, Francisco Mejia broke out in a big way in his first season as a professional. As a 17-year-old, Mejia appeared 30 Arizona League games, and worked to a .305/.348/.524 slash line with four home runs, a triple, nine doubles, 24 RBI, 16 runs scored and three stolen bases over 105 at-bats.

    At 5'10", 175 pounds, Mejia possesses a solid build for catching. Although he already possesses solid power from both the left and right sides of the plate, Mejia has the potential to add considerable power to his frame, and, if everything goes right, he could develop into one of the game's best offensive weapons behind the plate.

    Mejia showcased his offensive talents over limited time last season, but he also has a defensive game that's well beyond what his age would suggest. The 18-year-old has a great arm, receives the ball well behind the plate and has all the makings of a top-tier catching prospect heading into the 2014 season.

    Mejia has yet to receive a minor league assignment this season, but once he does, look for him to out-perform the older competition.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

     

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3. Cody Anderson, RHP

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    2013 Stats

    26 GS, 9-4 W-L, 136.0 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.05 K/BB, 8.0 H/9

     

    2014 Stats

    1 GS, 1-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 3.00 K/BB, 6.0 H/9

     

    Overview

    A 14th-round draft pick out of Feather River College back in 2011, Cody Anderson has made a name for himself over three professional seasons. Over those three seasons, Anderson owns a 2.82 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with averages of 7.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 2.70 K/BB and 8.1 H/9 across four minor league levels.

    Last year, Anderson posted his best full-season numbers over 26 starts between High-A and Double-A. The 23-year-old allowed a 2.65 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with season averages of 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.05 K/BB and 8.0 H/9.

    The young righty bested his career averages across the board last year, and he's on track to do the same in 2014 after his first week. In six innings pitched, Anderson allowed a 1.50 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP and ratios of 4.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 3.00 K/BB and 6.0 H/9.

    It will be interesting to see if and when Anderson makes the jump to Triple-A Columbus, as another solid season here in 2014 could result in a trip to Cleveland by 2015.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 1-0 W-L, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 3.00 K/BB, 6.0 H/9

     

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2. Clint Frazier, OF

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    2013 Stats

    44 G, .297/.362/.506, 5 HR, 5 3B, 11 2B, 28 RBI, 32 R, 3 SB, 61:17 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    Clint Frazier's minor league season hasn't actually begun yet. He's partaking in some extended spring training, due to a minor hamstring injury that set him back about a week in his preparations for the upcoming season—per David Glasier of The News-Herald.  

    Frazier will join the team's Single-A affiliate in Lake County once he's ready, but it doesn't appear that the injury will cost him any significant amount of time. It's a good thing too, because the Indians are expecting big things out of the 19-year-old over his first full season of professional ball.

    Last year, after being selected fifth overall in the MLB Amateur Draft, Frazier received an aggressive assignment directly to the Arizona League. Frazier proceeded to  the cover off the ball over his first 44 professional games.

    Through said 44 games, Frazier displayed some of the best bat speed in all of professional baseball and slashed .297/.362/.506 with five home runs, five triples, 11 doubles, 28 RBI, 32 runs scored and three stolen bases over just 172 at-bats.

    Frazier struggles with pitch recognition, and that's evidenced best by his 31.1 percent strikeout rate over his limited showing in 2013. As he moves through the minors, it'll be interesting to see how he deals with improving breaking balls over various levels.

    If he's able to cut down on his strikeouts, and better recognize a breaking ball, expect a big season for the young outfielder in 2014.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

     

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1. Francisco Lindor, SS

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    2013 Stats

    104 G, .303/.380/.407, 2 HR, 7 3B, 22 2B, 34 RBI, 65 R, 25 SB, 46:49 K/BB

     

    2014 Stats

    4 G, .353/.389/.529, 1 HR, 0 3B, 0 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB, 4:0 K/BB

     

    Overview

    One of the most hyped prospects in the minors right now is Indians' shortstop Francisco Lindor. The 20-year-old has blazed his way through the minor league system, and if not for Asdrubal Cabrera blocking his path, the young shortstop could be the team's main everyday option at the big league level right now.

    After a stellar spring training, in which he slashed .316/.350/.579 with a home run, two doubles and five RBI, Lindor was re-assigned to Double-A Akron, where he's kept up that torrid pace. Over just four games, Lindor boasts a strong stat line including a .353/.389/.529 slash line,  one home run, three RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base.

    Lindor ranked as Baseball-America's No. 13 prospect prior to the 2014 season, but if he's able to continue on this steady path of progression, he'll be a top-five prospect by the end of the 2014 season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4 G, .353/.389/.529, 1 HR, 0 3B, 0 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB, 4:0 K/BB

     

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