The other day, Baseball America released its Top 10 Indians Prospects for 2010 .
This announcement is always fun, because not only does it list the best up-and-comers in the organization, but it also looks at the best tools and tries to predict a future lineup. In this case, BA looks ahead to the year 2013.
The Prospects List
Carlos Santana is once again atop the list, and he is surely the centerpiece of the Tribe's next title run. After leading the Akron Aeros to a AA title in 2009, it may only be a matter of time before Santana makes his MLB debut. Hot on Santana's heels is Lonnie Chisenhall.
The Indians were panned for going off-the-board and taking Chisenhall in the supplemental first round two years ago. But since then, he's done nothing but hit.
Chisenhall was never expected to stick at shortstop, and in fact, he has already made the move to third.
Barely 21, and in the pros for barely over a year, Chis has already made it to AA. At this pace, he's en route to a long, successful Major League career.
In both the Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee trades, the Indians acquired a very young potential ace. Those aces are Nick Hagadone and Jason Knapp, and their potential put them in the top four on BA's list.
Cleveland fans will have to wait a while for the payoff, but it should be sweet. Michael Brantley held his own in the Majors last year, and in doing so may have won the starting left field job in 2010.
Had it not been for injuries, we may have been talking about Canadian hero Nick Weglarz in that spot. The two are a contrast in styles: Brantley is a speedy contact hitter, and Weglarz is pure power.
Hector Rondon joins Weglarz as the only players in the Indians organization prior to 2008 who made this list.
Rondon has slowly and surely worked his way up the prospect list, and that patience should pay off sooner rather than later. Carlos Carrasco is raw with ace potential.
Unfortunately, he may be more raw than potential. However, a good spring training could land him in the starting rotation this year.
The list is rounded out by a pair of 2009 draft picks. Alex White was drafted as a reliever, and Baseball America seems to think he'll stick there as the Tribe's future closer.
This Year's List vs. Last Year's
Matt LaPorta and David Huff graduated, although I'm sure both wished for better rookie seasons. Also gone are Adam Miller, Beau Mills, Kelvin de la Cruz, and Carlos Rivero, all hampered by injuries, poor seasons, and the new infusion of talent in the system.
That's not to say these guys won't be back on the list, or even in the Majors, next year. Chisenhall was the noted big riser, but Brantley impressed as well by letting his playing do the talking. Weglarz dropped a bit, mostly due to poor performance that was the result of a broken foot.
There weren't many surprises here, and not many changes here. Guys like Brantley, Santana, and Hagadone earned their spot in the top 10 with multiple appearances on this list.
Also of note is that Jason Donald was named Best Defensive Infielder. Part of the Lee trade, Donald may stick with the parent club this year as a utility infielder.
Cleveland Indians Projected 2013 Lineup
Holy turnover! Of the top 10, all but Kipnis are expected to be regulars by 2013. But that's not surprising for a rebuilding team, and it also shows that the Indians are rebuilding with a purpose. There's no big surprises among the position players.
Luis Valbuena, Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Brantley are all young players already expected to start in 2010. Santana and LaPorta are known to be the heirs apparent at their respective situations.
And the phasing out of Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner should come as no surprise to Indians fans. The turnover in the pitching rotation is radical, however. Only Carrasco and Justin Masterson survive from last year.
What of Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, and Aaron Laffey?
Westbrook's contract is up after this year, and re-signing the veteran will probably not be in this rebuilding club's plans, for better or worse.
The Indians have club options on Carmona from 2012 through 2014, and at his current rate of performance he may not survive that first round. Laffey may simply be an oversight on BA's part, based on injuries and inconsistency this past year.