2011 Preview: Breaking Down The Cleveland Indians Youth Movement 3 Years Later

The Broj ReportContributor IFebruary 19, 2011

2011 Preview: Breaking Down The Cleveland Indians Youth Movement 3 Years Later

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    In 2007, the Cleveland Indians were one game away from the World series before blowing a 3 - 1 series lead to the Boston Red Sox.Al Bello/Getty Images

    In 2007, the Cleveland Indians were one game away from their first world series in 10 years and most likely, the Tribe would have won the World Series against a Rockies team that eventually got swept by the Red Sox. However, after the unfortunate ending to a great season, expectations were high for the Tribe in 2008. But after injuries to key players, some bad luck and less then spectacular starting pitching, the season took a turn for the worst and the Indians were forced to clean house.

    Part of being a fan of a small market team like the Indians is that you have to be patient and understanding of just how difficult it is in the front office. Many questioned Mark Shapiro for trading away all of Cleveland's big time players after the 2007 season but in a way, he had to.

    By the all-star break the Indians were already considered out of the playoff race and after offering the biggest contract ever to an Indians player and still getting rejected by C.C. Sabathia, it was clear that the Indians were never going to be able to resign him. Therefore, the Tribe just could not let him go to Free Agency and get nothing for him. Trades had to be made. From 2008-2010, the Cleveland Indians made seven "Blockbuster" trades to build towards the future. Now, in the 2011 season, all of those "can't miss prospects" are starting to reach the majors and the youth movement that started in 2008 is now reaching its final stage. All that's left to do for the Cleveland Indians is get those players to their full potential and start winning ball games. 

C.C. Sabathia Trade

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    In 2008, CC Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Matt Laporta, Michael Brantley, Zack Jackson, and Rob Bryson.Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Indians Give CC Sabathia (LHP) to Brewers
    Indians Receive Matt LaPorta (OF/1B), Zach Jackson (LHP), Rob Bryson (RHP), and player to be named later (Michael Brantley, (CF))


    Matt LaPorta (1B)

    • Rank when trade was made: No. 1 Overall Prospect in Milwaukee Brewer’s organization according to baseball America.com
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Starting first baseman for the Cleveland Indians
    • Expectations for 2011 season:  After his first healthy offseason since becoming a member of the Indian’s organization, many expect LaPorta to start living up to expectations in the 2011 season as a 30+ home run hitter & 100+ RBI first Baseman.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: LaPorta is considered as the centerpiece of the Cleveland Indian’s youth movement. Some even say that if LaPorta does not succeed, neither will the Indians. Expect Matt LaPorta to be in an Indian’s uniform for a while because of what the Indian’s gave up to get him and how much is banking on how well he plays. 
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B-

     

    Zach Jackson (LHP)

    • Rank when trade was made:  Zach Jackson was considered to be a top 30 prospect in the Brewer’s organization at the time of the trade and one of the top 15 pitching prospects at the time.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Jackson is now a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers.

     

    Rob Bryson (RHP)

    • Rank when trade was made: Rob Bryson was considered to be a top 30 prospect in the Brewer’s organization at the time of the trade, and one of the top 10 pitching prospects at the time.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Bryson finished the 2010 season in the Cleveland Indians Double-A affiliate, the Akron Aeros.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Bryson is expected to start off the 2011 season in Double A, but with a good performance in Spring Training it is possible that Bryson will start off the year in the Cleveland Indians Triple A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: After turning some heads in the 2010 season by posting a 1.80 ERA as a reliever for the Akron Aeros, some predict that Bryson could make it in the Big Leagues by 2012 and could possibly be a consistent relief pitcher in the Indians bullpen.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B+

     

    Michael Brantley (CF)

    • Rank when trade was made: According to baseballamerica.com, Brantley was a top 15 prospect in the Brewers' organization and the number three outfield prospect.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: After a season ending injury to Grady Sizemore, Brantley was able to gain control of the starting center field spot at the end of the season and performed well.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Brantley is expected to be the starting left fielder in the 2011 season, but if any injury to Grady Sizemore were to occur then Brantley would slide right in to the starting center field spot.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Brantley is expected to be a centerpiece for the Indians for the next couple of years because of his versatility in the outfield and because of how well he finished the 2010 season. Depending on what the Indians do with Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley will be the future starting center fielder for the Tribe.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B

Casey Blake Trade

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    In 2008, Casey Blake was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Indians Give Casey Blake (3B) to Dodgers
    Indians Receive Jon Meloan (RHP) and Carlos Santana (C)

    Jon Meloan (RHP)

    • Rank when trade was made: Fifth ranked prospect in the Dodgers organization.
    • Current place in the Indians Organization: Jon Meloan is now a relief pitcher in the Oakland Athletics Triple A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats.

     

    Carlos Santana (C)

    • Rank when trade was made: Not ranked in the Los Angeles Dodgers top 20 prospects.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: After getting called up on June 11 of last season, Carlos immediately became the starting catcher for the Indians and kept that role until he suffered a season ending injury against the Boston Red Sox. Now that Santana is healthy, he is expected to be the starting catcher for the Indians in 2011.
    • Expectations for 2011 Season: Santana is the projected starting catcher for the Tribe in 2011 if he remains healthy. With all of the hype surrounding Santana and how well he started his career last season, most expect him to hit at least .290 in his true rookie season and possibly contend for Rookie of the Year.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Like Matt LaPorta, Carlos Santana is the key to success for the Indians in upcoming seasons. For the past two years, Carlos Santana was the No.1 overall prospect in the Indians organization and has a contract that will last him reportedly four more years. Expect Santana to be a Victor Martinez type of player for the Cleveland Indians over the next five years.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: A

Franklin Gutierrez Trade

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    In 2008, Franklin Gutierrez was traded to the Seattle Mariners and in return the Indians recieved Luis Valbuena and Joe Smith.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Indians Give: Franklin Gutierrez (CF) to Mariners
    Indians Receive: Luis Valbuena (Mariners SS/2B) and Joe Smith (Mets RHP)

    Luis Valbuena (SS/2B) from the Mariners:

    • Rank when trade was made: Not ranked in the Seattle Mariners top 20 prospects
    • Current Place in the Indians Organization: In 2009 Luis Valbuena was called up to play second base after Asdrubal Cabrera made the shift to his regular position at shortstop. After an above average rookie season in 2009, Valbuena struggled severely in 2010 and was sent down mid season to give Jason Donald a shot at second. Since then, Valbuena, Donald and now Orlando Cabrera are in a battle for the starting second base spot for the tribe—a battle that will be decided by the end of spring training according to Indians manager Manny Acta.
    • Expectations for 2011 Season: Before the start of spring training, Orlando Cabrera is believed to be the front runner for the starting second base position. However, if Valbuena performs well over Spring Training then he might get the starting spot at second and Cabrera or Donald would move to third where they would battle Jayson Nix for the job. If Valbuena doesn't win the job at second after Spring Training and doesn't show any reason why he should get the job in the early parts of the season, Cleveland will most likely try to trade him.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Valbuena’s future in Cleveland will rely almost entirely on how well he performs in the early parts of the 2011 season. If Luis is able to get his bat going early and produce a solid season at the plate as well as in the field, then he could be the second baseman for the Indians for years to come. However if he is unable to perform it is likely that his years in Cleveland will be numbered.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B

     

    Joe Smith (RHP) from the Mets:

    • Rank when the trade was made:Ninth ranked prospect in the New York Mets organization
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Since 2009, Joe Smith has been a situational reliever against right handed hitters because of his sidearm throwing style and slider that is difficult to hit for right handed hitters.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Not much seems to be different about Smith’s role with the tribe in 2011 than in recent years; he is projected to continue being a situational reliever against right handed hitters.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: With the way relievers are constantly on the move in baseball today, you can never be sure how long a situational reliever is going to remain on a team. Especially one that has a sidearm throwing style making himself more vulnerable to injuries. Expect Smith to be an Indian at a maximum of 3 more years.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B

Mark DeRosa Trade

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    In 2009, Mark DeRosa was traded to the St. Luis Cardinals for Chris Perez and Jess Todd.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Indians Give: Mark DeRosa (3B/1B/OF) to Cardinals
    Indians Receive: Chris Perez (RHP) & Player To Be Named Later (Jess Todd RHP)

    Chris Perez (RHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: No.3 overall prospect in the St. Louis Cardinal’s organization according to minorleagueball.com
    • Current place in the Indians organization: After the Cleveland Indians traded Kerry Wood in the 2010 season, Chris Perez filled immediately jumped into the starting closer role and performed very well; finishing the season with a 1.71 ERA and 23 saves.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Perez is expected to remain in his closer position throughout 2011 and many fans are expecting a year like last year with an ERA around 2.00 and plenty of strikeouts.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Because Perez has performed well as a closer in the past year and at the end of the 2009 season, the Indians are interested in giving Chris Perez an extended contract to keep him in a Cleveland Indian’s uniform as long as possible.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: A

    Jess Todd (RHP):

    • Rank when the trade was made: No.5 overall prospect in the St. Louis Cardinal’s organization according to minorleagueball.com
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Todd has been in AAA for most of his professional career, but has made appearances in the majors where he has not done very well (ERA of 7.61 in the majors). Last season in AAA, Todd finished the year with a 3.31 ERA in 44 appearances.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Jess Todd is expected to start the 2011 season in AAA and based on how he performs in the minors he could be called up later in the summer.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: With the way relief pitchers go in and out through organizations, the future of Todd with the Indians is uncertain. Some believe that if Todd improves through spring training then he could compete for a setup man role but if he doesn’t have much improvement he will likely get moved.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: C

Rafael Betancourt Trade

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    In 2009, Rafael Betancourt was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Connor Graham.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Indians Give: Rafael Betancourt (RHP) to Rockies
    Indians Receive: Connor Graham (RHP)

    Connor Graham (RHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: No. 5 overall prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization according to minorleagueball.com
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Graham finished the 2010 season in the AA Akron Aeros with a 3.43 ERA with 78 innings pitched. Graham could start the 2011 season with the AAA Columbus Clippers based on his performance in Spring Training.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: It is not expected that Graham will be called up to the Majors anytime during the 2011 season, however if he performs very well over Spring Training and does even better in Columbus, then it is possible that he could end up being a September call-up for the Tribe.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Like Jess Todd, Graham’s future is a little uncertain based on the constant movement of minor league relief pitchers but if Graham is able to perform at a high level this season then we could see him in a Cleveland Indian uniform for the next couple of years.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B-

Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco Trade

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    In 2009, Cliff Lee & Ben Francisco was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, and Jason Knapp.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Indians Give: Cliff Lee (LHP) & Ben Francisco (LF) to Phillies
    Indians Receive: Jason Knapp (RHP), Carlos Carrasco (RHP), Jason Donald (SS/2B), and Lou Marson (C)

    Jason Knapp (RHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Knapp was the8th ranked prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Knapp spent most of the 2010 season recovering from surgery, so single A Kinston is the most likely starting point for Knapp in the 2011 season.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: It is expected that Knapp, still only 20 years old, will spend the early parts of the 2011 season in single A Kinston, but could be called up to the AA Akron Aeros later in the summer.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Knapp was a key part of the Cliff Lee trade along with Carlos Carrasco, so the Indians are going to be really cautious in bringing him up and risking anything, so don’t expect Knapp to make his first appearance wearing a Cleveland Indian’s jersey until the summer of 2012.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: C 

     

    Carlos Carrasco (RHP):

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Carlos Carrasco was the No.1 overall prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Expected to be the No.4 starting pitcher in the Indian’s rotation.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: After a strong finish in the 2010 season, Carrasco is expected to begin the 2011 season as the No.4 starting pitcher in the Indian’s rotation. The average expectation for Carrasco in the 2011 season is an ERA around 4 and 10+ wins.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: As the biggest piece of the Cliff Lee trade, the Indians have really high hopes for the young pitcher. However, Based on Carrasco’s stuff and the other talented, young pitching prospects in the Indian’s organization, he is most likely going to make his career as a No.3 pitcher in the rotation.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B 

     

    Jason Donald (SS/2B):

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Jason Donald was the No.4 overall prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Currently battling for the starting second or third base positions for the Indians.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: After the addition of Orlando Cabrera, Jason Donald’s chances of starting at second base seem very unlikely. However he could still make an impact as a utility infielder which could help him get the starting spot at second next season. 
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: If Donald can make a solid impact as a utility infielder in 2011, then he will most likely start at second in 2012 after Orlando Cabrera’s one year deal runs out. Donald has exceeded expectations since the time of the trade, so the Indian’s front office is hoping that this quick development for Donald continues to help the Tribe establish a solid middle-infield.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: A- 

     

    Lou Marson (C):

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Lou Marson was the No.10 overall prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Backup catcher to Carlos Santana for the Cleveland Indians.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: If Santana is able to stay healthy, Marson is probably going to be moved for veteran, more experienced backstop to help mold Santana into an elite catcher.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: With nearly the future of the Tribe riding on the back of Carlos Santana, it is highly unlikely that Marson will have much of a chance to become a permanent starter for the Indians behind the plate in years to come. Therefore, fans should not expect Marson in a Cleveland Indian’s uniform much longer.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: C+

Victor Martinez Trade

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    In 2009, Victor Martinez was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Bryan Price, and Nick Hagadone.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Indians Give: Victor Martinez (C) to Red Sox
    Indians Receive: Bryan Price (LHP), Nick Hagadone(LHP), and Justin Masterson (RHP)

    Bryan Price (LHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Bryan Price was the No.12 overall prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: Price finished the 2010 season in the Cleveland Indian’s double A affiliate, the Akron Aeros, with a 3.25 ERA.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Most predict Price to start the season with AAA Columbus, but he's not expected to get any time in the majors this summer because there are bigger names that the Tribe are more focused on getting into the Majors.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: Even when the trade was made to send Victor Martinez, Bryan Price was not considered as much of an important part of the trade. However, after raising some eyebrows last season after posting a 3.25 ERA for the Akron Aeros, Price could come into the majors in sort of an under-the-radar role and log some long relief innings. Other than that, Price is not a very key counterpart to the youth movement of the Cleveland Indian’s.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: C

    Nick Hagadone (LHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: According to minorleagueball.com, Nick Hagadone was the No.8 overall prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: After suffering serious arm injuries and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Hagadone’s stock has declined a little. After finishing the 2010 season in AA Akron, it is likely that is where he will start the 2011 season as well.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Finally healthy, Hagadone is expected to start 2011 in AA and if he is able to dominate early, then it is possible that he could get called up to Columbus around July.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: A key part of this trade, Cleveland will want to put Nick Hagadone in an Indian’s uniform and keep him in it if he is able to live up to his expectations. Nonetheless, Hagadone has suffered some key arm injuries and if he suffers another key injury this year, it is possible the he could be moved.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: C- 

    Justin Masterson (RHP)

    • Rank when the trade was made: When the trade was made, Masterson had already logged some experience in the majors so was not considered a “prospect”.
    • Current place in the Indians organization: In 2011, it is predicted that Masterson will be the No.2 starting pitcher in the Indian’s rotation.
    • Expectations for 2011 season: Ever since being called up, fans have complained about Masterson and have said that he needs to be moved to the bullpen, moved to another team, etc. By the end of the 2010 season, Masterson had pitched some pretty solid outings and going into 2011, he will most likely be the No.2 starter.
    • Future with the Cleveland Indians: After Masterson was able to find his game at the end of 2010, he was able to begin cementing his place in the Indian’s organization as a top of the rotation starter. If Masterson is able to have another good year in 2011, then he could be a starter for the Indians for many years in the future.
    • Grade of prospect since trade: B-

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