Commonly labeled as the second best, is Kipnis now the Tribe's best prospect?
With the major league debut of five Cleveland Indians in 2011, Tribe fans are starting to see some of the prime talent their favorite team has built up over the years.
Vinnie Pestano, Alex White, Josh Judy, Cord Phelps and now Lonnie Chisenhall have all experienced their first taste of the bigs this year whether it be in a large or small sample size.
So with Cleveland dipping into their farm system and players losing prospect eligibility, who can now be considered the top prospect for the Indians? This slideshow is meant to end (or start) that debate.
I left out the five aforementioned players that made their debuts despite the fact most of them still hold rookie eligibility.
I think it's about time we get the Giovanni Soto prospect hype train rolling.
Soto is a lanky southpaw with good size at 6'3" and a deep arsenal for a 20-year-old.
Soto holds a two-seamer, four-seamer, cutter, curveball and changeup. None are exactly outstanding, but he has very good control out of all of them and can still strike out a fair amount of batters as shown by his 9.2 K/9 ratio.
Currently Soto is at High-A Kinston and holds a 3.02 ERA and 3.22 K/BB ratio. Its numbers like these that I think have helped solidify his prospect status.
Largely unnoticed on most prospect lists, Soto has performed admirably at every level he's pitched thus far. He does not drool of ace potential like many other Tribe farmhands, but the ability to have a tall left-hander with strikeout potential in the middle of the rotation could be very valuable to any club.
Projection for a call-up: Mid-2013
Officially moved to the bullpen due to injury woes, Nick Hagadone still has filthy stuff that keeps him in the discussion of being a top-10 prospect.
Hagadone was recently promoted to Triple-A after he impressed at Double-A Akron with a 1.59 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate, but has struggled somewhat at his new level.
A 5.82 ERA doesn't scream late-inning reliever like many project him to be, but his 8.5 K/9 shows that he can still make guys miss and his ERA should settle out soon.
A left-hander that can hit 99 on the gun and possible even 100 as he moves further away from his arm injuries will always make the scouts interested.
Projection for a call-up: September 2011
The Indians' sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Bryson Myles has some intriguing upside.
Myles led the nation in SBs this past year with 53 for Stephen F. Austin College. That plus-plus speed is not his only great tool as he also can develop plus power much like a Carl Crawford type.
At 5'11" and 230 lbs, Myles has an interesting build for a baseball player, but that extra weight obviously doesn't slow him down.
Myles signed early out of the draft and already has logged some player time at short season Mahoning Valley where he has a .278/.366/.444 slash line. Myles has already hit one HR, a triple and stole three bases in his first 42 professional plate appearances.
If Myles continues to develop power and still shows off that plus-plus speed, he could be on the quick route to the Major Leagues.
Projection for a call-up: 2013
Tony Wolters was the Indians third-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft.
The 19-year-old shortstop doesn't hold an plus tools except his work ethic. Everyone raves about how he is a prototypical "baseball rat."
At Mahoning Valley this season, Wolters has a .297/.400/.486 slash line, making him look like a great top of the order hitter.
Wolters has a solid all-around game and has the ability to stay at shortstop throughout his pro career, which helps his prospect status staying at a premium position.
While an all-pro career may be unlikely for Wolters, he certainly will be a fan-favorite when he makes it to the bigs a few years down the road with his great attitude and solid all-around game.
Projection for a call-up: 2014
Quite possible the next Indian farmhand to make his Major League debut, Zach McAllister has been very impressive thus far at Triple-A Columbus.
The prospect acquired from the Yankees in the Austin Kearns deal, McAllister has a sparkling 2.93 ERA in 14 starts thus far.
McAllister's stuff isn't dominant, but he could very easily develop into a reliable innings eater. His fastball usually sits around the 90-92 range and can hit up to 94.
His arsenal includes a slider, curveball, sinker and changeup, neither of which real plus pitches. This isn't an issue since McAllister has always been a control specialist and relies on his sinker to get groundouts.
While McAllister struggled in 2010, his 2011 has revived his prospect status and makes him probably the next in line to be put on the Tribe's roster.
Projection for a call-up: Mid-2011
While he has yet to sign, I still included Dillon Howard on this list assuming he does so by the August 15 deadline.
Howard fell to Cleveland in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft after many considered him a first round talent. He came out of Searcy High School in Arkansas and is widely considered the best prospect to come out of the state in quite some time.
A deep arsenal makes Howard one to keep your eye on. A mid-90s fastball, slider, sinker and changeup that should all develop into plus pitches over time.
Howard struck out 118 batters in only 58 innings his senior year showing how he could be a dominant ace in the major leagues.
Coming out of high school, Howard is only 18 and could take some time to make it to the show; but once he does he could be a special one.
Projection for a call-up: 2015
A speedy and toolsy but raw athlete, LeVon Washington was originally the Tampa Bay Rays' top pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. He elected not to sign and then signed with Cleveland after being their second round pick in the 2010 draft.
Originally a second baseman, Washington switched to center-field his only year in Junior College since many scouts thought he graded out better at that position.
Washington has plus speed where scouts usually put him at either a 70 or 75 on the 20-80 rating scale for it. He also has good power for a center-fielder where he could hit around 15 dingers a year in his prime.
The Indians hold a lot of pitching in the minors, but lack in true blue-chip prospects at position players. Washington is the exemption to that as he could develop into a true start in the Major Leagues once his time comes.
Projection for a call-up: Mid-2014
Just like Howard, Lindor has yet to sign. Being the eighth overall pick in the draft, I expect him to also join the organization by the August 15 deadline.
Lindor is a true five-tool player. Defense is easily his best trait as he looks to be a future Gold Glover.
His offense though is nothing to scoff at. He could easily each double-digit homers and steal between 15-20 bases mostly with instincts rather than raw speed.
Lindor is only 17, so Tribe fans should temper their expectations and wait awhile for him to fully develop, but once he does he could be special.
Batting at the top of the lineup is probably where Lindor will end up, and he could keep that spot for a long time in Cleveland.
Projection for a call-up: 2014
It looks like Kipnis has still found himself as the Indians' second-best prospect as someone else has catapulted themselves into the top spot with a great pro debut.
Still, Kipnis is going to be a heck of a player once he reaches the Major Leagues.
Kipnis has a great slash line for a middle infielder at Triple-A Columbus: .292/.375/.502.
He has hit nine HRs and 3Bs while also belting 13 2Bs. Kipnis holds good speed and great instincts on the base-paths leading to 10 SBs.
Cord Phelps got the promotion to Cleveland ahead of him to platoon second base with Orlando Cabrera, but Kipnis could easily force his way into the lineup with the way he has been hitting thus far.
It may be another month or two before Kipnis makes his debut, but once he makes it up he is sure to stay for awhile.
Projection for a call-up: Mid to late 2011
Drew Pomeranz is just plain filthy.
At High-A Kinston, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft has a 1.81 ERA and 11.3 K/9 ratio.
Being a 6'5" southpaw holds arguably one of the best curveballs in the minors. Pomeranz's curveball is a plus-plus knuckle curve that is hard for just about anyone to hit and reminds many scouts of Cliff Lee's. His fastball also sits at about the 95 miles per hour range.
Like many other young pitchers, a changeup is what Pomeranz needs to develop. He rarely threw his in college since his fastball/curve combo is so lethal, but he'll need it to pitch effectively in the majors.
Still, that should not be a problem for Pomeranz who is already very well polished as a pitcher.
Cleveland is in need of some left-handers in their rotation, and might not have to wait long for Pomeranz to fill that role. He has Cy Young-winner potential and I expect him to take the same path to the major leagues Alex White did except without the finger injury.
Projection for a call-up: Mid 2012