Michael Brantley Appears to Be Odd Man Out for Cleveland Indians

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIMarch 9, 2010

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This images was digitally desaturated.)  Michael Brantley #23 poses for a portrait during the Cleveland Indians Photo Day at the training complex at Goodyear Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

By baseball standards, Russell Branyan signing with the Cleveland Indians was a minor move.

However, that minor move had major ramifications for a couple of players on the Indians.

Branyan’s signing for 2010 meant that Matt LaPorta would be moving to left field and the man LaPorta was traded with to the Indians, Michael Brantley, was out of a starting job.

Not only was Brantley out of a starting job, but now it also appears likely he will begin the year in the minor leagues.

By sending Brantley down at the beginning of the year, the Indians could gain another year of service time out of Branyan, but the fact is that shouldn’t be the case. Brantley earned his stripes last year.

As I mentioned before, Brantley, along with LaPorta, came over to the Indians from the Milwaukee Brewers in the CC Sabathia trade in 2008. He was called up in September and hit .313 in 121 ABs. What was most impressive about his average is that he hit .462 against left-handed pitching (Brantley is a left-handed hitter).

While I believe Brantley will start the year in the minors, it will be only a matter of time before LaPorta moves back to first base and Brantley gets called up and mans his position in left field—a position he should have for quite some time.

Here are some other facts about Brantley:

Age: 22

Bats: Left

Throws: Left

College: None. Drafted out of Central High School in Fort Pierce, FL

Drafted: Seventh round of the 2005 draft

Minor League Stats

2005 Rookie: .343 with zero home runs, 16 SBs, and a .426 OBP in 54 games

2006 Single-A: .300 with zero home runs, 24 SBs, and a .402 OBP in 108 games

2007 Single-A and Double-A: .296 with two home runs, 35 SBs, and a .373 OBP in 115 games

2008 Double-A: .319 with four home runs, 28 SBs, and a .395 OBP in 106 games

2009 Triple-A: .267 with six home runs, 46 SBs, and a 350 OBP in 116 games

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: No. 71 out of 100 best prospects in baseball in 2010

Analysis: “Brantley has some of the best bat control of anyone on this list, with an improving eye at the plate and above-average speed that all plays up because of his feel for the game. He keeps his hands back incredibly well, letting the ball travel and then ripping the bat through the zone and showing the ability to shoot an outside pitch down the left field line.

He can run but, more importantly, is a very high-percentage base stealer who reads pitchers well, stealing on over 81 percent of attempts in his minor league career. He’s a good center fielder who could probably play center every day for a number of teams, but won’t get that chance in Cleveland unless Grady Sizemore gets hurt again.

Brantley’s main liability is lack of power, which may limit his ability to play in an outfield corner unless he hits and reaches base at the top end of his abilities—which he might very well do given his instincts and ability to square up so many pitches.”

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