CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony S... (11/30)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Washingt... (11/24)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Chicago ... (12/03)
Next Article >>
Transaction Analysis: ... (12/01)

November 30, 2010

Future Shock

Cleveland Indians Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: An excellent 2010 draft adds more talent to one of the deepest in the game.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Four-Star Prospects
3. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
4. Alex White, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
5. LeVon Washington, OF
6. Nick Weglarz, OF
7. Joe Gardner, RHP
8. Jason Knapp, RHP
9. Tony Wolters, SS

10. Cord Phelps, 2B/3B
11. Kyle Blair, RHP

Nine More:

12. Bryce Stowell, RHP: This power reliever whiffed 102 over 67 1/3 innings in 2010; his upper-90s fastball should reach the majors in 2011.
13. Alex Lavisky, C: He was the high school catcher of Pirates RHP Stetson Allie; Lavisky has athleticism, defensive skills, and power projection.
14. Nick Hagadone, LHP: His velocity isn't all the way back from Tommy John surgery, while command and control are still big issues.
15. Austin Adams, RHP: This small but athletic righty has above-average velocity and control.
16. Zach Putnam, RHP: Another potential part of 2011 major-league bullpen, Putnam has a plus fastball and a split/change
17. Jess Todd, RHP: This former Cardinals prospect regressed in 2010, but he still has bullpen possibilities.
18. Jordan Henry, OF: Henry is a center fielder with speed and plate discipline but zero power.
19. Tyler Holt, OF: A 10th-round pick similar to Henry, Holt has less speed but more strength. He could move up this year.
20. T.J. House, LHP: Making slow and steady progress, House will find that Double-A will his test ability to miss bats.

1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
DOB
: 4/3/87
Height/Weight: 5-10/175
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Arizona State
2010 Stats: .300/.387/.478 at High-A (54 G); .311/.385/.502 at Double-A (79 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/arm

Year in Review: This 2009 second-round pick reached Double-A in his full-season debut and would have been among the Eastern League's top five in batting average and on-base percentage with enough at-bats.
The Good: Kipnis has a quick, compact stroke and consistently puts the thick part of the bat on the ball, leading to scouting projections of a high batting average with 15-20 home runs annually and a good enough batting eye to project as an on-base threat. Moved to second base in spring training, he took to the position well, projecting as average there with good instincts and surprisingly smooth actions. He gets high grades for his work ethic and all-out playing style.
The Bad: Kipnis will never be a Gold Glove defender as his range, like his speed, is merely average. His arm is weak, and his throwing motion a bit funky, but it's less of a hindrance at second. He needs to work on his double-play turn.
Ephemera: Nearly three-fourths of Kipnis' 23 hits in the Arizona Fall League went for extra bases, as he slugged 11 doubles, three triples, and three home runs in 78 at-bats.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a star-level offense-oriented second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He'll be above average for the position in every department except steals, where he'll hardly be an embarrassment.
Path to the Big Leagues: Depending on the numbers game, Kipnis will being the 2011 season at either Double-A Akron or Triple-A Columbus with the expectation that he'll be an everyday player in 2012.
ETA: Late 2011.

2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
DOB
: 10/4/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008, Pitt Community College (NC)
2010 Stats: .278/.351/.450 at Double-A (117 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/speed

Year in Review: The top hitter in the system recovered from a slow start with an excellent second half once he was fully healthy.
The Good: The most common word to describe Chisenhall's swing is “pretty.” It's quick, smooth, and gives him tremendous plate coverage with average-to-plus power to all fields. A shortstop as an amateur, he's matured into a solid third baseman with good hands and an arm that ranks a tick above average.
The Bad: Chisenhall is a below-average runner, but that's not a part of his game, so it's not an issue. He looks uncomfortable at times against left-handers, and hit just .234/.320/.383 against them in 2010. As much as scouts like him, few see true star potential.
Ephemera: Chisenhall was an 11th-round pick out of high school after earning North Carolina player of the year honors at West Carteret High School. Their crosstown rivals, East Carteret, produced 1991 first overall pick Brien Taylor.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an above-average everyday third baseman. Think the good version of Casey Blake, only with consistency.
Fantasy Impact: He'll have a solid batting average with 20-25 home runs per year.
Path to the Big Leagues: Chisenhall will begin 2011 at Columbus, and like Kipnis, he's expected to play a major role on the major-league team the following year.
ETA: Late 2011.

3. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
DOB
: 11/22/88
Height/Weight: 6-5/235
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Ole Miss
2010 Stats: Did Not Play (Signed late)
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/control

Year in Review: This huge left-hander survived a late-season slump to still be the first college pitcher drafted, going fifth overall and signing for $2.65 million.
The Good: Pomeranz has the kind of size and power arsenal rarely seen in a southpaw. His low-90s fastball consistently touches 94-95 mph, and his curveball rates even higher, as a plus-plus power biter that some thought was the best present breaking ball in the draft. His frame is built for stamina, and he showed the ability to maintain his stuff deep into games.
The Bad: Pomeranz's multi-part delivery has never been pretty, and he completely fell apart mechanically at times in the spring, leading to a loss of velocity and complete loss of command. His below-average changeup was rarely used in college and needs some improvement, just to give him another secondary pitch.
Ephemera: Pomeranz is the fourth with his last name to be drafted, as older brother Stuart was a second-round pick by the Cardinals in 2003, his father Mike a 13th-round selection by the Twins in 1988, and his uncle Pat was an 18th-round choice by the White Sox in 1983.
Perfect World Projection: While it requires some dreaming, Pomeranz certainly has the stuff from the left side to develop into a star-level starter.
Fantasy Impact: He'll log plenty of strikeouts, but walks could hurt the WHIP.
Path to the Big Leagues: Pomeranz will being the year at High-A Kinston, and he'll move as fast as his command and control take him.
ETA: 2013.

4. Alex White, RHP
DOB
: 8/29/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, University of North Carolina
2010 Stats: 2.86 ERA (44.0-32-19-41) at High-A (8 G); 2.28 ERA (106.2-91-27-76) at Double-A (18 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Splitter/slider

Year in Review: The Indians' 2009 first-round pick not only reached Double-A in his full-season debut, but pitched well there.
The Good: White keeps runners off base with a unique repertoire. His sinking fastball is a tick above average and touches 94 mph, and he throws strikes with it to set up a plus-plus split-fingered pitch, which tumbles out of the strike zone and gives even the most advanced of hitters fits. He's loose-armed and athletic, with no history of injuries.
The Bad: White's style gives some scouts pause, and he lacks a consistent breaking ball. He's been working on a slider to add a horizontal element to his game, and while it improved throughout the season, it's still a below-average offering. With primarily the two-pitch mix, he missed far fewer bats at Double-A.
Ephemera: Despite being one of the strongest programs in college baseball with more than 70 pitchers being drafted, including 11 in the first round, Scott Bankhead's 57 wins ranks first among hurlers taken out of North Carolina.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good mid-rotation innings-eater.
Fantasy Impact: It's not bad, but nothing spectacular either.
Path to the Big Leagues: White is ready for Triple-A and should make his big-league debut at some point in the 2011 season. Like many top prospects in the system, 2012 is the target year.
ETA: Late 2011.

5. Levon Washington, OF
DOB
: 7/26/91
Height/Weight: 5-11/170
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010, Chipola Junior College (FL)
2010 Stats: .444/.583/.444 at Rookie (3 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/arm

Year in Review: This unsigned 2009 first-rounder, who was selected by the Rays, was a bit of a disappointment in junior college, but the Indians still gave him first-round money as a second-round pick.
The Good: Washington's overall tools rank with anyone in the system. He's a plus-plus runner and a strong, compactly-built athlete who projects for double-digit home run power. Backing all of that up is a good idea of the strike zone and fundamentally sound hitting mechanics.
The Bad: Questions about a consistent effort have dogged Washington since high school, as he seems to take at-bats off at times, while his jumps and routes in the outfield need work. His arm is below average after pre-season shoulder surgery, but is expected to return to average. Scouts are mixed on his ultimate power projection.
Ephemera: Washington played at Buchholz High School in Florida, the same school that produced Andrew Miller, who was also drafted by the Rays (third round, 2003) and failed to sign.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a center fielder and leadoff man with a bit of power.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a big fantasy player with average, stolen bases, and even double-digit home runs.
Path to the Big Leagues: Washington is the most exciting young player in the system, but he's going to take a while, beginning the 2011 season at Low-A Lake County.
ETA: 2014.

6. Nick Weglarz, OF
DOB
: 12/16/87
Height/Weight: 6-3/240
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2005, Lakeshore Catholic HS (Ontario, Canada)
2010 Stats: .285/.387/.511 at Double-A (37 G); .286/.392/.497 at Triple-A (50 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/defense

Year in Review: This corner outfielder spent time with one of the best upper-level teams while slugging a career-high .503, but once again, his season was derailed by an injury (thumb).
The Good: Weglarz has a big league-ready approach, as he rarely commits to pitches outside of the strike zone and has a career rate of one walk for every 5.5 at-bats. He has plus-plus raw power and is capable of putting on a show in batting practice. Scouts noted much improved pure hitting skills over the past year, leaving them with more confidence that he'll hit for a solid batting average.
The Bad: Six years into his career, Weglarz is still significantly more raw than real, hitting just 13 home runs in 312 at-bats in 2010. He's a bulky, unathletic player who is downright slow on the basepaths and a liability in left field. He has a long injury history, and for some has already earned a 'prone' label, having missed nearly all of the 2006 season and not playing more than 106 games in any of the last three seasons.
Ephemera: All six of Weglarz's Triple-A home runs came with the bases empty, as he slugged .636 in those situations, as opposed to a .316 mark with zero home runs in 76 at-bats with runners on.
Perfect World Projection: He could have the kind of power and patience one normally associates with first basemen and left fielders.
Fantasy Impact: He'll be a power source, but unless your league values OBP, he won't be an early pick.
Path to the Big Leagues: Weglarz will be part of a talented team at Columbus, and like many of those ranked ahead of him, he should reach the big leagues at some point during the year.
ETA: Late 2011.

7. Joe Gardner, RHP
DOB: 3/18/88
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2009, UC Santa Barbara
2010 Stats: 3.24 ERA (25.0-17-11-38) at Low-A (6 G); 2.65 ERA (122.1-85-51-104) at High-A (22 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Sinker/control

Year in Review: This third-round pick in 2009 dominated at Low-A and didn't slow down much following a promotion to the Carolina League, limiting hitters to a .197 batting average on the season.
The Good: Gardner's sinker is among the best in the minors. Coming in at 90-93 mph, the pitch was described by one scout as “an absolute bowling ball” and led to one of the highest ground-ball ratios in the game. He's a big, physical pitcher with smooth arm action and a solid changeup to keep hitters off-balance.
The Bad: There are open questions as to how dominant Gardner can be at the upper levels without a swing-and-miss offering. His low three-quarters arm slot and sweepy slider could leave him highly susceptible to left-handers as he moves up the ladder.  His sinker has so much movement, that he has trouble throwing it for strikes at times.
Ephemera: Beyond striking out 38 over 25 innings in his six starts for Kinston, Gardner's ground-ball ratio over that time was an astounding 6.40/1.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be an innings-eating ground-ball machine.
Fantasy Impact: He has way more real-world value.
Path to the Big Leagues: Gardner will face his first big test in 2011 by beginning the year at Akron.
ETA: Late 2012.

8. Jason Knapp, RHP
DOB
: 8/31/90
Height/Weight: 6-5/235
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2008, North Hunterdon HS (NJ) (Phillies)
2010 Stats: 1.46 ERA (12.1-5-4-18) at Rookie (5 G); 3.94 ERA (16.0-12-8-29) at Low-A (4 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: This electric arm acquired from the Phillies in the first Cliff Lee deal came back from shoulder surgery to miss plenty of bats. 
The Good: Knapp has some of the best velocity in the system, sitting at 94-96 mph and touching 99. He gets good spin on a power breaking ball that projects as average to plus down the road. He is a big, intimidating presence on the mound and pitches with an aggressive style. 
The Bad: Knapp is still far more of a thrower than a pitcher, with little feel for his craft. He has yet to pitch more than 100 innings in a season, already has a history of arm troubles, and his mechanics are ugly, leading to frequent command and control issues. That combination has most projecting a relief role for him in the future. His changeup is poor and his curveball is inconsistent. 
Ephemera: Left-handers facing Knapp in 2010 went 7-for-42 with 25 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: He's a power pitcher, but more likely in relief than starting.
Fantasy Impact: His stuff is closer-worthy, so he could be a save source.
Path to the Big Leagues: Knapp has yet to stay healthy for an entire year, and he'll begin 2011 in the Kinston rotation with the hope that he can still be pitching in August.
ETA: 2013 (as a reliever).

9. Tony Wolters, SS
DOB
: 6/9/92
Height/Weight: 5-10/165
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2010, Rancho Buena Vista HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .211/.286/.211 at Rookie (5 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/run

Year in Review: Suspended from his high school team for attending private workouts, Wolters fell to the third round due to bonus demands before signing for $1.35 million.
The Good: One scout called Wolters “a pure baseball player and a joy to watch.” He has a mature approach and combines bat speed with excellent hand-eye coordination to rocket line drives all over the field with surprising power for his size. His defensive fundamentals are equally impressive thanks to outstanding hands, quick actions, and an accurate arm.
The Bad: A bet on Wolters is a bet on his hitting skills and the ability to move quickly, as he lacks top-level tools. He'll never be a power hitter, and for the most part he lacks the athleticism, in terms of both speed and arm strength to profile as a big-league shortstop.
Ephemera: Wolters is the highest of 11 players selected out of Rancho Buena Vista, whose most famous baseball alumni is former outfielder Dave Roberts, who was not drafted until he went to college.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an everyday player who provides above-average offense for a middle infielder.
Fantasy Impact: It's unlikely he'll ever put up big numbers in the power or stolen-base departments, but he can hit.
Path to the Big Leagues: Wolters will make his full-season debut at Lake County, and like Washington, he's more of a long-term project.
ETA: 2014.

10. Cord Phelps, 2B/3B
DOB
: 1/23/87
Height/Weight: 6-2/200
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2008, Stanford University
2010 Stats: .296/.346/.397 at Double-A (53 G); .317/.386/.506 at Triple-A (66 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/speed

Year in Review: This infielder recovered from a disappointing full-season debut to reach Triple-A and put himself in the picture for a big-league job.
The Good: Phelps gets the most out of  limited tools with baseball intelligence and fantastic instincts. He's a contact hitter with a solid approach, good feel for contact, and gap power. His defensive fundamentals are very good, and he proved to be a fine third baseman in the Arizona Fall League, with quick reactions and just enough arm to make the needed throws.
The Bad: Phelps will be a big-leaguer, but probably won't hit enough to be any more than a second-division starter, especially as a third baseman. While he squares balls up, there's no loft in his game. He's a below-average runner.
Ephemera: Phelps graduated summa cum laude at Santa Barbara High School, was a National AP and National Merit Scholar, was awarded a 2004 award for science and mathematics, and majored in human biology at Stanford.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a solid but unspectacular everyday infielder.
Fantasy Impact: Like the real world, he'll be solid but unspectacular.
Path to the Big Leagues: After playing third base exclusively in the Arizona Fall League, Phelps will get a long look this spring at one of Cleveland's weakest positions, but an Opening Day job is a long shot.
ETA: 2011.

11. Kyle Blair, RHP
DOB
: 9/27/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010, University of San Diego
2010 Stats: Did Not Play (Signed late)
Best/Worst Tool: Slider/fastball

Year in Review: Expected to develop into a first-round pick at San Diego, Blair instead was more good than great, signing for considerably less than he was offered out of high school by the Dodgers three years earlier.
The Good: Blair has a complete arsenal, using an 90-92 mph fastball to set up a cornucopia of secondary offerings, the best of which is a plus slider which many think will be a swing-and-miss pitch in the big leagues.
The Bad: Blair's average fastball is the worst of his offerings, and command issues prevent him from using it as a set-up pitch. He can become overly reliant on the slider, and will be more effective with deeper pitch sequencing. He's more of an is-what-he-is type as opposed to projectable arm.
Ephemera: Blair did not sign with the Dodgers in 2007 as a fifth-round pick out of Los Gatos High School, whose exterior is in the credits and various establishing shots in the television series "Saved By The Bell."
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a quality third or fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: He'll be neither a help nor a hindrance.
Path to the Big Leagues: Blair is polished enough to begin his pro career at Kinston if he shows enough this spring to earn the assignment.
ETA: 2013.

The Sleeper: Taiwanese catcher Chun-Hsui Chen hit .315/.404/.521 across two A levels last season, and would rank higher had his defensive reviews been more positive.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Carlos Santana, C
2. Chris Perez, RHP
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
5. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
6. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
7. Alex White, RHP
8. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
9. LeVon Washington, OF
10. Jeanmar Gomez, RHP

Santana was both the most exciting part of the Indians' 2010 regular season and the most disappointing, as a knee injury ended his Rookie of the Year chances. Expect him to pick up where he left off last summer and turn into a consistent All-Star. How many people are aware that Perez was among the most dominating closers in the game last year? After the All-Star break, he allowed just two runs and 15 hits over 28 2/3 innings, and the stuff is good enough for that not to be a fluke. Cabrera's year was interrupted by a broken arm, but he remains a good young shortstop who can both pick it and hit it. Carrasco had a nice rebound year and should be a good fourth starter (maybe a third starter if you are really optimistic) from here on out. Gomez struggled in his big-league stint, but he was rushed there and should fit into a back-end starter role thanks to command of a deep arsenal.

Summary: The Indians system is a difficult one to wrap your head around. It lacks the star power of an elite system, but at the same time, don't be surprised if it produces a greater number of big-leaguers than any organization in baseball.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

41 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony S... (11/30)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Washingt... (11/24)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Chicago ... (12/03)
Next Article >>
Transaction Analysis: ... (12/01)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week Four
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, Apr...
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Squandered Promise of the D...
Premium Article Explaining Spending
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Platoonies Never Say Die
Overthinking It: The Obligatory Article Abou...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Pineda and Pine Tar, ...

MORE FROM NOVEMBER 30, 2010
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony Sipp
Prospectus Perspective: Yankee Drama
Premium Article On the Beat: Tigers on the Off-Season Prowl
Transaction Analysis: NL East Ketchup
Transaction Analysis: NL Central Roster Move...

MORE BY KEVIN GOLDSTEIN
2010-12-06 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Adrian Gonzalez and Sh...
2010-12-03 - Premium Article Future Shock: Chicago Cubs Top 11 Prospects
2010-12-01 - BP Podcast: Episode 28: Go To Epcot, Share A...
2010-11-30 - Premium Article Future Shock: Cleveland Indians Top 11 Prosp...
2010-11-24 - Premium Article Future Shock: Washington Nationals Top 11 Pr...
2010-11-24 - BP Podcast: Episode 27: If You Like Nice Cri...
2010-11-19 - Premium Article Future Shock: Kansas City Royals Top 11 Pros...
More...

MORE FUTURE SHOCK
2010-12-14 - Future Shock: Houston Astros Top 11 Prospect...
2010-12-13 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten-Pack
2010-12-03 - Premium Article Future Shock: Chicago Cubs Top 11 Prospects
2010-11-30 - Premium Article Future Shock: Cleveland Indians Top 11 Prosp...
2010-11-24 - Premium Article Future Shock: Washington Nationals Top 11 Pr...
2010-11-19 - Premium Article Future Shock: Kansas City Royals Top 11 Pros...
2010-11-17 - Premium Article Future Shock: Baltimore Orioles Top 11 Prosp...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2014-03-19 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Filling First Base
2013-03-19 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Diamondbacks in the Rough
2012-06-06 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: First, Third, and DH for 6/6/12
2012-01-19 - Premium Article Future Shock: Indians Top 11 Prospects
2011-08-26 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Requiem for a Race
2011-06-29 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: AL: Welcome to the Part...
2011-04-21 - Premium Article Future Shock: I Can't Answer That Question
2011-03-02 - Future Shock: Organizational Ranking Haikus
2011-02-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks at First, Third an...
2011-02-24 - Premium Article Painting the Black: A Measure of Success
2011-01-25 - Prospectus Q&A: Drew Pomeranz