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November 27, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Indians list

The Top Ten

  1. SS Francisco Lindor
  2. OF Clint Frazier
  3. CF Tyler Naquin
  4. RHP Cody Anderson
  5. C Francisco Mejia
  6. 2B Jose Ramirez
  7. SS Ronny Rodriguez
  8. SS Dorssys Paulino
  9. 2B Joe Wendle
  10. RHP Dace Kime

1. Francisco Lindor
Position: SS
DOB: 11/14/1993
Height/Weight: 5’11” 175 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Montverde HS (Montverde, FL)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #10 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .289/.407/.395 at Double-A Akron (21 games), .306/.373/.410 at Hi-A Carolina (83 games)
The Tools: 7 glove; 6 arm; 6+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: As a 19-year-old, Lindor made his way to the Double-A level, showing skills on all sides of the ball and securing his status as one of the top prospects in baseball.

Strengths: Incredible instincts for the game; near elite potential with the glove; silky actions; excellent backhand pickup; range plays up; arm is plus; total package at shortstop; balanced at the plate; clean path into the ball; consistent contact from both sides of the plate; advanced approach; tracks and reacts very well; good baserunner despite average speed; makeup is plus.

Weaknesses: Hit tool might lack impact; could play below projection and play to (only) solid-average; contact can be soft and slappy; well below-average power; not a burner; doesn’t play for your team.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player

Realistic Role: 6; first-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited Double-A experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: One of the ultimate fantasy vs. reality prospects, Lindor does not have nearly the shine in our world as he does for the Indians—unless your league counts defensive statistics. A potential .300 hitter at the major-league level, he just doesn’t project to have the power or speed at this point to have top-five shortstop upside in standard leagues. He gets a tick up in points leagues due to his approach at the plate.

The Year Ahead: Lindor is likely to reach the major-league level as a 20-year-old, as his glove is a game changer and his overall approach will make him a tough out even if the bat falls short of high-end projection. What makes Lindor special is the ease with which he plays baseball, as he shows an intrinsic feel for all aspects of the game, which could allow his already highly projected tools to play beyond their assumed limitations. He’s going to be a fixture at the major-league level for the next 15 years.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Clint Frazier
Position: OF
DOB: 09/06/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Loganville HS (Loganville, GA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .297/.362/.506 at complex level AZL (44 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6+ potential power; 5+ arm; 6 run; 5 glove

What Happened in 2013: The fifth overall pick in the draft, Frazier showed all five tools in his 44-game complex-level debut.

Strengths: Fast-twitch athlete; good present strength; bat speed is near elite; impressive hands/wrists; easy plus power potential; solid-average arm; solid-average to plus run; glove could play to average; plays with intensity.

Weaknesses: Glove in center is current underdeveloped/below average; sources mixed on ability to stick up the middle; aggressive at the plate; tendency to expand the zone; lots of swing-and-miss; risk in the hit tool.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player

Realistic Role: 6; first-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex-level resume; ultimate ceiling depends on ability to stay up the middle.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The top fantasy prospect in this system (with a bullet), Frazier has all the tools you’d want to see from a future franchise player. He can hit, hit for power, steal bases—and once the season starts, any chance to pay a reasonable price for him may be gone. Behind only Kris Bryant, Frazier is the second best fantasy prospect from the 2013 draft.

The Year Ahead: Frazier might not look the part of a future all-star (aesthetically), but he certainly fits the bill physically, with legit five-tool potential and the makeup to make it work. If you believe in the up-the-middle projection, you believe Frazier is a future all-star, an impact player on all sides of the ball. Even if you aren’t sold on his future in center, the end result could be a .285-plus hitter with 25-plus bombs in a corner, more than enough to earn a first-division label. Frazier’s likely to jump straight to the full-season level in 2014, and he could emerge as a top 10 prospect in the game by the end of the year.

Major league ETA: Late 2016

3. Tyler Naquin
Position: CF
DOB: 04/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 175 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
Previous Ranking: #8 (Org)
2013 Stats: .225/.271/.300 at Double-A Akron (18 games), .277/.345/.424 at Hi-A Carolina (108 games)
The Tools: 7 arm; 5+ glove; 5+ potential hit; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: I wasn’t a believer in Naquin coming into the season, but the 22-year-old outfielder took big steps forward throughout the season, culminating in an eye-opening run in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: The glove has really improved; plays solid-average; arm is true weapon; plus-plus arm strength; good athlete; runs well; swing has improved; shows good bat speed and line-drive ability.

Weaknesses: Some still question ability to hit quality pitching; some swing-and-miss in the zone; will chase off-speed; power is below-average; could end up with a tweener profile.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/fourth outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited exposure to Double-A

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A more interesting prospect for deeper leagues, Naquin may not be able to provide the type of punch that those in 10- and 12-team leagues are looking for in an outfielder—and that’s not just a power thing. He does not project to have impact in any individual fantasy category, but double-digit steals and homers with a reasonable batting average can help in the right format. He could do Michael Brantley things in fantasy.

The Year Ahead: I was wrong about Naquin in 2013, as he took steps forward in the field and at the plate, turning some of his biggest doubters into skeptical believers. While its not a given that he develops to his potential, he looks like a no-doubt major leaguer with a carrying weapon in the arm and enough athleticism to handle center field. The bat might be unremarkable, but he has shown the ability to make adjustments and improve his swing, so I wouldn’t be as quick as I once was to discount his potential.

Major league ETA: 2015

4. Cody Anderson
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/14/1990
Height/Weight: 6’4” 220 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 14th round, 2011 draft, Feather River College (Quincy, CA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 5.68 ERA (12.2 IP, 16 H, 10 K, 9 BB) at Double-A Akron, 2.34 ERA (123.1
IP, 105 H, 112 K, 31 BB) at Hi-A Carolina
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 potential SL

What Happened in 2013: A 14th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Anderson had successfully stayed under the prospect radar until he took a big step forward in the Carolina League, missing bats with a much-improved secondary arsenal.

Strengths: Big, strong frame; good arm action; fastball works 91-95; good sink; can work higher in bursts; slider is a future plus pitch; sharp with good tilt; shows average curveball that he can get over; feel for strike throwing; workhorse potential

Weaknesses: More control than command; struggles to finish his delivery and will work up/find contact; curveball is inconsistent; rotation gets loose and movement slurvy; shows changeup but it’s currently below average; deliberate.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited exposure to high minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: He’s a name for fantasy more because of proximity than upside, as Anderson likely does not have the strikeout potential you’d ideally want in a starter. That said, he has the profile to put up a solid WHIP with potentially strong control and fly-ball tendencies—but hopefully those tendencies don’t get him into too much trouble.

The Year Ahead: It’s not sexy but the profile points to a workhorse starter at the highest level, and if you can get that out of a 14th-round pick, you take it all day long. He can pitch off his fastball, although his command needs to improve and he needs to keep the ball down because his stuff isn’t all that lively up in the zone and it finds barrels. The slider could be a plus breaking ball, and he shows the curveball enough for it to change sightlines and timing. But the secondary stuff isn’t knockout, so the ceiling is limited to mid-rotation. He needs another year in Double-A before he’s ready for the majors, but he has a chance to be a solid-average pitcher as soon as 2015.

Major league ETA: 2015

5. Francisco Mejia
Position: C
DOB: 10/27/1995
Height/Weight: 5’10” 175 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .305/.348/.524 at complex level AZL (30 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit; 6 potential power; 7+ arm; 5+ potential glove

What Happened in 2013: Mejia made his professional debut, flashing plus bat speed and plus-plus arm strength in the Arizona League.

Strengths: Balanced setup and easy swing; shows plus bat speed from both sides of the plate; natural hitting ability; plus power potential; arm strength is near elite; glove could get to solid-average eventually; good makeup reports.

Weaknesses: Still very raw and unrefined; makes good contact but approach is aggressive; footwork behind the plate needs work; receiving skills are underdeveloped; impact arm but utility isn’t there yet.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division/all-star

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Extreme risk; dual-threat profile; complex-level resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you like to bet on raw tools, Mejia is certainly someone to target. In fact, outside of Jorge Alfaro, there may not be a catcher in the minor leagues with more fantasy upside than him. With that said, he is forever away both in terms of ETA and development, so let’s all just take a deep breath here. Or at least try to.

The Year Ahead: This kid has monster potential, with the type of bat speed you can’t teach and a rocket arm from a premium defensive position. He will play the entire 2014 season as an 18-year-old, so there is no reason to rush him; I expect him to start in extended spring training before moving on to the New York-Penn League. Outside of Lindor and Frazier, Mejia has the highest ceiling on the farm, and even though he comes with a tremendous risk, the payoff could be enormous.

Major league ETA: 2018

6. Jose Ramirez
Position: 2B
DOB: 09/17/1992
Height/Weight: 5’9” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: .333/.429/.500 at major-league level (15 games), .272/.325/.349 at Double-A Akron (113 games)
The Tools: 5+ hit; 6+ run; 5+ glove

What Happened in 2013: As a 20-year-old, Ramirez started the season in Double-A and unexpectedly found himself in the major leagues at the end of the season, where the diminutive infielder hit over .300 in a 15-game sample.

Strengths: Good bat-to-ball skills; limited size but good pop in the bat; line-drive swing; shows bat speed (especially from right side) and balance; easy plus run; very good glove at second; has some defensive versatility; good overall fundamentals.

Weaknesses: Hit tool could be above average but power will play well below average; down the lineup bat at best; arm is fringe; not a good fit for the left side of the infield; left-handed bat isn’t as strong; bat speed not as good.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major leaguer/utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Ramirez has the now skills to contribute to a fantasy roster given playing time. Unfortunately for him, that playing time is going to be tough to come by as long as he’s behind one of the best second basemen in the game. With 30-plus-steal potential and a career 7.9 percent strikeout rate in the minors, Ramirez can contribute in both roto and points leagues.

The Year Ahead: Ramirez was rushed to the majors in 2013, and could use another pass through the high minors before he’s ready for a full-time position at the highest level. He can make contact at the plate, and that brings his legs into the equation, giving him a chance to hit for average. Power will not be a part of his game, but he can still drive mistakes, especially from the right side of the plate. The glove is very good, but the arm will limit his effectiveness off second, so if he is to develop into a starter, it will have to come at the keystone. But the floor is a good utility player, and there is minimal risk in that outcome.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

7. Ronny Rodriguez
Position: SS
DOB: 04/17/1992
Height/Weight: 6’0” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org)
2013 Stats: .265/.291/.376 at Double-A Akron (116 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 6 potential power; 6+ arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2013: After a solid but not spectacular High-A season in 2012, Rodriguez moved up a level and fell a bit short of solid, as the toolsy infielder offered some flash but very little consistency.

Strengths: Exciting tools; fast hands on both sides of the ball; big bat speed; power potential is there; arm is very strong; weapon from second; good actions.

Weaknesses: Very aggressive at the plate; fooled by off-speed stuff; tries to yank outside offerings to the pull side; doesn’t work counts; good athlete but not a plus runner; smooth actions but will make fundamental errors; range is better to glove side, but not ideal for shortstop; power has yet to show up in games.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major leaguer/utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; despite Double-A experience, wide gap between present/future grades.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you’re in an OBP league, you can probably start moving onto the next player already. Rodriguez has the tools to hit .270 with 20 homers at a middle infield position, but with Kipnis/Lindor taking those positions long term, his future may be at third—where those numbers would be less impactful. With his performance and eligibility risk, Rodriguez is a good flier, but just a flier.

The Year Ahead: Rodriguez has impact potential based on his raw tools, but he has yet to put the package together on the field. He shows impressive bat speed and big-play ability at second, but frustrates scouts with his inconsistency and tool utility. He could use a return trip to Double-A, where he could work to refine his approach and bring his plus tools into game action. If he clicks, he’s a legit major leaguer with above-average potential, but he’s still a high-risk, boom/bust type despite his age and level.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Dorssys Paulino
Position: SS
DOB: 11/21/1994
Height/Weight: 6’ 0” 175 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #96 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .246/.297/.349 at Low-A Lake County (120 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 6 potential power; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the (then) 18-year-old struggled against much older competition in a tough hitter’s league, but he did manage to produce 36 extra-base hits in 120 games for Lake County.

Strengths: Legit projections on the bat, both hit and power; good hands; generates above-average bat speed; swing has natural lift; line drives will eventually turn into over the fence power; arm is strong; has good straight-line speed

Weaknesses: Glove is below average; lacks the quickness or instincts for shortstop; profiles better at third or second; approach is aggressive; struggles against spin/off-speed; some makeup concerns.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major league

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; long developmental road; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Like Rodriguez before him, the combination of performance and eligibility risk weighs heavily on Paulino’s value—but for fantasy purposes, I’d take him fifth in this system (over Naquin and Anderson) even after losing some prospect luster. He’s not worth dropping for that next big thing yet.

The Year Ahead: I’m not quick to write off Paulino as a prospect just because he struggled (on all sides of the ball) in his full-season debut. The scouting reports did sour a bit on the player, as the reality of defensive skill set became clearer and the pressure on the bat increased as a result. Despite the defensive profile, I think Paulino is going to hit, eventually bringing above-average power to the table. He’ll probably struggle for a while as the approach is aggressive and better arms can exploit his taste for fastballs, but the bat will find a way to play and the value will come from that. His prospect status will ebb and flow as a result, but he’s super young and has very good bat speed, so that buys him a lot of developmental leeway.

Major league ETA: Late 2016

9. Joe Wendle
Position: 2B
DOB: 04/26/1990
Height/Weight: 5’11” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2012 draft, West Chester University of Pennsylvania (West Chester, PA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .295/.372/.513 at High-A Carolina (107 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: A sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Wendle isn’t exactly a toolshed, but he showed off his ability to square up a baseball in the Carolina League and continued that trend in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Natural bat-to-ball ability; smooth, easy stroke from the left side; no frills; regular hard contact; good approach; works himself into favorable counts; okay pop; baseball skills.

Weaknesses: Lacks impact tools; hit tool only carrying attribute; below-average glove; arm isn’t a weapon; below-average run; pop but not over-the-fence power projection; very limited profile.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; hit is only carrying tool

Fantasy Future: Wendle put himself on the map with a very strong season, but it’s not wise to read too much into it from a fantasy perspective right now. The power and speed just don’t project particularly well, and middle infield is the biggest source of organizational depth for the Indians.

The Year Ahead: Wendle isn’t a sexy prospect, and you can argue that he was old for High-A and was expected to produce good numbers at the plate. This ranking has nothing to do with his numbers; rather, this ranking has everything to do with the scouting, more specifically, his hit tool, which several sources said has a chance to really play at the highest level. He’s always going to be limited in the field, and without much power, he’s unlikely to be an impact stick, but the kid can hit a baseball, and with a fundamental approach to the game has a chance to maximize his limited skill set and bring the bat-to-ball ability to the highest level. He will move up to Double-A in 2014, and I absolutely expect him to keep hitting. Again, this is not a sexy prospect and he’s easy to discount, but guys who can hit find a way to carve out major-league careers, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Wendle holding his own against major-league pitching in the next few seasons.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Dace Kime
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/06/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2013 draft, University of Louisville (Louisville, KY)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 2.92 ERA (24.2 IP, 19 H, 26 K, 16 BB) at short-season Mahoning Valley
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5+ CT; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: More of a bullpen arm in college, the Indians view Kime as a long-term starter, as he has all the necessary ingredients to make it work in that role.

Strengths: Big, strong frame; good arm strength; good arm action; fastball works low 90s (90-92); can go get more when he needs it; good plane; cutter is above-average; late and sharp; can turn over a changeup that shows above-average potential.

Weaknesses: Below-average command at present; fastball can look pedestrian; too true and visible when elevated; cutter is more of an escape pitch than a bat misser; lacks a true plus offering; tendency to cast changeup.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter/long relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional experience

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s plenty of value to having pitchers like Kime in your organization, but when it comes to fantasy, you’re better off targeting players with more upside. A lot would have to go right for him to be fantasy viable in anything other than very deep leagues.

The Year Ahead: Kime’s command is going to improve, as the arm action and delivery are good and he controls his body well. The stuff isn’t especially nasty, but he could end up with three solid-average pitches and the physicality to log innings in a rotation. If the stuff ticks up as he adjusts to the role, he might have more in the tank than just a backend starter, which is why his status is higher than most arms with his profile. When you get a guy with good size, a good delivery and good arm action, never discount the stuff even if it only looks to be average. He is a good candidate to step forward in 2014 when he makes his full-season debut.

Major league ETA: 2016


Prospects on the Rise:
1. OF Anthony Santander:
The young outfielder was featured as an On the Rise player on last season’s list, and a tepid full-season debut didn’t elevate his status like I expected. But I really like this kid and I think he’s going to hit. It’s a corner profile, but Santander has feel for the game and a really good-looking swing from the left side, so I’m staying on this bandwagon and encouraging others to do so as well.

2. SS Erik Gonzalez: It’s a glove-first profile, but his ability to play a legit shortstop gives him value. He’s unlikely to emerge as a top 10 prospect (in any system), but if the bat can take a step forward, Gonzalez could have a major-league future, most likely as a utility option. Again, not the sexiest prospect on the planet, but don’t discount the ability to play the shortstop position at the highest level. These guys find a way to stick around and play roles on 25-man rosters.

3. 1B/DH: Nellie Rodriguez: A 15th-round pick in 2012, Rodriguez has big raw power from the right side, and has a chance to make it play as he climbs the professional ladder. It’s a tough profile, as he’s already marooned at first base, but the bat has a chance to carry the value, and a strong full-season debut could propel him up prospects lists in 2014.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. 1B Jesus Aguilar: Aguilar has a case to be a top 10 prospect in the system, as the power has the potential to play at plus at the highest level. Sources aren’t sold that his hit tool is strong enough, and as a first-base-only type, he has to hit to have any value in the majors. But if you believe in the power he’s a top 10 prospect and potential second-division type. If you have doubts, you probably see a platoon bat at best. Regardless, he’s going to taste the major leagues in 2014.

2. RHP C.C Lee: It’s not an impact arm and a prolonged look vs. lefties could expose him as a situational type, but with a low-90s sinker and slider combo from a low ¾ slot, Lee has the stuff to play a role in a major-league bullpen.

3. RHP Shawn Armstrong: Live-armed righty with late-innings stuff but below-average command, Armstrong has a chance to not only reach the majors in 2014 but stick around at that level. When he can stay in his delivery, the former 18th-round pick can work in the mid-90s and touch higher, showing a hard cutter and low-80s breaking ball. The delivery isn’t conducive for command, but any step forward in that regard could turn the 23-year-old righty into a power arm in a late-innings capacity.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Younger (born 4/1/1988 or later)

  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Clint Frazier
  3. Danny Salazar
  4. Tyler Naquin
  5. Cody Anderson
  6. Trevor Bauer
  7. Francisco Mejia
  8. Jose Ramirez
  9. Ronny Rodriguez
  10. Dorssys Paulino

While Cleveland’s system and depth of young major-league talent is thin, the front of this list offers some potential key contributors over the long run for the organization. Top prospect Francisco Lindor easily takes the no. 1 slot. The switch-hitting shortstop features both the defensive and hitting talent to project out as an above-average regular, with the potential for some All-Star seasons. Lindor’s ability to continue to create solid contact will be tested in the upper minors, but the innate hand-to-eye coordination and outstanding bat control are strong clues that it can be a quick adjustment for the 20-year-old, and a shot at The Show may very well come this season.

The debate began with who would follow Lindor. Right-handed starter Danny Salazar rode the wave from Double-A to starting games down the stretch for the Indians, with his mid-90s fastball, hard slider, and changeup showing they can get big-league hitters out. The questions enter when looking at the future role. Will Salazar be able to log 180-200 innings a year, and will the stuff or health hold up if he does? Those questions, and a feel that the pitcher will settle in as more of a third or fourth starter, lead to slotting this year’s top draft pick Clint Frazier at no. 2. While there’s high risk given the amount of development in front of the outfielder, the talent and potential for impact are real, especially if he can stay in center. The combination of right-handed power and up-the-middle defense are very attractive, even if it is a handful of seasons away.

The rest of the list features prospects, outside of Trevor Bauer in the sixth slot. Tyler Naquin and Cody Anderson offer profiles of potential average major leaguers, with nearer-term ETAs. While neither of the ceilings are overly high, they’re the type of players who can fill valuable spots on the cheap and allow flexibility to spend on pressing needs. The enigmatic Bauer has the talent to be much higher on this list, but the application of that talent has been lacking since being acquired by the organization. The former third-overall pick needs to commit to making adjustments, which starts with refinding his delivery. Catcher Francisco Mejia is one to watch in the bottom half as the career progresses into full-season, and can push up much higher at this time next year as development strides begin to show. –Chris Mellen


A Parting Thought: The farm as a whole isn’t very impressive, as the depth stops near the surface and the ceilings of the downlist prospects don’t offer much to dream on. But the top layer of talent can be game changers, middle-of-the-diamond players with all-star potential who can alter the future of a franchise if they reach their potential.

***

Show your #want for the Indians here:

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

38 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Gotribe31

Great stuff, as always. Was a little surprised to see Naquil all the way up at #3. Any thoughts on Eric Haase's OFP/realistic role? I like his collection of tools, but wonder if he will hit enough.

Nov 27, 2013 05:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Gotribe31

*Naquin

Nov 27, 2013 05:08 AM
rating: 0
 
newsense

NyQuil -he's a sleeper.

Nov 27, 2013 13:52 PM
rating: 12
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He was definitely in the mix for the top ten; I've liked him in the past. The reports weren't high on his bat, especially the way he looked against arm-side stuff. It's probably a backup role, but I still like the player and he might bring more.

As for Naquin, I was little surprised myself, because I've never been high on him. But I can't discount the developmental progress he's made, and highly trusted sources came around on him throughout the season and during the AFL. I always had some makeup concerns with Naquin, and I think the profile was a bit of a tweener. But with an improved swing and a better chance of sticking around in center, the profile has improved a great deal and he looks like a player that could be a major league regular at an up-the-middle position. Huge value in that.

Nov 27, 2013 05:58 AM
 
Gotribe31

Thanks! Doubling-down on my Indians catcher fetish, any thoughts on Wolters transition? Tough move to make, even with someone flashing 80 #want. Saw him in May and again in August last year, and the difference was remarkable behind the plate.

Nov 27, 2013 08:03 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

It's reductive, but Wolters is just a good baseball player. He's an interesting guy behind the plate given his arm and athleticism. He's obviously not a great receiver yet, but he works his ass off and has the makeup to handle the rigors of development from that position. Unfortunately, he's just not a big time prospect. I can see a future as a major league bench player, one that can play catcher, some infield, etc. But the bat lacks impact, so I don't see a major league regular. Nice player to have in the org, though.

Nov 27, 2013 08:39 AM
 
Behemoth

Would you see Lindor having enough bat to hit at the top of the order, or do you think it's more likely that he ends up somewhere towards the back end of a lineup?

If I can get a second question, am I reading you right to assume that Ramirez can play just enough short to be a decent utility guy?

Nov 27, 2013 05:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think Lindor has a chance to be a #2 type in a lineup, but I think its more realistic to assume he becomes a down lineup bat.

Ramirez isn't ideal on the left-side, but he can make it work in a utility role if necessary. With a guy like Lindor in the org, he's probably not going to get many reps at the spot. That said, I like this player. He's not an impact type, but he brings a lot to the table and he's still quite young with more development in the tank. The numbers won't be great, but he's a good player.

Nov 27, 2013 06:02 AM
 
Deech

What's your opinion on Carlos Moncreif? Converted to OF he had made huge improvements as high as AA and he was only 24. He's an excellent defender and the Tribe talks him up big. I think it was a mistake to not make not of him. His combination of power/obp/speed/defense is very intriguing.

Nov 27, 2013 06:14 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He's okay. He can hit a little and has pop for the minors. But I don't think its a mistake to exclude a 25-years-old corner outfielder with a bat that doesn't project to average at the major league level. I can see him as a Factor on the farm; a player that can contribute to the major league team in 2014. But I don't see a top ten prospect.

Nov 27, 2013 06:23 AM
 
achaik

Have you had eyes on Mejia? Any comps in terms of prospects you have seen with similar skill set at that age and level?

Nov 27, 2013 07:56 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yep. We've seen him; have video; have six sources on the kid. I don't have a comp, nor do I want to throw that on a player so young and inexperienced. It's a very promising skill-set, but high risk given the dual development required. He has serious bat speed and very good hand/eye coordination. Add a 7+ arm into the equation from a premium spot and it creates the opportunity for something special. Will he get there? Most don't.

Nov 27, 2013 08:35 AM
 
BobcatBaseball

What's the difference right now in terms of defense between Lindor and Carlos Correa?

Nov 27, 2013 08:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Lindor is at least a full grade better at the position. Lindor is a monster at SS.

Nov 27, 2013 08:08 AM
 
lopkhan00

Personally, I'd love to see a round table discussion comparing all the shiny new shortstops bubbling up: Lindor, Correa, Bogaerts, Russell, Profar, etc. With maybe a consideration of how they might stack up against great SS groups from the past - like the Jeter, ARod, Garciaparra and then Tejada, period.

Nov 27, 2013 08:30 AM
rating: 12
 
mrenick

I agree. I would love to read a piece like that.

Nov 27, 2013 11:21 AM
rating: 1
 
Behemoth

+1 to this idea.

Nov 28, 2013 03:25 AM
rating: 0
 
bg2388

Speaking of possible middle infield impact talent. I can't wait to see what Baez does this year.

Nov 28, 2013 17:14 PM
rating: 1
 
glover6ss

I know Luigi Rodriguez missed a ton of time this year. What is your view on him at this point?

Nov 27, 2013 08:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He's fun to watch, so he was in the mix. I had Monsalve right on the edge of the top ten, with Luigi close behind him in the queue.

Nov 27, 2013 08:36 AM
 
APV2600

What about some of the young, newer pitchers in the system. I know they are a mighty long way from Cleveland, but any hope for guys like Baker, Brown, Brady, Lovegrove, Hamrick, or Mathews?

Nov 27, 2013 08:56 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

More reliever grades put on Baker than expected; good FB/CB combo, but delivery and arm action not ideal for rotation; poor reports on Brady; FB was below-average; secondary stuff projects as average at best; Brown was similar to Brady; fringe-average to solid-average stuff; middle-relief type ceiling/perhaps a below-average starter.

Nov 27, 2013 09:25 AM
 
APV2600

#sadface

Nov 27, 2013 09:51 AM
rating: 0
 
CambTribe

How about Shane Casey? Along with Brady, a HS pitcher from the 2012 draft who signed for overslot, and one of the youngest players from the draft, if I remember correctly.

Nov 27, 2013 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
CambTribe

Or rather, 2013 draft.

Nov 27, 2013 14:49 PM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

So with the good young talent about to come up and the Tigers bad combination of a bare prospect cupboard and salary constraints, what's the expected year of Cleveland Displacing Detroit at the power in the division? I was thinking 2015, but it might be next year.

Nov 27, 2013 09:13 AM
rating: 0
 
tonynelson19

I could be wrong, but I don't think Cleveland's system is drastically better than Detroit's. Both have solid guys at the top (Castellanos, Lindor, Frazier), but I see a lot of role 4 players rounding out the top 10.

Nov 27, 2013 10:23 AM
rating: -1
 
Luke in MN

My casual observation is that good/bad farm systems just don't translate into MLB wins/losses on any sort of reliable timetable. And as the recent unloading of major contracts over the last year or so illustrates, huge and bad salary commitments aren't necessarily destiny either.

Nov 27, 2013 10:34 AM
rating: 1
 
mattgioia

There seem to be a lot of electric arms where there is a concern over whether they'll be able to log ~200 innings. This has probably been asked before, but you'd think organizations would consider longer-term workload management for these guys - aiming for 150 innings (permanently) and bouncing them into the bullpen at the end of the season - or the beginning, much like they do with rookies and surgery recovery. maybe that's too much in the air though.

Nov 27, 2013 09:29 AM
rating: 0
 
wonkothesane1

Can you be a 7, All Star Player, with an extreme defensive profile. To the point where the player might never make an All Star game because the offensive statistics will be quite average for the position. Or does the bat (and baserunning) have to play along at that point?

Nov 27, 2013 09:55 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think its possible, but the bat can't be lifeless. A good example is Austin Hedges. I think his defensive profile could be an 8. If the bat is soft, something like a .250 type with 10 bombs a year, some will sour on that overall profile. But for me, that's an all-star player. If you are an 8 defensive player at a premium position, anything your bat can offer is gravy. Unfortunately, offense is the nude scene in a movie, and without the skin, its harder to generate tangible value or excitement.

Nov 27, 2013 10:04 AM
 
lopkhan00

I think Ozzie Smith would be the poster child for this type of player and he's in the Hall.

Nov 27, 2013 10:40 AM
rating: 2
 
Kyle Matte

Why can't we have Francisco Lindor?

*disdainfully kicks dirt*

Nov 27, 2013 11:38 AM
rating: 0
 
smallflowers

Lindor sounds a lot like Andrus, but perhaps Andrus is a perfect-world comp?

Nov 30, 2013 05:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

It's not bad. I tend to like the Omar Vizquel comp more. Not quite the glove but a better bat.

Nov 30, 2013 06:11 AM
 
Colin Dew-Becker

Does Jesus Aguilar's performance in the Venezuelan Winter League boost him to firmly within the Top 10? It's not a huge sample, but 17 HR in 191 AB with a .325/.394/.623 batting line over 213 PA is by far his best stretch as a pro. It has to be encouraging to see him do that well against competition that has a talent level somewhere between AA and AAA. Has there been any word on how he has looked in Venezuela from a scouting perspective?

Dec 16, 2013 00:47 AM
rating: 0
 
hyprvypr

I watched many of Danny Salazar's outings this year and I think he's maybe being a bit undersold here. Mid-90s was when he took something off. I think he averaged something like 97.8 mph on his heater and I remember him being mentioned in the top 3 overall fastballs, in MLB. He also had incredible swing/miss numbers and showed remarkable poise/control as well. Naturally given his size and slider preference, his durability may be doubted, but if he could somehow maintain that stuff and throw 200+ innings a year, I think we're talking about a Cy Young contender, not just a #3/4.

Jan 03, 2014 20:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Digitalbob

Jesus Aguilar is having a great winter campaign, but he's played almost 200 games this year. Does he have a shot at playing in the big show this season or next at all? Any thoughts on him that you could share, please?

Jan 16, 2014 19:23 PM
rating: 0
 
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