Cleveland Indians: Top 10 Prospects

Editor’s Note: The Top 10 order as originally posted was incorrect. It has been edited to match the rankings as they will be in the 2010 Prospect Handbook.

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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Carlos Santana, c
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b
3. Nick Hagadone, lhp
4. Jason Knapp, rhp
5. Michael Brantley, of
6. Nick Weglarz, of
7. Hector Rondon, rhp
8. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
9. Alex White, rhp
10. Jason Kipnis, 2b/of
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Michael Brantley
Best Power Hitter Nick Weglarz
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Carlos Santana
Fastest Baserunner Delvi Cid
Best Athlete Michael Brantley
Best Fastball Nick Hagadone
Best Curveball Alexander Perez
Best Slider Nick Hagadone
Best Changeup Carlos Carrasco
Best Control Hector Rondon
Best Defensive Catcher Carlos Santana
Best Defensive Infielder Jason Donald
Best Infield Arm Carlos Rivero
Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Henry
Best Outfield Arm Matt Brown
PROJECTED 2013
LINEUP
Catcher Carlos Santana
First Base Matt LaPorta
Second Base Luis Valbuena
Third Base Lonnie Chisenhall
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera
Left Field Michael Brantley
Center Field Grady Sizemore
Right Field Shin-Soo Choo
Designated Hitter Nick Weglarz
No. 1 Starter Nick Hagadone
No. 2 Starter Jason Knapp
No. 3 Starter Hector Rondon
No. 4 Starter Justin Masterson
No. 5 Starter Carlos Carrasco
Closer Alex White
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 C.C. Sabathia, lhp Yankees
2001 C.C. Sabathia, lhp Yankees
2002 Corey Smith, 3b Royals
2003 Brandon Phillips, ss/2b Reds
2004 Grady Sizemore, of Indians
2005 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
2006 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
2007 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
2008 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
2009 Carlos Santana, c Indians
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Corey Smith, 3b Royals
2001 Dan Denham, rhp Angels
2002 Jeremy Guthrie, rhp Orioles
2003 Michael Aubrey, 1b Orioles
2004 Jeremy Sowers, lhp Indians
2005 Trevor Crowe, of Indians
2006 David Huff, lhp (1st supplemental) Indians
2007 Beau Mills, 3b/1b Indians
2008 Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b Indians
2009 Alex White, rhp Indians
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Danny Baez, 1999 $4,500,000
Jeremy Guthrie, 2002 $3,000,000
Jeremy Sowers, 2004 $2,475,000
Alex White, 2009 $2,250,000
Michael Aubrey, 2003 $2,010,000
INDIANS
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Cleveland Indians

The Indians thought a few better players or even better fortune would get them to the playoffs. After all, they had scored more runs than they allowed in each of the previous five seasons, which included a pair of 90-plus win campaigns.

The 2009 season disavowed them of that belief.

Cleveland tied Kansas City for last place in the American League Central with a 65-97 record, their worst mark since 1991 and a performance that ultimately cost manager Eric Wedge his job.

The Indians went outside the organization for his replacement, hiring Manny Acta, who went 158-252 (.385) while managing the Nationals for parts of the last three seasons.

Acta tried to oversee a rebuilding effort in Washington, and that’s what he has on his hands in Cleveland. The 2009 Indians had a middle-of-the-road offense, but the Orioles and Nationals were the only teams in baseball that allowed more runs.

Cleveland was plagued by poor pitching from both starters and relievers, and a defense that ranked 27th in the majors in defensive efficiency.

Things look better in the farm system, where the Indians have one of the deepest collections of prospects around. Much of that talent came via the trade market, including five of their top eight prospects: catcher Carlos Santana, lefthander Nick Hagadone, righthanders Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco and outfielder Michael Brantley.

Those players didn’t come cheaply, however, as they were parts of deals including the two Game One starters in the 2009 World Series—Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia—as well as three-time all-star Victor Martinez and solid veteran Casey Blake.

Smaller deals that shipped off Rafael Betancourt, Mark DeRosa and Ryan Garko during the 2009 season provided additional depth.

The Indians are developing an intriguing group of homegrown Latin American players, most notably Venezuelan righthander Hector Rondon, Dominican lefty Kelvin de la Cruz and Venezuelan shortstop Carlos Rivero.

But Cleveland was burned in Latin America last year when it found out that Dominican shortstop Jose Ozoria, who was believed to be 16 when he signed for $575,000 in 2008, was actually three years older and named Wuali Bryan.

While the Indians have built an impressive farm system, trading away big leaguers in exchange for prospects every year isn’t a sustainable model for competing.

They realize they need to get more out of their drafts, especially now that they’re picking fifth overall in 2010.

It’s Cleveland’s highest draft position since taking Paul Shuey second overall in 1992, and it will have to get more than the last time it had a top-10 choice and drafted Jeremy Sowers sixth overall in 2004.

The Indians have a strong nucleus of up-the-middle talent to build around, with Grady Sizemore in center field, Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop and Santana soon to arrive behind the plate.

In the short term, one of the Indians’ most important tasks will be to improve their run prevention. The Indians don’t have any defensive stalwarts on the cusp of the major leagues, but they do have Rondon and Carrasco close to helping the major league starting rotation and several potentially useful bullpen arms nearly ready to offer relief.

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