Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.
Cleveland's farm system always seems to run deep, so let's get started.
Lloyd (Lakewood): Hi Ben,
What can you tell me about T.J. House?
House has a few things going for him: he's
proven to be very durable (knock on wood), he's an athletic lefty with
a good changeup and he does a good job of throwing strikes for his age.
The concern I have with him is that I'm not sure the fastball and
slider are going to be good enough for him to get big league hitters
out, but he could slide into the back of Cleveland's rotation at some
Ben (Leland Grove): No Kelvin de la Cruz on the list....hmm. Can you tell us about his mechanics and if he's got a legit shot at the Show?
Funny you should mention his mechanics,
because that really seems to be one of the main problems he's had. A
couple years ago, he might have had as much upside as any pitcher in
the system and he looked like he was ready for a breakout early in '09
before the elbow injury shut him down for the year. Now scouts are
saying he's just not quite the same and a lot of the problems he's had
stem from his inability to repeat his mechanics and stay behind the
ball. The fastball fluctuates but he'll still show you three solid
pitches at times, but there are a lot of adjustments he's going to have
Joe Werner (Cleveland, Oh.): Any concerns about Chisenhall's struggles against lefties this year?
Not really. He stays back well, he has
good balance, uses the whole field, his swing certainly isn't long and
he's able to handle offspeed stuff fairly well, so I'd expect his
numbers against lefties to come up next year.
matt (LA): How would you stack Chisenhall up against a guy like Moustakas?
I love Chisenhall's bat but I'd still give
the edge to Moustakas. In terms of hitting mechanics, they both have
excellent swings and very good bat speed, but Moustakas' power is a
separator. I think Chisenhall will draw more walks and play better
defense, but Moustakas has that great combination of a low strikeout
rate and plus-plus raw power that makes me put him ahead of Chisenhall.
David (Nixa, MO): Thoughts on Bryce Stowell? It sounds like his velo has made quite a jump since the Cape a few years ago.
Like you said, HUGE jump in velo this year
for Stowell. He had a solid fastball as a starter and would bump 95 on
his best days, now he's sitting mid-90s and I've heard multiple scouts
clocking him at 98 mph. He's just raw power now with his
fastball/slider out of the pen, and just another reminder to never give
up on a starter struggling in the minors before you move him to the
bullpen to see if a guy is just better suited for a different
frequency. That Columbus bullpen was pretty stacked with young guys who
could contribute as soon as next season, although Stowell might be a
little further away just because his control isn't where it needs to be
Joe Werner (Cleveland, Oh.): There have been
speculation about LeVon Washington moving to second base: given his
well below-average arm, do you think he could turn the double play well
I think he's an outfielder all the way,
and that's how I think the Indians see him too. The Indians put him on
a throwing program at instructs to gain some arm strength. At best
he'll maybe have a 40 arm, but even if it's a 30, just his speed alone
plays better in center field than second base if he can pick up feel
for the position.
Mike (Tampa, FL): Should we officially write off Adam Miller?
Here's the thing with Miller: I would have
zero expectations for him, but I wouldn't write him off completely. Not
yet. He threw at instructs, touched the low-90s, but what he's gone
through with the injuries in his fingers is so rare that I'm not sure
anyone can give you a reliable forecast of what to expect from him.
JAYPERS (IL): What are scouts saying about Felix Sterling, and was he on your Top 30 this year?
I think he's their best Latin American
pitcher who hasn't hit full-season ball yet. Two power pitches with a
low-90s fastball up to 94 with a chance for maybe another tick or two
down the road and a tight, solid slider. A guy who's far, far away but
could develop into a solid starter with a power arm.
MJ (Valpo): As a Twins fan, should I be
worried about the Indians as a team to reckon with in the division in
the next 3-5 years?!? This list looks pretty impressive, with a lot of
different toolsets being brought to the table!
I think 3-5 years is a realistic
timetable, but they're going to have to somehow get more out of their
starting pitching. At that point you'll have Santana, Chisenhall,
Kipnis, LaPorta, Brantley and Weglarz coming into their prime years,
with Choo and Cabrera possibly still around, so I like what they have
building there. Their young pitching is solid, but the reality is that
not all of Carrasco, White, Pomeranz and Knapp are going to pan out, so
they're going to have to find some ways to fill holes there.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Not a lot of power
bats for the Indians in full season leagues. Anyone in the lower minors
who might develop into a power prospect (Chase Burnette? Juan Romero?
My favorite sleeper in the system is Luigi
Rodriguez, who played in the Dominican Summer League this year. He
signed as a second baseman, had some trouble there defensively and
moved to center field, which is where he's probably better suited
anyway because he's a plus-plus runner. He's not a big guy, but he's a
very good athlete with a short, quick swing from both sides and very
good plate discipline. Teams waste so much money in Latin America on
these giants with huge raw power who can't hit, but it's the guys like
Rodriguez (athletes with feel for hitting, like Starlin Castro or
Carlos Gonzalez) who seem to pan out more often.
Paul (C-Town): Can you enlighten me about Abner Abreu and if he's on your radar?
He's on the radar because his raw power
and arm strength both stick out, but my concern with him is the same as
it's been for years: the approach. I know he's had to fight through the
shoulder injury but really it's his plate discipline and pitch
recognition skills that are holding him back.
JAYPERS (IL): Who will draw more walks in his Major League career - Carlos Santana or Logan Morrison?
I think as a catcher, Santana is likely to play fewer career games than Morrison, so I'll give Morrison the edge.
Jordan (Boston): I see Jordan Henry was voted best plate discipline, but what can we expect from him in the future? Starter/4th OF?
Probably a fourth outfielder, but to get
there he still needs to get stronger. He's a 70 runner, plays great
defense and rarely chases anything out of the strike zone so he gets on
base at a high clip right now in the minors, but he'll have be able to
drive the ball or else his plate discipline isn't going to be as much
of a factor against major league pitchers because his power is
well-below-average. His swing path isn't the type that's geared toward
hitting home runs, but he has room on his frame to at least add some
raw power and make pitchers pay when they do attack him in the zone.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): So if the Indians lack
the depth in starting pitching, they just need to deal some of their
many 2nd basemen for a quality starter, right?
The problem is that starting pitching is
expensive, be it in major league free agency or the trade market, and
the trade market for second basemen (as we've seen this week) is
Clooch (VT): Chun-Hsui Chen had an impressive
year at the plate between A and A+ ball. What can you tell us about
him? What are the reports on his defense?
The development staff did a really nice
job with Chen this year. He had a big leg kick in his swing, but they
took that away from him in spring training and that helped him see the
ball out of the pitcher's hand better and gave him better balance at
the plate. The concerns with him right now from the scouts I talked to
were whether the bat speed will translate at higher levels and if he
can clean up his defense, because he has an average arm but his
receiving can be a little stiff sometimes. He definitely took a huge
step forward this year.
DH (PA): He's no longer a prospect but, what can we reasonably expect from LaPorta? Average 1B production?
I still think he turns things around. He
crushed Triple-A pitching while he was there briefly, he's shown power
and aptitude for hitting throughout the minor leagues and I think he
could turn into a league-average first baseman this year and develop
into an above-average one going forward.
Nora (NM): Who do you think will play a better 2B - Kipnis or Dustin Ackley? Why?
Strictly on defense: Kipnis. More natural feel for the position.
Karl in Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
Several years ago I remember Jason Goedart was leading the SAL in
batting when I saw Lake County play. Now last year he has hit 20 homers
in AAA and batted .325 in AA. He's got to make the top 30 Indian
prospects for the first time this year, right?
He's in the discussion. He had a big year
as a 25-year-old in AA/AAA and the tools aren't going to wow
anyone—bat speed is just fair, there are some holes in the swing and
his glove is a question mark for scouts—but I think being healthy
really helped him this year. He's battled some shoulder injuries
throughout his career and I think being healthy finally helped him take
that next step forward that was reflected in the numbers.
Chuck (Ohio): Cord Phelps tore up AA,AAA, and the Arizona fall league. How close was he to the top ten, and how is he defensively at 2B?
There's definitely a gap between the
performance (which was outstanding) and the tools (which are just OK).
He hits out of a low crouch with a low hand set-up, but he does a solid
job managing the strike zone and he's able to make contact on a routine
basis, just not with much power. I know there are scouts who are
skeptical of whether he can duplicate his performance going forward and
whether he's good enough defensively to handle second base.
Mark (CINCY): Bo Greenwell - prospect or suspect?
Needs to hit for more power, but does a
bit of everything, a lot of 40-50 tools across the board with a good
approach and a chance to be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.
Jose (Honduras): What kind of upside does
Weglarz have? Can you think of an appropriate major league comp? Is his
major league batting average going to be closer to his 2009 numbers
(.220's) or 2010 (.280's)?
I think his offensive skill set has some
similarities to Nick Swisher. He's bigger than Swisher and doesn't
switch-hit, but he's an extremely disciplined hitter who's still
learning to tap into his raw power (Swisher never hit 20-plus homers in
a minor league season until he was 23 in the PCL). I think you'll see a
lot of year-to-year variance in Weglarz's average but I think most
years he'll settle around .250-.270 but with a high OBP.
Rich (NJ): Is Weglarz healthy? is he playing any winter ball as he missed a large part of 2010? Thanks,
Yup, he just got started playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan League within the past week.
Fonz (Milwaukee): Whither Hector Rondon?
Nothing really new to add on Rondon from a
year ago given how little he pitched. Plus fastball, flashes a solid
changeup, breaking ball needs work, going to miss all of 2011 after
having Tommy John surgery.
Fonz (Milwaukee): How troubling is Alex White's low K rate? Does he have the stuff to finish hitters off?
A couple things here. One is that, for
about the last month of the season, the Indians made White limit the
use of his splitter, which is his out pitch. He wasn't pitching
exclusively fastball/slider, but he was predominantly a fastball/slider
guy for the last month of the season. He wasn't a high-strikeout guy
before that, but I think that change obfuscates some of his otherwise
dominant numbers. White's strikeout rate isn't elite, but it's a
function of his repertoire and his ability to throw almost everything
with sink. He doesn't have the great breaking ball that a lot of
high-strikeout pitchers have, but his fastball and his splitter have
power and life, so he's going to get a lot of ground balls, weak
contact and he'll miss enough bats to have an average strikeout rate.
Kyle W. (Powell, OH): Safe to call Beau Mills a huge overdraft? What can we expect from him as a Major Leaguer?
I think Mills makes the major leagues at
some point for a cup of coffee, but not soon. Still takes a big
uppercut, can be pull-conscious and struggle against the soft stuff. On
the positive side, it sounds like he has made some strides in the field.
Fonz (Milwaukee): He's probably limited by his
role, but what sort of reviews did Rob Bryson get? When he's been
healthy he's consistently put up great numbers in both the Brewers and
He's a bullpen guy all the way between his
health record and his secondary stuff, but he gets a huge number of
swings and misses with his fastball. He'll throw it 92-95 and there's
some deception there too, so guys just don't seem to be able to see it
out of his hand well. He'll flash an average slider sometimes and every
now and then he'll show you something with the changeup, but he's
mostly just been able to dominate the lower minors with a great
fastball. If he can get just one of his offspeed pitches to become a
reliable second pitch, he should be a solid bullpen arm if he stays
healthy and maintains his velo.
Kyle W. (Powell, OH): Does Zach Putnam contribute to the major league pen at any time in 2011? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
I think he could pitch high-leverage
innings for the Indians as soon as next season. Columbus had quite a
few relievers who could help the Indians at some point in 2011, but
Putnam probably has the best combination of stuff and polish. His stuff
really seems to take on another gear in short stints: he can run his
fastball up to the mid-90s with sink, his splitter is an out pitch with
late tumble, he throws strikes and threw really well down the stretch,
for whatever that's worth.
Brian (Charlottesville): What do you see
Packer's ceiling as? Also, what is his ETA? He is making it a habit of
winning ERA titles (D-1 baseball in 08, and then again this year).
Probably a 4/5 starter who could get a
crack at the rotation late next year or 2012, but he's surprised so
many scouts to this point that I wouldn't want to cap his ceiling. He's
athletic, has great control, keep the ball on the ground and his stuff
is probably better than most people think. He'll sit 88-91 with heavy
sink, touch a tick or two higher and has a 50-to-60 grade changeup. His
breaking stuff is a little short but he could be a steal for the
Jim (NY): Can you give us an idea of how Cleveland's system stacks up against other teams in the division?
I have it as the No. 2 system in the
division behind the Royals (no shame in that though). The Twins have
some huge upside at the top of their system (you'll have to wait until
next week to see the list, but you can probably guess who I'm talking
about) so you could make a case for them being No. 2, but I'd still go
with the Indians.
Shane (Miami): Kipnis hot playoff streak has
carried over to the AFL, where he's been an extra base hit machine in
the AFL. Glove aside, what kind of power/avg. numbers are we talking?
I could see a steady .280-.290 hitter with
15-20 home runs. I don't think he grows into much more power but he can
put a surprising charge into the ball for a guy his size.
Robert (Secaucus, NJ): Did Kyle Blair get any top 10 consideration?
I thought about him there but I'd like to
see what he does in pro ball first. I think the Indians got a steal
with Blair in the fourth round, though.
John (Harrisonburg, VA): Josh Judy misses quite a few bats. Does he have a future in the Tribe bullpen?
His upside isn't high but I see him as a solid middle reliever in the 7th/8th innings as soon as next season.
Pat (Jersey): what was the main reasons for
knapp and hagadone dropping on the list? I'm guessing that it was just
knapp being hurt and other guys (kipnis and white) doing good this year.
Knapp dropped but that was more due to the
rise of White, Kipnis and Weglarz and the addition of Pomeranz moreso
than anything Knapp did. We knew when we ranked him last year that he
probably would pitch very little in 2010, so that wasn't a surprise.
With Hagadone, he just hasn't taken the steps forward with his command
and delivery and his stuff wasn't quite as powerful this year.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Any catchers catch
your eye? Chun Chen hit very well and went to the Futures Game. Roberto
Perez walks a lot and I've heard he's a solid defender. Alex Monsalve
was well-regarded when signed as a teenager.
Perez and Monsalve are good defensive
catchers but don't have Chen's offensive skill level. Of course in
Cleveland, catcher looks like it's pretty squared away until about 2016
Thanks for spending your afternoon with us
here at BA, I always enjoy it. Conor Glassey will be here on Friday to
talk about the Tigers.