Cleveland Indians: Chat
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.
This farm system is about as deep as anyone's in baseball, so let's get to it.
Nora (C-Town): What's the skinny on Alex Perez? Top 30 worthy?
The skinny is that he needs to not be so
skinny any more and pack on some mass on to his lanky frame, but if he
does that he could take off because he has two advanced secondary
pitches. He has a plus breaking ball with power and sharp break that he
can really torque out front, with feel for a potentially above-average
changeup. I was there to watch Perez's worst start of the year in May
when he gave up eight runs in three innings at Greensboro, but even
though he got shelled it was obvious that his secondary stuff was
advanced. He just needs to add weight to a.) become more durable (the
shoulder injury is a concern) and b.) possibly add to his fastball,
which is just a fringy pitch right now at 87-91, touching 93 on
occasion. But he has hand speed, a relatively loose delivery and a
projectable body to add significant mass, so if he gets stronger and
learns to incorporate his lower half into his delivery more, I could
see him adding a few ticks to his heater and taking off.
Todd (Cleveland, OH): Do you see Josh Judy helping the big league pen this year? Is he more of a middle innings or late reliever in your mind?
Look at what he did from July through the
end of the year—he was ridiculous. Threw 24.1 innings, gave up three
earned runs and had a 43-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Then he went out
and dominated in the Arizona Fall League. He gets strikeouts and ground
balls at an above-average clip with his 92-94 mph fastball that has
some sink and a solid-average slider that could be a plus pitch. So
yeah, I think he could help this year and be a very pleasant surprise,
possibly in high-leverage situations.
Steve (Chicago): Who's health/durability
issues are more concerning, Hagadone's or Knapp's? And who is more
likely to end up as a SP rather than a RP?
Knapp, no question. Shoulders are more
dangerous than elbows, and Hagadone has already come back and shown he
can hit 98 mph with a nasty slider. Now he'll have to show he can back
it up for more than three innings at a time, but the stuff is back.
Knapp hasn't shown that yet, and with his arm action I'm going to be
cautious. I think both of them end up as relievers, although Hagadone
for me has the better chance at sticking as a starter.
Campbell (Ukiah, CA): Where would you rank Lonnie Chisenhall among the other 3B prospects in the Minor Leagues? Is he ahead of a guy like Josh Bell?
He's ahead of Bell. Pedro Alvarez is the
only other third baseman I'd take over Chisenhall. I talked to at least
a dozen people outside the organization in scouting and player
development about Chisenhall and everyone raved about him.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): So, Ben, do we expect the power to come, or merely hope the power will come for Michael Brantley?
How about a bit of each? He has the size
and room to fill out to gain strength and hit the ball with more
authority. I don't think he's going to hit for much power next year
because even the raw power isn't there quite yet. The power might not
come until he's in his mid- to late-20s. Look at Ben Zobrist. He always
had excellent strike-zone discipline, got on base at a high clip and
was tough to strike out, but he had well below-average power and never
never hit 10 home runs in a season until he turned 27. Once he gets
stronger and gets his lower half more involved in his swing, the power
could come, I'm just not expecting it to happen overnight.
Jeff (Columbus, Ohio): You called the Indians farms system "deep". Care to expound on that thought with some strenghts and weaknesses?
There are some teams that claim they have
"depth." Mostly what that means is they have a bunch of mediocre,
fringy talent in their system that EVERY team has in its farm system.
Every team has a guy who throws mid-90s but can't control it. Every
team has a toolsy athlete who needs to stop swinging at everything.
That's not depth, that's just what everyone has. The Indians, for me,
have legitimate depth in that there are players who are ranked in the
15-25 range who have a strong chance at having productive major league
careers. The strength of the system is legitimate depth and two premium
prospects in Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall, both of whom have
Rich (NJ): What is your opinion of Lou Marson's maximum potential?
He'd be a top 10 guy in most systems, and
you could make an argument for putting him ahead of Kipnis at 10. He
doesn't have a plus tool—it's mostly 45s to 55s across the board,
aside from his speed—but his strike-zone awareness is solid and should
help him in his transition to the big leagues. He just doesn't hit for
power because he doesn't have the raw strength or a swing conducive to
generating loft, and because of the swing path I'm not sure the power
will come in time. The scouting consensus seems to be that he's
probably a good backup catcher, with the upside of a league-average
matt (atlanta): The Indians have gone through
the motions before of trying to convert a high draft pick college OF
into a second baseman. They gave up quickly with Trevor Crowe, whose
major league potential in the outfield seems much like Jason Kipnis -
How serious are they about Kipnis at 2B? Can he stick there, and what
makes him different than Crowe?
The Indians were EXTREMELY excited about
what Kipnis showed at second base at instructional league. They drafted
him for his bat and his approach, but for me, his value is going to
come from sticking at second base. But you're right: we're talking
about instructs, and it's not a given that he can play the position.
Ranking him in the top 10 was based on a weighted probability of him
being able to handle the position.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Eric Berger posted
excellent numbers in Kinston and Akron in his first full season. Will
he be a major league starter, a middle reliever or a situational lefty?
Either a back-end starter or a middle
reliever, and at this point I'm leaning more toward reliever. It's an
average fastball, he'll touch 93 with it and it's got some natural cut
to it. The curve and the changeup have their moments, but they come and
go. He's got an unusual delivery with a lot of effort and what's pretty
much a straight-over-the-top arm slot. That's difficult to repeat, and
it might be why his secondary stuff has been inconsistent. His
athleticism bodes well for his ability to eventually corral his
delivery, but I think it's always going to be something he'll have to
Kevin (Toronto, Canada): Is Kelvin De La Cruz
ready to go for spring training, and where do you see him starting off
this year? Do you see him returning to his pre-injury form?
One of the most disappointing prospect
injuries in the minors, for me, because it looked like he was ready to
take off as a prospect. The scouting report hasn't changed much from
last year—he's still has the potential to be an above-average
starter—but the health is a bigger concern now until we see how he
fares when he returns to the mound. He threw at instructs and again at
their Dominican instructs program in November. The velocity isn't fully
back yet, but he was throwing all of his pitches without restrictions.
He'll probably start back in Kinston when he's ready to return, but if
he stays healthy he'll be at Akron at some point this year.
Andrew (Toronto): Will Carlos Santana's injury delay his arrival in Cleveland much?
Not by too much. I don't think the Indians
would have started him in Cleveland on Opening Day anyway, but I still
think he gets there by midseason. What it did delay is him getting
additional work on his receiving skills in winter ball, and it might
take him a little longer to get into the swing of things at the
beginning of the year. It's not a long-term concern though.
Rich (NJ): Can you please expound on your
thoughts of Nick Weglarz? He seems to be a "Jim Thome" type with his
power and patience. How serious are his recent injuries to his long
term potential/performance? Thanks so much.
They have a couple of things in common.
One is that they both have a combination of outstanding raw power and
plate discipline. The second is that they're physically similar. I
don't mean that Weglarz looks like Thome did when Thome was 22, I mean
they're physically similar right now, which is not a good thing for a
22-year-old prospect. Thome at the same age was a third baseman and
stuck there through his mid-20s. Weglarz is already around 250 pounds,
limited to playing a fringy left field and is already having back and
shin problems. When Weglarz was healthy (aside from a dreadful April),
he crushed the ball. When he played through injuries, he struggled.
He'll have to stay healthy and iron out a few things at the plate that
we mentioned in the scouting report, but his offensive upside is still
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Any concerns with Chisenhall's struggles in his first AA
trial? Do the scouts feel he will still hit against advanced
pitching? And do you see more power developing as he gets
Not a concern. It's a small sample size,
his strikeout rate was still solid and he mashed in the playoffs, for
whatever that's worth. Chisenhall has one of the best swings in the
minors and a solid approach at the plate, so I don't expect him to have
many problems handling more advanced pitchers. The power was a bit of a
surprise. I don't think he's an annual 25-plus home run guy, but he's
got enough pop to hit anywhere from 15-25 homers per year, depending on
who you talk to.
Matt (Long Branch, NJ): What do you feel Delvi Cid's power potential is once he matures?
He has some raw power, more from the right
(his natural side) than from the left, but that doesn't project to be a
big part of his game. He's at least a 70 runner, he's just really,
really, really raw right now in all phases of the game, and the injury
cost him some valuable development time. At this point he's a lottery
ticket with a lot of swing and miss, but he's an excellent athlete.
Jeff (Columbus, Ohio): How does the Indians
international development compare to other organizations? Is there
internation development program stronger than their domestic player
I think it's above-average, and has been
for a long time even through personnel turnover. Some teams can't even
come up with one or two decent prospects they signed from Latin
America. The Indians have Rondon, de la Cruz, Perez, Rivero, Gomez and
Abreu, among others. They won't all pan out, but that's better than
Al (Fairfax, VA): Matt McBride...AFL mirage, or breakout candidate?
He was Rule 5 eligible and didn't get
picked, so I think that says something. He's got quick hands, he'll
turn on anyone's fastball and cover the plate pretty well, but he just
doesn't have a position. From seeing him play in the AFL and talking to
scouts about him, his receiving skills are a long, long ways away right
Shane (Miami): Ben, enjoyed the write-ups.
Chisenhall certainly had a breakout, both offensively and defensively.
When you say solid-average power, what does that mean? I've read
reports that he has 25+ Hr .300+ average potential. Is that accurate in
your own assessment?
If we're talking about 50 power, that
means 15-19 home runs per year for most teams. A 60-grade power would
be around 20-26 per year. Coming into the season, the consensus I
gathered was that Chisenhall was probably a guy with 50 power, but
after what he showed this season it could be a tick above. With his
swing, ability to use the whole field and handle offspeed stuff, I can
see him as a .300 hitter. The power projection on him varies from scout
to scout, but I wouldn't expect 25-plus homers per year.
Al (Fairfax, VA): How much fun will the 2010 Kinston rotation be to watch? Hagadone, Knapp and White in some order, right?
I'm looking forward to making that two-hour drive as often as I can this year.
ben (ontario,ca): what happened to beau mills? im surprised he fell all the way out of the top 10.
For one, I think he just swings too much,
chasing pitchers' pitches and becoming too pull-conscious. That hurt
his OBP. He also starts his swing with a leg lift, and he has some
inconsistencies getting his timing right with it in order to stay back.
When his leg kick gets him caught with his weight out front, that takes
away from his power. The raw power is there, and it shows up when he's
able to stay back and leverage the ball. The tools haven't changed,
it's just a matter of whether he can make the adjustments, although for
a first baseman the bar is set pretty high.
Al (Fairfax, VA): Santana or Posey?
Posey. But just barely.
George S. (Boston, MA): Where does Jeanmar
Gomez fit in? Obviously he caught everyone's attention after throwing a
perfect game, so I thought he might have made your top 10.
He did have a tremendous season and put
himself on the map for the Indians' future plans. That said, he doesn't
have a true plus pitch and relies more on deception and throwing
strikes. Not that those are bad attributes to have, obviously, but that
skill set doesn't tend to translate well in the major leagues. He'll
mix two-seamers and four-seamers, usually around 89-91. His slider made
had its moments and made some strides this year but isn't a true
swing-and-miss pitch, nor is his changeup, although it can have
occasional split-like action. I think he'll pitch in the big leagues at
some point, but I wouldn't expect him to replicate his 2009 season.
Wes Hodges (Your Screen): Am I still in the Top 30? Your assessment of my skills?
Hodges is in there, but lower than last
year's No. 12 ranking. Last year was mostly a lost cause for Hodges—he
just couldn't stay healthy (although that's another concern in itself,
since he's had trouble staying healthy going back to his draft year).
He had wrist and shoulder injuries that limited him, and when he did
play he had to DH quite a bit, so I'm sure that got him out of his
rhythm and comfort level. I don't think there's too much new in the
Hodges' scouting report this year: he still shows feel for hitting
(when healthy), but he's probably not a third baseman and the bat
doesn't play as well across the diamond.
Dan (New York): Abner Abreu performed well in
the SAL at age 19 before his season was cut short by injury. Where did
he fall in the top 30? Is Abreu a candidate to jump into Cleveland's
top 10 next season? Thanks for the chat!
He's in the back half, but like Cid he's
still extremely raw and lost some valuable development time due to
injury. He's a skinny guy, but man, can he hit it far. He hit one of
the longest home runs I saw this year, and he's not even a big,
musclebound guy. He generates tremendous whip and bat speed with his
swing, so when he does make contact and leverages the ball, it goes a
long, long way. He also took well to moving to right field and could be
at least a solid-average right fielder. But his patience, ability to
recognize offspeed pitches and make regular contact are still
rudimentary at this point.
Dr Bill (Dresden, Maine): Everyday basis...Santana in DH and Marson catching?
I don't think that would maximize the
roster. Santana is the long-term catcher, where his bat could be
all-star caliber. Plenty of other options to put at DH.
jerry (NYNY): Scott Barnes has always been a
big favorite of mine.Whats his upside and do think he could be a callup
this year? It seems this guy just keeps winning big games but does he
have the stuff? I know the Giants thought he was the best 8th rd pick
ever whats your feeling?
He was a good eighth-round pick, but
probably the upside of a No. 5, maybe No. 4 starter. He's had success
in the low minors because he throws strikes, he has an above-average
changeup and he's got a lot of deception because he hides the ball well
throwing across his body. I'm not sure how that will play against more
advanced hitters though, since his fastball is more of a fringy pitch
that tops out around 92 and his breaking ball is a slurvish slider from
a low 3/4 slot.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are the
chances of Jordan Brown becoming an everyday
first baseman in the bigs - if not with Cleveland - at least with
another club? All he does is hit everywhere he goes. Does he have
enough power to stay at 1B? I could see him as
a Sean Casey type first baseman in the bigs. Any chance?
Most scouts I've talked to see him as a
useful bench player, but some of them see more upside as a potentially
solid starter. His swing is fundamentally sound, he has a very good
contact rate and he made a few adjustments this year that seemed to
help him, using his lower half a little more (I'm sure the knee injury
didn't help with that in 2008) and making a slight adjustment with his
hands. He's never going to have typical first-base power and his
defense is below-average, but he showed he could hit Triple-A pitching
and continued to hit well in Venezuela.
Rick Senften (Canton, Ohio): Is Hagadone a
legit ace-in-the-making, or is he there because the Indians are skinny
in the minor league arms department? The rotation projected for three
years from now is made up of kids; how would you rate it against other
future rotations BA is projecting?
Hagadone's pure pitch quality is
top-of-the-rotation stuff. How many lefthanders can touch the high-90s
with a 60- to 70-grade slider and show feel for a changeup? There
aren't many. I think there's a pretty big drop-off in the system
between Chisenhall and Hagadone, but his stuff is top-shelf, and I
think the changeup will get even better once he throws it more. Sure,
there's concerns—the injury history, the command, whether he can hold
up as a starter—but it's an electric arm.
Warren (Texas): Who are the sleepers in the
organziation that we might not have heard of, but still could impact
MLB at some point? thanks for the chat!
I don't see any questions in the queue
about Chen Lee, but I think he could give the Indians value in a couple
of years out of the bullpen. He had a great strikeout rate in Kinston
and he has the stuff to match the performance. He'll sit 92-93 and
touch the mid-90s with a solid slider that will flash hard downward
bite but needs to get more consistent so it doesn't get side-to-side as
much when he overthrows it. He hasn't been in the system long but he
could move quickly.
Felix (San Juan): Trey Haley III, top 30?
Haley ended up missing the cut. At times
he has two above-average pitches with his fastball and curveball, but
there's a ton of effort in his delivery with a prominent head jerk at
the end, which in turn makes him highly erratic in terms of his ability
to get the ball over the plate. He's a good athlete and if he can slow
things down and tone down the tempo of his delivery, he could elevate
his status next year, but with the way he throws it's hard to bank on
Josh (Boston): What do you think of Bryan Price? Starter or Reliever?
Probably a reliever, though I'm sure the
Indians will give him the opportunity to develop as a starter. Mostly a
fastball/slider guy, low-90s fastball but his out pitch is the slider.
The changeup is still a work-in-progress though, so he might be a
better fit in the bullpen.
matt (atlanta): It seems over the last several
years the Indians farm system has always been well regarded for depth,
but not so much for having players with high ceilings.
Can you name any current farmhands outside your top 10 that have a high
ceiling if their development matches raw potential?
Kelvin de la Cruz has the potential to be
an above-average major league starter, but it's a matter of staying
healthy and showing that his stuff is back to the level it was before
he got hurt. Carlos Rivero has yet to match tools with performance, but
he's been moved through the system fairly quickly and hit much, much
better in the second half. He still has to prove he can hit a pitch
that breaks, but there's upside there if he can put it together.
Kate (St. Louis): Are the Indians at all interested in Aroldis Chapman?
I would be surprised if they got involved in that bidding.
Mikell (Chicago): Where would you rank the Cleveland farm system as a whole?
Probably top five. For whatever reason,
there isn't one or even two farm systems that jump out to be as clearly
elite the way Texas and Oakland did last year.
Jack (Cleveland): Michael Brantley certainly
doesn't profile as a typical power hitter in left field, the position
it seems he's going to have to play in Cleveland. How much of a concern
Is it a concern? Sure. He's going to have
to develop more power, but left fielders don't HAVE to be power
hitters. The typical profile for a left fielder is the slow, plodding
slugger, but runs are runs, and the distribution of the value a player
provides from his hitting, fielding and baserunning doesn't change the
value itself. It's easier to quantify offensive value than defensive
value and there's a larger spread in talent among hitters than among
fielding ability, so the profile is understandable, but it's not
gospel. Brantley has the speed and the instincts to play a
solid-average or better center field. Put that in left field and you're
talking about at least a +10 defender, most likely. He's hard to strike
out and has the potential to get on base at a high rate. There have
been plenty of left fielders who haven't been power hitters but have
had their value distributed mostly toward their ability to get on base,
play above-average defense and run the bases well. Carl Crawford, Tim
Raines, etc. I'm not saying Brantley's going to be anywhere NEAR the
caliber of those kinds of superstar players, but him not fitting the
historical profile of a left fielder isn't a huge concern for me.
Rick (Canton, Ohio): Will Chisenhall grow into a decent/good defensive third baseman?
I think he's on his way there. Some people
I talked to early in the season weren't crazy about his defense, but he
was just learning the position. His errors (for whatever it's worth)
went down significantly in the second half, and from the scouting
reports it seems to align with some adjustments he made in the field.
He has plenty of arm for third base, but a lot of his errors came on
throws, and it takes some getting used to for a young player learning
the differences between shortstop and third base in terms of things
like how to line up your feet, etc. I don't think he's going to be an
above-average defender over there or win any Gold Gloves, but I would
be surprised if he ever had to move off the position.
James (Cleveland): I was wondering what the
report is on Jason Donald. I know he was ranked in the Phillies system
last year. Aside from his ranking, what are his strengths and
No plus tools, but he's a solid player who
right now looks like a probably backup, occasional starter in the big
leagues, although with the injuries last season it's hard to get a
great read on him. The swing is short and compact, not much power,
average runner, might be a better fit at second base (I know we gave
him best defensive infielder in the system, but I really don't think
there was a better option there). He should be up at some point this
Al (Fairfax, VA): Corrasco and Rondon sitting
at 7/8 on the list...is that more and indictment of their potential
(despite the young age) or an indication that the players above them
are that good?
I think they're both solid, not
spectacular prospects, although given the Indians current roster it
would be a tremendous boost if they can become solid contributors this
season. If either of them had a plus breaking ball, they'd be the No. 3
prospect in the organization, no question. But they don't, and it's
REALLY hard to have success in the big leagues as a right-handed
pitcher without a reliable breaking ball, which for me is something
that is largely an innate ability. Rondon has an outstanding fastball
with good life that he commands to both sides of the plate and an
average changeup, but he's heavily dependent on the fastball. That's
one reason I think you saw his strikeout rate dip moving from Double-A
to Triple-A, where he became much more hittable. He's a good prospect
with the potential to be a mid-rotation starter, though I think people
generally overestimate his floor based on his minor league output.
Brad Broughman (Lansing, MI): Carlos Carrasco
looked more like a batting practice pitcher in the bigs and he is the
#7 player in the Cleveland Top 10? Does that say something about the
depth in their organization or was I missing something when I watched
him struggle mightly pitching in Cleveland?
That last answer was getting long so I'll
hit on Carrasco here. The breaking ball is a concern for some scouts,
but with Carrasco it's also a matter of command. He throws strikes, but
he can be prone to leaving the ball up and over the plate, and if you
do that with a fastball when you're behind in the count to a major
league hitter, bad things usually happen. Maybe it's mental, maybe it's
mechanical, but whatever it is, I think it's fixable. He still has a
plus fastball and a swing-and-miss changeup and a terrific track record
of staying healthy, which I think gives him the potential to be a solid
major league starter if he can make those adjustments.
John (MI): Ben, thanks for the chat. How close
is former Wolverine Zach Putnam to his big league debut. As he was
moved to the pen is he projected as a reliever?
He was starting in short stints at the
Arizona Fall League, but it seems like his most likely major league
role is in the bullpen. He's another guy in the long line of useful
relievers the Indians will have at their disposal from their farm
system in the very near future. He's got heavy sink on a low-90s
fastball and a plus splitter with late action (he'll mix a slider and a
changeup in there as well) to get you a lot of ground balls and
strikeouts. He doesn't walk many batters, but once he refines his
command he should be in Cleveland.
Thanks for all the questions, but it's
time to wrap things up. Conor Glassey will be here on Friday to handle
all of your Tigers-related queries.