2012 Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




Follow me on Twitter

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, 2011.

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Indians Chat
Ben Badler
Pre-Order the 2012 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team

INDIANS
LINKS
Indians Team Page
Indians Top 10 Prospects
Last Year's Indians Top 10 Prospects
2011 Draft: Indians (Basic Database)
2011 Draft: Indians (Advanced Database)
2011 Draft Report Cards: Cleveland Indians
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2012 Prospect Handbook
Cleveland Indians

No matter which side of the ace-pitcher trade market the Indians have been on in the last four years, they haven't come out on top.

In July 2008, Cleveland had a sliding major league club, veterans on the verge of free agency and a farm system in decline. It also had two of baseball's best pitchers in CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, and would trade both of them within a year to rebuild with young talent. So far, the returns have disappointed.

At the 2008 trade deadline, the Indians dealt Sabathia for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and minor league arms Rob Bryson and Zack Jackson. Neither LaPorta nor Brantley has made much of a difference, and Bryson and Jackson made none.

One year later, Cleveland shipped Lee to the Phillies in another deal that has yielded little impact talent. Carlos Carrasco flashed mid-rotation potential, but he had Tommy John surgery in September and will miss the entire 2012 season. Jason Donald and Lou Marson fit best as backups, while minor league righthander Jason Knapp has had two shoulder surgeries.

Last season, the Indians raced off to the best record in the American League at 30-15 but had fallen to 52-51 when they reversed roles at the deadline. They added Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies at the cost of their 2009 and 2010 first-rounders, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, as well as a pair of prospects, righthander Joe Gardner and first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride. Cleveland limped to an 80-82 finish as Jimenez went 4-4, 5.10 in 11 starts.

The Indians have made some successful trades in recent years. Acquiring Carlos Santana from the Dodgers for Casey Blake in 2008 was a steal. Chris Perez was part of a package from the Cardinals for Mark DeRosa in 2009. Justin Masterson, Cleveland's top starting pitcher, and lefty bullpen option Nick Hagadone arrived from the Red Sox in a 2009 trade for Victor Martinez.

Which side of the trade market will Cleveland find itself on in 2012? The offense has an intriguing nucleus with Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera headed into their primes, Shin-Soo Choo poised for a bounceback year and homegrown hitters Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis ready for their first full big legue seasons. The rotation, on the other hands, is full of question marks, including Jimenez.

If things don't click for the Indians, they'll likely have to turn back to trade market. The trades of White and Pomeranz and graduations of Chisenhall and Kipnis have left the system thin of talent. Cleveland's strength in the minors is its depth of relief pitching, but Hagadone, Chen Lee, Zach Putnam and Co. aren't going to provide the foundation for a contender.

The Indians' best prospects are years away from contributing. They paid $4.75 million for their first two picks in the 2011 draft, shortstop Francisco Lindor and righthander Dillon Howard, but they're high schoolers with a combined five games of pro experiences. Similarly, Dominican outfielder Luigi Rodriguez and shortstop Tony Wolters have played just 34 games in full-season leagues.

1. Francisco Lindor, ss Born: Nov 14, 1993 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175
Drafted: Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Mike Soper.
Francisco LindorBackground: Born in Puerto Rico, Lindor moved to the United States at age 12 and couldn't speak English when he arrived at Montverde Academy, an international boarding school in central Florida. In 2009, he captained the U.S. 16-and-under national team that won the gold medal at the World Youth Championships in Taiwan. He hit .500 in 11 games and started laying the groundwork to become a future first-round draft pick. Lindor further whetted scouts' appetites the following summer on the showcase circuit, which was highlighted by a surprise victory in the home run derby at the Aflac All-American Game at Petco Park. Even though he played a truncated senior season because Monteverde failed to qualify for the playoffs, Lindor earned third-team All-America honors in 2011 by hitting .528 in 53 at-bats with six homers and 20 stolen bases. The Indians drafted Lindor with the eighth overall pick in the draft in June, marking the first time since 2001 that the organization had spent a first-rounder on a high school player. Lindor signed with the Indians at the Aug. 15 signing deadline for $2.9 million, which is the largest bonus for a prepster and for a position player in franchise history. Lindor signed too late to play much, but he did hold his own for a week with short-season Mahoning Valley.

Scouting Report: Lindor projects as a true shortstop with incredible baseball instincts and advanced feel for the game for his age. He drew comparisons to Omar Vizquel as an amateur and was the best defensive shortstop in the 2011 draft. Lindor is a quality athlete with excellent hands, fluid actions and good footwork at shortstop. He gets great reads off the bat and shows a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He has plus range with a plus arm and solid fundamentals, giving him all the ingredients to be a star defender. A switch-hitter since he was 13, Lindor has a smooth, line-drive swing and good bat speed from both sides of the plate. His best hitting approach comes when he works the ball up the middle. To be a productive offensive player, he'll have to hit for average and get on base at a good clip because his power is mostly to the gaps. He has more pop from the right side and perhaps could hit 10-15 homers per year in his prime. He has a tick above-average speed and at times he has shown flashes of being a plus runner as he has matured and gotten stronger. Even though he's not a major basestealing threat, his baserunning should be another positive because of his acumen. He has earned rave reviews from coaches and scouts for his work ethic, maturity and dedication.

The Future: Lindor will play his first full season of professional baseball at age 18, so the Indians won't rush him through the farm system. He's talented enough to start 2012 in low Class A Lake County, though with his age and the bitter weather early in the Midwest League season he's still not a lock to be there on Opening Day. Lindor's advanced feel for playing the game should help him move quickly relative to other 2011 high school draft picks. Cleveland's system has a shortage of high-upside players who could develop into above-average regulars, but Lindor stands out from the pack as an exception.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Mahoning Valley (SS) 19 4 6 0 0 0 2 1 5 1 0 .316 .350 .316
Minor League Totals 19 4 6 0 0 0 2 1 5 1 0 .316 .350 .316

2. Dillon Howard, rhp Born: Jul 01, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Searcy (Ark.) HS, 2011 (2nd round).  Signed by: Steve Abney.
Dillon HowardBackground: Howard established himself as a potential 2011 first-round pick as early as his sophomore year in high school in Arkansas. He didn't quite live up to expectations as a senior last spring, and signability questions helped drop him to the second round. The Indians signed him at the deadline for $1.85 million, the equivalent of mid-first-round money.

Scouting Report: Howard's best pitch is his lively two-seam fastball, which he runs in the low 90s with plus sink. He can get both groundouts and swings and misses with his two-seamer, and he can mix in a four-seamer that reaches 94 mph and changes hitters' eye level. His No. 2 pitch is an average changeup with good deception that could become a plus offering in time. His breaking ball needs some tightening, as he throws a slurvy curveball with the potential to become average if he learns to stay on top of it. Howard is a solid athlete whose arm works well, though scouts who saw him as an amateur had some concerns about his fastball command. They also raised questions his mound presence and energy level, though Cleveland doesn't share any of those worries.

The Future: Howard has the potential to become a frontline starter, though he'll need some time to develop. He'll make his pro debut in low Class A.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Did Not Play

3. Nick Hagadone, lhp Born: Jan 01, 1986 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Washington, 2007 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: John Booher.
Nick HagadoneBackground: Hagadone has moved slowly for a college draft pick, but he finally made his big league debut last September, four years after the Red Sox made him a supplemental first-round pick. Tommy John surgery cost him most of 2008 and slowed him in 2009, though he recovered his arm strength quickly upon his return. The Indians sent Victor Martinez to Boston to acquire Hagadone, Justin Masterson and righthander Bryan Price at the 2009 trade deadline.

Scouting Report: Hagadone's fastball has excellent velocity, typically ranging from 93-96 mph and touching 98. His slider flashes as a plus pitch with late, short break and generates some swings and misses. He's still learning to vary its shape and to throw it to the back foot of righthanders. After walking 6.6 batters per nine innings in 2010, Hagadone cut sliced his walk rate to 2.8 in the minors last year. He started pitching exclusively out of the stretch, which helped him simplify his delivery and improve his fastball command.

The Future: If he can maintain the improvements in his control, Hagadone can be a late-inning reliever. In spring training, he'll get the chance to open 2012 in Cleveland.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 Lowell (SS) 0 1 1.85 10 10 0 24 14 5 5 1 8 33 .161
'08 Greenville (LoA) 1 1 0.00 3 3 0 10 5 3 0 0 6 12 .143
'09 Greenville (LoA) 0 2 2.52 10 10 0 25 13 8 7 0 14 32 .148
'09 Lake County (LoA) 0 1 2.45 5 5 0 15 8 4 4 0 5 21 .154
'09 Kinston (HiA) 0 0 5.06 2 2 0 5 5 3 3 0 5 6 .238
'10 Kinston (HiA) 1 3 2.39 10 10 0 38 28 11 10 2 29 45 .199
'10 Akron (AA) 2 2 4.50 19 7 1 48 44 27 24 5 34 44 .234
'11 Akron (AA) 2 1 1.59 12 0 0 23 14 4 4 0 7 24 .171
'11 Columbus (AAA) 4 3 3.35 34 0 4 48 42 27 18 5 15 53 .225
'11 Cleveland (MAJ) 1 0 4.09 9 0 0 11 4 6 5 0 6 11 .108
Major League Totals 1 0 4.09 9 0 0 11 4 4 5 0 6 11 .108
Minor League Totals 10 14 2.86 105 47 5 236 173 173 75 13 123 270 .196

4. Chen Lee, rhp Born: Oct 21, 1986 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175
Signed: Taiwan '08. Signed by: Jason Lee
Chen LeeBackground: Among the more active teams in Taiwan, the Indians scouted Lee since he was 16 and tried to sign him out of high school. He instead chose to attend college before signing with Cleveland for $400,000 in September 2008. He represented Taiwan at the Olympics that summer and again at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He has had no trouble handling minor league hitters, averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings in three pro seasons, with all of his pro appearances coming as a reliever.

Scouting Report: Lee throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and has more velocity than most pitchers who drop down from that angle. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph, hits 95 and has plus movement. His fastball and the deception in his delivery help him miss bats and keep the ball down in the zone. Lee has a solid slider at times but he struggles to stay on top of it because of his low arm slot. He does a nice job of throwing strikes and getting groundballs.

The Future: With just 32 innings of Triple-A experience, Lee could return to Columbus to begin 2012. He's in line to make his major league debut at some point during the season and projects as a future set-up man.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Kinston (HiA) 4 6 3.35 45 0 2 83 67 33 31 5 28 97 .211
'10 Akron (AA) 5 4 3.22 44 0 0 73 59 30 26 6 22 82 .213
'11 Akron (AA) 2 1 2.50 23 0 0 40 27 16 11 1 11 56 .185
'11 Columbus (AAA) 4 0 2.27 21 0 1 32 26 9 8 2 12 43 .215
Minor League Totals 15 11 3.00 133 0 3 228 179 179 76 14 73 278 .207

5. Luigi Rodriguez, of Born: Nov 13, 1992 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160
Signed: Dominican Republic '09. Signed by: Lino Diaz.
Luigi RodriguezBackground: The Indians used to be one of the leaders in developing Latin American talent, with players such as Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez coming through the system. That pipeline hasn't been as fruitful in recent years, with Rodriguez one of the few highlights. In his U.S. debut last year, he reached low Class A at age 18.

Scouting Report: A switch-hitter, Rodriguez tore up the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer, showing the ability to barrel the ball with some gap power. Considering his age, he's understandably raw at the plate, but he has some patience and uses his plus-plus speed to help him leg out hits. He's so fast that he often can outrun his mistakes on the bases and in center field. Signed as a second baseman, Rodriguez didn't have great infield instincts and moved to the outfield one month into his career. He's still improving his reads and routes but should have above-average range in time. He has an average arm.

The Future: Rodriguez must get strong so he can handle more advanced pitching. He wasn't completely in over his head in the Midwest League, and he'll still be one of the youngest players in the circuit this year.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Indians (R) 206 43 62 7 10 2 27 36 35 31 9 .301 .403 .461
'11 Indians (R) 95 18 36 6 2 3 14 5 19 12 5 .379 .408 .579
'11 Lake County (LoA) 132 10 33 4 2 0 5 14 36 6 5 .250 .320 .311
Minor League Totals 433 71 131 17 14 5 46 55 90 49 19 .303 .380 .441

6. Zach McAllister, rhp Born: Dec 08, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 240
Drafted: Illinois Valley Central HS, Chillicothe, Ill., 2006 (3rd round).  Signed by: Steve Lemke.
Zach McAllisterBackground: McAllister pitched well in the Yankees system up until 2010, when his velocity dropped. At the trade deadline that July, the Indians sent Austin Kearns to New York for a player to be named, which three weeks later became McAllister. Buying low on him could pay off, as he rebounded in 2011 and made four starts in the majors. His father Steve is the Midwest crosschecker for the Diamondbacks.

Scouting Report: Cleveland gave McAllister a higher leg kick and a little more rotation in his upper half, helping him get more shoulder tilt. The mechanical adjustment helped him get more power to his fastball, which returned to the low 90s and touched 94 mph with sink. He did a better job of staying over the rubber last year and his control improved. The rest of McAllister's repertoire is fringy. He has a changeup and a slurvy slider, also mixing in an occasional curveball as a show-me pitch.

The Future: McAllister doesn't have huge upside, but he could be a durable back-of-the-rotation starter if everything clicks. The Indians' offseason acquisition of Derek Lowe means they don't have any rotation openings, so McAllister could be ticketed for a third season in Triple-A.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'06 Yankees (R) 5 2 3.09 11 1 0 35 35 14 12 1 12 28 .250
'07 Staten Island (SS) 4 6 5.17 16 15 0 71 80 42 41 3 28 75 .272
'08 Charleston, SC (LoA) 6 3 2.45 10 10 0 62 59 28 17 3 8 53 .240
'08 Tampa (HiA) 8 6 1.83 15 14 1 89 74 24 18 6 13 62 .218
'09 Trenton (AA) 7 5 2.23 22 22 0 121 98 39 30 4 33 96 .213
'10 Scranton/W-B (AAA) 8 10 5.09 24 24 0 133 165 82 75 20 38 88 .293
'10 Columbus (AAA) 1 2 6.88 3 3 0 17 20 13 13 1 7 11 .282
'11 Columbus (AAA) 12 3 3.32 25 25 0 155 155 61 57 11 31 128 .250
'11 Cleveland (MAJ) 0 1 6.11 4 4 0 18 26 16 12 1 7 14 .329
Major League Totals 0 1 6.00 4 4 0 18 26 26 12 1 7 14 .325
Minor League Totals 51 37 3.47 126 114 1 683 686 686 263 49 170 541 .251

7. Tony Wolters, ss Born: Jun 09, 1992 B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 165
Drafted: Rancho Buena Vista HS, Vista, Calif., 2010 (3rd round).  Signed by: Jason Smith.
Tony WoltersBackground: Wolters signed for $1.35 million as a third-round pick in 2010, but an injury delayed what would have been his first full pro season. He broke the hamate bone in his right hand during spring training and required surgery. After reporting to Mahoning Valley in June, he led the New York-Penn League with 50 runs.

Scouting Report: Wolters shows a good feel for working the count with an advanced hitting approach. He makes consistent contact and is at his best when he works the ball back up the middle. While the hamate injury sapped some of his pop, he likely will top out with below-average power and be more of a gap hitter. Wolters is adept on the basepaths, but has fringy speed and isn't quite the threat his 19 steals in 69 games last summer might suggest. He has excellent hands and a strong, accurate arm, and he shows some flair at shortstop. Though he has made strides with his reads and footwork, some scouts think his lack of range ultimately may lead him to second base. He can be more aggressive instead of waiting for the ball to come to him.

The Future: Wolters will get the chance to remain at shortstop, but he might have a hard time getting time there at Lake County in 2012. Cleveland also could send superior defenders Francisco Lindor and Ronnie Rodriguez there.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Indians (R) 19 2 4 0 0 0 3 2 5 2 0 .211 .286 .211
'11 Mahoning Valley (SS) 267 50 78 10 3 1 20 30 49 19 4 .292 .385 .363
Minor League Totals 286 52 82 10 3 1 23 32 54 21 4 .287 .379 .353

8. Austin Adams, rhp Born: Aug 19, 1986 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Faulkner (Ala.), 2009 (5th round).  Signed by: Chuck Bartlett.
Austin AdamsBackground: The Brewers drafted Adams as a shortstop in the 27th round in 2008, but he turned them down to return to Faulkner (Ala.), an NAIA program, for his senior season. A two-way star for the Eagles, he didn't become a full-time pitcher until he signed with the Indians for $70,000 as a fifth-round pick in 2009.

Scouting Report: Adams has outstanding arm strength, as evidenced by a mid-90s fastball that has touched 100 mph. It's by far his best pitch. Both his curveball and slider are average pitches at times, with the slider more advanced largely because of his pure arm speed. His changeup is below average. Adams is still raw as a pitcher but has made mechanical improvements with his lower half thanks in part to his athleticism. He's staying over the rubber better, leading to better balance and weight transfer. He's doesn't throw across his body quite as much as he did in the past, getting better direction to the plate. His walk rate rose to a career-high 4.2 per nine innings when he got to Double-A Akron last year, so he'll need to challenge hitters more.

The Future: With his one dominant pitch and lack of size, many scouts peg Adams as a future reliever. Cleveland broke him into pro ball in the bullpen but has kept him in the rotation since. He'll move up to Triple-A in 2012.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Mahoning Valley (SS) 3 1 4.86 17 0 1 37 39 22 20 4 15 29 .260
'10 Lake County (LoA) 2 4 3.54 13 8 1 53 40 22 21 7 21 61 .200
'10 Kinston (HiA) 6 1 1.53 13 12 0 59 50 14 10 5 15 51 .221
'11 Akron (AA) 11 10 3.77 26 26 0 136 147 68 57 6 63 131 .265
Minor League Totals 22 16 3.41 69 46 2 285 276 276 108 22 114 272 .244

9. Scott Barnes, lhp Born: Sep 05, 1987 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 185
Drafted: St. John's, 2008 (8th round).  Signed by: John DiCarlo.
Scott BarnesBackground: Barnes posted a 2.60 ERA in the lower levels of the Giants system before San Francisco traded him to the Indians for Ryan Garko in July 2009. He struggled in Double-A in 2009 and 2010, then rebounded last year, only to have his season end on July 10 when he tore the anterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee while fielding a bunt. Cleveland added him to its 40-man roster in November to protect him in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

Scouting Report: Reports on Barnes' fastball velocity vary, with some scouts seeing an average fastball that tops out in the low 90s while others have seen him reach as high as 96 mph. He has an unorthodox delivery that has some effort involved, but he's athletic and made improvements repeating his delivery in 2011, which helped his fastball command take a step forward. His solid slider shows flashes of being a plus pitch, and his changeup could become average in time with further refinement.

The Future: Many scouts see Barnes as a reliever, but he could end up as a No. 4 or 5 starter. He's expected to be 100 percent by spring training and could get a big league look in the second half of 2012.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'08 Giants (R) 0 1 3.38 3 0 0 5 3 2 2 0 4 11 .158
'08 Salem-Keizer (SS) 0 0 4.76 2 1 0 6 6 3 3 0 1 11 .261
'08 Augusta (LoA) 3 2 1.38 6 6 0 33 15 6 5 0 7 41 .133
'09 San Jose (HiA) 12 3 2.85 18 18 0 98 82 36 31 7 29 99 .218
'09 Kinston (HiA) 0 0 2.13 3 3 0 13 14 3 3 1 6 10 .269
'09 Akron (AA) 2 2 5.68 6 6 0 32 35 22 20 7 14 29 .269
'10 Akron (AA) 6 11 5.22 26 26 0 138 126 90 80 15 58 127 .233
'11 Akron (AA) 1 0 1.64 2 2 0 11 5 2 2 0 2 17 .132
'11 Columbus (AAA) 7 4 3.68 16 15 0 88 80 41 36 12 34 90 .233
Minor League Totals 31 23 3.86 82 77 0 424 366 366 182 42 155 435 .223

10. Zach Putnam, rhp Born: Jul 03, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 225
Drafted: Michigan, 2008 (5th round).  Signed by: Derrick Ross.
Zach PutnamBackground: Like Austin Adams, Putnam was a two-way player in college and focused on pitching once he turned pro. Signed for an above-slot $600,000 as a fifth-round pick in 2008, he pitched in Triple-A for much of the last two seasons before making his big league debut last September.

Scouting Report: Putnam has some effort in his delivery but his athleticism helps him repeat his mechanics and throw strikes with a 90-93 mph fastball that touches 95 mph. He pitches off his fastball and can put hitters away with an above-average splitter, a combination that helps him miss bats and get groundballs. Putnam throws a below-average slider, which puts him in the difficult situation of being a righthanded reliever who can be vulnerable against righthanded hitters. His splitter helps him attack lefthanded batters, whom he held to a .547 OPS at Columbus last year, but he's still searching for a weapon against righthanded hitters, who tagged him for a .712 OPS.

The Future: Putnam projects as a middle reliever. He should get a chance to fill that role in Cleveland in 2012, possibly as soon as Opening Day. Otherwise he will return to Columbus.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'08 Mahoning Valley (SS) 0 1 3.72 3 3 0 10 7 5 4 0 5 8 .194
'09 Kinston (HiA) 2 0 4.13 5 5 0 24 22 12 11 1 5 23 .234
'09 Akron (AA) 4 2 4.13 33 0 2 57 59 29 26 2 18 57 .258
'10 Akron (AA) 4 1 3.86 20 7 3 51 58 25 22 2 9 41 .274
'10 Columbus (AAA) 0 1 3.33 17 0 0 24 20 10 9 2 7 24 .215
'11 Columbus (AAA) 6 3 3.65 44 0 9 69 61 30 28 6 23 68 .228
'11 Cleveland (MAJ) 1 1 6.14 8 0 0 7 10 5 5 1 0 9 .313
Major League Totals 1 1 6.43 8 0 0 7 10 10 5 1 0 9 .323
Minor League Totals 16 8 3.83 122 15 14 235 227 227 100 13 67 221 .244