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.
Welcome. Let's begin.
Carlos (Cleveland, OH): How many of your top 10 are worthy of making BA's top 100? thanks
Lindor's the only one. Howard's intriguing
and there are some useful relievers close to helping the big league
club, but Lindor is the only Top 100 guy.
Grant (NYC): Between Ronny Rodriguez and Jorge Martinez, who came closer to your top 10? Thanks for the chat.
Rodriguez is the better prospect. His arm
strength, speed and raw power are all there, but there's still a lot of
rawness to his game that kept him from ranking any higher.
Adam (New York): Is Weglarz still in your top 30, and assuming he can stay healthy, what's his ceiling?
He's there, and it's just hard to know what
to make of him at this point, especially after last year. The injury
history is significant and it's a liability going forward. His batting
eye is still outstanding and he has the raw power to put it together,
but there's still a lot of uphill in the swing that he's going to have
to try to tighten up. I wouldn't be surprised to see a bounceback year
from him in 2012.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): With a Top 10 dominated
by not-very-young middle relief candidates, I have to assume the
Indians' farm system will rank down among the bottom of the 30 teams.
Is this the worst system in baseball?
I'd go back and read the White Sox list we
just put out. That's the the worst system in the game. There are guys
who are in that top 10 who might not even crack the Indians' Top 30.
bk (hong kong): Elvis Araujo had a nice
comeback. What's his 75th percentile ceiling? and aside from staying
healthy what would you like to see him work on the most this year?
There's enough upside to be a power
lefthanded starter, which was his projection when I first wrote about
him 3-4 years ago, but that's really a perfect world scenario. Like you
said, the main thing with him is staying healthy, which he just hasn't
been able to do until last year, which was a significant step forward
for him. Beyond health, he's just raw. Both of his secondary pitches
need work, and he needs to be able to repeat his mechanics better. The
slider is ahead of the changeup right now, so if he can tighten that up,
stay healthy enough to get more repetition to control his delivery and
his arm slot better, I think the most realistic upside is a power lefty
Ben (Leland Grove): Had he remained, would Pomeranz have unseated Lindor for the top spot on your list? Your thoughts on that trade as a whole?
Pomeranz would have been No. 1 if he were
still with Cleveland. I think it's hard to assess the trade without
really knowing what happened with Ubaldo Jimenez last year. His velocity
was down, his mechanics were significantly altered from previous years
to the point where it looked like he was trying to compensate for some
type of physical issue, and even his pitch selection at times got
bizarre. All that said, he still has a pretty team-friendly contract and
I think the Indians sold high on Alex White. Giving up Pomeranz could
come back to hurt them in the future, but I'm very curious to see if
Jimenez returns to form this year.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Ben, what were the reports on
Felix Sterling's command last season, and was this what kept him from
the top 10 this year? Thanks.
Raw. He's like a lot of young players who
overthrow, which hurts their command, especially young international
players who sometimes are groomed more for the radar gun than to get
outs in games. Good velocity up to 96, flashes a good changeup, but
still plenty of rawness there.
Grant (NYC): Could you rank these SS for us in terms of ceiling - Lindor, Machado and Profar? Thanks.
Profar, Machado, Lindor. Not a knock on Lindor, but those other two are pretty elite company.
Laura (Cleveland): How much potential is there in Jason Knapp at this point?
Hard for anyone to assess when he doesn't
pitch. Given his health history and the concern I've heard from scouts
about his arm action, I think the bullpen is his future, but he has to
come back and show the stuff is still there first to get there.
Frank (Chicago): What can you tell us about RHP Jake Sisco? Thanks Ben.
He didn't make the Top 10 but I could see
him getting in there next year. Big, physical frame, sits in the low-90s
with heavy life and a pair of average breaking balls with his curveball
and slider. Didn't have much success in the Arizona League but he's a
good athlete who should be able to make adjustments.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Your projected 2015
lineup shows a lot of the same not-very-successful names as the Indians
fielded in 2011: LaPorta, Brantley and Sizemore. Obviously that
reflects a dearth of corner talent in the farm system. On the other
hand, Cleveland has a good collection of young middle infielders.
What's the chance Jason Kipnis will return to the outfield or move over
to first base
It's funny, because it wasn't long ago that
the farm system was heavier on corner guys who were supposed to be the
future like LaPorta, Weglarz, Beau Mills and Wes Hodges and light on
up-the-middle guys. But I don't see Kipnis moving. He's become a solid
defensive second baseman, which he and the Indians deserve a tremendous
amount of credit for.
Harry (Brighton Beach, NY): How far down the list did Levon Washington fall this year? What does he need to work on most?
He slid pretty far, but he's still in the
Top 30. He's athletic, he runs well, his hands are quick, but he had a
lot of trouble at the plate getting his mechanics consistent. I get into
it more in the Prospect Handbook, but the setup at the plate he was
using changed throughout the year, and I think that's still something
he's trying to get comfortable with.
Jasen (FLL): From his scouting report, Howard
sounds more destined for the bullpen however he's young. What makes him
have frontline potential?
Frontline starter is probably a rosy
projection, because I agree, there's definitely some risk there. His
two-seamer has heavy, wicked sink though, and if he can command it, I
think there's enough there to say there's mid-rotation potential.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Could you offer any candidates for surprise breakthroughs in 2012?
Jordan Smith is worth keeping an eye on.
Easy swing, great rhythm and timing at the plate, advanced approach and
good size even though the power isn't there.
Dan (Lansing): What is Luigi Rodriguez ultimate up side?
Don't think we know yet, which I don't mean
as a cop out, but I don't like putting limits on teenage Latin American
prospects. But he's a guy with premium speed and a track record of
hitting, even though there's some rawness in his swing. Power's never
going to be a big part of his game, but I think he can be a good enough
hitter to be at least an average big leaguer, maybe more.
JC (VT): Chun-Hsiu Chen seems to put up good
numbers along with reports of improving defense but he never pops up on
any prospect lists. What is your take on him?
He had a solid year offensively, although
the jump in his strikeouts is a concern and I think part of that is a
reflection of scouts' concerns about his bat speed. He has a decent idea
of what he's doing at the plate and has solid power for a catcher, but
there are a lot of scouts who just don't buy him as a catcher. The
receiving is improving, but it's still far from where it needs to be to
catch at the big league level, and if he's a backup, that's a role where
a lot of managers like a defensive-oriented guy, so it's tough to see a
big league role for him until his blocking and receiving take several
JD (AZ): Ben wondering your take on Mike Rayl? Also is he in the top 30. Thanks
Very impressive year. Not a power guy by
any means but I think he learned to get his lower half into his delivery
a bit better and saw his velocity jump a tick, with some reports of 92s
on the radar gun and a fastball around average. I don't think there's a
plus pitch in his repertoire, but his curveball is solid, he repeats
his mechanics and throws a ton of strikes, so there's some back-end
starter potential there with a chance to move quickly.
Bernie Kosar (Cleveland): Had Jason Kipnis retained prospect status, I assume he would be #1 here?
That's where I'd put him.
Dan (lansing): Was Ronnie Rodriguez close to the top 10? 5 tool SS a fair assessment?
Five tools might bit a little rich, but
he's definitely one of the toolsiest guys in the system. The arm is a
70, speed and power are both above-average, but the bat and the glove
are both raw. All the defensive tools are there for him to be a quality
defensive shortstop, but he's a young guy who's still prone to a lot of
mistakes. Right now the biggest concern I hear from scouts with him is
at the plate, where he needs to be much more disciplined and iron out
some things with his hitting mechanics. The tools are there, but he's
still pretty raw.
Matt (Wickliffe, OH): Did Beau Mills' performance restore any kind of prospect sheen to him, or is basically a future 4A player at this point?
Most likely he's a good Triple-A hitter,
with an occasional cup of coffee in the big leagues. Didn't talk to any
scouts who saw enough bat to be an everyday major leaguer.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Is Bryce Stowell still a
serious prospect, or did his reduced velocity and undisclosed reason
for a leave of absence diminish his status?
A little bit of each. I had reports of him
touching 100 mph in 2010, but last year the highest I heard on him was
95, which is more in line with what he had done prior to 2010. There's
middle relief potential here if he can stay healthy and learn to throw
Jim (Cleveland): The Indians system is not what
it once was, but there are a number of interesting young players in the
lower levels (Felix Sterling, Elvis Araujo, Ronny Rodriguez, Jorge
Martinez, Robel Garcia, etc.) who did not make your top 10. Instead you
went with some older, lower upside prospects such as McAllister, Barnes,
Putnam, etc. Was this a conscious decision? Do you not like the
youngsters, or do you think they need to prove themselves a little more
before being worthy of a top 10 ranking?
There's something to like with all those
guys, but the risk-reward profile just wasn't as palatable compared to
guys like Hagadone or Lee who don't have huge ceilings but are fairly
certain to have major league value right away. With some of the younger
guys like Lindor, Howard, Luigi Rodriguez and Tony Wolters, the risk
factors aren't quite as high (though they're still up there) compared to
guys like Sterling, Araujo, et. al. who have greater question marks. I
could absolutely see a guy like Araujo jumping into the Top 10 next
year, but there has to be a little more development and less risk for
some of those guys to make the jump.
John W. (Washington, D.C.): What's the estimated arrival time for Lindor in the bigs?
He just turned 18 a couple months ago, so not any time soon. Probably around 4-5 years away.
Trevor (Roanoke, VA): Ben - Thanks for the
chat. In terms of the '15 lineup, how concerned are the Indians with
Chisenhall's strikeout rate? Do you expect him to be league average or
I don't think they expect elite contact
rates out of him, but he was 22 and only had a few months of experience
above Double-A before he got to the big leagues. He has a compact swing,
good bat path and a track record of hitting in the minors, so I think
he'll be able to make adjustments at be at least an average big league
hitter, probably more.
Jonny (San Jose): Any chance Kyle Bellows
develops into a big leaguer? Seems like he struggles at the plate but
I've heard his glove is big league ready. Thanks for the chat!
Very good defender but he's got to show a little more juice in the bat to get a big league role.
PT (IBC): Ben,
The Indians have a lot of young Latin players in short season ball.
Ronny Rodriguez, Leonardo Castillo, Jorge Martinez, Felix Sterling,
Elvis Araujo to name a few... Which, if any of them could breakout and
who has the highest ceiling?
I touched on a few of those guys above, but
if you want a young Latin name to watch from the Indians, keep an eye
on Dorssys Paulino. Not under the radar by any means, given that the
Indians gave him $1.1 million out of the Dominican Republic last year on
July 2, but he had one of the better bats among Dominican amateur
infielders last year. I don't think he's going to play shortstop, but he
could be an offensive-oriented second baseman or third baseman down the
Ben (Leland Grove): The Indians are one of the teams interested in Yoenis Cespedes. What are the chances they can land him?
I would be very surprised if that happened.
Chris H (Boston, MA): Hi - the scouting report
seems underwhelming for Tony Wolters. Below average power and perhaps
slightly above average speed? Looks like he may end up as some type of
utility player down the road?
It's possible, although I'd like to see
what he does this year further removed from the hamate injury, which
probably cut into his power. That's never going to be a big part of his
game, but if he can play up the middle and be a 10-12 HR guy, he has the
contact and on-base skills where you can see upside as an everyday guy.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): No questions on
Aguillar, or just none posted yet? Indians sure could use a RH power
bat at a corner spot, or even as DH. What are his chances to develop
into a big leaguer?
There are still questions there, but
Aguilar was definitely one of the most pleasant surprises in the system
last year. I don't want to put much stock into AFL or Venezuelan League
performances, but what he did in both leagues was definitely a positive
sign that he might be able to hit more advanced pitching. That's really
the question on Aguilar, because he has huge power, but scouts do have
questions about the swing and the plate discipline. I wouldn't project
him as a starting first baseman at the big league level yet, but he
helped his stock and changed some opinions as much as anyone in the
Thanks for spending the afternoon with me
here at BA. We had to shuffle some things around, so Phil Rogers will be
here Tuesday to tackle all of your White Sox questions. I'll be back
next week for the Tigers chat.