2013 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.

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Indians Chat
Ben Badler
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team

INDIANS
LINKS
Indians Team Page
Indians Top 10 Prospects
Last Year's Indians Top 10 Prospects
2012 Draft: Indians
2012 Draft Report Cards: Cleveland Indians
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
Cleveland Indians

As their 68-94 season drew to a close, the Indians fired manager Manny Acta, then quickly replaced him with former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona.

While Francona puts a fresh face in the dugout, there's little Acta could have done given the players at his disposal. Cleveland ranked 22nd in baseball in runs scored, but the pitching was worse as only the Rockies allowed more runs.

The Indians have struggled to add talent in recent years, most notably through the market for amateur players. While Jason Kipnis has proven to be an excellent use of a second-round pick in 2009, the draft continues to be an area that has provided little help.

Vinnie Pestano (20th round, 2006) and Tony Sipp (45th round, 2004) have been useful relievers and Cody Allen (23rd round, 2011) made a rapid rise to join them in the big league bullpen, but years of missing on first-round picks and getting little from the later rounds have hampered Cleveland. Further development from 2008 first-rounder Lonnie Chisenhall would represent a major draft breakthrough, but he has hit .260/.295/.421 and played substandard defense in the majors the last two years.

The international market also has been a dry spot. Former Latin American director Rene Gayo (now with the Pirates) helped the team add Roberto Hernandez, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, among others. The Indians' more recent forays into international waters have yet to deliver any impact players.

Other than Hernandez and Rafael Perez, the only other international free agent Cleveland signed and had on its 2012 team was nondescript Jeanmar Gomez. The Indians hope that Chen Lee perhaps can offer some relief help in 2013 after losing 2012 to Tommy John surgery.

Former GM and current club president Mark Shapiro helped build his reputation on trades that landed such players as Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore. But Shapiro received little in return when he traded C.C. Sabathia in 2008 and Lee in 2009, a major reason why the team hasn't had a winning season since blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2007 American League Championship Series. Matt LaPorta, the centerpiece of the Sabathia trade, has been a bust, though Michael Brantley did emerge as a solid regular in 2012. Carlos Carrasco, who missed 2012 after Tommy John surgery. is the last hope to salvage much value from the Lee deal.

Making the opposite move, trading prospects in exchange for a supposed ace, also has turned sour. With the Indians contending in mid-2011, GM Chris Antonetti traded his two best young arms to the Rockies as part of a four-player package for Ubaldo Jimenez. Neither Drew Pomeranz and Alex White has done much in Colorado yet, but Jimenez has gone 13-21, 5.32 in 42 starts for Cleveland.

The Indians did get value when they traded Austin Kearns in 2010, getting Zach McAllister from the Yankees. He had a 4.24 ERA in 22 major league starts in 2012.

If the Indians are counting on help from the minors, impact talent is still at least a couple of years away. Francisco Lindor is a potential all-star and fellow shortstop Dorssys Paulino may be the best international player they've signed since Peralta in 1999. But neither has played above low Class A, nor has 2012 first-rounder Tyler Naquin, and beyond them the system is thin.

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: Lindor moved to the United States from Puerto Rico at age 12. He rose to prominence in 2009 as the captain of a Team USA squad that captured the gold medal at the 16-and-under World Championship in Taiwan, batting .500 in 11 games. He continued to boost his stock with a strong summer showcase tour in 2010, including a shocking win in the Aflac All-American Game's home run derby at Petco Park. Known for typically college-heavy drafts, the Indians drafted Lindor with the eighth overall pick in 2011, making him their first prep first-rounder since Dan Denham and Alan Horne in 2001. Lindor signed for $2.9 million, the biggest bonus Cleveland ever has given a position player or high school draftee. The youngest everyday player in the low Class A Midwest League in his first pro season in 2012, he stood out not only for his tools but also for his remarkable maturity as an 18-year-old. He batted .333 in the playoffs as Lake County reached the semifinals.

Scouting Report: An excellent athlete, Lindor is one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors. In addition to above-average defensive tools, he has phenomenal instincts. He knows how to position himself and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He gets great reads off the bat and has terrific fundamentals. His range and arm are both better than average, and his feet and hands work well together. Lindor has a quiet, simple approach in the batter's box. He has a compact swing with good bat speed from both sides of the plate and hits line drives to all fields. His pitch-recognition skills are above average, as he shows the ability to handle offspeed pitches and lays off pitches outside the strike zone to take his walks. With his bat control, he doesn't swing and miss much. Lindor could be a plus hitter who gets on base at a high clip, though his power is more to the gaps than over the fence. He has some surprising strength in his lower half and can occasionally pull a ball over the fence, but he'll likely top out around 10-15 homers per year. He's a slightly above-average runner whose 27 steals in 2012 were somewhat of a surprise, though he needs to become more efficient after getting thrown out 12 times. The game never seems to speed up on Lindor, and seemingly everyone who comes in contact with him raves about his makeup. Indians officials marvel at the way he approaches his routine every day and never wavers from his preparation. After hitting .285/.369/.410 in the first half, he batted .228/.355/.299 in 62 games after the all-star break, so he'll need to get stronger to hold up over a full season.

The Future: Lindor has the look of a future all-star shortstop. His defense is already major league caliber, while additional strength and refinement should help bring his offensive game to the next level. Ticketed for high Class A Carolina in 2013, he's the best infield prospect the franchise has had since Brandon Phillips  (who was originally drafted by the Expos and obtained in the 2002 Bartolo Colon trade) and the best position prospect who was originally signed by the Indians since Victor Martinez. Lindor has a chance to get to Cleveland before he turns 21.
 
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
'12 Lake County (LoA) 490 83 126 24 3 6 42 61 78 27 12 .257 .352 .355
Minor League Totals 509 87 132 24 3 6 44 62 83 28 12 .259 .352 .354

2. Dorssys Paulino, ss Born: Nov 21, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175
Signed: Dominican Republic '10 Signed by: Ramon Pena/Claudio Brito/Felix Nivar
Dorssys PaulinoBackground: The son of former big league lefthander Jesus Sanchez, Paulino drew plenty of attention as an amateur in the Dominican Republic for his bat. Signed for $1.1 million, he starred in his 2012 pro debut, ranking second in the Rookie-level Arizona League in batting (.355) and third in OPS (1.014) despite being one of the league's youngest players at 17.

Scouting Report: Paulino has quick hands and a short, simple swing that stays in the hitting zone a long time, giving him excellent plate coverage. He can get the barrel out front against good fastballs and recognizes spin, doesn't chase much out of the strike zone and uses the whole field. While international scouts pegged Paulino with average power, he showed surprising pop in his debut, so he might end up with more. He's an above-average runner and the Indians would like him to stay at shortstop, though scouts outside the organization think he's a better fit at second or third base. He has a strong arm but made 25 errors in 46 games at short.

The Future: One of the most exciting hitters to sign with the Indians in years, Paulino should move quickly and will open 2013 in low Class A. The presence of Francisco Lindor eventually will push him to another position.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Indians (R) 172 42 61 14 6 6 30 15 31 9 1 .355 .404 .610
'12 Mahoning Valley (SS) 59 5 16 5 0 1 8 3 14 2 1 .271 .306 .407
Minor League Totals 231 47 77 19 6 7 38 18 45 11 2 .333 .380 .558

3. Tyler Naquin, of Born: Apr 24, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 175
Drafted: Texas A&M, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Kyle Van Hook
Tyler NaquinBackground: Naquin led NCAA Division I with 104 hits for Texas A&M in 2011, and he won consecutive Big 12 Conference batting titles the last two seasons with .381 and .380 averages. He parlayed his status as one of the best pure hitters in college baseball into a $1.75 million bonus as the 15th overall pick in the 2012 draft. A back injury kept him out for most of August.

Scouting Report: Naquin's quick, handsy swing helps him stay inside the ball, use the opposite field and generate plenty of line drives. He has nice balance and a mature approach at the plate. He has good hand-eye coordination and has no issues handling breaking pitches. Naquin could benefit from incorporating his lower half more in his swing and turning on pitches with greater authority. He has below-average power and his narrow shoulders raise questions about his ability to add more strength pop. A right fielder for the Aggies, Naquin played center field in pro ball. He's a solid runner with a well above-average arm, though he needs to improve his routes.

The Future: Whether Naquin will have the defensive chops to handle center field or the power to profile on a corner is still a question, as some scouts consider him a tweener. His bat is advanced enough for him to make the jump to high Class A for his first full pro season, however.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Mahoning Valley (SS) 137 22 37 11 2 0 13 17 26 4 3 .270 .379 .380
Minor League Totals 137 22 37 11 2 0 13 17 26 4 3 .270 .379 .380

4. Cody Allen, rhp Born: Nov 20, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 210
Drafted: High Point, 2011 (23rd round).  Signed by: Bob Mayer
Cody AllenBackground: There was little hype when the Indians signed Allen out of mid-major High Point for $40,000 as a 23rd-round pick in 2011. His stuff kicked into a higher gear in 2012, when he made his major league debut in July to become the second-fastest 2011 draftee to reach the majors, behind only No. 3 overall pick Trevor Bauer.

Scouting Report: Allen had Tommy John surgery and was a starter in college, but his fastball velocity spiked when he became a reliever in pro ball. An 88-92 mph guy who touched 94 in college, he now sits at 94-96 mph and hits 97 with late life. His mid-80s breaking ball is a plus pitch with plenty of depth, resembling a curveball more than a slider. He's still learning how to command his breaking ball in the strike zone, but it can miss bats against both lefties and righties.

The Future: Allen's increased velocity has dramatically changed his outlook, improving his profile to that of a late-inning reliever. His pure stuff is on par with current Cleveland closer Chris Perez, and Allen could take his job at some point in the near future.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Mahoning Valley (SS) 3 1 2.14 14 0 0 34 21 9 8 1 9 42 .172
'11 Lake County (LoA) 2 0 0.00 7 0 0 17 10 0 0 0 5 28 .164
'11 Akron (AA) 0 0 18.00 1 0 0 1 3 2 2 0 0 2 .500
'11 Kinston (HiA) 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 3 .100
'12 Carolina (HiA) 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 8 .077
'12 Akron (AA) 0 0 1.17 5 0 1 8 2 1 1 1 0 10 .080
'12 Columbus (AAA) 3 2 2.27 24 0 2 32 22 8 8 3 9 35 .188
'12 Cleveland (MAJ) 0 1 3.72 27 0 0 29 29 12 12 2 15 27 .250
Major League Totals 0 1 3.72 27 0 0 29 29 29 12 2 15 27 .250
Minor League Totals 8 3 1.73 54 0 3 99 60 60 19 5 23 128 .168

5. Mitch Brown, rhp Born: Apr 13, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Century HS, Rochester, Minn., 2012 (2nd round).  Signed by: Les Pajari
Mitch BrownBackground: Brown had the look of a first-round pick early last spring, but he wasn't quite as strong late in his high school season. He still became just the fourth Minnesota prep pitcher ever to go as high as the second round, giving up a San Diego scholarship to sign for $800,000.

Scouting Report: The son of a Korean powerlifter, Brown has a sturdy build and pitches with poise. His fastball velocity is inconsistent, but he can sit around 90-93 mph and reached as high as 96 after signing. The Indians love the upside of both of his breaking pitches, a true curveball in the upper 70s and a cutter/slider in the mid-80s. In his debut, he focused mainly on the cutter/slider and worked with Rookie-level Arizona League pitching coach Steve Karsay in the bullpen to improve his curve. Brown also has an average changeup that could get better with experience. He has a relatively low-maintenance delivery, and while he does throw across his body, it doesn't impede his command and helps him hide the ball.

The Future: Brown has the stuff and polish to make the jump from Rookie ball to full-season ball and spend his first full pro season in low Class A at age 19. If he can refine his secondary pitches, he'll combine solid stuff across the board with good feel for pitching and project as a possible No. 3 starter.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Indians (R) 2 0 3.58 8 8 0 28 20 16 11 3 10 26 .194
Minor League Totals 2 0 3.54 8 8 0 28 20 20 11 3 10 26 .192

6. Danny Salazar, rhp Born: Jan 11, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic '06 Signed by: Lino Diaz
Danny SalazarBackground: Signed in 2006, Salazar did little in his first five years as a pro to garner much attention as a prospect. Elbow problems limited him to just seven starts in 2010, and he eventually succumbed to Tommy John surgery in August that year. Though he hadn't pitched above low Class A, the Indians protected him on the 40-man roster after the 2011 season, then saw his stuff pick up significantly in 2012 amidst the best year of his career.

Scouting Report: As the season wore on and Salazar grew further removed from his surgery, his velocity took off. His fastball now sits at 94-97 mph at times and reaches as high as 100. He's still learning how to use his secondary pitches to miss more bats, but his breaking ball has power and depth to it and his changeup stands out in a system that doesn't feature many good ones. He still has to prove his durability because his career high in innings remains the 107 he threw in 2009.

The Future: Salazar's development was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 for Cleveland. If he can't hold up as a starter, his power fastball could be electric in the bullpen. He'll either return to Double-A Akron or make the jump to Triple-A Columbus in 2013, when he could see big league time by the end of the season.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 Indians (R) 5 3 1.96 14 14 0 64 52 25 14 1 12 49 .212
'08 Indians (R) 4 2 2.87 11 11 0 53 46 19 17 5 13 43 .223
'09 Lake County (LoA) 5 7 4.44 21 20 0 107 114 60 53 10 40 65 .261
'10 Lake County (LoA) 1 1 4.45 7 7 0 32 34 16 16 7 13 23 .260
'11 Indians (R) 0 0 2.70 5 5 0 7 6 3 2 1 2 11 .231
'11 Lake County (LoA) 0 2 3.38 3 3 0 8 8 4 3 0 2 7 .250
'12 Carolina (HiA) 1 2 2.68 16 16 0 54 46 17 16 3 19 53 .222
'12 Akron (AA) 4 0 1.85 6 6 0 34 25 8 7 1 8 23 .197
Minor League Totals 20 17 3.21 83 82 0 359 331 331 128 28 109 274 .235

7. 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 signed Rodriguez as an infielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and had him begin his pro career as a second baseman in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. The infield never came naturally to him, however, so he moved to center field a month into his first season. He has held his own as a teenager in low Class A .

Scouting Report: Rodriguez is a plus-plus runner with good bat speed from both sides of the plate. Strikeouts weren't an issue early in his career, though his swing can get big and leads to too many strikeouts for someone his size. He has surprising strength, though he'll probably never have more than average power. He does have a decent idea of the strike zone and is patient enough to take his walks, but he'll need a better two-strike approach. While his speed and athleticism give him the chance to make plays in center field, he's still learning how to take the right routes. His average arm is fine for center.

The Future: Some scouts see Rodriguez as an everyday player in the big leagues, while others see him as more of a good fourth outfielder. After reaching low Class A at the end of the 2011 season as an 18-year-old, he was still one of the youngest players in the Midwest League last season, and he's ready to advance to high Class A at age 20.
 
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
'12 Lake County (LoA) 463 75 124 21 5 11 48 50 133 24 9 .268 .338 .406
Minor League Totals 896 146 255 38 19 16 94 105 223 73 28 .285 .358 .423

8. Ronny Rodriguez, ss/2b Born: Apr 17, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170
Signed: Dominican Republic, '10 Signed by: Ramon Pena/Miguel Valdez
Ronny RodriguezBackground: Rodriguez took an atypical path to pro ball. Born in the Dominican Republic, he moved to Lawrence, Mass., when he was 12 and attended high school in the United States before moving back to the island. He signed for $375,000 in 2010, making him the Indians' top international signing that year.

Scouting Report: His odd path is evident in his game, as Rodriguez stands out more for his tools than his refinement. He has plus raw power that has led to 30 homers in two years in Class A, but his free-swinging approach restricts his on-base ability. He has a tendency to step in the bucket at the plate and doesn't recognize breaking pitches well. Rodriguez also has plus speed, though his baserunning still needs work. He's a good athlete with a well above-average arm and the range to play shortstop, but he still makes way too many mistakes at the position, including 28 errors in 80 games in 2012. His footwork is lacking and reduces the accuracy of his throws.

The Future: Rodriguez will stay on the fast track, jumping to Double-A at age 21 in 2013. He has much to clean up, but he ultimately could profile along the lines of Clint Barmes or Khalil Greene as a shortstop with defensive promise who won't get on base much but flashes impressive power for the position.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Lake County (LoA) 370 41 91 28 7 11 42 13 83 10 7 .246 .274 .449
'12 Carolina (HiA) 454 67 120 20 4 19 66 19 88 7 7 .264 .300 .452
Minor League Totals 824 108 211 48 11 30 108 32 171 17 14 .256 .289 .450

9. Jesus Aguilar, 1b Born: Jun 30, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 257
Signed: Venezuela '07 Signed by: Jesus Mendoza
Jesus AguilarBackground: Aguilar broke out in his fourth pro season, slamming 23 homers in Class A and performing well in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. He built upon that with a solid 2012 season that included a strong August showing in Double-A.

Scouting Report: Aguilar's game is based around strength and power. He has plus raw pop and can drive the ball out of the park to all fields. He's not a natural or rhythmic hitter, as he has an upper-body dominant swing and still needs work on his approach. He can get beat with good fastballs in on him, but if he learns to free up his hands, his power will show up more frequently in games. Some scouts think he needs to become better at recognizing breaking pitches, but he doesn't strike out excessively. Aguilar is a bottom-of-the-scale runner who lacks range and athleticism but has sure hands at first base. He did improve markedly at first base in 2012.

The Future: Aguilar will head back to Akron to open the 2013 season. If he shows that his hitting approach will work at the upper levels, he could be in line for a shot at Cleveland's first-base job in 2014. Both the big league team and the farm system are thin at his position.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'08 Indians (R) 235 23 49 12 0 4 45 23 29 4 3 .209 .286 .311
'09 Indians (R) 200 33 61 16 0 5 46 31 24 5 1 .305 .412 .460
'10 Indians (R) 112 15 29 2 1 7 22 5 33 1 1 .259 .293 .482
'10 Mahoning Valley (SS) 123 8 30 9 0 2 17 11 28 2 0 .244 .301 .366
'11 Lake County (LoA) 349 58 102 27 2 19 69 35 98 1 0 .292 .370 .544
'11 Kinston (HiA) 113 12 29 3 0 4 13 11 28 1 0 .257 .323 .389
'12 Carolina (HiA) 368 63 102 25 2 12 58 45 91 0 1 .277 .365 .454
'12 Akron (AA) 72 12 21 6 0 3 13 13 24 0 0 .292 .402 .500
Minor League Totals 1572 224 423 100 5 56 283 174 355 14 6 .269 .350 .446

10. Chen Lee, rhp Born: Oct 21, 1986 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 190
Signed: Taiwan '08 Signed by: Jason Lee
Chen LeeBackground: The Indians tried to sign Lee out of high school, but they had to wait until he attended college and pitched for Taiwan in the 2008 Olympics before landing him for $400,000. He pitched for Taiwan again in the 2009 World Baseball Classic as he steadily made his way up the ladder in the Indians minor league system. After a strong 2011 season, he was poised to make his major league debut in 2012. Instead, he blew out his elbow in Triple-A in April and had Tommy John surgery in June.

Scouting Report: When healthy, Lee has shown the ability to miss bats. He has averaged 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors, thanks to a lively fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and reaches 95. His velocity is unusually high for a pitcher with a low three-quarters arm slot, and his delivery adds to his deception. He keeps the ball down in the strike zone and gets groundballs. Lee's slider is inconsistent, getting him swings and misses at times but also flattening out when his low slot makes it difficult to stay on top of the pitch. He doesn't have a reliable weapon to combat lefthanders. His command is average, as he doesn't always locate his pitches as well as he'd like.

The Future: Lee should return to game action by May or June. A potential big league set-up man, he could get to Cleveland before the end of 2013 if he regains his previous form.

 
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
'12 Columbus (AAA) 2 0 2.57 5 0 0 7 5 2 2 1 1 8 .192
Minor League Totals 17 11 2.99 138 0 3 235 184 184 78 15 74 286 .207