Cleveland Indians: Top 10 Prospects

1. Adam Miller, rhp
2. Chuck Lofgren, lhp
3. Trevor Crowe, of
4. Tony Sipp, lhp
5. Brian Barton, of
6. John Drennen, of
7. Scott Lewis, lhp
8. Brad Snyder, of
9. Wes Hodges, 3b
10. David Huff, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Trevor Crowe
Best Power Hitter Ryan Goleski
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Trevor Crowe
Fastest Baserunner Jose Constanza
Best Athlete Brian Barton
Best Fastball Adam Miller
Best Curveball Scott Lewis
Best Slider Adam Miller
Best Changeup Sean Smith
Best Control Scott Lewis
Best Defensive Catcher Wyatt Toregas
Best Defensive Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera
Best Infield Arm Asdrubal Cabrera
Best Defensive Outfielder Jonathan Van Every
Best Outfield Arm Ryan Goleski
Catcher Matt McBride
First Base Victor Martinez
Second Base Josh Barfield
Third Base Andy Marte
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta
Left Field Trevor Crowe
Center Field Grady Sizemore
Right Field Shin-Soo Choo
Designated Hitter Travis Hafner
No. 1 Starter C.C. Sabathia
No. 2 Starter Adam Miller
No. 3 Starter Jeremy Sowers
No. 4 Starter Cliff Lee
No. 5 Starter Jake Westbrook
Closer Tony Sipp
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Bartolo Colon, rhp Angels
1998 Sean Casey, 1b Tigers
1999 Russell Branyan, 3b Padres
2000 C.C. Sabathia, lhp Indians
2001 C.C. Sabathia, lhp Indians
2002 Corey Smith, 3b White Sox
2003 Brandon Phillips, ss/2b Reds
2004 Grady Sizemore, of Indians
2005 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
2006 Adam Miller, rhp Indians
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Tim Drew, rhp Out of baseball
1998 C.C. Sabathia, lhp Indians
1999 Will Hartley, c (2nd) Out of baseball
2000 Corey Smith, 3b White Sox
2001 Dan Denham, rhp Indians
2002 Jeremy Guthrie, rhp Indians
2003 Michael Aubrey, 1b Indians
2004 Jeremy Sowers, lhp Indians
2005 Trevor Crowe, of Indians
2006 David Huff, lhp Indians
Danys Baez, 1999 $4,500,000
Jeremy Guthrie, 2002 $3,000,000
Jeremy Sowers, 2004 $2,475,000
Michael Aubrey, 1b $2,010,000
Dan Denham, 2001 $1,860,000
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Cleveland Indians

After making over an older, overpaid roster in 2002, general manager Mark Shapiro and his rebuilding plan reaped rewards right on schedule. The Indians won 93 games and just missed the playoffs in 2005, with a promise of better things to come.

Instead, Cleveland stumbled. The Tribe went 13-12 in the season’s first month and never got back into the American League Central race. The Indians dropped to 78 victories and fourth place in the division, 18 games behind the Twins.

The major step backward was mostly the result of inconsistency on the mound, particularly in the bullpen. Rookie Jeremy Sowers replaced Jason Johnson in the rotation and showed promise, but two other farm system products, Fausto Carmona and Fernando Cabrera, failed to shoring up the bullpen. Cabrera went 3-3, 5.34 and couldn’t convert any of his four save opportunities.

The Indians’ handling of Carmona was curious at best and highlighted their big league pitching problems. Carmona opened the season as the No. 1 starter at Triple-A Buffalo, then earned a spot in the Cleveland rotation before moving to the bullpen. After the Indians traded closer Bob Wickman to the Braves, they briefly anointed Carmona closer before using him in middle relief. When Carmona struggled mightily with 1-9, 5.64 numbers, he headed back to Buffalo as a starter and resurfaced in the Tribe rotation at the end of the year.

Though the club has the nucleus of a strong rotation in C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee and Sowers, the bullpen still needs an overhaul and there is no clear-cut closer on the roster. Tony Sipp, who spent 2006 in Double-A, may get the next opportunity.

Offense wasn’t an issue, as the Indians plated 870 runs and in fact outscored their opponents by 88. Grady Sizemore came into his own as an elite center fielder, while Travis Hafner continued to establish himself as one of the game’s most dangerous mashers.

One positive the Indians took out of a disappointing year was getting a look at several position players later in the season, giving Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez, Joe Inglett, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy Marte a chance to contribute. Kouzmanoff showed enough to be used as the primary chip to acquire Josh Barfield in a November trade with the Padres. Cleveland also added position-player talent when it fell out of the race, dealing Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez and Wickman to get shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and catcher Max Ramirez.

Down on the farm, Kinston won the high Class A Carolina League title behind strong pitching, particularly from lefthanders Chuck Lofgren and Scott Lewis. Akron came within one game of winning its second straight Double-A Eastern League championship. The Indians spent most of their early draft picks in June on college players with solid if not spectacular ceilings, starting with polished lefthander David Huff in the supplemental first round.

While Aeros ace Adam Miller is the only real blue-chip prospect in the system, the club has a lot of pieces in place to contribute to the majors in 2007, as well as the depth to make trades if the Indians can get off to a better start. But life has gotten a lot tougher in the AL Central, as Cleveland discovered.