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Cleveland Indians

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

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Top 30 Prospects Archive

Player Reports

  1. 1. Adam Miller | RHP
    Adam Miller
    Born: Nov 26, 1984
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 2-4 | 4.86 ERA | 51 SO | 21 BB | 70.3 IP

    Teams shied away from high school righthanders in the first round of the 2003 draft, with only Jeff Allison (Marlins, No. 16 overall) and Chad Billingsley (Dodgers, No. 24) getting picked. Miller went with the top pick of the supplemental first round, and he and Billingsley quickly have established themselves as two of the top pitching prospects in the game. A sore shoulder and strict pitch counts limited Miller in his pro debut, though he was still an easy choice as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. In 2004, his first full season, Miller elevated himself to the top of an organization strong in pitching prospects, particularly righthanders. After being promoted to high Class A Kinston, he dominated Carolina League hitters and won both his playoff starts, striking out 14 while not allowing an earned run in 12 innings. Miller didn't just seem to get stronger as the season wore on. His routine exit physical found that his rotator cuff actually had gotten stronger; something GM Mark Shapiro called "nothing short of freakish" and attributed to Miller's outstanding work ethic. Miller has all the components to develop into a frontline starter in the big leagues. Cleveland brass believes he's ahead of former Indians phenoms Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon at the same stage of development. Miller's arsenal begins with a heavy, boring fastball that sits anywhere from 92-97 mph and occasionally threatens triple digits. His latebreaking 87-88 mph slider has blossomed into a deadly out pitch. The power break on his slider eats up lefthanders, who batted at a .221 clip against him in 2004. Miller possesses a rare combination of power, intelligence and feel for a teenager. He has an almost photographic memory in terms of recalling pitch sequences, which has helped him make adjustments from inning to inning and start to start. Miller spent extra time with coaches to break down hitters on days before his turn in the rotation. His makeup and aptitude are off the charts. Like many young power pitchers, Miller was able to overpower hitters with his two-pitch attack, but the Indians had to force him to throw his changeup more often to increase its depth and effectiveness as a third option. He made impressive strides with the changeup after working with Kinston pitching coach Greg Hibbard and continued to show improvement in instructional league. He needs to build more confidence in the pitch as he continues to move through the system. Miller has earned comparisons to two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen for his explosive fastball-slider combination as well as his moxie. Miller is on the fast track and will begin 2005 at Double-A Akron. He could reach Cleveland the following year, and it might not be much longer before he's leading the big league rotation.

  2. 2. Michael Aubrey | 1B
    Michael Aubrey
    Born: Apr 15, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Minors: .283/.336/.462 | 4 HR | 1 SB | 106 AB

    Aubrey was Baseball America's Freshman of the Year in 2001, when he was a two-way star and led Tulane to its first-ever College World Series victory. A back injury ended his days on the mound, but his bat made him the 11th overall pick in 2003. A career .320 hitter as a pro, he has been held in check by only a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him for five weeks in 2004. Aubrey's quick hands allow him to control the barrel of the bat and he has a knack for identifying pitches early, rarely swinging and missing. He projects as a top-notch defender with solid footwork around the bag and a strong throwing arm for a first baseman. There's some question as to how much power Aubrey will hit for in the majors. Most scouts see him as a gap hitter with occasional pop. He can get tied up by fastballs in on his hands, something he can rectify by incorporating his lower half more in his swing. Aubrey's on-base ability and gap power fit the mold of a No. 3 hitter. He'll return to Double-A and is in line for a midseason promotion to Triple-A Buffalo.

  3. 3. Franklin Gutierrez | OF
    Franklin Gutierrez
    Born: Feb 21, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .260/.322/.420 | 11 HR | 16 SB | 450 AB

    While Milton Bradley's antics finally forced the Indians to trade him, they made the best of the situation by prying Gutierrez and Andrew Brown away from the Dodgers. Shortly after a promotion to Triple-A in 2004, he needed surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow and missed two months. The most complete player in the system, Gutierrez has electrifying bat speed. He destroys pitches on the inner half of the plate. His strength and natural lift give him the potential to hit 30-plus homers in the majors, though his elbow injury muted his power in 2004. His speed and arm strength make him a standout defender in either center or right field. Hitting coordinator Derek Shelton worked overtime with Gutierrez in instructional league to address his pitch recognition and patience. He still has a tendency to expand the zone, chasing too many breaking balls in the dirt. Still somewhat raw, he needs a full season in Triple-A. He'll try to break into Cleveland's promising outfield corps in 2006.

  4. 4. Brad Snyder | OF
    Brad Snyder
    Born: May 25, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 220
    Minors: .279/.354/.495 | 22 HR | 17 SB | 513 AB

    A car accident put Snyder's career in jeopardy following his freshman year at Ball State, but he made a full recovery and became the 2003 Mid- American Conference player of the year. He missed spring training and much of April in 2004 with an eye infection before contact lenses helped correct the problem. Snyder has drawn comparisons to the likes of Paul O'Neill and Grady Sizemore for his broad base of tools and advanced hitting approach. His sweet, compact stroke and his bat speed produce easy power to the opposite field. He runs well and displays good instincts on the bases. He also has a strong arm. While he plays an admirable center field, Snyder is better suited for a corner role and probably will settle into right field. He still needs to become more comfortable in turning on pitches on the inner half to fully tap into his power potential. Snyder fanned 82 times in 62 games in his pro debut, but after making better contact in 2004 he's on the verge of an offensive breakthrough. He'll begin his second full season in Double-A.

  5. 5. Jeremy Sowers | LHP
    Jeremy Sowers
    Born: May 17, 1983
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 180
    Minors: 14-4 | 2.37 ERA | 149 SO | 29 BB | 159.3 IP

    Sowers became the 12th player to be selected in the first round of two June drafts. The Reds took him 20th overall in 2001 with little or no intention of signing him, and he went sixth in 2004, making him the highest-drafted Vanderbilt player ever. He held out all summer before signing for $2.475 million. His twin brother Josh is a righthander/infielder at Yale. Sowers commands the zone with four pitches and goes right after hitters with an aggressive approach. He adds and subtracts from his fastball while mixing in a plus curveball, a cutter-type slider and a changeup. His fastball features good arm-side movement and sink from a deceptive three-quarters delivery. He can't overpower hitters with the 85-91 mph velocity on his fastball. He must further refine his changeup to put the finishing touches on his arsenal. While both of his breaking balls show tight, downward rotation, they can become more consistent. The most polished lefthander in the 2004 draft, Sowers should move swiftly up the ladder. He'll make his pro debut in high Class A and could make it to Cleveland as early as 2006.

  6. 6. Roberto Hernandez | RHP
    Roberto Hernandez
    Born: Aug 30, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 270
    Minors: 13-9 | 3.68 ERA | 106 SO | 35 BB | 173.7 IP

    When the Indians signed Carmona out of the Dominican as a 16-yearold, he was a malnourished stringbean. As he has bulked up, his velocity has steadily increased. He tied for the minor league lead with 17 wins in 2003 and reached double figures again while advancing to Triple-A in 2004. Carmona pounds the ball down in the zone with good command of a heavy 90-95 mph sinker. He upgraded his deceptive changeup into a plus pitch with improved late action in 2004. His athletic, repeatable delivery allows him to consistently throw strikes. Despite his lively fastball, Carmona doesn't miss a lot of bats. While he induces a lot of ground balls, his strikeout totals won't increase until he tightens his slider. It's a slurvy breaking ball and hasn't been an effective third option for him. After coddling him earlier in his career, the Indians were more aggressive with Carmona in 2004. That won't stop in 2005, as they plan on assigning him to Triple-A.

  7. 7. Fernando Cabrera | RHP
    Fernando Cabrera
    Born: Nov 16, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 225
    Minors: 6-1 | 1.23 ERA | 68 SO | 11 BB | 51.3 IP

    Though Cabrera had a 7-2, 2.47 record as a 21-year-old starter in Double-A, the Indians moved him to the bullpen in mid-2003. He has continued to flourish and was impressive in a brief major league stint in August. Cabrera has all the makings of a power reliever with two plus pitches--a 92-96 mph fastball and a hard, diving splitter. He controls both sides of the plate with his fastball. His aggressive temperament benefits him late in games with the lead. Cabrera's slider and changeup aren't as useful as his fastball and splitter, though he doesn't need as diverse a repertoire coming out of the bullpen. He has improved his slider, but he tips off his changeup by reducing his arm speed. He's easy prey for basestealers. He'll get a long look in spring training, though he won't get thrown to the wolves immediately after Bob Wickman re-signed and will presumably open the season as Cleveland's closer. The Indians will bring him along slowly, but he showed he has the stuff to thrive with the game on the line.

  8. 8. Ryan Garko | 1B
    Ryan Garko
    Born: Jan 2, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 225
    Minors: .303/.384/.498 | 19 HR | 1 SB | 452 AB

    Undrafted following his junior season at Stanford because of skepticism about his defensive ability, Garko turned in an All-America .402-18- 92 performance as a senior. In his first full season as a pro, he was Cleveland's 2004 minor league player of the year. Garko climbed three levels and raked at every stop in 2004, hitting to all fields and showing above-average power. He's short to the ball with an efficient swing, helping him adjust to any type of pitch and location. His strong leadership skills are an asset behind the plate. While he is underrated defensively behind the plate, some scouts still question whether he can be an everyday catcher. He worked extensively with roving instructors Chris Bando and Ted Kubiak to improve on defense, both behind the plate and at first. He's a well below-average runner. The Indians believe Garko is ready to be a role player in the big leagues right now. However, he likely will start 2005 in Triple-A as he tries to find a full-time position.

  9. 9. Nick Pesco | RHP
    Nick Pesco
    Born: Sep 17, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 195
    Minors: 11-10 | 3.82 ERA | 101 SO | 39 BB | 153.3 IP

    In 2002, the Indians signed righthander Sean Smith for $1.1 million as a draft-and-follow out of Sacramento City College. A year later, they went back to the same northern California juco conference and spent the same amount on another draft-and-follow, Pesco. While Smith had elbow problems in 2004, Pesco had a strong first full season. He is armed with a four-pitch repertoire, including the most effective changeup in the organization. His extra-large frame and heavy, boring 90-94 mph fastball on a downhill plane elicit comparisons to Jason Davis. Pesco made strides with his slider and curveball last season, though both pitches have yet to reach their projections yet. He has the makings of a good, clean delivery, but he needs to continue working on staying over the rubber to create better overall balance. The Indians' pitching depth affords them the luxury of not needing to rush Pesco. His second trip to high Class A could be short-lived, with a quick promotion back to Double-A very possible.

  10. 10. Andrew Brown | RHP
    Andrew Brown
    Born: Feb 17, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 230
    Minors: 4-2 | 3.36 ERA | 81 SO | 19 BB | 69.7 IP

    After sending Milton Bradley to Los Angeles for Gutierrez and a player to be named, Cleveland chose Brown from a group of prospects to complete the deal. Brown had made a strong first impression on the Dodgers in 2002 after coming from Atlanta in a trade for Gary Sheffield, but made only one start in 2003 because of elbow problems. Brown possesses an overpowering four-pitch mix, led by an effortless 92-96 mph fastball that he drives down in the zone. He also has two power breaking balls along with good touch on an average changeup. Health is the biggest question mark with Brown. He had Tommy John surgery in 2000 and bone chips removed from the same elbow in 2003. The Dodgers developed some concerns about his mental toughness, as have the Indians. Brown needs to show he's willing to accept criticism from coaches before he'll reach his potential. He'll start 2005 in Double-A and could make his major league debut later in the year.

  11. 11. Jake Dittler | RHP
    Jake Dittler
    Born: Nov 24, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 10-9 | 3.64 ERA | 107 SO | 61 BB | 173.0 IP

    The Indians used three first-round picks on pitchers in 2001, but second-rounder Dittler has outperformed Dan Denham, unsigned Alan Horne and J.D. Martin. His stock soared high enough that he ranked No. 4 on this list a year ago, but nagging injuries contributed to inconsistent command during a disappointing 2004 season. Dittler posted a 2.20 ERA in his first five starts before stiffness in his upper back landed him on the disabled list for four weeks in May Upon his return, he had trouble locating his plus stuff. His two main pitches are a heavy, boring 90-95 mph fastball and an above-average curveball. His changeup came on as a viable third weapon in 2004. Though his fast-track development hit a snag, the Indians still believe he's on schedule to contribute in the majors by 2006. Dittler got back on course in the Arizona Fall League as he prepared for a return to Double-A in 2005.

  12. 12. Francisco Cruceta | RHP
    Francisco Cruceta
    Born: Jul 4, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 7-5 | 5.17 ERA | 102 SO | 35 BB | 111.3 IP

    Indians officials have regarded the Dodgers as one of baseball's deepest organizations in recent years, and they've done a good job of raiding that system in trades. Not only did Cleveland get Top 10 Prospects Franklin Gutierrez and Andy Brown for Milton Bradley last spring, but they also picked up a pair of quality arms when their primarily goal was just to dump Paul Shuey's contract in July 2002. In exchange, the Indians received Cruceta and Ricardo Rodriguez (since traded for Ryan Ludwick), along with veteran Terry Mulholland. Cruceta has proven to be one of the most durable starters in the system. He works with an 89-92 mph sinker that reaches 94, as well as a solid slider, splitter and changeup. His fastball has good life with late run and sink. When he added the splitter in 2004, it immediately became a go-to pitch and boosted the rest of his repertoire. While he has good command of all four pitches, Cruceta's tendency to pitch up in the strike zone gets him into trouble. Scouts differ in their opinions of his future role, with some seeing him as a setup man and others projecting him as a No. 4 starter. After getting a brief look in the big leagues last season, he'll have an opportunity to make a better second impression in spring training.

  13. 13. Juan Valdes | OF
    Juan Valdes
    Born: Jun 22, 1985
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 150
    Minors: .220/.301/.330 | 8 HR | 12 SB | 373 AB

    A cousin of Carlos Beltran, Valdes has similar potential. A switch-hitter since he was 14, he finishes his level swing with power and both hands on the bat all the way through the zone, a la Beltran. He has a more advanced approach from the left side, and he needs to show the ability to make more consistent hard contact from the right side. He recognized pitches well and shows a willingness to take walks. An adequate defender in center field, he has plus speed and arm strength. Valdes' quickness is more apparent than his power at this point, as he stole 41 bases in 47 attempts in just 63 games. He'll need to add more strength to his wiry frame to give himself a chance to continue to follow in Beltran's footsteps. He will begin his first full season at low Class A Lake County in 2005.

  14. 14. Chuck Lofgren | LHP
    Chuck Lofgren
    Born: Jan 29, 1986
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 5-5 | 2.81 ERA | 89 SO | 43 BB | 93.0 IP

    Lofgren was a standout for three seasons at Serra High, the same school that produced Barry Bonds and Greg Jefferies, as well as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He was under intense scrutiny his senior season as a two-way player and he may have suffered from a case of draftitis. Many clubs preferred Lofgren more for his bat than his arm, but by the midpoint of last spring, his average stood just above the Mendoza Line. He finished strong at the plate, but hit fewer snags on the mound and the Indians targeted him as a pitcher. Lofgren touched 96 mph in his first pro start and his fastball sat consistently at 92-93 mph all summer. His curveball has the makings of being a plus pitch, but can get a little loopy at times and needs tighter spin. He also has to refine his changeup. Lofgren is aggressive and has impressed Cleveland with his savvy and makeup. Rookie-level Burlington pitching coach Ruben Niebla worked extensively on Lofgren's delivery to help his leverage and plane to the plate. He lands violently on his front leg, which affects his command. Though the Tribe drafted him as a pitcher, Lofgren's contract included a clause allowing him to swing the bat as a DH once a week. His days as a two-way player should be short-lived, however, as he opens this year in low Class A.

  15. 15. Mike Butia | OF
    Mike Butia
    Born: Nov 29, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .235/.300/.347 | 8 HR | 1 SB | 429 AB

    With crosscheckers blanketing the talent-laden Colonial Athletic Association to scout the likes of Justin Verlander, Bill Bray and Justin Orenduff--all of whom became first-round picks in 2004--Butia received plenty of exposure last spring. He set a James Madison record with 18 homers and finished third in NCAA Division I with a .782 slugging percentage, but hurt his cause with a miserable series against William & Mary in front of dozens of high-ranking scouting officials. Cleveland scouting director John Mirabelli watched him scuffle, but saw correctable flaws and trusted veteran area scout Bobby Mayer, who liked Butia. He showed above-average pull power as an amateur, but didn't load his hands well at the plate and was exposed by better pitching. The Indians saw immediate results after revamping his approach to create a better trigger, opening his stance and widening his base. He began to drive pitches to the opposite field more often. Butia has good bat speed and natural loft in his swing, though he'll need to cut down on his strikeouts. A slightly below-average runner, he's limited to left field by his subpar arm strength and defensive ability. He has a mild thyroid condition and put on a lot of weight during his college career. Butia will begin his first full season in low Class A.

  16. 16. Justin Hoyman | RHP
    Justin Hoyman
    Born: Apr 17, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 195

    A 43rd-round pick by the Rockies out of Brevard (Fla.) Community College in 2002, Hoyman declined to sign as a draft-and-follow and instead went to Florida, where he became the Gators' highest pick since the Expos took Brad Wilkerson in 1998's first round. A former soccer standout in high school, Hoyman oozes athleticism. He commands the ball down in the zone with a sinking 89-92 mph fastball that topped out at 95 last spring. While he primarily throws his hard sinker, Hoyman also operates with a slurvy breaking ball and a deceptive changeup. He needs to improve his secondary stuff, especially his changeup. Hoyman has excellent lower body strength after adding 20 pounds last year, and has put 50 pounds on his frame since graduating from high school as a wiry 6-foot-3, 145-pounder. He does an effective job of controlling the running game because he's quick to the plate and has a good pickoff move. Tribe officials have likened Hoyman to Aaron Sele and Charles Nagy, and they think he could develop just as rapidly. They'll skip him a level and start him in high Class A this year.

  17. 17. Matt Whitney | 1B
    Matt Whitney
    Born: Feb 13, 1984
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .242/.332/.332 | 6 HR | 0 SB | 277 AB

    The Indians were delighted when Whitney unexpectedly fell to them as the No. 33 pick in the 2002 draft, and his strong debut in the Appalachian League encouraged them even more. But then he broke his left leg while playing basketball at spring training the following year, costing him all of 2003 and limiting him to DH last year. The break required two surgeries and he has recovered slower than expected. Compensating for the lack of strength in his left leg, he developed tendinitis in his right knee in 2004. Scar tissue also accumulated in his left foot, which affected his balance and led to more surgery at season's end. Nevertheless, Whitney is the best third-base prospect in the system. He has a solid righthanded stroke that produces power to all fields. Balls jump off his bat and have a lot of carry. He also has arm strength at third base, though his speed and agility are below average. Whitney obviously needs to prove he's completely healthy, and he'll have to improve his quickness and mobility. The Indians like his work ethic and think he'll be able to do so this year in high Class A.

  18. 18. Dan Cevette | LHP
    Dan Cevette
    Born: Oct 19, 1983
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 235
    Minors: 5-5 | 3.40 ERA | 87 SO | 32 BB | 87.3 IP

    Cevette was Pennsylvania's high school player of the year as a senior in 2002, when he signed for $400,000 as a third-round pick. The Indians have brought him along slowly, not promoting him to full-season ball until late July last year. He appeared to turn a corner after spending the previous offseason working out for six weeks with Shawn Estes and other veteran big league pitchers. Cevette has a big, athletic body with a loose arm and clean delivery. He consistently works down and away with good command of a 90-92 mph fastball. His out pitch is a plus changeup in which he has enough confidence to throw in any count. He has the makings of a solid curveball, but it gets slurvy at times and he needs to throw it more often to improve its effectiveness. He's still a bit of a project, and the Indians will challenge him with his first taste of high Class A this spring.

  19. 19. Scott Lewis | LHP
    Scott Lewis
    Born: Sep 26, 1983
    Bats: B Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 185
    Minors: 0-1 | 4.60 ERA | 24 SO | 6 BB | 15.7 IP

    Lewis struck out 16 and 20 in consecutive outings for Ohio State in the spring of 2003 and looked liked a certain 2004 first-rounder. But he injured his elbow late in his sophomore season and had Tommy John surgery. Lewis made a rapid recovery and got back on the mound last April, just 11 months after having his elbow reconstructed. He pitched well at times, but lacked the usual velocity on his fastball and snap on his curveball. The Indians banked on Lewis regaining his previous form when they took him in the third round in June, and initial indications are that his $460,000 bonus may have been a bargain. His velocity climbed back toward its familiar 90-92 mph range during his brief stint at short-season Mahoning Valley. His curveball was a plus pitch again, and his changeup also looked strong. The Indians kept Lewis on a strict pitch count last summer and will continue to monitor him closely. But they believe he'll be fully equipped to open 2005 in low Class A.

  20. 20. Jason Cooper | OF
    Jason Cooper
    Born: Dec 6, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .255/.336/.487 | 25 HR | 4 SB | 458 AB

    Cooper never got fully untracked during his injury-plagued career at Stanford, but he looked like he was headed in the right direction after hitting 21 homers and leading the system with a .542 slugging percentage in 2003, his first full season. That may have been just a tease, however as his production fell off when he moved to the upper levels of the system last year. The former Stanford backup punter struggled to make consistent contact, a problem that also plagued him in college. He has a slight uppercut stroke that produces good carry when he connects, but he doesn't make adjustments well. Cooper does use the whole field and has above-average pull power to the left side. He's one of the most intense players in the organization, which worked against him in Double-A because he started pressing too much. He has average speed and fits best in left field because he has had below-average arm strength since hurting his shoulder at Stanford. Cooper needs to relax more and better adapt to Double-A when he returns there this season.

  21. 21. J.D. Martin | RHP
    J.D. Martin
    Born: Jan 2, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 3-1 | 2.38 ERA | 63 SO | 8 BB | 56.7 IP

    Though Martin got off to the fastest start of any pitcher in Cleveland's arm-rich 2001 draft, since then he only has flashed the potential he showed in his debut. He strained an elbow ligament in 2003 but was able to avoid surgery. Getting an emergency start last July at Triple-A Buffalo boosted his confidence, as he went 3-2, 2.98 in his final seven regular-season starts at Kinston afterward. He ended his season by locking up the Carolina League championship with a dominant 10-strikeout performance against Wilmington. Martin improved his arsenal last year, working off two- and four-seam fastballs with good movement in the 89-91 mph range, but he's still more projectable than overpowering. His best pitch is a curveball that ranks as the best in the system. He has developed a cutter and also throws a decent changeup. Martin will spend 2005 in Double-A.

  22. 22. Tony Sipp | LHP
    Tony Sipp
    Born: Jul 12, 1983
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 6-3 | 2.40 ERA | 130 SO | 42 BB | 116.3 IP

    Sipp transferred from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC to Clemson for his junior year in 2004, and expected to go on the first day of the draft after seeing double duty as a left fielder and pitcher. But his agent's demands scared teams away and he lasted until the 45th round, when area scout Tim Moore convinced the Indians to take Sipp as a summer draft-and-follow. He headed to the Cape Cod League and pitched well, earning a $130,000 bonus, and continued to overmatch hitters in the short-season New York-Penn League. Sipp comes right after hitters with a deceptive, high-effort delivery and quick arm that produces an 89-93 mph fastball with late tailing action. His solid slider is better than Cleveland expected, and he has made strides with his changeup. Sipp profiles as a short reliever and has two pitches he can put hitters away with. He'll remain in the bullpen and move to low Class A this season. He won't stay there long if he continues to ring up hitters at the same pace.

  23. 23. Kyle Denney | RHP
    Kyle Denney
    Born: Jul 27, 1977
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 1-1 | 5.45 ERA | 24 SO | 11 BB | 39.7 IP

    After coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2001 and completing a six-year climb from 26th-round draft pick to Cleveland, Denney made national news two weeks into his big league debut. While he was riding the team bus to the airport in Kansas City, a stray bullet grazed his right calf. He escaped serious injury, thanks in part to the cheerleader boots he was wearing as part of rookie hazing. The random shooting incident ended a solid breakthrough year for Denney. His changeup and sharp curveball are the keys to his success. His fastball is an average 88-92 mph, but he has a sound delivery and his arm works well, allowing him to consistently find the strike zone. At 27 he has no projection left, but his combination of pitchability and three solid pitches should allow him to help the Indians, either at the back of the rotation or in middle relief.

  24. 24. Ryan Goleski | OF
    Ryan Goleski
    Born: Mar 19, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .212/.276/.382 | 17 HR | 6 SB | 458 AB

    Despite setting Eastern Michigan and Mid-American Conference records with 51 homers, Goleski lasted until the 24th round of the 2003 draft. The Indians knew they were buying a ton of raw power potential when they selected him, and he has exceeded their expectations since signing. With the exception of outfielder Jonathan Van Every, Goleski was the most improved player in the organization in 2004. He's a dead-pull hitter and is primarily a two-tool player, featuring a power bat and a cannon arm from right field. Goleski needs to use the whole field more often, and some scouts wonder if his power will decrease when he shortens his swing to make better contact. There also are questions about his ability to hit quality breaking stuff. He'll be challenged in high Class A this year.

  25. 25. Jeremy Guthrie | RHP
    Jeremy Guthrie
    Born: Apr 8, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 205
    Minors: 12-10 | 5.08 ERA | 100 SO | 49 BB | 136.3 IP

    Guthrie has been a huge disappointment since signing a big league contract worth $4 million as a first-round pick in 2002. He dominated in Double-A during his pro debut the following spring, but got hammered after a promotion to Triple-A and didn't fare any better last year. He made the Eastern League all-star team after he was demoted to Double-A, but was relegated to the bullpen by the end of the season and no longer projects as a major league starter. When he shifted to relief, his fastball sat at 92-94 mph and topped out at 95-96. The rest of Guthrie's stuff--slider, changeup, curveball--is more notable for his ability to throw strikes with it rather than its quality. His delivery and arm action aren't as clean as they once were. His cerebral nature works against him at times, as he'll try to out-think hitters rather than challenge them. Because he went on a two-year Mormon mission while he was in college, he'll be 26 shortly after he begins his third full season. He's running out of time to justify Cleveland's huge investment.

  26. 26. Mariano Gomez | LHP
    Mariano Gomez
    Born: Sep 12, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 240
    Minors: 6-4 | 4.68 ERA | 57 SO | 37 BB | 75.0 IP

    Bidding to become the first big leaguer from Honduras, Gomez was on the fast track until mid-2003. He was shut down in July that season with a strained ligament in his left middle finger, then made just eight appearances last season because of the same problem. The Indians hired a specialist to help him with his rehabilitation, as the injury is rare and more regularly seen in rock climbers. When he's healthy, Gomez has impressive stuff. He works with a 91-93 mph fastball, a plus changeup and a slurvy breaking ball and plus changeup. He'll have to do a better job of consistently repeating his pitches. Overly demonstrative on the mound, he also could use some maturity. But his biggest need is to get back on the mound and make up for missed time. Cleveland hopes he'll be ready to go in 2005 and plans on sending him back to Double-A.

  27. 27. Brian Tallet | LHP
    Brian Tallet
    Born: Sep 21, 1977
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 6-5 | 4.05 ERA | 61 SO | 25 BB | 97.7 IP

    Tallet won 15 games and started the title game for Louisiana State's 2000 College World Series championship team. Two years later, he was pitching in Cleveland and figured to be a key part of the Indians' future. But he blew out his elbow midway through the 2003 season and needed Tommy John surgery. (Fellow lefty Billy Traber, who no longer qualifies for the Top 30, suffered the same fate.) Tallet was expected to miss all of 2004, but his rehab progressed so rapidly that he returned at the end of June. He finished the year by pitching a perfect ninth inning in the clinching game of the Triple-A International League playoffs. Tallet's velocity was back to normal, as he pitched at 89-92 mph in the postseason. His slider and changeup also were solid, another indication that he's fully recovered. While he had trouble repeating his delivery in the past, the extended rehab gave him ample time to improve his mechanics. He'll compete for a big league bullpen role in spring training.

  28. 28. Kevin Kouzmanoff | 3B
    Kevin Kouzmanoff
    Born: Jul 25, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 210
    Minors: .333/.397/.579 | 12 HR | 3 SB | 261 AB

    The Indians drafted Kouzmanoff in the sixth round out of Nevada, the same school that produced former Tribe prospect Ryan Church (now a big league outfielder with the Nationals) and current farmhands Joe Inglett and Chris Gimenez (who led the New York-Penn League with 36 extra-base hits and a .527 slugging percentage in his 2004 pro debut). Kouzmanoff doesn't wow scouts with his tools, but he's one of the hardest workers in the system and tore up the low Class A South Atlantic League in his first full season debut. He's obsessed with breaking down video of each of his at-bats, and while his swing is unorthodox, he makes consistently hard contact. The Indians worked with him to stand up straighter in the box to maximize his lower half in his swing, allowing him to drive more balls to the opposite field. Defensively, he makes all the routine plays at third base. Kouzmanoff was a bit old for low Class A last year, and at 23 he'll be ahead of most of his competition in high Class A in 2005.

  29. 29. Rafael Perez | LHP
    Rafael Perez
    Born: May 15, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 195
    Minors: 12-8 | 2.62 ERA | 94 SO | 44 BB | 144.3 IP

    Known as Hanlet Ramirez when he first signed, Perez helped pitch the Indians to the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League championship in 2002 and earned Appalachian League pitcher-of-the-year honors in 2003. He was greeted a bit roughly when he made his full-season debut last year. His fastball did climb from 89-91 to 91-94 mph, continuing to show late running action. He projects to add more velocity because he has a lanky frame and his arm works free and easy. In addition to his plus fastball, Perez throws a nasty slider that emerged as a true out pitch last season. His changeup lags far behind his first two pitches, and was the main cause of his struggles. The consensus is that Perez will move to the bullpen down the road, and that certainly will be the case if he can't improve his changeup. He'll pitch in high Class A this year.

  30. 30. Eider Torres | SS
    Eider Torres
    Born: Jan 16, 1983
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'8" Wt.: 165
    Minors: .285/.322/.407 | 6 HR | 33 SB | 452 AB

    Torres was a pint-sized 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds when the Indians signed him as a 17- year-old. While he hasn't grown much in stature since then, several aspects of his game certainly have. Many scouts in the organization tab him as a sleeper, and he even has garnered some early comparisons to Roberto Alomar. Torres likely won't reach Alomar's status, but he's a career .303 hitter in the minors. A switch-hitter, he makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate with a compact stroke. He's aggressive at the plate, so he doesn't draw many walks, and he'll never be counted on to provide much power. He has plus speed and is a basestealing threat. Defensively, Torres has made just 14 errors in 196 games at second base over the last two years. His footwork and actions around the bag are solid, and his range is better than average. He wore down late in 2003, but worked hard on conditioning his body and finished strong last season. Torres will be Cleveland's everyday second baseman in Double-A this year.

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