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Miller spent 2005 essentially on a season-long rehab stint after straining an elbow ligament while long-tossing in spring training. He pitched just 71 innings and ended the year at high Class A Kinston, the same place he had lit up radar guns to the tune of 101 mph in the Carolina League playoffs in 2004. After regaining command of his slider and slowly working a changeup back into his repertoire, Miller climbed back on track in 2006 at Double-A Akron. Though he was inconsistent during the season's first two months, he finished stronger than he ever had, winning six consecutive starts through July and August, including three straight 11-strikeout performances, the last of which was Miller's first-ever nine-inning complete game. He led the organization in strikeouts and topped the Eastern League in wins, while ranking second in ERA and third in strikeouts. He stayed healthy throughout, tossing a career-high 171 innings (including the playoffs). Miller has blossomed into a potential frontline starter by becoming a more complete pitcher. The velocity on his four-seam fastball returned to 93-95 mph and he hit 98 in his final four starts, including the EL playoffs. He has added a two-seamer to change speeds on his fastball more effectively, and his changeup has emerged as a go-to pitch with good depth and late action. But Miller's best pitch remains his slider. It's back to where it was in 2004, with tilt, devastating late break and power. He throws his slider at 87-88 mph. Miller finally has come to grips with the fact that velocity isn't everything, and his ability to consistently command his offspeed stuff has him back on the fast track again. The further Miller gets away from injury, the stronger he's become. His delivery is free and easy, so there's no reason his health should be an issue down the road. He has excellent makeup, and he learned more about attacking lefthanders this season from Akron pitching coach Scott Radinsky. Miller dominated lefties, as they hit just .198 against him with twice as many groundouts as flyouts. Though his changeup grew leaps and bounds in 2006, Miller still is learning when and how to use it. His mechanics with the pitch are solid, but he still tends to want to blow hitters away with his fastball or slider. He also can do a better job of locating it. While Miller works quickly to home plate, he still needs to refine his pickoff move to hold runners more effectively. He sometimes rushes his delivery, leading to erratic command of his fastball up in the zone. Intimidating on the mound, he can let his emotions get the better of him at times in pressure situations. There isn't much left for Miller to prove in the minors. He'll battle for a big league rotation spot out of spring training, but likely will start the year at Triple-A Buffalo under manager Torey Lovullo and pitching coach Greg Hibbard--the same duo who brought him along during his breakout year in 2004. It's only a matter of time before Miller makes an impact in the major leagues.
Several clubs liked Lofgren's bat better than his arm in the 2004 draft, but the Indians' decision to make him a full-time pitcher can't be secondguessed. He emerged as one of the top lefthanders in the minors in 2006, tying for the minor league lead in wins and ranking second in the Carolina League in both ERA and strikeouts. Lofgren has more velocity than most lefthanders with a fastball that sits at 89-93 mph and tops out at 95. His changeup serves as an out pitch, because he throws it with good arm action and can locate it to both sides of the plate. He also features a spike curveball in the mid-70s, and he has added a slider that has good depth. He has outstanding mound presence. Lofgren only started using the slider at midseason, so he needs to continue to develop it. While his delivery is clean with a quick, easy arm action, he rushes at times in his lower half and needs to keep his hips from opening up too early to stay on a direct line to home plate. This flaw at times costs him control. Lofgren took one of the largest leaps developmentally among Tribe farmhands in 2006. With a young big league rotation, though, the Indians see no reason to rush him, so he'll likely spend 2007 in Double-A.
One of the best athletes in the system, Crowe was hitting .329 in high Class A before going down with an oblique injury. After he got healthy, he went to Double-A Akron and tried to move from the outfield to second base, where he played some in high school and college. The conversion didn't take, and the Indians gave up on it after instructional league. A switch-hitter with quick, strong hands, Crowe hits with gap power to all fields. An above-average runner, Crowe takes advantage of his speed by taking walks and stealing bases efficiently. He shows enough range and arm strength to stay in center field, though he won't push Grady Sizemore to a corner. A better hitter from the left side, Crowe needs to work on keeping his hands inside the ball when hitting righthanded. His power is probably average at best. While he's an above-average defender, he lacks first-step quickness at times and could get better jumps. Crowe profiles best as the 2005 version of Coco Crisp--a speedy, high-on-base left fielder who hits 10-15 homers annually. He'll start 2007 at Triple-A and could quickly get the call to Cleveland.
The Indians drafted Sipp, a center fielder/pitcher in junior college and at Clemson, in the 45th round and gave him $130,000 after he had a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. That deal now looks like a steal after Sipp cruised his way through Double-A after moving to the bullpen full-time. Sipp has good deception and extension toward home plate that makes his 89-93 mph fastball explode on hitters. His secondary stuff took a major step forward in 2006, as his slider showed much better depth and tilt, and his changeup emerged as a weapon against lefties and righties alike. He's controls the running game well, giving up just one steal in eight tries in 2006. While Sipp has little trouble throwing strikes, his command can be an issue at times. Though he's athletic, he doesn't field his position as well as he could. Sipp no longer looks like just a lefty specialist. The development of his secondary pitches has some Tribe officials thinking he's a closer in the mold of Eddie Guardado. The signing of free agent Joe Borowski will allow Sipp to apprentice before he's asked to finish games.
Barton scared off most teams before the 2004 draft because of his academic background, but the Indians were able to sign him as a nondrafted free agent after seeing him in the Cape Cod League. An aerospace engineering major at Miami who interned at Boeing, he turned pro for $100,000 with an additional $100,000 in college funds. In his second year as a pro, Barton made adjustments that allowed him to take more advantage of his natural power and speed. He got the load in his swing started earlier and worked hard to recognize offspeed pitches. His good instincts on the bases allow him to read pitchers, and he succeeded on 41 of 49 steal attempts. His plus speed also plays well in center field. Not only is he intelligent, he's mentally tough. Barton has trouble with balls in on his hands and his swing gets too long at times. He struggled against lefthanders after being promoted to Double-A, hitting just .219. Indians officials tried to move him back off the plate so he could better control the inner half. At 24, he's older than most prospects who haven't gotten past Double-A. Barton's power/speed combination makes him a potentially elite talent despite his age. He'll compete for a Triple-A job in a crowded outfield picture during spring training.
One of the best pure hitters in the 2005 draft, Drennen batted just .238 in his pro debut but didn't disappoint in his first full season. He garnered national headlines after homering against Roger Clemens in the Rocket's first minor league tuneup start in June. After Drennen was promoted to high Class A, he found it hard to avoid the spotlight as the subject of an upcoming documentary on his rise through the minors. While undersized, Drennen uses his compact build to his advantage by getting good leverage in his fundamentally sound, repeatable swing. He has above-average power, and as he showed against Clemens, he can turn on good fastballs. His other tools all play about average, and once underway he runs a tick better than that. Drennen will have to get stronger, as he wore down during his first full season and started only once in the Carolina League playoffs. He can get pull-oriented, so Tribe officials sat him down before the season and pointed to Grady Sizemore's five homers in two years at Class A to remind Drennen to use the whole field now and let his power develop naturally. Though he has played mostly center field, his fringy range there means he'll probably wind up in left. He has a belowaverage arm. Drennen likely will return to high Class A for the first half of 2007.
Lewis struck out 16 and 20 in consecutive starts as an Ohio State sophomore in 2003 and looked like a future first-round pick. But he needed Tommy John surgery late that spring and fell to the third round in 2004. More medical concerns popped up the following year, when he was shut down with biceps tendinitis. Kept on a 60-75 pitch limit throughout 2006, he led the minors in ERA. Lewis' delivery is effortless and extremely deceptive, which helps his 84-88 mph fastball jump on hitters. His curveball rates as the best in the system with true 12-to-6 movement. Lewis' changeup is solid-average, and all of his stuff plays up because of deception and ability to locate his pitches. It remains to be seen how Lewis' below-average velocity will work against more advanced hitters. While his delivery is relatively simple, he sometimes gets out of whack and needs to stay on a direct line to home plate. He throws somewhat across his body, and he has worked on staying more compact with his stride. Lewis bounced back well after all of his starts, and the Indians will increase his pitch limit to 100 in 2007. He'll start the year in Double-A and could move quickly if healthy.
Snyder led Akron to within a game of the Eastern League title in 2006, topping the Aeros in homers and RBIs. The Indians batted him second and even leadoff, trying to give him more experience working deep counts and taking pitches, but he still ranked 10th in the minors in strikeouts. Like Brian Barton, Snyder has an intriguing power/speed combination. He has a wide base of tools, plus bat speed and above-average arm strength. While he still struck out a lot, his plate discipline did improve as he set a career high in walks. His inability to make consistent contact mutes Snyder's impressive tools, and he'll probably never hit for much of an average. His main task coming into 2006 was to improve his two-strike approach, and while club officials commend his effort, he didn't make progress. Snyder hit .314 with nine of his 18 homers in August, but he still struck out in bunches. He'll compete with trade acquisition Shin-Soo Choo to be Cleveland's right fielder, and the Tribe may have to live with Snyder's whiffs for the tradeoff of his power and speed.
A natural self-starter, Hodges taught himself to bat lefthanded after a wrist injury as a high school senior and still hit .430. A 13th-round pick by the White Sox in 2003, he opted to go to Georgia Tech and became a three-year starter. Hodges' stock slipped in 2006 due to a mysterious leg injury, finally diagnosed in late May as an early stress fracture. The Indians were able to nab him in the second round and signed him for $1 million. Hodges has advanced plate discipline and shows good power with a fluid line-drive stroke. His excellent hand-eye coordination aids his above-average bat speed, as he's able to make consistent contact with pitches all over the strike zone. He has soft hands and above-average arm strength. Though he seemed like a shoo-in first-rounder heading into last spring, the injury killed Hodges' range and cost him defensively. The Indians believe he'll have plenty of range for third base and more life in his lower half when he's 100 percent, though he's a below-average runner. With Andy Marte ahead of him, Hodges has time to get healthy and develop. His bat could force the issue, though, and Hodges may start at and definitely should reach high Class A in his pro debut.
Huff spent his college career at three schools, going from UC Irvine to Cypress (Calif.) JC to UCLA. A 19th-round pick of the Phillies in 2005, he turned down a reported $500,000 after a solid summer in the Cape Cod League. That decision paid off, as he got $900,000 as Cleveland's top pick in the 2006 draft. Tribe officials compare Huff to Jeremy Sowers for his ability to command and control his entire arsenal. Another thing the two lefties have in common is fringe-average fastball velocity, as Huff works in the high 80s and tops out at 91. His top pitch is his changeup, which may have been the best changeup in the '06 draft. He uses the same arm action as with his fastball, and it has plus late sink. He has excellent balance in his delivery and creates good deception with his arm angle, especially against lefthanders. Huff also throws a slurvy breaking ball, but it lacks consistent depth and tilt. Without a solid breaker, he has no obvious pitch to combat lefthanders. Huff will start his first full season in high Class. A. He could move quickly, just as Sowers did, if he adapts well to the pro game and sharpens his breaking ball.
The Indians lacked a dependable lefthanded reliever in 2006, and they gave Perez a chance to fill that role. He acquitted himself well for the most part, but Cleveland eventually returned him to the minors and will try to develop him as a starter. He has flip-flopped between the two roles for the last two seasons. Formerly known as Hanlet Ramirez, Perez has electric stuff. He wasn't overpowering in the majors because he lacked command of his fourseam fastball. When he's on, he can run his four-seamer up to 96 mph, achieve run with his two-seamer and back both versions of his heater up with a put-away slider. It's a late breaker that arrives at 85-87 mph. Perez also has feel for a workable changeup, and the Indians believe it will allow him to eventually become part of their big league rotation. Perez lives in the lower half of the zone, making him a groundball machine. He'll begin 2007 back in Triple-A, where he pitched well out of the bullpen last year.
The Indians got active in the Pacific Rim in July, signing Australian shortstop Jason Smit for $350,000 and Tseng for $300,000. Taiwan's top amateur pitcher, Tseng ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the summer Alaska League in 2005. He pitched in the World Baseball Classic, allowing two earned runs on three hits in just two-thirds of an inning, and finished the year by pitching in the Intercontinental Cup. Taiwan, the host nation, worked him hard, pitching him a team-high 14 innings over four games in nine days. Tseng earned a victory in relief against Cuba. Tseng pounds the bottom of the zone with a 90-93 mph fastball that touches 95. He's aggressive, and has good control of his fastball, slider and splitter. His splitter might be his biggest asset, featuring tight, downward spiral with explosion straight down in the strike zone at home plate. His slider has consistent shape and depth, though he tends to get around it at times. Still just 21, Tseng repeats his compact delivery well. He should make his pro debut in the low Class A Lake County rotation this year.
Martin was one of three high school pitchers the Indians took in the first and supplemental first rounds of the 2001 draft, and despite a now-lengthy medical history, he represents Cleveland's best hope among the trio. Dan Denham has had little success in the upper minors, while the Tribe failed to sign Alan Horne, who's now in the Yankees system. Martin was shut down in 2003 with a strained elbow ligament and initially avoided surgery, but he needed to have his elbow reconstructed after opening 2005 with a dominant 10-start stretch in Double-A. Martin didn't return until mid-June 2006, and when he did, several club officials said he was more of a complete pitcher than he was before he had Tommy John surgery. Martin jumped to Kinston for its Carolina League stretch run, piggybacking starts with lefthander Scott Lewis and helping the K-Tribe to their second championship in three years. He made two more appearances out of the pen in the Eastern League playoffs, allowing just two hits and striking out six in six innings. Martin's fastball velocity is back in the 90-91 mph range. While many pitchers have control issues when they return from Tommy John surgery, Martin showed excellent command of his cutter, 12-to-6 curveball, slider and changeup in his return. The Indians attribute Martin's resurgence to the better body awareness he learned during his rehab. Martin will be monitored closely in his return to Double- A this year and could move quickly if he proves healthy.
One of the more interesting development stories in the system, Lara signed out of the Dominican Republic for $10,000 as a 17-year-old in 1999. He spent three seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and didn't make his U.S. debut until 2002. He spent his first two years in the States as a starter before moving to the bullpen full-time in 2004, when he also reached full-season ball for good. Lara is a resilient and durable, repeating his delivery well and topping out at 94 mph with his fastball. He sits at 90-92 with his heater, and he throws a wipeout 83-84 mph slider from a three-quarters angle. Some Tribe officials believe he can be more than a lefty specialist, as his changeup emerged as a legitimate weapon against righthanders in Double-A. If Lara continues to command his changeup, he could earn a setup spot in Cleveland's bullpen in 2007. If not, he still could be valuable in left-on-left matchups.
The Indians expected to contend in 2006, and when they didn't, they made a pair of profitable midseason deals with the Mariners. Cleveland sent its first-base platoon of Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez to Seattle in exchange for Cabrera (who came over straight up for Perez), right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and lefty Shawn Nottingham. The Mariners moved Cabrera quickly, promoting him to Triple-A in 2005--his first year in full-season ball. He stayed at that level as a 20-year-old in 2006 and batted just .249--37 points below his previous career average. Cabrera won't be an offensive force, but he's a switch-hitter with some bat control and a whole-field approach. His speed is just average, and he doesn't have standout ability in terms of power, basestealing or on-base ability. Defense is Cabrera's forte. His soft hands and above-average arm are his biggest assets. He's stationary in his setup, lacks first-step quickness and has long actions, leaving him with fringe-average range at shortstop and in line to possibly move to second base down the road. Though the Tribe has questions about its middle infield, Cabrera needs to repeat Triple-A this year.
The Indians' catching depth improved greatly in 2006, as they drafted McBride, traded for Kelly Shoppach and Max Ramirez and saw significant improvement from their previous top in-house candidate, Wyatt Toregas. After bouncing back from some tightness in his shoulder, the athletic McBride climbed draft boards last spring. He won Patriot League MVP honors after capturing the conference triple crown with .417-12-61 numbers. A supplemental second-round pick, he signed for $445,000. McBride has a strong work ethic and his makeup is off the charts. His father George spent time before or after every practice at Lehigh throwing him batting practice for an extra hour. That continued when McBride returned home from short-season Mahoning Valley for five days before reporting to instructional league. He produces above-average power with natural leverage and loft to his swing. He also makes good contact and controls the strike zone, which should enable him to hit for average. He's more athletic and runs better than most catchers. While McBride has solid-average arm strength, he needs to improve as a receiver and refine his game-calling skills. There's no question McBride bolsters the improved contingent at catcher in the system, but he has a long way to go to add defensive polish. He'll start his first full season in low Class A.
Slocum quickly became one of the system's top righthanders after signing as a second round pick in 2002, but inconsistency and his inability made him appear to be nothing more than organizational fodder. He got back on track in the Arizona Fall League after the 2005 season, flourishing in the bullpen and attacking hitters aggressively. Slocum continued to have success in Triple-A last year, though he was hit hard in the majors. Still, 2006 was a breakthrough for him, as Slocum made adjustments and saw his overall arsenal improve. His fastball jumped to 91-94 mph and at times touched 96. He also showed a better feel for his low-80 slurvy breaking ball. He also has a workable changeup, though he needs to add depth and be more consistent with his release point if he's going to stick in the rotation for good. He had difficulty in the big leagues because he nibbled and worked too methodically while worrying too much about pacing himself and trying to keep hitters off balance. He'll probably start 2007 in the Triple-A rotation.
Another of former international scouting director Rene Gayo's finds, Mujica signed for $30,000 in 2001. He strained his elbow during his debut in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League, but it didn't cost him much development time. Used primarily as a starter during his first two years in the United States, he took off after becoming a full-time closer in 2005. He hasn't posted an ERA higher than 2.95 at any of his stops since--including 10 appearances with Cleveland in 2006. He didn't allow an earned run until June 24 last year, a span of 382⁄3 innings. Mujica works quickly and aggressively, pounding the strike zone with a 92-95 mph fastball. He's still fine-tuning his secondary pitches, however. His 86-87 mph slider regressed in 2006, as he had trouble finding a consistent release point, leading it to flatten out. He has added a splitter that has the makings of a plus pitch, but it still needs work. With the Indians rebuilding their bullpen, Mujica could play a significant role in 2007 if he finds better command of his complementary pitches.
The Red Sox made Shoppach their top pick (second round) in the 2001 draft and always thought highly of him. But he was eternally blocked by Jason Varitek, so Boston included him in a trade for Coco Crisp in January 2006. Shoppach immediately became the most polished defensive catcher in the Indians system. However, he hasn't found a clear shot at big league playing time in Cleveland. Victor Martinez is an all-star catcher, and Shoppach spent most of last season in the majors but got just 110 at-bats. He has slightly above-average, pull-side power and adjusted his approach in 2006, shortening his stroke and making more consistent contact. But he'll still get stiff and muscular with his swing and strike out in bunches, so he'll never hit for a high average. Shoppach is more well-rounded behind the plate. He controls the running game, is a solid receiver and has excellent leadership skills. Martinez has struggled behind the plate, so Shoppach's catching skills and righthanded pop could earn him more playing time in Cleveland this year.
Toregas was one of the system's most improved players last year, vaulting himself from an afterthought to the top of the catcher depth chart when Kelly Shoppach was promoted to the big leagues in June. Toregas had a solid pro debut with the bat in 2004, then took a step backward offensively in 2005 as he honed his game-calling and receiving skills. He was the complete package in 2006, hitting for average and power with tremendous improvement defensively, and the Indians now believe that he has a higher ceiling than Shoppach. Toregas has a line-drive stroke and uses the whole field effectively, showing good oppositefield pop. He can become pull-oriented and his swing can get too long at times. His speed is well below-average. Toregas has solid catch-and-throw skills. With a strong, accurate arm and a quick release, he posts consistent 1.85 pop times to second base. He led the Carolina League by throwing out 48 percent of basestealers last year and erased 38 percent after his promotion to Double-A. Toregas' bat cooled off after he got to Akron, so while he'll get a long look in big league camp, he'll probably open 2007 in the minors.
The Indians dealt Bob Wickman to the Braves for Ramirez in June, further improving their depth at catcher--though there are questions about his ability to stay behind the plate in the long term. Signed as a third baseman, Ramirez moved behind the plate in 2005, when he was named co-MVP in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Though he has an average arm, he threw out just 28 percent of basestealers last year. Ramirez lacks quick feet, slowing down his release. He's a below-average receiver. He actually saw more time at DH than catcher in 2006, going behinid the plate for just 57 of his 117 games. Ramirez' bat will have to carry him. He has a line-drive stroke that produces gap power, and he uses the entire field well. He has above-average plate discipline and pitch recognition, and he does a good job of sitting back on breaking balls. Some club officials believe his ceiling could be as a utility player along the lines of Olmedo Saenz, with the ability to play both infield corners and serve as a third catcher.
Laffey didn't allow an earned run in 44 innings as a high school senior, but he had a commitment to Virginia Tech and area scouts perceived that he wouldn't sign if he didn't go in the top 75 picks. The Indians took a flier on him in the 16th round (468th overall) and signed him for $363,000. Laffey was on the fast track after his debut at Rookie-level Burlington, where he was more overpowering than more heralded teammates Adam Miller, Rafael Perez and Nick Pesco. But Laffey struggled the next two seasons, particularly with the command of his secondary pitches, before bouncing back in 2006. When he's on, Laffey is a groundball machine. He had a 2.4-1 ground-fly ratio last year, working mostly with an 86- 89 mph sinker and an improving slider. He's still trying to find a consistent release point with his slider. Laffey's changeup is also a work in progress. He has a feel for it, but needs to find a comfortable grip in order to command it more effectively. If Laffey can harness his changeup, he could remain in the rotation. If not, he'll be a bullpen lefty. He could open the season in the Triple-A rotation as a 21-year-old.
Rodriguez entered 2006 as one of the best college shortstop prospects in the draft, but elbow problems limited him to DH early on. When he returned to the field, sophomore Brian Friday had claimed the shortstop job, so Rodriguez moved to third base for an Owls team that finished third at the College World Series. After he signed for $625,000 as a second- round pick, the Indians kept him at shortstop and will keep him there as long as possible. Area scouts were skeptical that his slightly below-average speed would not allow him to play anything more than second or third base. Rodriguez gets good plate coverage and has natural leverage in his compact swing. He has a penchant for drawing walks in college, though he didn't control the strike zone as well in his pro debut. Some club officials liken Rodriguez to John Valentin, with the ability to play anywhere on the infield while producing righthanded power. Rodriguez has enough arm to play shortstop, but his actions are long at times and he lacks first-step explosion going into the hole for balls. He'll likely start his first full season in high Class A.
Brown went undrafted in high school but improved his stock each season at Arizona, drawing comparisons to Wally Joyner for his aggressive approach and solid lefthanded bat. He finished third in the 2004 Cape Cod League batting race at .318, and led the Pacific-10 Conference with 80 RBIs in 2005, when the Indians made him a fourth-round pick. He played in the Kinston outfield with former Wildcats teammate Trevor Crowe in 2006 and came into his own after Crowe left for Double-A. Brown batted .316 with eight homers over the final two months en route to leading the Carolina League in RBIs and total bases (222) and winning MVP honors. He has plenty of natural strength, though he doesn't hit for a corresponding amount of power because he has just average bat speed and gets too pull conscious. He's very disciplined and may wind up hitting for average, getting on base and providing doubles rather than becoming a true home run threat. More of a first baseman in college, Brown has earned kudos from the Indians for moving to left field and doing an adequate job there. His speed is below-average and his arm is ordinary, but he manages to get the job done. Brown may not have the home run power teams want in a left fielder, so he projects as more of a reserve at this point. He'll move up to Double-A in 2007.
Lewis was drafted twice by the Tribe, first in the 33rd round out of high school in 2002 and then in the third round after he spent three years at Vanderbilt. He saw his fastball spike slightly into the low 90s in his pro debut that sat comfortably at his previous 88-91 mph last season. He does a good job of changing speeds with his fastball and of locating it all over the strike zone. Lewis' changeup is among the best in the organization, with good depth and fade, and he throws it with the same easy arm action as his fastball. He struggled with the command of his slider early in 2006 and wound up scrapping it altogether. He replaced it with a looping curveball, which gives him another look and helps him expand the zone vertically. Though he's mechanically sound, Lewis tends to rush his delivery. When he does, his arm drags and he loses leverage, leaving pitches up in the zone. Used as a starter over his first two seasons, Lewis is expected to move to the bullpen in Double-A this year.
The Indians thought Constanza was 16 when they nearly signed him in 2003 for $40,000. When they discovered that he was actually three years older, they got him for $5,000. A switch-hitter with a short, compact stroke from both sides of the plate, Constanza commands the strike zone well, working deep counts and seldom giving at-bats away. His best tool is his plus speed, and he swiped 39 bases in 47 attempts last year. Scouts who saw him in the Carolina League compared him to former big league outfielder Luis Polonia for his slap-and-run approach. Constanza needs to sharpen up his bunting skills, though he has a knack for finding a hole in the defense and getting on base. While he played mostly right field in 2006, he has fringe-average arm strength and likely will wind up in left field. Though he's quick, he hasn't shown the instincts to play regularly in center field. Constanza profiles as a fourth outfielder and will advance to Double-A this season.
The best pitcher in Furman history, Mastny led NCAA Division I with a 1.09 ERA and was the Southern Conference pitcher of the year in 2003. Because his stuff is fringy, he lasted until the 11th round of the draft and signed with the Blue Jays for $8,000. He led the shortseason New York-Penn League in victories in his pro debut and topped the low Class A South Atlantic League in ERA during his first full season. The player to be named later in a trade for John McDonald, Mastny switched to the bullpen after joining the Indians system. Mastny is all about deception and control. He has great feel for all of his pitches, starting with a sneaky fastball that tops out at 91 mph. It has good late sink and he can locate it wherever he wants in the strike zone. He relies on his 10-to-6 curveball too much, making it less effective. While he has solid arm speed and average fade to his changeup, he doesn't locate it down in the zone consistently. While Mastny doesn't fit the closer profile, he should find a role in the Cleveland bullpen this season.
Passed over in the 2005 draft in part because he had elbow tendinitis, Herrmann got healthy that summer in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League. After he showed a low-90s fastball, the Indians swayed him away from returning to Harvard with a $35,000 bonus and a promise to pay for the last two semesters of his Ivy League education. Herrmann pitched just 99 innings over two seasons with the Crimson while also serving as the third-string quarterback on their football team. He came into his first full season with a drop-and-drive delivery that he didn't repeat well and had to be revamped with the help of Lake County pitching coach Ruben Niebla. Niebla got him to work on staying taller in his mechanics and scrapped both his slider and curveball, minimizing his pitch selection to keep things simple. Herrmann took off as a result, featuring a power sinker, a slurvy breaking ball and a feel for a changeup. Herrmann pitches at 89-91 with his fastball, touching 94 occasionally. His breaking ball is still in the developmental stages, but at times it's tight with late, two-plane break. He made strides with his changeup, which emerged as a weapon late in the season. He'll move into the high Class A rotation this year.
Wright earned a $630,000 bonus as a second-round pick after leading Hawaii to its first NCAA regional playoff appearance since 1993, going 11-2, 2.30. He also stood out as a closer in the Cape Cod League in 2005, tying for the lead with 12 saves. The Indians plan on initially trying him as a starter, though he wasn't able to take the mound until instructional league. He missed the entire summer with mononucleosis, which also knocked him out of the NCAA playoffs. He wasn't at his best when he returned in instructional league, as his command was below-average. Wright's fastball sits at 88-90 mph when he starts, though he touched 94 during the spring and hit it more regularly working out of the bullpen. His heater lacks life and he tends to elevate it in the strike zone. His slider is his best pitch, with good tilt and depth when he's on. He also throws a changeup and a curveball, and both need work. He probably will make his pro debut in low Class A this year.
Head was better known on the mound than at first base during his amateur career, setting the career save mark at Mississippi. Projected as an early first-rounder in 2005, he fell to the Tribe in the second round after concerns about his ceiling emerged. There were no such concerns during his pro debut, after he hit six homers in 10 games at Mahoning Valley and later held his own in high Class A. But Head took a major step backward in a return trip to Kinston last season, showing only flashes of power and an inability to make adjustments on the fly. Head's swing has tendency to get long through the zone and he struggles with pitches on the outer half. He has the ability to turn on inside pitches or mistakes left up in the zone, but he hasn't shown much beyond pure pull power. He's a below-average runner but a plus defender with good range, soft hands and footwork around the bag. With Michael Aubrey's status uncertain because of injuries, Head was seen as Cleveland's first baseman of the future entering 2006. But now there are a lot of questions about him, and he'll try to answer them in his third stint in high Class A this year.
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