Cleveland Indians: Top 10 Prospects

Cleveland Indians

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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1. Carlos Santana, c

2. Matt LaPorta, of

3. Nick Weglarz, of

4. Adam Miller, rhp

5. Beau Mills, 1b

6. Lonnie Chisenhall, ss

7. Kelvin de la Cruz, lhp

8. David Huff, lhp

9. Michael Brantley, of/1b

10. Carlos Rivero, ss

Best Hitter for Average Michael Brantley
Best Power Hitter Matt LaPorta
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Nick Weglarz
Fastest Baserunner Delvi Cid
Best Athlete Michael Brantley
Best Fastball Adam Miller
Best Curveball Kelvin de la Cruz
Best Slider Adam Miller
Best Changeup David Huff
Best Control David Huff
Best Defensive Catcher Wyatt Toregas
Best Defensive Infielder Mark Thompson
Best Infield Arm Carlos Rivero
Best Defensive Outfielder Delvi Cid
Best Outfield Arm Matt Brown
Catcher Carlos Santana
First Base Matt LaPorta
Second Base Jhonny Peralta
Third Base Lonnie Chisenhall
Shortstop Carlos Rivero
Left Field Nick Weglarz
Center Field Grady Sizemore
Right Field Shin-Soo Choo
Designated Hitter Beau Mills
No. 1 Starter Cliff Lee
No. 2 Starter Fausto Carmona
No. 3 Starter Kelvin de la Cruz
No. 4 Starter David Huff
No. 5 Starter T.J. House
Closer Adam Miller
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Russell Branyan, 3b
2000 C.C. Sabathia, lhp
2001 C.C. Sabathia, lhp
2002 Corey Smith, 3b
2003 Brandon Phillips, 2b/ss
2004 Grady Sizemore, of
2005 Adam Miller, rhp
2006 Adam Miller, rhp
2007 Adam Miller, rhp
2008 Adam Miller, rhp
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Will Harley, c (2nd round)
Out of baseball
2000 Corey Smith, 3b
2001 Dan Denham, rhp
2002 Jeremy Guthrie, rhp
2003 Michael Aubrey, 1b
2004 Jeremy Sowers, lhp
2005 Trevor Crowe, of
2006 David Huff, lhp (1st supplemental)
2007 Beau Mills 3b/1b
2008 Lonnie Chisenhall, ss
Danys Baez, 1999
Jeremy Guthrie, 2002
Jeremy Sowers, 2004
Michael Aubrey, 2003
Dan Denham, 2001
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Cleveland Indians

After the Indians nearly reached the 2007 World Series, forecasts had them contending for another American League Central title in 2008. Yet despite outscoring their opponents by 44 runs, the Indians finished 81-81. They languished in last place for much of the season until mid-August, precipitating the trade of C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers on July 7, though their 40-28 record after the all-star break was the sixth-best in baseball.

Sabathia is the only star the Indians have drafted since they made him the 20th overall selection in 1998. The club has gotten little return on its first-round and supplemental first-round choices since. The Tribe had 12 such picks from 2000-03, and among them only Jeremy Guthrie has found any big league success—and that came after the Orioles claimed him on waivers.

Sabathia's departure left Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Aaron Laffey and Jensen Lewis as the only homegrown draftees to make much of an impact for 2008 Indians. Former Tribe draft picks Ryan Church, Guthrie, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Luke Scott have enjoyed various degrees of success with other clubs.

Nevertheless, the Indians have found alternate ways to build a perennial AL Central contender. Asdrubal Cabrera, Franklin Gutierrez, Travis Hafner, Cliff Lee, Kelly Shoppach and Grady Sizemore all came to Cleveland as minor leaguers through trades, while Shin-Soo Choo had only two big league hits before the Tribe acquired him. Victor Martinez signed with the Indians out of Venezuela, while Fausto Carmona, Jhonny Peralta and Rafael Perez were found in the Dominican Republic.

By dealing Sabathia and Casey Blake, Cleveland continued its history of bolstering its farm system with other organizations' prospects. Catcher Carlos Santana, the prize of the Blake trade, and outfielder Matt LaPorta, the key to the Sabathia deal, immediately became the Tribe's two best prospects. Two more players in those transactions, outfielder/first baseman Michael Brantley and righthander Jonathan Meloan, also should help the big league club in the near future.

For the first time in five years, righthander Adam Miller doesn't rank No. 1 on this prospect list, but he still has as much star potential as any Indians draftee in the system. And if the 2003 first-rounder can stay healthy after pitching just 95 innings over the last two years, Miller could join Meloan in immediately upgrading a bullpen that posted the second-worst relief ERA (5.13) in the majors last season.

Another homegrown pitcher, lefty David Huff, could upgrade the rotation in 2009. They're a little further away, but two more Tribe draftees, outfielder Nick Weglarz and first baseman Beau Mills, could bolster the lineup by the end of 2010.

In an effort to reap more from the draft, Cleveland spent $7 million on its 2008 crop—up from $3.6 million the year before. The Indians doled out $1.1 million to sweet-swinging infielder Lonnie Chisenhall in the first round and far exceeded MLB's slot recommendations to land righthanders Trey Haley, Zach Putnam and Bryce Stowell, lefthander T.J. House and outfielder Tim Fedroff. They also maintained a strong international presence, paying $715,000 for Venezuelan catcher Alex Monsalve and $575,000 for Dominican shortstop Jose Ozoria.

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