The Cleveland Indians are trying to continue their resurgence in the AL Central by keeping some players coming from their farm system. There are a few potential impact guys in the high minors as well as those who are further down in the system. The club tends to be very aggressive when promoting players which, to be honest, I’m not sure if I think it helps or hinders development. It’s definitely one of the things that we’ll be tracking here at Grading on the Curve over the 2014 season.
We’d like to thank Geordy Boveroux from our FanSided sister site Wahoo’s on First for his help with the list and his comments. You can find him on twitter at @BoverouxMedia
Triple-A: Columbus Clippers (International League)
Double-A: Akron RubberDucks (Eastern League)
High-A: Carolina Mudcats (Carolina League)
Class-A: Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Indians (Arizona League)
LeVon Washington – OF
Date of Birth: July 26, 1991
Height/Weight: 5’11″/170 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2010 draft
|2013||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-Rk||CLE||61||271||230||42||80||20||6||5||32||16||4||37||54||.348||.444||.552||.997|
Analysis: Washington has had a hard time getting on track in his professional career, dealing with injuries every year. He took a little bit of a step forward while stepping back in 2013, playing in only 51 games. While he reached High-A Carolina in 2012, the Indians held him back in 2013, keeping the 22 year old in Class-A Lake County. His numbers speak to a player who made some big strides in terms of his ability to make contact and get on base and despite a fairly high 54 strikeouts, Washington walked 37 times and had an outstanding .425 OBP and showed excellent extra-base pop. Geordy writes: “Seriously, #WASHTIME will happen. I swear. Just needs to stay healthy, but has always had on-base and speed combo to be a terror at the top of a lineup.”
2014 Prognosis: If he can stay healthy, Washington will terrorize pitchers in the Carolina League.
Sean Brady – LHP
Date of Birth: June 9, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’0″/175 lbs
Acquired: 5th round of the 2013 draft
Analysis: While he doesn’t stand out in terms of raw stuff, this 5th rounder is making some big strides due to his advanced makeup and control. Despite a fastball that sits in the high-80s/low-90s, Brady has very advanced breaking stuff with a good curve and change. The biggest stat to look at in his 2013 line is his 30:6 K/BB ratio. Geordy says: “Slightly undersized at only 6’0”, but looked stellar in a 32 inning sample size of rookie ball after being drafted.”
2014 Prognosis: Look for this lefty to move quicker than some of the other 2013 high school pitchers, particularly compared to those who were taken this (relatively) low in the draft. Depending on how he does in Spring Training, Brady could see Class-A ball fairly early in the season.
Jesus Aguilar – 1B
Date of Birth: June 30, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’3″/250 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2007
Analysis: While not as great of an athlete as many scouts want to see climbing through an organization, Aguilar can flat out hit. He’s a big-bodied first baseman who can drive the ball and, while the home run numbers aren’t flashy, he is putting up significantly above-average numbers and has done it in Double-A, where many power hitters get separated out. Importantly, Aguilar saw a big drop in his strikeout totals which could indicate some necessary development. Unfortunately, the axiom is fairly true: there’s no such thing as a first-base prospect. Unless the plus-raw-power ticks up in game situations, Aguilar might not hit enough at first base to make it in The Show. Geordy says: “Nice power, but nothing impressive for a 1B/DH guy. May not be an everyday player, but can be a great pinch hitter.”
2014 Prognosis: With a strong season at Double-A Akron under his belt, I would wager that a trip to Columbus might be in order for Aguilar.
Tony Wolters – C/IF
Date of Birth: June 9, 1992
Height/Weight: 5’10″/177 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2010 draft
Analysis: There’s upside and downside to Tony Wolters’s 2013 positional shift. The upside is that the reviews on his adjustment to catching have been pretty good. The downside is that the extra attention that he has probably been paying to his defense has resulted in a step back with the bat. While his OBP was very good and his strikeout numbers were way down, his power was completely sapped by this (apparently) more contact-conscious approach. Geordy says: “Took the position switch to catcher not only in stride, but kept on sprinting with it. On top of that, he almost doubled his walk rate from his poor 2012 performance while cutting down on strikeouts.”
2014 Prognosis: Wolters could move up to Double-A after a solid season behind the plate in High-A Carolina. That said, he’s only 21 and there’s no hurry to rush him up through the minors, especially if the Indians want him to really focus on his new position.
Dace Kime – RHP
Date of Birth: March 6, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’4″/200 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2013 draft
Analysis: Kime was drafted out of college and made his debut with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in Short-Season A ball. He’s got a decent velocity, sitting in the low-90s but the Indians really like his supplemental repertoire that includes a curve, a change and a cutter. Geordy says: “Looked great in the New York Penn League like any college arm should. Walked a few too many guys in the small sample size, but control isn’t much of a concern moving forward.” I agree with Geordy here. He doesn’t have any of the “lack of control” red flags in his stat line: hit batters and wild pitches to go along with walks. It’s very likely that the walks come from Kime not being entirely sure where the movement is going to take the ball.
2014 Prognosis: Kime is going to get a chance to pitch in full-season ball as a 22 year old in 2014. His Spring Training results will determine which level he begins at.Sep 9, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (left) scores a run on an error beside Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) in the third inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Brown – RHP
Date of Birth: April 13, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/195 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
|2013||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-A||CLE||3||5||.375||6.78||17||15||67.2||78||53||51||6||40||0||66||12||16||1.744||10.4||0.8||5.3||8.8||1.65|
Analysis: Mitch Brown was moved very aggressively by the Indians, allowing him to get a taste of full-season ball in the Midwest League even before he turned 19. While some might say that this was a huge mistake, it may very well show Brown what he’s going to need to work on going forward. His numbers settled down a bit when he was brought back to the Indians’ complex in Arizona but scouts love his mound presence and his makeup as well as his 94-mph fastball and his three supplemental pitches that all project to be at least major league average. Geordy says: “Struggled mightily in 2013, but still had great K rates and plenty of time to settle down. Four pitch mix will make him a quality mid-rotation option someday.”
2014 Prognosis: Another shot at Lake County is likely in the cards for Brown.
Ronny Rodriguez – SS
Date of Birth: April 17, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’0″/170 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010; $375,000 signing bonus
Analysis: Some might look at Rodriguez’s numbers and think that he’s just not getting it done but it’s important to keep in mind that he’s been rushed by the Indians since he’s come over without playing in the Dominican Summer League, starting his pro career in full-season Lake County. At 21 in Double-A, Rodriguez has shown some nice pop to go with his great defense. While he still needs to walk a lot more, Rodriguez has shown some progress in cutting down on strikeouts at a higher level and in more plate appearances in 2013. Geordy says: “Great power/speed combo for a shortstop. Might need the Rick Vaughn treatment seeing as he doesn’t understand the concept of the strike zone.”
2014 Prognosis: With 2014 being his Age-22 season, Rodriguez could as easily stay back in Double-A for a year as he could make the jump to Triple-A.
Luigi Rodriguez – OF
Date of Birth: November 13, 1992
Height/Weight: 5’11″/160 lbs
Acquired: International free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2009
|2013||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-A||CLE||56||222||189||30||52||13||1||1||20||8||7||28||61||.275||.368||.370||.739|
Analysis: The book on Rodriguez is that he’s still very raw. He showed a lot more power in 2012 in Lake County than he did in his limited playing time in 2013 (due to injury) but he has shown some improvement in his ability to get on base via the walk. He still needs work in the outfield (he was signed as a middle infielder), at the plate and on the bases but the upside to Rodriguez could be a pretty solid outfielder. Geordy says: “Hits and walks just enough, while being fast as hell on the basepaths. That makes for a league-average CF or great 4th OFer.”
2014 Prognosis: My feeling is that Rodriguez will return to Carolina to start the year and if he performs well, could get a mid-season promotion to Double-A.
Cody Anderson – RHP
Date of Birth: September 14, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’4″/220 lbs
Acquired: 14th round of the 2011 draft
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||CLE||9||4||.692||2.65||26||26||136.0||121||42||40||8||40||122||5||1||8||1.184||8.0||0.5||2.6||8.1||3.05|
Analysis: Anderson’s got a fairly “young” arm, having been a closer in college. The Indians like his big, mid-90s fastball that he can throw deep into games, thanks to his big frame. They also feel that he’ll have at least two major league average offspeed offererings (slider and changeup) to go along with the plus fastball. Geordy says: “Has seen his ERA drop and K rate rise each year. The one drawback is he’s now a 23 year old with only 12.2 innings in Double-A.”
2014 Prognosis: I’m not as certain as Geordy is that his age is such a big detriment to Anderson. He’s showing some good command in the mid-minors and a 12 2/3 inning sample is not going to tell us much. While he’ll start in Double-A, if he shows polish (especially with the supplemental pitches), he could be in the big leagues in some role before long.
Jose Ramirez – 2B
Date of Birth: September 17, 1992
Height/Weight: 5’9″/165 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009
Analysis: Continuing a trend with the Indians, they’ve been very aggressive with Ramirez since he hit professional baseball in 2011. After just one season with the Rookie-League club, Ramirez spent most of 2012 with the Class-A Lake County Captains, torching the Midwest League for a .354/.403/.462 slash line that enabled the club to jump him up to Double-A. He had 15 major league plate appearances to cap his meteoric rise but had a very solid season for a 20 year old in Double-A. Geordy says: “Scrappy 2B with a knack of making contact. Was pushed hard by the org in 2013 by skipping High-A to start the year and then [skipping] Triple-A in September to join the Major League roster.”
2014 Prognosis: Can he make the big club as a utility guy in 2014? I would wager that he won’t spend a ton of time in Cleveland unless injuries take their toll. He’ll benefit from another year of development in Triple-A Columbus.Jun 18, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Carolina Mudcats short stop Francisco Lindor (12) during the fourth inning of the California League vs Carolina League All Star Game at San Jose Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Naquin – OF
Date of Birth: April 24, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’2″/175 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (15th overall) of the 2012 draft
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||CLE||126||583||528||78||142||30||6||10||48||15||10||46||134||.269||.334||.405||.739|
Analysis: Naquin is one of the few guys in this system that I saw play a little bit through the magic of MLB.com and the Arizona Fall League. My first reaction to Naquin was that I wanted to feed him a sandwich but I was impressed by his speed and his ability to make contact. While his numbers from a late-season promotion to Double-A weren’t great, he had a very solid season in High-A Carolina and hit very well (.339/.400/.417) in the Arizona Fall League. If we believe the performance in regular season ball, Naquin is going to need to improve his strikeout rates, particularly since he doesn’t hit for a lot of power but he did get his rate down to 13.8% in his 130 AFL plate appearances. Geordy says: “I’ve always believed in his ability to stick in center where his lack of power won’t hurt a major league lineup as much.”
2014 Prognosis: Naquin is going to get a full year’s work in at Double-A unless he can really show development with the bat (a little more power, fewer strikeouts) and get promoted mid-season.
Dorssys Paulino – SS
Date of Birth: November 21, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’0″/175 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011; $1.1 million signing bonus
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
: With another aggressive assignment, the Indians had Paulino jumping to full-season ball with Lake County in 2013 as an 18 year old. While he didn’t exactly put up stellar numbers, there’s definitely enough there to paint a very rosy picture of the future. With some decent pop and not terrible strikeout numbers, Paulino could tantalize prospect watchers over the next couple of seasons, especially if he gets stronger as he matures. With several strong middle-infield prospects coming over the next few years, there’s going to be some positional adjustments if the Indians try to make room for all of them and Paulino could wind up at third or second. Geordy says: “Full season ball wasn’t as friendly as rookie league ball in 2012. Still has the pedigree, but his performance this year will be telling.”
2014 Prognosis: Considering how aggressive the Indians are with their prospects, look for Paulino in Carolina this year.
Trevor Bauer – RHP
Date of Birth: January 17, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 lbs
Acquired: Part of a team-trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds that involved Drew Stubbs, Shin-Soo Choo and Didi Gregorius (among others); drafted in the 1st round (3rd overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011
Analysis: How do you solve a problem like Bauer? Despite his stellar stuff, issues of coachability and makeup still dog Bauer who, we must remind you, will only be 23 for the 2014 season. This recent article from Paul Hoynes describes some of the off-season adjustments that Bauer has been making and it appears that the coaching staff is very pleased with the improvements. The big issue, of course, is the lack of control which saw Bauer walk 16 batters in 17 big league innings and 73 over 121 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus. The fact remains that if Bauer can rein in his stuff, he’s going to have a chance at a long major league career. Geordy says: “He’s still rookie eligible and hasn’t loss the nastiness in his stuff. He just lost the ability to control it. If there’s anything that’s fixable with a failing pitching prospect, it’s that.”
2014 Prognosis: Look for Bauer to make a run at a big-league rotation spot out of Spring Training. If he doesn’t, it’s back to Columbus for him.
Clint Frazier – OF
Date of Birth: September 6, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (5th overall) of the 2013 draft
Analysis: It was as impressive a debut as people could have asked for, with gobs of extra-base hits and very solid patience at the plate. The only thing that you could ask for is fewer strikeouts and that may indicate that he needs to develop his pitch recognition more as Frazier got his first taste of professional action. Geordy says: “So far, so good. Showed off all the offensive skills he was heralded for coming out of the draft, but will he really stick in centerfield?”
2014 Prognosis: I wouldn’t be surprised to see Frazier in Lake County at some point in 2014. A 19 year old in Class-A is not a stretch for the Indians’ organizational philosophies.
Francisco Lindor – SS
Date of Birth: November 14, 1993
Height/Weight: 5’11″/175 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (8th overall) of the 2011 draft
|2013||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||CLE||104||464||403||65||122||22||7||2||34||25||7||49||46||.303||.380||.407||.787|
Analysis: Geordy says: “I mean…duh.” Ok, we’ll go into a little more detail than that. Lindor is a true impact talent and will easily be a Top-10 prospect in the majors this year. The fact that Lindor has a great glove only makes his star shine even brighter because he’s very rarely talked about as a defense-first player. His bat is still developing but he reached Double-A (and wasn’t overwhelmed) as a 19 year old, putting up outstanding OBPs at Carolina and Akron and very solid ISOs at both levels. Combining speed and gap-power with outstanding defense, Lindor is also a premium contact hitter which bodes well for his potential power as he gets stronger and more experienced.
2014 Prognosis: Could Lindor jump to Triple-A in 2014? Probably. Will the Indians be that aggressive with their top prospect? I’m not exactly sure. He may split the season between Akron and Columbus, getting more acclimated to Ohio before he likely makes his major league debut in September of 2014 or early 2015.