Cleveland Indians 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Cleveland Indians 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Jeff Reese: The majority of the Cleveland Indians’s talent is focused in the lower levels of minor league baseball; with the Choo trade, they just received their most advanced prospect in Trevor Bauer. Bauer has seen his stock fall from the elite level that many inflated it to a year ago, but the profile is essentially the same. He is a very smart but dogmatic pitcher who believes in the idea of tunneling as the most effective way to get a batter out — basically trying to have the various pitches look the same for as long as possible, in practice it generally means fastballs up in the zone and offspeeds down in the zone. Elevated fastballs and his mediocre command can be a frightening combination against advanced hitters; despite having strikeout stuff, those concerns led me to believe he was more of a mid rotation starter last year. I feel the same this year.
I ranked two players ahead of him on the list I submitted: Francisco Lindor & Dorssys Paulino. Lindor has the tools to be a quality defensive short stop with good range, a strong arm, and sound actions. At the plate, he shows good bat speed and a feel for hitting from a compact, direct swing path. Power won’t be an asset, but at short stop you’re not really expecting more than 10 homeruns anyway. He was the clear choice at the top; my biggest regret in 2012 is only making the trip to Lake County once. Dorssys Paulino may currently play the same position, but the profile is a bit different. Where Lindor is celebrated for his defense at short stop, Paulino’s future position may end up someplace else in the infield. His arm strength is his biggest defensive asset and the athleticism is good enough for short stop; the actions need work and a move to third base may eventually follow. At the plate he shows quick hand and easy bat speed, but perhaps most notable is how advanced his approach at the plate is.
Tyler Naquin was the top pick for the Indians in the 2012 draft and spent the majority of the year at Mahoning Valley. Naquin offers a tremendous feel for hitting that he refined throughout his college career at Texas A&M but rarely turns on a ball. He is seemingly content serving pitches opposite field for line drive singles. There may be average power in there if he can alter his approach to hitting. If not it becomes more important that he sticks in center field. Except for arm strength, Luigi Rodriguez has better the defensive tools with an ability to glide to balls and cover significant ground with his speed. If both should fulfill their potential, it’s hard not to see Naquin moving to right field in deference. Luigi offensively is more of a work in progress. His swing produces good bat speed and extension, but it comes via a fairly long swing with a leg lift that seems to throw off his timing. His speed is an asset though that proves to be a disruptive force on the bases.
I think I saw Elvis Araujo at his absolute best. He sat in the low 90s — touched 95 — from the left side with a good slider and a useable changeup. Araujo did not have the control issues that dogged him through the majority of the 2012 season that night; it was hard not to come away feeling bullish. It may be probable that he eventually moves to the bullpen, but the ingredients of a quality left-handed starter are there if everything can come together. Cody Allen and Danny Salazar both successfully rebounded from injuries to show big raw stuff. Allen has already seen time with the Indians as a reliever, and that may be where Salazar’s future role is as well. Dylan Baker — one of the best JuCo pitchers in the 2012 draft — has a delivery best suited for relief work as well; his quality fastball/curve ball mix would play up well there. Mitch Brown, however, has the best chance of sticking in the rotation of those on this list. He was a late riser from the prep ranks and shows a nice variety of pitches from a strong, durable frame to go along with a good feel for pitching. His pro debut went exceedingly well.
A few raw Latin talents conclude the list. Santander was challenged with a stateside assignment after signing last July. The projectable, toolsy outfielder performed well with the Indians’s complex team and will likely move up to the NYPL next season where I will get an extensive look. Urshela is most impressive defensively at third base — and you should know how much I liked defensive third basemen — but put in a solid campaign offensively in the Carolina League. The bat is still a large question that will need to be answered however. Jorge Martinez posted huge numbers in the AZL, but his prospect status is tenuous. Martinez takes a big, loopy swing and has difficulty with pitch recognition; when the stars align he can put a charge in a baseball. Getting to the point where he can hit enough to let the power shine through will be a tall task. Cleveland seems to have a steady flow of interesting international free agents (Robel Garcia is the most interesting who falls outside of this list) and will need to continue to have success identifying them in order to build their farm system back up.
Al Skorupa: 2012 saw some nice improvement and breakouts in this system but its still near the bottom. Francisco Lindor is still one of the most coveted prospects in the game. He’s a potential impact shortstop but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I had Trevor Bauer second and I’m thankful we saved this list until after the Choo trade! I had and still have some concerns about Bauer because of his command, stature, delivery and flyball tendencies but he’s a good strikeout starter who at worst fits in the middle of your rotation. Although he was portrayed as the most major league ready college arm in that draft class (I preferred Danny Hultzen) Bauer has elements of his game that need substantial work. The important thing is he knows how to miss bats and you can’t really teach that. Dorssys Paulino’s exploded onto the scene this year and the reports on him were extremely positive. I’d guess he ends up at third base (and not just because of Lindor) and I do have some concerns about his power, but looks like he has a great shot to be an above average big leaguer. I like Tyler Naquin’s game but I thought he was a real reach at 15ht overall. He’s somewhat limited offensively and will be a pesty hitter who works counts and slaps or lines the ball into the gaps. From what I saw I think he can play centerfield but he’s going to be a fringy guy out there and its one of those situations where often the org. has a better defensive option there anyway. I don’t mind the profile in a corner, though one issue is he has problems hitting left-handed pitching.
RHP Mitch Brown had lots of pre-draft day helium and there were plenty of rumbling he was going to go even higher. This is a heck of a high school pitching package to get with the 79th pick. I think he would have fit well even in the supplemental round (though I didn’t grade him there). Ronny and Luigi Rodriguez are raw, toolsy players that would surely stand out if you attended a rookie ball game. I like both (Ronny slightly more) and its a case of “let’s see where there bodies, tools and skills are in two years.” Of the standout relief arms in this system I liked Cody Allen the most, though I don’t see him as a future 9th inning type. Elvis Araujo has some lefty set up potential. Like your typical high school arm, it wouldn’t shock me if Kieran Lovegrove took a leap forward in the next couple years nor if he stagnated and ended up sitting high 80′s. Some mechanical cleanup work might help untap more of the “good” Lovegrove.
SS Francisco Lindor (Jeff Reese)
RHP Trevor Bauer (Steve Fiorindo)
SS Dorssys Paulino (Jeff Reese)
CF Tyler Naquin (Jeff Reese)
CF Luigi Rodriguez (Jeff Reese)
LHP Elvis Araujo (Jeff Reese)
RHP Kieran Lovegrove (Steve Fiorindo)
3B Jorge Martinez (Jeff Reese)