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10 prospects who could have a Major League impact in '13

10 prospects who could have a Major League impact in '13
December 13, 2012
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There can be no argument that Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti have done a wonderful job of reshaping the major league roster so far this offseason. To take this team from simply improved to playoff contention, though, some upgrades will need to come cheaply via the minor league system.

No matter how much television money rolls into baseball over the next few years, Cleveland payrolls will always be lower than other teams'. This is simply a fact of life and one that must be accepted.

As such, the growth of minor league players into major league contributors is a key to having successful teams in Cleveland. This list represents 10 such players I feel can help the team in 2013.

Some notable rookie-eligible names will be missing from this list, as I am focusing on players who have yet to make their major league debuts. This is an arbitrary decision I made to make this list more fun and shed some light on players the general populace might not know as well (though IPI regulars are probably sick of their names).

Anyway, let's get on with the list:

Shawn Armstrong, RHP

Armstrong, 22, could easily follow in Cody Allen's footsteps in 2013. Allen was selected in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft, five rounds behind Armstrong, and ranked 10 spots lower in IPI's pre-2012 rankings. It was Allen that made the big leap to the major leagues, but Armstrong was not far behind, pitching at Lake County, Carolina, and Akron in the regular season and making a stop in the Arizona Fall League to finish his year.

After posting a 1.60 ERA and 10.4 SO/9 in 2012, the sky is the limit for Armstrong. He profiles as a power reliever that could end up at the back-end of a bullpen in time, and if he gets his walks under control (4.9 BB/9 in 2012), he could easily make the leap to Cleveland by late 2013. The organization is deep with relief arms, but Armstrong is one of the best.

Tim Fedroff, OF

At this point, I am sincerely afraid that the hype for Fedroff, who will turn 26 in February, has exceeded what he is capable of achieving at the major league level. The number of cries for Fedroff to fill the left field hole in Cleveland last year were staggering, especially for someone who has never profiled as an impact player.

What it will come down to with Fedroff is if his newfound power in 2012 is real. Fedroff hit 12 home runs last season, more than doubling his total from his previous four seasons. If that power is not a byproduct of Columbus' offense-friendly field, then he might be able to hit enough in the majors to justify playing left field. His .316/.394/.485 line from 2012 looks nice, but time will tell if one of the newest members of the 40-man roster can replicate it against big league pitching.

Trey Haley, RHP

Now that Haley, 22, is finally healthy, his triple-digit fastball and power pitching repertoire are finally yielding results. Haley came into 2012 with a 5.58 ERA, 76 SO/9, and 6.9 BB/9 for his professional career, but after a 2.23 ERA, 11.4 SO/9, and 4.4 BB/9 between rookie ball, Carolina, and Akron last season, he is well on his way to becoming a major league option.

The front office obviously agrees with this, as Haley was added to the 40-man roster and sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season. Haley only pitched 38.2 innings last season and has a mere 15.1 career innings above A-ball, so he still has some work to do before he will be major league ready. If Haley pitches like he did last year, though, he will make quick work of Akron and Columbus and could make it to Cleveland as a September callup at the end of the 2013 season.

T.J. House, LHP

Like Haley, House, 23, made vast improvements in 2012. House was the clichéd "I'm in the best shape of my life" candidate in Spring Training, but he actually came through on it, posting a 3.56 ERA in 149.1 innings between Carolina and Akron. The left-handed starter is not the most overpowering, but he finally got his walks under control (3.0 BB/9) and got back to inducing groundballs after allowing more fly balls than grounders in 2011.

House was also added to the 40-man roster after the season and sent to the Arizona Fall League, a clear sign that the organization is happy with his progression. I could see him starting the year in Akron, but after spending most of the year there, a promotion to Columbus could be warranted. With few left-handed starters available for Cleveland (and none currently in the starting rotation), the path to the majors is clear for House provided he continues pitching as well as he did in 2012.

Matt Langwell, RHP

Langwell, 26, is not one of the sexy bullpen arms in the Cleveland organization, but he may be the most consistent. In 293.2 minor league innings, Langwell owns a 3.06 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 9.1 SO/9, and 3.1 BB/9. He does not have overpowering stuff, but Langwell has gotten the job done at every level.

That lack of stuff is why Langwell was not put on the 40-man roster or selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, but if the bullpen suffers a rash of injuries, he could be a solid fill-in. He will not be the first guy called up to Cleveland, but with the way Langwell has always succeeded in the minor leagues, I hope he finds his way to the majors. At some point, you have to see if there is something there that does not immediately meet the eye.

Chen Lee, RHP

Lee, 26, was my pick for a Vinnie Pestano-type breakout season in 2012 and was ranked as IPI's sixth-best prospect before the season. Unfortunately for Lee and the team, however, Tommy John surgery claimed another victim and Lee missed most of the season. It is likely that Lee will need a little time to finish his rehab after the season starts, but I cannot wait to see if he can quickly work his way back up in 2013.

Lee had a great fastball and slider, as well as strong command, before the surgery. He could help the big league club as a full-time piece in 2014, provided he can regain that form. Lee still needs time to rebuild his arm, so it is unlikely that he will be anything but a September callup in 2013. If he gets to Cleveland, though, watch out. He has the stuff to finally make it to the majors after his setback season of 2012 and be an impact reliever.

Chris McGuiness, 1B/OF

Under normal circumstances, McGuiness, who will turn 25 in April, would not make this list, as the first baseman/possible left fielder has no experience above AA. After Cleveland took him in the Rule 5 Draft, however, he is a major league option, as he must remain on the 25-man roster all year for Cleveland to keep him.

McGuiness has shown some power in his minor league career (23 home runs in 123 games last year) and was the Arizona Fall League's MVP after posting a .283/.370/.467 line in 108 plate appearances, but jumping straight to the major leagues would be a considerable feat. He will likely be used as a left-handed platoon option at first base, designated hitter, and left field (if he can stick there, as playing him there is an ongoing experiment) if he makes the team. I do not know if McGuiness can make the big jump from AA to the majors, but we know for certain he will get the chance to try.

Matt Packer, LHP

Packer, 25, was on track for the major leagues in 2012 before a shoulder injury sidelined him at the start of the season. After that setback, Packer only managed 65.2 innings in 2012, but he managed an effective 3.70 ERA and 2.2 BB/9 while reaching AAA for the first time. Packer also was selected for the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched 13.1 decent innings in relief (4.05 ERA, 3.80 FIP).

No one will mistake Packer for an overpowering pitcher, but the finesse starter is left-handed and could be a decent innings eater. Cleveland needs starters like that to soak up some innings, but first Packer will have to show he can handle AAA. His 34.1 innings at that level left quite a bit to be desired (5.50 ERA, 5.36 FIP), but provided he adjusts to the International League, he should get a chance to show his stuff as a spot starter in 2013.

Giovanni Soto, LHP

Soto, 21, had a very impressive year at AA last season. The raw stats leave something to be desired (3.93 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 7.4 SO/9, 3.6 BB/9 in 121.1 innings), but to pitch that well in the Eastern League at that age says something. Soto also showed how good he is capable of being when he threw a no-hitter against the Altoona Curve on July 15.

In the end, Soto and his dominant cutter may end up in the bullpen, filling a Rafael Perez-type role, but for now, the left-hander is a starter. I would not be surprised to see him start the year in Akron, but if he ups his game his second time through AA, a quick callup to Columbus is not out of the question. Though it is more likely that House or Packer gets the call, I could see a hot Soto earning a spot start in Cleveland if he makes a jump this offseason. He is one of the few prospects the organization has in the upper levels that could be more than depth.

Tyler Sturdevant, RHP

Sturdevant, who turns 27 in a week, is another player who saw his 2012 season sidetracked by injuries. A shoulder injury delayed the start of Sturdevant's season and really caused his results to suffer. After coming into 2012 with a 2.46 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 11.0 SO/9, and 2.6 BB/9, Sturdevant posted an ugly 4.42 ERA, 5.11 FIP, 6.9 SO/9, and 3.4 BB/9 in 36.2 innings between three levels. Even more troubling, Sturdevant struggled mightily in 20.2 Columbus innings, posting a 6.30 ERA.

Providing Sturdevant is healthy in 2013, he could be a dark horse candidate to make the bullpen in 2013. There was plenty of hype surrounding him and his potential debut in 2012, so it is possible that hype just needs to be rolled back to 2013. With a strong showing in Columbus, Sturdevant should get a quick call to the majors to see if he can become the overpowering reliever he was before 2012.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

December 13, 2012 - 4:39 PM EST
shy you arent getting an established player for CP no way jose. at least the deal i alude to with smith to texas gets us an established pitcher and comparing anyone to hamilton is a bit hyperbole. Hamilton was the number one pick in the draft in a very good 1999 ameteur draft ( CC was #20). If you deal an all-star closer 2011-2012 for a prospect i dont think so
Jim Piascik
December 13, 2012 - 4:28 PM EST
Salazar was the hardest omission on the list. I ultimately left him off as he only pitched 45.1 innings in eight starts in Akron (including playoffs). Plus, he only pitched 99 innings total in 2012.

I see the organization taking it fairly slow with him, starting him in Akron, bumping him to Columbus when he shows he's ready then shutting him down around 140-150 innings (similar to how Soto was shut down after 120 innings last year following a 69.0 inning year).

No inside info on that, just my feeling. That's why ultimately, while Salazar is great, I left him off here.
December 13, 2012 - 3:02 PM EST
Soto is still filling out into his frame and getting stronger, so the velocity could still tick up a little. He's probably be a 90-91 guy in bigs with that dynamite cutter. Rafael Perez type. In fact, he's another guy who could impact this season because of how dominant he could be as a lefty in pen this year if moved there.
December 13, 2012 - 2:50 PM EST
I just talked to my inside guy at the Giants regarding some other business, he mentioned to me the Giants just signed Andres Torres this morning, putting Kieschnick one more step back in the OF depth chart. If this guy is healthy and I'm told he is, he is going to be a star somewhere soon. I would have no qualms about trading Perez for him and using the money that a Ross or Swisher would require to bring in a decent starting pitcher.
Joe Chengery
December 13, 2012 - 2:44 PM EST
My, that's what I get for rushing - "now" should be "not" (i.e. T.J. House is NOT a power lefty)- sorry for the typos.
Joe Chengery
December 13, 2012 - 2:43 PM EST
Meant to say that the first "him" in the second paragraph referred to Hamilton (i.e. Texas holding onto Hamilton).

In regards to the prospects you mentioned, one note: I thought that T.J. House was considered to be a power lefty when he was drafted? Yet, it sounds more like he is now. Did his velocity drop or did I just inflate his velocity?
Joe Chengery
December 13, 2012 - 2:41 PM EST
Regarding the potential Angels' signing of Hamilton, if I were the Indians, I'd go after Ross now; if Swisher really wanted to be here, he would have already signed since the Indians are pretty much willing to pay the rumored price he was wanting.

His lack of signing is making me think that Texas is his preferred spot; even if Texas managed to hold onto him, Seattle would still be a formidable competitor for his services, especially since RF is now a revolving door since Ichiro was traded, M's seem to always have money to spend, and they did finish on a strong note for 2012.

While Ross might not have been our first option, I'd go for him and try to sign Jackson or another of the higher-regarded starting pitchers. Then, see if they can add a primary lefty to the bullpen. But, I'd forget about Swisher, as I don't see him coming here.
December 13, 2012 - 12:52 PM EST
Bryson is not much of a prospect anymore. Lots of guys above him with higher priority. He will probably never pitch in the bigs with the Indians and end up traded, released or allowed to leave as a free agent after next year. Guilmet is an interesting prospect, but he is a secondary relief prospect and there are lots of guys above him with greater priority. He is kind of in the Langwell boat where he will probably be continually passed over by other guys because of the average stuff. As for Salazar....I might have included him in this listing. He will probably spend all season in the minors but could be a guy that is a late season callup.
December 13, 2012 - 12:52 PM EST
Is there any hope for Soto to add mph as he fills out?

You can definitely take the over on the Indians strikeout totals for this year. Hopefully somebody gets on base when Reynolds gets his 1 hit out of 3 strikeouts. If Stubbs & Reynolds can hit 240-260avg and have a .320-.330OBP this season for the Indians will be in good shape but that is a BIG IF.

Lineup thoughts
vs RH: Brantley,(in shape)AsCab,Kipnis,RF(Swisher),Santana,Chiz,Reynolds,DH,Stubbs
vs LH: Stubbs & Brantley, Chiz & DH switch.
December 13, 2012 - 12:41 PM EST
no mention of salazar?
December 13, 2012 - 12:39 PM EST
I know Bruce Bochy/Brian Sabean are concerned about the closer situation out here- Brian Wilson was not tendered and no one wants to pay him the big shut down closer bucks without a post-surgery body of work. I know they were interested in Chris Perez at the deadline last year. Their outfield is set with Pagan, Pence and Blanco and they have Peguerro and Gary Brown and Roger Kieschnick ready to move up. The highest upside guy is Kieschnick- if he's healthy. I saw him play 2 years ago and was very impressed. Reminds of Josh Hamilton in stature and athletic ability. I think the Giants would consider trading him for Perez. This could be a major coup for the Indians- if Kieschnick gets a clean bill of health. I think it is unlikely that Chris Perez/ Chris Antonetti are going to be able to leave the water under the bridge from the acrimony last year so to not continue to work on a deal for him is probably a mistake
December 13, 2012 - 12:37 PM EST
I'd garner to guess that Rodriguez was omitted only because he just made his debut last year at Double-A during the Eastern League playoffs. He's certainly a prospect, and a strong one at that, but not a prospect that is likely to impact the 2013 Major League club.
December 13, 2012 - 12:29 PM EST
yeah whats the scoop on Bryson these days? At one point he was a legit middle to back of the bullpen prospect.
December 13, 2012 - 12:16 PM EST
What about Preston Guilmet or Rob Bryson? Are they not better than Sturdevant or Langwell? Also, why does no one ever mention of Ronny Rodriguez being prospect material?
December 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM EST
Not sure there is an "impact" player in this group as the title would suggest. The highest ceiling is probably Haley and he is not likely to provide much of an impact as a middle reliever.

As a 4th OF, I think Carrera brings more to the table than Fedroff. If it were a regular LF assignment, Fedroff might be more productive. Carrera would probably be a better platoon with Stubbs in CF I would guess.
Jim Piascik
December 13, 2012 - 11:58 AM EST
As effective as he's been, Joe Smith is a possibility. He's not making that much, but approx. $2.7 million is a lot for Cleveland to spend on a set-up/middle relief arm.

But of course, I don't know if anyone else wants to pay him that either.
December 13, 2012 - 11:53 AM EST
Agree on Fedroff, though I believe a lot of the power was a result of the bandbox that is Huntington Park. I think the Indians are going to use him or Carrera in a fourth outfielder role to kind of complement Stubbs and limit his exposure some to right-handed pitching. There are a lot of arms in the pen they can turn to, which again, leads me to believe that a righty or two in the ML pen not named Pestano-Perez could be dealt.
December 13, 2012 - 11:39 AM EST
Boy, what a quiet morning. We need another trade/signing. Would like to see Fedroff get a good chance at LF. He has done everything the Indians have asked over the last several years. I know his upside is not considered great, but some players just mature a little later, and his increased power and overall numbers last year may be a positive sign. Great article Jim. There are some moving parts there that could make some sort of an impact.

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