2007 Indians Top Prospects: #11-25
Age: 23 Height: 5’11” Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right
After a disappointing 2005 season at Lake County where he hit .231/.302/.321 with 5 HRs and 42 RBIs, Toregas bounced back in 2006 and established himself as one of the Indians top catching prospects. In 2006, Toregas combined to hit .294/.366/.450 at Kinston and Akron in 309 at bats. Toregas is a player on the rise in the Indians farm system, and improved physically between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. There is no question about Toregas’ offensive abilities, but his defense is what has Tribe officials excited. Simply put, Toregas is a very good defensive catcher that can control a running game. Last year, he averaged 1.85 seconds on throws to 2B, which is much better than the major league average of 2.0 seconds. Toregas is the best defensive catcher in the Indians system, and he was ranked by Baseball America as the best defensive catcher in the Carolina League last year. Toregas was up with the Indians this past September to get a firsthand look at the atmosphere and how players prep for games, and actually sat behind home plate charting games. Toregas most likely will start the 2007 season at Akron.
24. Cody Bunkelman: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 21 Height: 6’3” Weight: 225 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Bunkelman was dominant in 24 games at Lake County last year where he went 1-2 with a 2.82 ERA, held batters to a .169 BAA and struckout 48 batters in 44.2 IP. He struggled with his first taste of advanced Single-A at Kinston going 3-1 with a 6.65 ERA and struckout 23 hitters in 23 IP. Bunkelman was moved to the bullpen in 2006, and the results were mostly positive. He has a raw power arm, which features a mid 90’s fastball and a nasty slider. His changeup is still a work in progress, but it won’t be needed if he sticks in the bullpen. Bunkelman’s strong lower half of his body provides a launching pad for additional velocity on his pitches, and his mechanics in his delivery are smooth and provide deception. Bunkelman should start the 2007 season at Kinston and help anchor the bullpen.
23. Jordan Brown: Outfielder
Age: 22 Height: 6’0” Weight: 205 Bats: Left Throws: Left
Brown gets a lot less pub than his former University of Arizona Wildcat teammate Trevor Crowe, but he put up one of the quietest, good seasons in the Indians system last year. While Crowe was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 Draft, Brown was selected a few rounds later in the 4th round of the same draft. After a very slow start where he hit .232 with 0 HRs and 9 RBIs in 28 Kinston’s first 28 games, Brown settled in to finish the season hitting .290/.362/.469 with 15 HRs and 87 RBIs. Brown also won the Carolina League MVP award, and was the first Kinston player to win the MVP award since Victor Martinez won it in 2001. Brown has a powerful left-handed bat, and his approach and offensive abilities have been compared to former major leaguer Wally Joyner. Brown is not particularly athletic, but is a hard-worker. Given the depth the Indians farm system has in the outfield Brown could move back to 1B, which is a position he played in college. Brown should start 2007 in Akron.
22. Robbie Alcombrack: Catcher
Age: 18 Height: 6’0” Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Indians took Alcombrack out of high school in the 7th round of the 2006 Draft, and were able to convince him to sign and not enroll at Arizona State University. Alcombrack was one of the most sought after high school catching prospects, and was ranked #52 in Baseball America’s Pre-season Top 50 high school draft prospects, and the 4th overall catcher. Alcombrack is young (18), but solidly built at 6’0” 205 lbs and has strong hands. His fundamentals behind the plate are excellent at such a young age, and he also has a good arm with pinpoint accuracy. As a hitter, he is a line-drive hitter with gap power, but as he matures he is expected to fill-out and showcase more power. Last year, Alcombrack played briefly with the Indians of the Gulf Coast League and in Burlington, and managed to hit a combined .204/.235/.250 with 0 HRs and 9 RBIs in 108 at bats. In 2007, Alcombrack will be with one of the short-season squads and will likely return to the Gulf Coast League Indians or move up to Mahoning Valley.
21. Ryan Goleski: Outfielder
Age: 24 Height: 6’3” Weight: 225 Bats: Right Throws: Right
If the Indians are looking for a prototypical right-fielder, Goleski is the guy. Not only does Goleski bring power to the plate, but he also has a cannon for an arm. The question with Goleski is whether he can stay consistent, as he put up good numbers in 2004 at Lake County (.295/28/104) but then followed that up with a lost season in 2005 at Kinston (.212/17/67). Goleski bounced back from his disappointing 2005 campaign, and hit .306/.391/.557 with 27 HRs and 106 RBIs in 445 combined at bats between Kinston and Akron in 2006. Goleski was one of the biggest turnarounds in the system last year, with strikeout improvement a big key behind his success. He has become more disciplined and has developed a better two strike approach at the plate. His resurgence last season has put him back on the prospect map for the Indians, and Goleski should fight for an outfield spot in Buffalo next year.
20. Jensen Lewis: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 22 Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 Bats: Right Throws: Right
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. That’s what the Indians did with Lewis, as they drafted him out of high school in the 33rd round of the 2002 Draft, but Lewis elected to go to college. The Indians once again took Lewis in the 3rd round of the 2005 Draft out of Vanderbilt University, and he signed. In 2006, Lewis went a combined 8-8 with a 3.96 ERA in Kinston and Akron. Like his predecessor at Vanderbilt, Jeremy Sowers, Lewis has a very strong mental approach to the game and has excellent command. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, and he also is still developing a slider. While he throws in the 90-92 MPH range, many scouts feel he could add more velocity as he matures or if he is shifted to the bullpen. Lewis has experience in the bullpen in his days at Vanderbilt, and the Indians like his athletic ability and stuff so much that they supposedly have decided to move him to the bullpen next year. Lewis should start the 2007 season in Akron.
19. Steven Wright: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 22 Height: 6’2” Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Wright was the first of four 2nd round picks for the Indians in the 2006 Amateur Draft, but he did not pitch for the Indians in 2006 since he signed a 2007 contract. Last year, with the University of Hawaii, Wright went 11-2 with a 2.30 ERA, and in 109.2 innings only allowed 19 walks while striking out 123. He also was tabbed the WAC Pitcher of the Year in 2006, and also received the Russ Ford Award as the Cape Cod Baseball League’s best relief pitcher in 2005. Wright has very good makeup and a fastball that hovers in the low 90s, but the best pitch in his arsenal is a slider that grades as a plus pitch. He’ll be a starter early in his professional career, but as he climbs up the minor league ladder many feel he will eventually end up in the bullpen. He will probably start at Lake County in 2007.
18. Stephen Head: First-Baseman
Age: 22 Height: 6’3” Weight: 220 Bats: Left Throws: Left
After a very good debut in 2005 where he hit .308/.349/.513 with 10 HRs and 50 RBIs in 57 combined games at Mahoning Valley and Kinston, Head had a horrible 2006 campaign at Kinston hitting only .235/.319/.377 with 14 HRs and 73 RBIs. But, for as much as Head struggled last year, he still profiles as a good major league first-baseman. He is a smooth defender, has above average power, and even with his struggles last year still had a healthy 54:73 walk to strikeout ratio in 477 at bats. His numbers suffered mostly as a byproduct of his swing mechanics getting overhauled. With the new revamped approach to hitting, Head was slow to adapt to the adjustments and at times was overly aggressive by trying to do too much too soon. Head should bounce back in 2007, and open the season by repeating at Kinston, but he will see significant time in Akron next season.
17. Sung-Wei Tseng: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 21 Height: 5’11” Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Indians signed Tseng out of Taiwan last year. Last Spring, the 21-year old Tseng went 7-0 with a 0.36 ERA for the National Taiwan College of Physical Education, pitching 73.2 innings and only allowing 3 earned runs and 29 hits, while walking only 8 batters but striking out 73. Shortly after signing Tseng, Indians Scouting Director John Mirabelli commented that had Tseng been in the draft, he would have been taken late in the 2nd round and that he physically resembles major league pitcher Tom Gordon. Tseng has a compact build with above average velocity and good movement on his fastball which consistently clocks in the 91-94 MPH range. His best pitch is a splitter which bottoms out well and is considered a swing-and-miss pitch at the major league level. Tseng is a very refined pitcher, and he also has very good control. He is also not afraid to come inside on hitters, and has very clean arm action on his fastball. The Indians plan on starting Tseng’s professional career at Kinston in 2007. Tseng will be given the opportunity to start, but he currently projects as an exciting arm at the backend of the bullpen.
16. Maximiliano “Max” Ramirez: Catcher
Age: 22 Height: 5’11” Weight: 170 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Indians obtained Ramirez last year when they traded closer Bob Wickman to Atlanta. In 117 combined games at Rome and Lake County, Ramirez hit .292/.417/.454 with 13 HRs and 63 RBIs. Ramirez is a disciplined hitter with a very advanced, mature approach at the plate, as evidenced by his 84:99 walk to strikeout ration in 2006. He has an excellent eye, very good bat control, and his power is developing. The questions with Ramirez lie solely on his defense and if a position can be found for him. Ramirez converted from third-base to catcher in 2005, and has adapted well to the new position. Right now, the Indians are focused on developing Ramirez’s receiving skills and game calling, and are evaluating his arm strength and defense behind the plate. While Ramirez is very athletic, he lacks a strong arm and his mechanics behind the plate still need a lot of work. Ramirez is an exciting hitting prospect, but much like they did with Ryan Garko, the organization will likely continue to evaluate Ramirez at catcher and also possibly experiment with him at third-base and first-base to find out what position may suit him best long-term. He should start 2007 in Kinston.
15. JD Martin: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 23 Height: 6’4” Weight: 195 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Martin appeared at several different levels last year on a rehab assignment from Tommy John surgery he underwent the previous year, finishing the year 1-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 14 combined appearances (13 starts) at Mahoning Valley, Lake County and Kinston. He also logged 40 strikeouts in 44.1 IP and held opposing hitters to a .190 average. Martin throws three different fastballs (a cutter, two-seamer and four-seamer), and he also throws a changeup and curveball. His fastball consistently ranges from 88-91 MPH, and he has outstanding control of it and his other pitches. Before the arrival of Scott Lewis, Martin’s true 12-6 curveball was rated as the best curveball in the system. Martin’s development of a cut fastball might now be the best pitch in his arsenal. Martin is now starting to grow into his body more and beginning to fill out, which means he has an improved chance to add some more velocity. Also, the added bulk should allow him to maintain his delivery and arm action better, especially through his lower half. Martin has an outstanding work ethic, which has helped in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and also from a strained ligament in 2003. Martin was sent home early from the Florida Instructional League a month back because of fatigue and soreness, but Martin is pretty much considered healthy now and should be ready to go when camp opens in the spring. This upcoming year will be a big year for him, and he should start the year in the Akron rotation.
14. Matt McBride: Catcher
Age: 21 Height: 6’2” Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Indians selected McBride with the last of their four second round picks in the 2006 Draft. McBride signed quickly, and was assigned to Mahoning Valley where he showcased the talent that had scouts excited about him going into the draft. McBride finished the year hitting .272/.355/.402 with 4 HRs, 31 RBIs and 5 stolen bases in 52 games. McBride provides a rare combination of defense and offense at the catching position, and he was so impressive that Baseball America tabbed him the 3rd best prospect in the NY-Penn League last year. While he is a big and strong catcher, McBride is also athletic and runs very well for a catcher. His strengths as a player are his catch-and-throw skills, especially his plus arm. But, he also has a very cerebral approach behind the plate, and has shown good leadership qualities. McBride is a very patient hitter with good power potential, and has a very good eye and bat-to-ball ability. McBride’s potential as an offensive and defensive catcher lead many to believe he was the top catcher available in the 2006 Draft, and to date he has backed that up. With the sudden depth at catcher in the organization, McBride could start the season next year at Lake County.
13. Eddie Mujica: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 22 Height: 6’2” Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right
In the spring of 2005, the Indians made a role change for Mujica that since then has jumpstarted his career. Mujica went from an unknown and struggling pitcher, to one of the best bullpen prospects in the Indians system in just over a year’s time. The decision to move him to a bullpen role worked out well, as in 2005 Mujica pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and racked up a combined 24 saves and 2.54 ERA at Kinston and Akron. Mujica followed that up in 2006 by going 4-1 with 13 saves and a 1.57 ERA in 34 combined appearances at Akron and Buffalo. Mujica features a mid 90s fastball and locates it well, and also has a good mid-to-high 80s slider. With the development of a nasty split-finger fastball last spring, he now has a pitch in his repertoire to consistently get out left-handed batters. Mujica has excellent physical and mental makeup, and outstanding durability to handle multiple appearances. The Indians love Mujica’s fearless approach, and his attitude and competitiveness thrive late in games. He believes there is not a player that is going to beat him, and when he gives up a hit he bears down and goes right after the next hitter. His confidence and short-memory, to go along with his fearless mentality and pitching abilities, make him a natural fit for a backend bullpen role. He will battle for a spot in the Indians bullpen this spring, and if he is optioned out he will be assigned to Buffalo.
12. David Huff: Left-handed Pitcher
Age: 22 Height: 6’2” Weight: 190 Bats: Switch Throws: Left
Huff was a supplemental 1st round pick and the first player the Indians selected in the 2006 Draft. After signing, Huff reported to Mahoning Valley, but since he logged so many innings at UCLA earlier in the year he only made four appearances going 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in 7.2 IP. At UCLA, Huff compiled a 7-4 record and a 2.98 ERA in 16 starts, while striking out 100 in 129.2 IP. Huff often is compared to Tom Glavine, Barry Zito and Jeremy Sowers. The comparisons to Zito not only come from his approach and repertoire, but Huff’s coach at UCLA (John Savage) was also Zito’s pitching coach at USC. Huff is a strike-thrower who has excellent command of his pitches. His fastball consistently clocks in at 87-90 MPH, and his changeup is a plus pitch and ranked one of the best in the country last year. The key to Huff’s future will be the development of an effective breaking ball as a third pitch to use against left-handers. He does throw a curveball, but it still needs a lot of work. The Indians feel Huff has a chance to advance through the farm system rapidly like Jeremy Sowers did, and is expected to start the year at Kinston in 2007.
11. Wes Hodges: Third-Baseman
Age: 22 Height: 6’2” Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Hodges has the potential to be the biggest impact player from the Indians 2006 Draft, and would have ranked in the Top 10 of this list if he didn’t have some injury concerns. Going into 2006, Hodges was ranked as a preseason Top 10 college draft prospect and sure fire 1st round pick, but that ranking took a hit when he came down with a stress fracture in his left leg. Hodges initially thought he had a calf strain when the pain surfaced in March, but because the pain continued to get worse as the season wore on he was evaluated further and the stress fracture was found. Hodges fell on draft day, and the Indians gambled and selected Hodges with their third of four second round picks. The Indians signed him for $1 million and to a 2007 contract to hold him out of action the rest of the season and give him more time to mend from the injury. Even though he basically played on one leg almost all of the season, Hodges still hit .329 with 11 HRs and 68 RBIs in 219 at bats at Georgia Tech. Hodges is a very disciplined hitter with great bat-to-ball ability, and has a nice line drive stroke with good power potential. As a defender, Hodges does it all with good hands, a strong arm and very good range at 3B. Hodges could start at Lake County in 2007.