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2009 Indians Top 100 Prospect Wrapup

2009 Indians Top 100 Prospect Wrapup
March 24, 2009
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As a wrapup to the Indians Top 100 Prospect list, here are some answers to some popular questions from the listing. While I left the scouting reports more to fact and insight from scouts, players, and coaches, I left out my personal thoughts on each player for obvious reasons.

How strong is the system?

Compared to the other 29 clubs in baseball, the Indians farm system is now a Top 5-7 system in baseball. Last year I mentioned that the system was in the middle of the pack and that it was more a temporary step back since the Indians have lost many prospects in the last two years to graduation to the majors, in trades, or in the Rule 5 Draft. It certainly was a transition year for them last year, as they had few high level prospects in the upper levels of the system and were just an organization with a lot of depth.

It is amazing how much of a difference one year makes. After the in-house development of players already here combined with acquisitions in trades and in the 2008 Draft, the Indians system now has many marquee prospects and ridiculous depth.

The depth and strength of the season will be on full display here in the next week or so as some good players are going to be released. Also, when the four full season rosters are announced, the depth of starting pitchers, relievers, and positions players the Indians have at each affiliate is going to be astounding. I hate to over-hype the upcoming season - as it makes it hard to live up to - but this is going to be a fun year to follow the Indians minor leaguers. Every night major leaguer potential players will be up and down the lineup and on the mound.

Who are the biggest candidates to bust or breakout this year?

As with any prospect list, a lot of players will not live up to the hype and expectations, while some others will solidify their status, and yet others will take their game to the next level. As far as potential breakouts are concerned, I really like Abner Abreu and Alexander Perez a lot. Both are in my Top 30 and virtually unknowns to fans because they played in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) last year. Abreu has big power potential, and Perez could be a good #2/#3 starter in the bigs down the road. Josh Judy and Carlos Moncrief have big helium potential as well, and Clayton Cook is the lesser publicized of the high school pitchers in last year's draft, but could end up just as good. Also, a lot of people are very high on Delvi Cid, and I am very intrigued to see what he does this year.

Potential busts to me could be guys like Carlos Rivero, a player who gets a lot of attention because of his youth and size, but has yet to really perform and put up good numbers to backup all his potential. Some other players who I think may not live up to their potential this year could be Jeanmar Gomez, Joey Mahalic, and T.J. McFarland. Obviously, these guys are all in or around the Top 50 so I think highly of them, and it is hard to say why they may struggle this year, but if forced to predict the ones to have a rough go at it in 2009 these would be my picks.

Some Rankings Thoughts

There was no doubt about it when compiling this listing who was #1, but who was #2 was another story. Santana is the real deal, but after him, really, anyone from #2 to #5 is interchangeable. I settled on Weglarz because of his ridiculous power, age, and plate discipline. He and LaPorta were dead even as far as talent and ranking goes with both being 2A and 2B, but while LaPorta is going to be in Triple-A this year and is considered about major league ready while Weglarz is still developing and will be in Double-A, what pushed Weglarz above LaPorta was what Weglarz has done in international competition the past year in Australia, Taiwan, Beijing and in the World Baseball Classic playing against Triple-A and major league quality talent.

There was no doubt who the Top 12 players in the system were, but the top seven were clearly defined. After the trio of Huff, De La Cruz, and Rondon at #5-7, everyone from #8-12 and #13-30 were really interchangeable. Players like Mills, Brantley, Rivero and Chisenhall would be sure-fire top 5-7 guys in most systems, and guys like Jordan Brown at #20 and Trevor Crowe at #21 on my list would be #9-12 in most systems.....that is how deep the Indians system is now!

Anything I Would Change?

I published this Top 100 ranking back at the end of January, so in about two months there have been some developments which would certainly affect my rankings. Players like Brian Juhl (#100), Dustin Realini (#92), Todd Martin (#70), and Kevin Dixon (#61) have all since either been released or retired. Also, Isaias Velasquez (#82) was traded. So obviously they would be removed and replaced with five other players. I had 27 additional scouting reports that appear only in my book, and if I had to pick five guys to replace those players I would add Kevin Fontanez (SS), Chun-Hsiu Chen (C), Jose Ozoria (SS), Alex Monsalve (C), and Russell Young (LHP).

The other thing is the status of a couple players has changed dramatically the past two months. Adam Miller's career is in doubt, and while he no doubt has the talent, it is hard to say now if he will ever pitch again or if he does how good he will be. Knowing what I know now, he would not be in the top ten. On the flip side, Michael Brantley is just zooming up the charts. One Indians official commented to me recently that "Brantley has been incredibly professional and we are blown away by the talent level....he has been unbelievable." This is what is coming out of Goodyear not only from the Indians, but people from other organizations. Knowing what I know now about Brantley, he'd be #8 on my list ahead of Mills.

In Closing

These scouting reports will be kept on the right panel under the "2009 Scouting Reports" section for easy access all throughout the season. The videos, stats, interviews and other stuff will also continue to be listed with each player's report. Thanks for the support, I hope you enjoyed the reports and information, and most of all, good luck to the players this upcoming season.

Top Prospects By Position

Right-handed Pitchers Left-handed Pitchers Second Basemen
Adam Miller (4) David Huff (5) Luis Valbuena (17)
Hector Rondon (7) Kelvin De La Cruz (6) Josh Rodriguez (24)
John Meloan (14) Scott Lewis (13) Cord Phelps (26)
Josh Tomlin (22) Tony Sipp (16) Karexon Sanchez (74)
Zach Putnam (23) T.J. House (19) Isaias Velasquez (82)
Jeanmar Gomez (25) Eric Berger (28) Jason Smit (86)
Alexander Perez (27) Chuck Lofgren (33)  
Rob Bryson (31) Ryan Miller (37) Shortstops
Trey Haley (32) Ryan Morris (39) Lonnie Chisenhall (9)
Bryce Stowell (35) Ryan Edell (47) Carlos Rivero (11)
Frank Herrmann (36) Chris Jones (50) Mark Thompson (98)
Mike Pontius (38) T.J. McFarland (52)  
Erik Stiller (40) Matt Meyer (66) Third Basemen
Joseph Mahalic (41) Rich Rundles (79) Wes Hodges (10)
Josh Judy (43) Heath Taylor (80) Abner Abreu (15)
Danny Salazar (45) Shawn Nottingham (91) Jeremie Tice (42)
Neil Wagner (46)   Jared Goedert (44)
Chen-Chang Lee (49) Catchers Jerad Head (95)
Clayton Cook (53) Carlos Santana (1)  
Steven Wright (56) Chris Gimenez (18) Outfielders
Carlton Smith (58) Matt McBride (29) Nick Weglarz (2)
Randy Newsom (60) Wyatt Toregas (51) Matt LaPorta (3)
Kevin Dixon (61) Nate Recknagel (75) Michael Brantley (10)
Vinnie Pestano (62) Robbie Alcombrack (77) Trevor Crowe (21)
Jonathan Holt (63) Adam Davis (97) Tim Fedroff (30)
Paolo Espino (64) Brian Juhl (100) Matt Brown (48)
Michael Finocchi (68)   Delvi Cid (55)
Santo Frias (69) First Basemen Lucas Montero (57)
Kyle Landis (72) Beau Mills (8) Bo Greenwell (65)
Carlos Moncrief (76) Jordan Brown (20) Kevin Rucker (67)
Dallas Cawiezell (78) Stephen Head (34) John Drennen (71)
Gary Campfield (81) Michael Aubrey (55) Roman Pena (73)
Marty Popham (85) Chris Nash (59) Jose Constanza (84)
David Roberts (87) Todd Martin (70) Cirilo Cumberbatch (90)
Sung-Wei Tseng (88) Adam Abraham (83) Ryan Blair (93)
Michael McGuire (89) Dustin Realini (92) Adam White (96)
Brad Hinkle (99) Brock Simpson (94)  

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

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