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2012 Tony Awards: Biggest Breakthrough

2012 Tony Awards: Biggest Breakthrough
October 5, 2012
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Today we continue the IPI postseason awards with the announcement of the Biggest Breakthrough.

This award goes to the player who may not have been as highly touted coming into the season on prospect lists, but by the end of the season is definitely on the prospect map going into next season.

Here are the 2012 Tony Awards so far:

Rookie of the Year: Dorssys Paulino (SS)
Defensive Player of the Year: Giovanny Urshela (3B)
Biggest Disappointment: Dillon Howard (RHP)

Note that the nominees listed below are players that have taken a significant jump in their prospect standing. What this means for example is a 40-50 ranked guy in the 2012 IPI Top 100 moving into Top 10 territory for 2013, a lower ranked guy near the bottom of the 2012 IPI Top 100 moving into the middle of the Top 100 for 2013, or a guy that was not even in the 2012 IPI Top 100 that is now firmly in it.

In the coming days the the Reliever of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and All-Tony Team will be announced.  Again, these awards are simply for fun to hand out at the end of the year.  Also, the Cleveland Indians in no way whatsoever had any input in these awards.

Onto the nominees…

Biggest Breakthrough Nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Cody Allen (RHP – Carolina, Akron, Columbus, Cleveland)
Minors: 3-2, 1.87 ERA, 31 G, 3 SV, 43.1 IP, 25 H, 9 R/ER, 4 HR, 9 BB, 53 K, .166 BAA
Majors: 0-1, 3.77 ERA, 26 G, 0 SV, 28.2 IP, 29 H, 12 R/ER, 2 HR, 15 BB, 27 K, .269 BAA

Allen came into the season ranked as the Indians #66 prospect by IPI. As a reliever and lower round draft pick his value was not fully known until he stepped onto the field this spring and just blew everyone away in the minors this season. His rapid ascent up the minors where he was drafted last June and was called up to the big leagues on July 20th this year was impressive. He is actually still eligible for the 2013 prospect listing since he is still a rookie, and is a lock to be among the Indians’ Top 10 prospects.

Shawn Armstrong (RHP – Lake County, Carolina, Akron)
2-3, 1.60 ERA, 45 G, 4 SV, 67.2 IP, 44 H, 12 R/ER, 0 HR, 37 BB, 78 K, .191 BAA

Armstrong came into the season ranked as the Indians #56 prospect by IPI. Again, as a reliever, he did not come in very high in the ranking since he was fresh out of college, was a lower round pick, and relievers just never rank high in prospect listings. He had a meteoric rise similar to Allen where he just blew through Low-A Lake County and High-A Carolina before settling into Double-A Akron for most of the year. He has established himself as a very good backed bullpen prospect and has the potential to be a good 7th-8th inning reliever in the big leagues. He will be ranked somewhere in the Top 30 in the 2013 prospect listing.

Joseph Colon (RHP – Lake County, Carolina)
9-10, 3.43 ERA, 22 GS, 126.0 IP, 121 H, 61 R (48 ER), 9 HR, 39 BB, 83 K, .259 BAA

Colon came into the season ranked as the Indians 92nd prospect by IPI. He was finally 100% healthy in his return from Tommy John surgery and as a pitcher with limited experience on the mound he put it all together and had a breakout season. He pounded the zone all year with sinkers and showed an advanced ability to pitch to contact, get groundballs, and haul innings. He will find himself somewhere in the middle of the Top 100 prospect listing next year.

Luis DeJesus (RHP – Mahoning Valley, Lake County)
4-3, 2.73 ERA, 18 G (14 GS), 1 SV, 92.1 IP, 72 H, 35 R (28 ER), 7 HR, 23 BB, 64 K, .211 BAA

DeJesus came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 prospect listing. He spent most of the first half of the season in extended spring training refining his stuff and mechanics while continuing to gain much needed experience on the mound.  He went to Low-A Lake County in early June and struggled (12.0 IP, 15 H, 2 HR, 6 BB, 12 K) but really settled in at short season Single-A Mahoning Valley. He finished 6th in the NY-Penn League in ERA (2.02), 2nd in innings pitched (80.1), 4th in WHIP (0.92), 5th in batting average against (.197), and 2nd in fewest baserunners per nine innings (8.51).

Dorssys Paulino (SS – Arizona, Mahoning Valley)
.333 AVG, 56 G, 47 R, 19 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 18 BB, 45 K, 11 SB, .938 OPS

Paulino came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 prospect listing; however, was ranked #1 in the IPI Latin Prospect ranking as one of the best Indians prospects set to make their stateside debuts this season. What he did this season was special, and he has vaulted himself into a clear Top 5 prospect in the organization. He finished 2nd in the AZL in batting average (.355), 7th in hits (61), 8th in doubles (14), 4th in triples (6th), 6th in home runs (6), 3rd in slugging percentage (.610), 4th in extra base hits (26), 4th in runs scored (42), 5th in total bases (105), and 3rd in OPS (1.015).

Jose Ramirez (2B – Mahoning Valley, Lake County)
.354 AVG, 70 G, 56 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 25 BB, 26 K, 17 SB, .869 OPS

Ramirez came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 prospect listing. He had an impressive season last year with rookie level Arizona (.325 AVG, 1 HR, 20 RBI, .800 OPS), but with his small size and out of nowhere performance it was hard to believe he was a real prospect. The Indians themselves were unsure of what kind of prospect they had in him as they had him spend the first half of the season in extended spring training, but once he was unleashed in the second half he exploded onto the season and is now a priority prospect for them and will be somewhere in the Top 50 prospect listing next year.

Jerrud Sabourin (1B – Lake County)
.297 AVG, 130 G, 60 R, 26 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 66 RBI, 51 BB, 77 K, 4 SB, .748 OPS

Sabourin came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 prospect listing. He really struggled last season at short season Single-A Mahoning Valley (.225 AVG, 0 HR, 27 RBI, .603 OPS) so that combined with him being an undrafted free agent signing were big reasons why he was unranked, but his strong performance this season will put him somewhere in the Top 100 prospect listing for sure next season. He finished 6th in the Midwest League in batting average (.297), 5th in hits (140), and 10th in on-base percentage (.369).

Danny Salazar (RHP – Carolina, Akron)
5-2, 2.36 ERA, 22 GS, 87.2 IP, 71 H, 25 R (23 ER), 4 HR, 27 BB, 76 K, .224 BAA

Salazar came into the season ranked as the Indians #38 prospect by IPI. He was really limited all season because the Indians monitored his workload since he was coming off Tommy John surgery, but when they let him loose in August and promoted him to Double-A Akron he was awesome (4-0, 1.85 ERA, 6 GS).  He has been around the Top 30 a few times now, but never in the Top 30. That is all about to change as he is without a doubt one of the Indians’ best pitching prospects. In fact, he is arguably their best pitching prospect and will find himself somewhere in the Indians’ Top 10 prospect listing next year.

Anthony Santander (OF – Arizona)
.305 AVG, 43 G, 27 R, 15 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 13 BB, 37 K, 6 SB, .874 OPS

Santander came into the season unranked in the Indians’ Top 100 prospect listing, but was ranked #3 in the IPI Latin prospect ranking.  If not for the amazing season that Paulino had, then Santander would have probably received a lot more attention this season for the great pro debut he had. He really does it all by playing some defense, can run a little, but most importantly he can hit and the Indians think he will eventually hit with good power. He should be ranked somewhere in the Top 30 prospect listing next year.

Grant Sides (RHP – Lake County, Carolina)
3-1, 2.22 ERA, 39 G, 6 SV, 65.0 IP, 45 H, 19 R (16 ER), 1 HR, 34 BB, 75 K, .197 BAA

Sides came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 listing. Like with Allen and Armstrong, he did not rank highly (or rank at all) because of the general way relievers always rank low unless they are a bona fide backend bullpen arm. It remains to be seen if Sides is just a future 6th-7th inning big league pen arm, or if he really has potential to pitch in higher leverage situations in the 8th or 9th inning. Either way, he has made himself into a priority pen prospect for the Indians with his ability to overpower hitters with his stuff.

Mason Radeke (RHP – Lake County, Akron)
8-7, 3.28 ERA, 31 G (13 GS), 1 SV, 115.1 IP, 96 H, 53 R (42 ER), 13 HR, 26 BB, 119 K, .220 BAA

Radeke came into the season unranked in the IPI Top 100 prospect listing. He opened the season in a low profile middle relief and swing-man role at Low-A Lake County, but it was his few spot outings for Double-A Akron which seemed to jumpstart the Indians’ feelings about him. After they saw the success in his small sample size in Akron (3 G, 6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA), the Indians put him in a higher priority role as a starter at Lake County and he flourished. Even though he pitched out of the pen for most of the first two months of the season, he finished 8th in the Midwest League in strikeouts (117).

Cody Anderson (RHP – Lake County)
4-7, 3.20 ERA, 24 GS, 98.1 IP, 92 H, 40 R (35 ER), 8 HR, 29 BB, 72 K, .249 BAA

Anderson came into the season ranked #73 by IPI. He faded a little in the second half, some because his innings were really limited and because he looked tired, but his first half was very good when he was allowed to pitch deeper into games. He has solidified himself as a starting pitcher prospect to watch because of his good velocity, secondary stuff, strength and durability, and he has a lot of ceiling left as a prospect. He should find himself somewhere in the IPI Top 50 next year.

And the Tony Award goes to…Cody Allen

I know some may say how the heck can Paulino not win this award hands down? Well, simply put, Paulino was already one of the Indians’ best prospects coming into the season, hence his ranking as the Indians’ #1 Latin prospect by the IPI. He was not included in the overall ranking because when I do the rankings I only include Latin players that have made their stateside debuts, but had he been included he would have opened the season somewhere in the Top 25.  So with that in mind, his season is not really much of a breakthrough out of nowhere performance as some of the others in the listing.

Others like DeJesus, Santander, Salazar, Ramirez, and Armstrong all had incredible breakthrough seasons as well and improved their prospect standing immensely. DeJesus is an interesting young starting pitching prospect, Salazar made huge strides and could be an impact arm to make the big leagues next season, and Armstrong is an excited backend bullpen arm to watch next season. Santander and Ramirez are two young and very exciting recent signings on the international front that had huge seasons that were not expected at their age.

But it is hard to argue with the year that Allen had, especially when you consider he made the ultimate breakthrough in making it to the big leagues.

This is a guy that opened the season at High-A in early April but just three months later was in the big leagues. Along the way through his short minor league stops between Carolina, Double-A Akron, and Triple-A Columbus he flashed impressive stuff with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, good breaking ball, and most importantly good command, mechanics, and composure. The Indians recognized all of that and promoted him to Cleveland in July, and it looks like barring something unexpected happening, that he will open the 2013 season in the big league bullpen.

Allen went from being an interesting bullpen arm coming into the season to an elite pen arm and one of the best bullpen prospects in all of baseball by the end of the season. His rise is proof that you can never really predict where bullpen prospects will come from, but also that stuff along with ability truly matter and are the separator. He will be in the IPI’s Top 10 listing next season and should be an integral piece to the Indians bullpen for the next several years.

Up Next: Comeback Player of the Year

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.

User Comments

October 6, 2012 - 9:05 AM EDT
It's funny...when you first mentioned breakthrough player...I immediately though of Giovanny Urshella...then Jordan Smith...then Jose Ramirez...then Sabour...then...

There were a bunch...and Allen actually wasn't a thought to me at first because it was evident after the first couple of weeks of the season that their plans were to move him to the bigs. But that is what makes a breakthrough.

If fostered, this team has some cred at Double A and below, and with the right staff in place...boy....can they be good.
October 5, 2012 - 12:21 PM EDT
Can't argue with Allen. From A+ to the majors and a good showing at the show....I also think Jose Ramirez came out of nowhere. Paulino did jump Jairo on the SS pecking list (based on Level).
October 5, 2012 - 11:50 AM EDT
Haase definitely has potential, but 11 passed balls in 25 games at catcher isn't all that stud-like.
October 5, 2012 - 11:10 AM EDT
The relief prospects are just so much better than they have been in the past. Think back to 4-5 years ago when they had almost nothing as far as relief prospects goes.....and now they have a half a dozen or so legit relief prospects that could impact a ML bullpen. In years past guys like Langwell and Price would have been their top relief prospects, but those guys are barely in their Top 10 right now, if that. A good problem to have.
October 5, 2012 - 10:59 AM EDT
It's nice to see so many unexpected players having solid seasons. I just hope that they continue to improve and progress. I feel that the Tribe has had so many prospects recently that have looked promising, but they plateau at High A or Double A.

Also, it is also nice to see some position and starting prospects playing well. I feel that the Indians always have a boatload of relief prospects. (As they still do, but they rarely have the impact of a talented starter or position player.(Not to say that relief pitchers aren't valuable.))

I look forward to seeing what Salazar can do.

October 5, 2012 - 10:41 AM EDT
I am hoping that with a new manager the Indians take a better look at their farm system....I can't wait till they give Eric Haase a shot at AA or AAA. The kid has freakish oppo power, and is a stud behind the plate !!!!!

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