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Around the Farm: The Supersized, All-Star edition

Around the Farm: The Supersized, All-Star edition
July 11, 2012
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This is a special edition of Around the Farm. Normally, ATF takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Indians prospects throughout the system. Today’s edition will take a look at some of this season’s exceptional players at the top four levels of Low A Lake County, High A Carolina, Double A Akron and Triple A Columbus. I can't include everyone that's stood out, so I've tried to highlight just a few of the guys who have dominated ATF throughout the season.

Matt LaPorta: 1B/DH/LF, Columbus Clippers: 67 Games, .311/.382/.479/.893, 45 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 43 RBI, 30 BB, 60 K

LaPorta is what he is, a Major League veteran, that’s under the cuff of expectations. Unfortunately for the big righty, when you are the major cog in an unpopular deal for CC Sabathia, you have to be a star, and when you aren’t, you find yourself, fairly or not, standing in front of a mountain. That’s where LaPorta is right now. With that said, he’s been the offensive star of the Clip-Show this year, and is putting up the norm for what he’s done in his career in the minors. He just can’t replicate that level of play in the majors. What’s confounding though is how the Indians are using a very poor three-headed monster out there with Duncan, Damon and Cunningham, while LaPorta’s 162 game average far exceeds what those three WILL EVER do out there. It just goes to show you what happens when you fall out of favor.

Cody Allen: RP, Columbus Clippers: 22 Games, 2.51 ERA, 28 2/3 IP, 20 H, 8 R/ER, 3 HR, 9 BB, 33 K

Right now, Cody Allen is the only viable player for the Clippers that can be impactful at the major league level as a star. Now, he’s a relief pitcher, and would be a 7th inning guy right now, so star would be relative, but this kid has a cannon of an arm, with wicked stuff, and has finally found his dominance at Triple A after struggling a bit out of the gate. He gave up six earned runs in his first nine Triple A games. Since then, he’s given up one over his last 13, dating back to May 30th. This kid may be the best arm in the entire system, and the only way he isn’t with the Indians by August is if he’s traded. You’re looking at a guy that should be at the backend of the bullpen for years to come, and that will start this year.

Chun-Hsiu Chen: 1B, DH, C, Akron Aeros: 85 Games, .321/.409/.448/.857, 51 R, 26 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 46 BB, 78 K:

Chen is having a big-time season with Akron after moving to first base, and this is fantastic when you consider his injury-riddled 2011 struggle in Akron, which turned out to be his last as a full-time catcher. The Indians moved him to first base in hopes that he could fill an organizational need, and keep him healthy. Well, he’s healthy, and he’s playing some of his best offensive baseball of his career, but his power is absolutely gone. To give you a comparison, Jordan Brown won the MVP in the Eastern League in 2007. His numbers: 127 G, .333/.421/.484/.906, 85 R, 36 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 76 RBI, 63 BB, 56 K. That isn’t to put down Brown or Chen, but the Indians never saw Brown as a legit prospect because he didn’t have enough power at a corner infield or outfield slot, or for the DH role. Chen is following along those exact same lines, with less power, and a less balanced approach at the plate. For Chen to be viable at the big league level, he needs to hit the ball out of the park more, it’s really as simple as that.

Steven Wright: SP, Akron Aeros: 16 Games, 6-6, 92 2/3 IP, 70 H, 38 R/27 ER, 6 HR, 48 BB, 84 K:

This has been a freakish good year for Wright, who’s really starting to master that knuckleball that he started throwing consistently last season. The 28-year-old has been dominant all season, other than a couple of starts, and has really showcased what can happen when you commit to a change. I would say that Wright likely had zero shot to make it to the Indians, or even stay in the organization a couple of years ago, he changed things up, and now will likely see the bigs next year, if he continues on his current trajectory. He has struggled in July, to the tune of a 7.59 ERA, but perhaps the humid weather has kept his knuckler a little higher than it should be, or perhaps the consistency still isn’t there, which would explain why the Indians are keeping him in Akron as we speak. There really isn’t a better story in the system right now.

Jesus Aguilar: 1B/DH, Carolina Mudcats: 80 G, .305/.389/.518/.908, 50 R, 21 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 34 BB, 68 K

Aguilar may be the offensive MVP of the entire minor league system right now. When Aguilar came to the Kinston Indians last season for the playoff stretch, he wasn’t even close to the same player that he is now. He was a bit of an all-or-nothing sort, who was clearly swinging for the fences, and could be had with the right breaking pitch. This year, Aguilar has really become dangerous. He’s waiting for his pitches better, and getting on base a bunch more without hurting his slugging or his OBP. The Carolina is notorious for killing off suspect bats because pitchers are good at this level, and they get to see their respective offensive counterparts numerous times. Good offensive players learn the pitchers and excel, and if you watch Aguilar, that’s exactly what he does. He’s similar to Kipnis in that he works hard, and is extremely athletic. He is an elite player in this system, and playing in a park that is likely holding back his power because of the 20-foot-high fence. He’ll explode in Akron, and I have to believe it will happen soon.

Shawn Armstrong: RHP, Carolina Mudcats: 26 G, 2.06 ERA, 1-3, 1 S, 43 2/3 IP, 31 H, 10 R/ER, 23 BB, 53 K:

Armstrong has been the best pitcher for Carolina for the duration of the season, but he doesn’t come without questions. He walks a few too many batters, and he’s struggled a bit over the past month or so, with a 4.15 ERA in June, as he’s given up eight of his ten runs since June first, but he’s still got an electric arm, and is one of the elite relievers in the system. His peripherals are outstanding though, and I would suspect that Armstrong will be making the jump to Akron in July at some point, as he’s on the same trajectory as Cody Allen was before him. No, he’s not THAT dominant, but he’s close.

Francisco Lindor: SS, Lake County Captains: 75 G, .263/.350/.370/.721, 51 R, 15 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 34 BB, 49 K, 18 SB:

Lindor is 18-years-old. Lindor doesn’t turn 19 until November. Lindor made the Future’s All-Star game, and was the youngest player at Kauffman Stadium for the festivities. Most rankings have him as a top 20 prospect, and he’s the youngest in most of those as well. Lindor’s numbers aren’t staggering right now, but they were earlier in the season. He’s so good, it’s easy to forget that he’s never played above HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL, so he’s getting his first taste in any extended season. There’s bound to be a lull here and there. Lindor has shown pop, speed, and while he’s committed 11 errors so far this season, he’s also exhibited a flashy glove that will surely get better. Why? His make-up is what’s most impressive about the kid. Scouts rave about his mentality, and it doesn’t take long to see it on the field, and in his interviews. I do think the Indians are going to have him on the table, and for the right pieces, he’ll get dealt, but if he isn’t, he’s as sure a thing as there is in the system.

Joseph Colon: SP, Lake County Captains: 18 G, 7-8, 3.01 ERA, 104 2/3 IP, 94 H, 43 R/35 ER, 6 HR, 31 BB, 70 K:

Rare is the day that a prospect comes out of nowhere to be the main guy, but that’s really what Colon has done. Colon was selected in the 12th round in the 2009 draft, but missed 2010 because of a UCL strain. He returned in 2011, and had a really good season in Mahoning, going 4-4, with a 3.55 ERA. He also made a late start with Lake County that was one of his best of the year. With that said, there was nothing special about his intangibles. He walked a bit too many, and didn’t strike out a bunch of hitters, and he didn’t look much like a workhorse. Colon followed up that solid 2011 season with what appears to be a similar stretch, on steroids. He’s definitely the workhorse of a staff of much more heralded pitchers, and has gone seven innings or more in four starts, and six innings or more in 11 of his 19 starts. He had a stretch of seven games from May 4th through June 4th in which he pitched in six innings or more in each start. The Indians clearly aren’t worried about the UCL, as they are allowing him to put in the innings. It will be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses, as the 77 innings were his most as a professional, in his only season past rookie ball. I don’t think he’s going to be a special prospect, but he could be one of those guys that goes out every fifth game and fights and scrapes to a whole bunch of innings.

  • Tim Fedroff: OF, Columbus:  22 G, .333/.409/.526/.934, 17 R, 26 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 12 BB, 16 K: Fedroff continues to rake in the minors, while the Indians continue to show him that they don’t value his style of play all that much. He’s even stepped up his power game, with three homers in his first 22 games at Columbus. His career high is four, and he’s already passed that this season, including his numbers in Akron. It’s been a big year for Fedroff, but at the end of the day, the Indians don’t view him as anything but centerfield cushion, and as a fourth outfielder in the bigs.
  • Jared Goedert: OF, IF, DH, Columbus: 43 G, .287/.337/.494/.831, 27 R, 10 2B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 14 BB, 35 K: Goedert has had bouts of struggle at Triple A, but as he’s shown throughout his minor league career, when he’s on a hot streak, there’s nobody better in the system. The big issue with Goedert is where does he play? He’s like a minor league vagabond, as a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Great minor league player, but hard to see where he would stand in the bigs, if he ever gets a chance.
  • Russ Canzler: OF/IF/DH, Columbus: 85 G, 43 R, 21 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 30 BB, 84 K: Like LaPorta, Canzler isn’t really a prospect at this point, but major league fill at the Triple A level. He’s got good power, and can really group home runs when he’s feeling it, but is never going to be a threat for a full time job in the bigs. You have to be wary of those strike outs as well. He’s hitting over .300 since the start of June.
  • Matt Langwell: RP, Columbus: 16 G, 2.76 ERA, 29 1/3 IP, 24 H, 10 R/9 ER, 9 BB, 22 K: Langwell is a step below the elite arms that I’ve talked about all season, but he’s still about as consistently good as you can be without reaching the elite level. You can make a big-time major league career off of that style of pitching. Since getting put in the pen after 2008, his ERA has never been above 3.01 at the end of a season. I could easily see him in that Joe Smith role at the big league level.
  • Zach McAllister: SP, Columbus: 11 G, 5-2, 2.98 ERA, 63 1/3 IP, 59 H, 27 R/21 ER, 5 HR, 19 BB, 52 K: McAllister is deservedly with the big league club right now, and really was the best starting pitcher in the system over the past year and a half. He likely should have been in that rotation a lot earlier than this based purely on performance, but the Indians had kinks in his delivery to work out, and now that they are habit, McAllister is turning into quite the find. He has definite #3 stuff going forward.
  • Jared Goedert: IF, OF, DH, Akron: 35 G, .395/.476/.613/.1.089, 19 R, 10 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 20 BB, 20 K: There wasn’t a hotter player in the system than Goedert, who was called up quickly (for the Indians) after nearly hitting .400 to start the year off. Again, Goedert’s strength is a nice bat, with a nice approach, but not a place in the field to call home.
  • Matt Lawson: 2B, Akron: 27 G, .333/.417/.457/.873, 10 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 10 BB, 12 K: Lawson is another one of the major league fill guys, only in Akron. He’ll likely never suit up for the Indians (and if he does, then the major league club is in a ton of trouble), but plays his career as a minor league lifer. Nice numbers so far in a role he’s clearly comfortable with.
  • Thomas Neal: LF, Akron: 70 G, .307/.394/.463/.857, 46 R, 18 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 27 BB, 48 K, 4 SB: Neal is a clear case of injured and head rattled, after a mid-season trade last season brought him to Cleveland. He was injured when the Indians dealt for him, and I’m sure was trying to make the Indians believe the move was worthwhile after coming off the DL. He struggled all last season, and then was taken of the 40-man, cleared waivers, and was plunked in Double A. The struggles commenced…but we’re not talking doldrums here. He hit .278 in April, .301 in May, .333 in June, and is hitting .304 in July. The power seems to be following him, as all six of his homers came after June 1st. He has to have more value than some of the guys in Columbus, so it should be interesting to see what happens to him going forward.
  • Tim Fedroff: OF, Akron: 54 G, .305/.396/.443/.839, 27 R, 9 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 30 BB, 33 K: Fedroff’s six homers overall is two above his career high.  His six triples tied his career high. His career high OPS is .793 (.866 now). His career high slugging is .408 (.466 now). His career high OBP is .385 (.399 now). So, Fedroff is having his best season in his most trying year, and while his minor league numbers are all improvements over his career highs, his numbers in Columbus alone are even that much higher (go back and look). So, here’s a guy that’s improved everywhere he’s gone…so do you give him a chance in the bigs, or is he moderate trade bait? Should be interesting, because you just can’t have a guy that continues to produce like this not every get a chance.  I know, I know…centerfield cushion, and fourth outfielder…
  • Nick Weglarz: OF/DH, Akron: 69 G, .254/.358/.462/.820, 32 R, 13 2B, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 35 BB, 87 K: I had to mention Wegz, because he’s literally risen from the waiver ashes this year after getting taken off the 40-man roster. Nobody claimed the former top prospect, and the Indians kept him. From that moment on, he’s been viable. It seems like just yesterday this kid was the power-hitter of the future, but it was 2007 when he blasted 24 homers, and had many penciling him into the outfield or DH-slot by 2011 or so. Then came the injuries, and the once promising prospect turned into a middling power hitter. He was hitting .189 in April, and just over .200 at the end of May. He’s hit .291 since them, with nine homers and 26 RBI, all since June 1st. I don’t see the Indians placing him back on the 40-man, so this is likely Wegz swan song, but at least he’s going out healthy, and looking like that prospect from the past.
  • Cody Allen: RP, Akron: 5 G, 1.17 ERA, 1 S, 7 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 1 HR, 10 K: Allen blew through Akron like a Florida tornado, but was overly dominating on his way through. We’ll call it the Cody Allen Magical Mystery Tour…and he’s clearly the walrus (man, I hope some of you know where that reference comes from…coocookachoo).
  • Preston Guilmet: Closer, Akron: 29 G, 1.99 ERA, 2-1, 12 S, 31 2/3 IP, 21 H, 7 R/ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 27 K:  If you don’t know who Guilmet is, start paying attention. His career ERA is 2.80, and that is from inflated Mahoning Valley stats when they used him as a starter. Since moving to the closer role, his ERA is a nifty 2.15, with 58 saves and 166 Ks against only 30 walks over 142 innings. I know, Cory Burns got us Aaron Cunningham, but you still have to be impressed by the numbers. Where he goes from here with his corkscrew delivery is beyond me, but if he’s not dealt, he’ll be in Columbus next year, dominating.
  • T.J. McFarland: SP, Akron: 10 G, 2.69 ERA, 8-2, 60 1/3 IP, 61 H, 18 R/ER, 1 HR, 12 BB, 41 K: McFarland has really re-engaged himself in the discussions as one of the top left-handed prospects in the system. He struggled through the front-half of the 2011 season after a dominant year in 2010 at Carolina. He is a bit of a finesse pitcher, which scares folks off a bit, but can top off at 93 or 94 when he wants to. He’s replicated his success in Columbus this year, but has had two really bad outing that have skewed his numbers. There’s some concern about what he’ll really be in Cleveland once he gets there, but he’s only 22-years old, so there is plenty of time to find out.
  • Loek Van Mil: RP, Akron: 18 G, 2.27 ERA, 31 2/3 IP, 22 H, 8 R/ER, 9 BB, 32 K: Van Mil was a mid-season acquisition, and at 7’1”, is something to behold on the mound. He can throw in the mid-to-upper 90’s, but loses control with more velocity. The Indians have tweaked his mechanics, and tempered his velocity, and with it has come that added control. He’s 28, so it’s not like he’s a top prospect or anything, but he’s definitely got some skills that the Indians can use going forward.
  • T.J. House: SP, Akron: 13 G, 4.25 ERA, 5-2, 72 IP, 69 H, 36 R/34 ER, 26 BB, 45 K: It’s clear that House is working on locating his pitches, as his strikeouts have come down a bit, but so has his walks. By all indications, his velocity is still up, and he’s really done a nice job becoming a legit prospect.  As has been documented here many times, House came into this season in the best shape of his life, and his learning curve has gone up with it. He’s struggled a bit since June 15th, but overall, House has righted the ship. I’m curious to see how he rebounds after the break…with some extra time off.
  • Jeremie Tice: DH/LF, Carolina: 52 G, .282/.370/.580/.950, 33 R, 18 2B, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 20 BB, 44 K: The knock on Tice has been the injury issues, and the fact that he was strictly a DH. His offense has never been questioned, and that’s been proven this year as he’s dominated Carolina League pitching, and now, Eastern League pitching as well. The Indians have placed him in the outfield, and that’s worked out, for now, as it gives the Indians a viable option next year from the right side of the plate…should he stay healthy.
  • Ronny Rodriguez: SS/2B, Carolina: 84 G, .276/.306/.432/.738, 46 R, 14 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 10 BB, 58 K: Rodriguez started off struggling in his first season in Carolina, but has really figured things out since May. He hit .278 in May, then .340 in June, and had seven of his nine homers in those two months. Rodriguez really struggles with his approach, and strikes out a bit too much, but he’s got a bunch of pop for his size, and if he continues to develop, the 20-year-old could be a serviceable infielder.
  • Tony Wolters: 2B/SS, Carolina: 78 G, .248/.310/.361/.671, 40 R, 20 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 25 BB, 65 K: Wolters has had an up-and-down campaign. We’ve documented over-and-over how Wolters skipped a level, struggled to start the season (.130 in April), and rebounded (.291 in May). He’s since struggled again (.247 in June), and rebounded again (.364 in July), reminding everyone that this kid is all of 20 years old (in June). While I don’t know that he’s a top five prospect, there are intangibles here that I love, and I think he’ll have an outstanding second half. Since June 21st, he’s hitting .324, with seven doubles, a homer and nine RBI in 17 games. His OBP jumps to .370, and his slugging to .471. That’s the type of player he’ll be going forward.
  • Cody Allen: RP, Carolina: 2 G, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 8 K: Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, but this eggman dominated in his short time here. Thus began Allen’s climb to the top. Remember, he’s just been in the system since last June. In one year, he’s already on the edge of the big leagues. No, he’s not Harper, but he’s special.
  • Grant Sides: RP, Carolina: 7 G, 1.08 ERA, 3 S, 8 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 3 BB, 9 K: Sides is my favorite reliever on the team right now, ahead of Armstrong. Sides was the 12th rounder last season, while Armstrong was the 18th rounder, but both have taken the same trajectory, although Sides has played a bit more in the lower levels of Mahoning and Lake County. Still, his arm is electric, and coming off of a 2010 Tommy John surgery. He has a high powered fastball that can top out in the upper 90’s, and is past that two-year window that it usually takes players to rebound. He has absolute command on the mound, and is impressive to watch live. I think the Indians will take their time with sides more than guys like Allen and Armstrong, but in the end, he may be better than both. The thought of a pen with Pestano, Allen, Armstrong and Sides is exciting, to say the least, but there are a lot of games and years in between that from happening.
  • Danny Salazar: SP, Carolina: 12 G, 0-2, 2.63 ERA, 37 2/3 IP, 32 H, 11 R/ER, 1 HR, 15 BB, 36 K: Salazar has been in IPI’s rankings since 2009, when he was the #45 ranked pitcher. He climbed up to #33 in 2010, and big things were expected of him. In Tony’s words back then, “he’s a sleeper prospect to watch, who has some helium, and should pitch in the starting rotation for High-A Kinston, or due to starting depth in the system, could begin the year in Low-A Lake County, but move quickly to Kinston.” Salazar had Tommy John surgery in August of 2010 after pitching in only seven games. He would return after a year, and was outstanding in both Arizona and Lake County. The Indians moved him to Carolina, and continue to limit his innings, as he’s currently at a four-inning/50 pitch count threshold. He’s back in the rankings at 38, and if I were a betting man, I’d say another climb will be in order. He’s really only had a couple of bad starts, and after a DL stint for a month in April through May, he’s had six starts in which he hasn’t given up a run, and only one in which he’s given up more than one. Looking forward to seeing his restraints taken off, to see what he can do.
  • Jordan Smith: OF, Lake County:  67 G, .301/.353/.438/.818, 36 R, 16 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 18 BB, 34 K: Smith was a ninth rounder in 2011, and to be honest, shares many of the same traits as the Tribe’s 2012 first rounder, Tyler Naquin. Both make great contact with the ball, and have a fantastic swing. Both lack power, but can hit every gap, and go the opposite field. Naquin has better speed, and is a better overall defender, but both have an above average arm. Smith was a steal in the ninth round, but you can now see why Naquin was a stretch. As per Smith, he clearly has the most advanced bat in Lake County, and while he’s not the best talent, he likely will move earlier than some of the younger guys.
  • Jerrud Sabourin: 1B/DH, Lake County: 79 G, .295/.370/.375/.745, 33 R, 17 2B, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 33 BB, 46 K, 3 SB: While my Sabour-Tooth fan club has yet to take off, Sabourin hasn’t let that hinder his ‘out-of-nowhere’ start to the 2012 season.  Seriously, there are some of you RIGHT NOW going, “Who is this guy?” Sabourin was a free-agent signing out of Indiana, where he is their all-time hit leader. He did absolutely nothing at Mahoning Valley last year, so to say anyone expected this not named Sabourin is flat-out lying. Seriously, if you would have said that Jerrud Sabourin was going to have a higher average than Luigi Rodriguez, Bryson Myles or Luigi Rodriguez, the first reaction would have been, “Who?” Then you would have laughed me out of the room. The only one laughing now is Sabourin. Sabour-Tooth fan club shirt, anyone?
  • Alex Monsalve: C/DH, Lake County: 73 G, .265/.324/.406/.730, 36 R, 17 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 23 BB, 35 K: Monsalve is just loaded with potential, and he just turned 20 in April. While he still has limitations, there are two things going for him. First, he’s athletic, and any time you have a kid that’s 6’2” and 225 pounds, who’s as nimble and athletic as he is, you have a guy that can progress on talent alone. When you combine that with his teachability, you have a guy that I think can be something special. What am I talking about? Last season, the Indians were concerned that he struck out 96 times in 117 games, with only 31 walks at Lake County. In 2010, he struck out 52 times in 43 games, while only walking four times. You get the picture, right? This year? He’s already got 23 walks, and will likely pass his career high of 31 in the near future in Carolina. He’s only struck out 35 times in LC, and one more time in Carolina…and that’s in 76 total games. See what I mean? At 20, you call that teachable. He’s got seven homers, which is already his career high, and he still has two months to play. Did I mention he’s 20? He’s my sleeper in our system.
  • Luigi Rodriguez: OF, Lake County: 76 G, .267/.328/.392/.721, 52 R, 83 H, 13 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 30 BB, 88 K, 15 SB: Rodriguez has one of the biggest upsides in the system. You’re talking about a kid with plus-plus speed and power. His only limitation as an offensive player is his approach, which just has to improve. He strikes out way too much, and if he could cut a quarter of those K’s away or more, and put the ball on the ground, his speed will take care of the rest. His six homers represent his best output so far in his career, but he’s never played more than 63 games, so it’s not exactly an uptick. Rodriguez turns 20 in November, so he’s still plenty young, but he has to improve that approach, or he could get lost in the shuffle.
  • Grant Sides: RP, Lake County: 18 G, 1-0, 1 S, 34 1/3 IP, 19 H, 4 R/ER, 11 BB 37 K: This was the beginning of Sides climb through the system that has an outside shot of ending up in Columbus this year.
  • Cody Anderson: SP, Lake County: 16 G, 7-8, 3.11 ERA, 75 1/3 IP, 76 H, 30 R/26 ER, 7 HR, 23 BB, 56 K:  Anderson may not be the highest upside guy for the Captains, but he’s definitely not far off. He’s got a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90’s, and can touch 95 or 96 when he digs deep. He has a new pitch that is a hybrid between a slider and a cutter, that he throws just like his fastball, with a twist. He has an average to good curveball to go with it, so you could see Anderson really start to advance as he learns how to mix his pitches. He was a reliever in college, so you are seeing a rare thing in Indians baseball, a pitcher BECOMING a starter. It’s not something the Indians are all that familiar with, but Anderson may be the exception to the rule.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at

User Comments

July 12, 2012 - 12:40 AM EDT
Upton's ability to veto a trade to Cleveland is the only problem if you ask me. I see no problem with the Indians having to pay him $14-15M a year in the last two years of his deal.....something that in 2-3 years time may be a bargain. I mean, cripes, they are paying Hafner $13 million. It's never the per year amount they cannot afford, it is always when that per year amount comes with too many years (5-7 years).
July 12, 2012 - 12:13 AM EDT
That...and the fact that Upton will never sign off to come to Cleveland...
July 12, 2012 - 12:12 AM EDT
The catch though, Tony, is the contract. I don't think the Indians deal for anyone making 15 million unless a team is paying a big chunk of that...even if it is Upton
July 11, 2012 - 11:18 PM EDT
Tice has almost no shot to be a ML player in the outfield. Would need to make some serious strides to just be a below average guy out there. He's gotta hit. A ton. If he does that, then you can live with him bouncing around at several positions as his offense would help cover up any issues defensively.

As for Lindor, yeah, I only trade him in a deal long the lines of Justin Upton. A deal for a young, impact player that fills a big need now and for the next 3-4 years. Nothing less.
July 11, 2012 - 10:56 PM EDT
I would take Upton for 3 years for Lindor in a heartbeat. Honestly, I'm thankful for this conversation because I truly thought that I overvalued prospects. I clearly don't. I think Lindor is going to be a star, but do u know what the two best words are to describe him? What if...

Now that deal isn't going to happen, but that's exactly the kind of deal u swing.

July 11, 2012 - 8:14 PM EDT
Trade Lindor for who? Certainly not the names being thrown around like Soriano, Quentin, Willington and some other aging injury prone player. I hope that isnt what u guys are suggesting. Upton for three years is not worth Lindor. We are more than one of those players from being a serious contender
July 11, 2012 - 3:34 PM EDT
I agree if Indians could get Justin Upton or a star under team control for multiple years then yes I would trade The Chiz & Lindor.

I would love to see a Chiz, Lindor, Kipnis & Aguilar infield.

Does Tice have a REAL shot in the OF or is he the DH of the future?

I didn't like the Ubaldo trade either but if Ubaldo can pitch with control he could be #2 for any team. Do you think CLE signs him long term or is he too much of a head case.
July 11, 2012 - 11:17 AM EDT
Yeah, I'm a prospect guy, but I agree with Jim. For the right deal, I absolutely trade Lindor. Prospects, especially ones in the lower levels, are never a sure thing. Look at the Knapp's, Rondon's, Weglarz's, etc of the world. Injuries can crop up at any moment to derail a career. Now, when it comes to Major League ready prospects sitting in AAA, I hedge bigtime on a trade (Kipnis, Chisenhall, Pomeranz, White, etc last year), but with guys 2-4 years away, I absolutely include them in a deal that brings back a Major League piece or two that impacts the team now and for a few more years.
July 11, 2012 - 11:12 AM EDT
John, there are plenty of other deals out there for OTHER prospects, but for a BIG fish, and I'm not sure there is one, they are likely going to have to start with a guy like Lindor or Chiz, or both.

Lindor's tools at this level, are comparable to a guy like Larkin at the same stage, although Larkin had a better approach....walked more than he struck out...but the tools are need to think before you deal, but he's on the table, for sure...
July 11, 2012 - 11:03 AM EDT
Nobody values prospects as much as I just have to read my ATF's to know that. I overvalue guys more than anyone I know...

But you absolutely deal Lindor for the right players. The Detroit Tigers were KILLED for the package of guys they put together for Miguel Cabrera. Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were top 15 prospects in all of baseball...

Maybin is a decent player, in San Diego now, and Miller stinks, and is in Boston now as a reliever. There were three of four other guys in that deal...who were they again?

Listen, Lindor is a crazy talent, but there's a long way between now and then, and while my preference IS ALWAYS to keep a guy as talented as Lindor, if there's a deal to be made for a player of value with service time remaining, you make it.

Lindor is a consensus top 25 prospect in every service out there in all of the was Matt LaPorta. Again, Lindor has more ups...but anything can happen. If the return is great, you make the deal. But the return has to be great...

If you go from team-to-team, there will be clubs that value Lindor highly, and clubs that don''s the wild and wooly land of prospects...

(for those counting at home, I hated the Ubaldo trade, and still do, but once you walk down that path, you keep going or stop completely. You don't OPEN a window without intent...and if you should get fired)
July 11, 2012 - 10:57 AM EDT
I agree Troy. I also think the Reyes comparison is selling Lindor short (pun intended). I think he could be somewhere between Reyes & Hanley with a better glove.

The only problem is every team is going to ask for him or Lonnie in every trade. The only other thing Indians can offer teams is bullpen arms not sure that will cut it for teams looking to rebuild.
July 11, 2012 - 8:44 AM EDT
I cant even imagine dealing a 5 tool middle infielder with the upside of Lindor! Cabrera will be gone in a couple yrs. While we have some deph at this position with the likes of Rodriquez and Paulino . Neither one has the ceiling Lindor has. Trade Lindor for what? A corner outfielder? That thought is absurd!. I dont care how big of a hole we have in Leftfield, you dont trade a kid who could be a Jose Reyes caliber SS.

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