This week’s power poll is going to take a step back, and away from the past from this ball club’s rich history, and also away from the current state of the Indians. There will be plenty of time for both in the coming weeks as I wrap up the All-Indians team and begin to really delve deeply into the make-up of the current club.
At the heart of Indians Baseball Insider are the minor leagues. When site owner and creator, Tony Lastoria, began this site many years ago, it was rooted in the Tribe’s minor league system. There isn’t a site out there that has original content as complete as ours, and in many cases, our content is regurgitated on the sites that try to be as complete. What can I say, imitating is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Today’s poll will merge all of that together, as this week’s power poll will take a look at the middle infield in the organization as a whole, from top-to-bottom.
The Indians clearly have a boatload of talent from the big league club to Low A Lake County. Starting with Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, and moving all the way to Lake County’s Dorssys Paulino, the Indians have a group of middle infielders that may be the best in baseball.
Here are the candidates we are going to be looking at:
Cleveland: Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera
It’s truly amazing when you look at that list of names, considering that you can make a case that all ten players are major league caliber in one form or another.
Kipnis and Cabrera are obviously already there, so talking about them at this stage of the game is really nonsense. Cabrera is an all-star, and while Kipnis isn’t, his skill set as a blue collar player with white collar talent is really unquestioned at this point.
Cord Phelps may not be a star, and he may not be a solid defender. What he could provide a team is a solid bat off the bench. Juan Diaz has size and as Terry Francona
said in one of his first press conferences, “a cannon of an arm.” Again, I’d be shocked if Diaz isn’t starting somewhere in the next year or two, or at the very least, coming off the bench for somebody.
I don’t know what Tony Wolters is going to be in the big leagues, but he has a similar work ethic as Kipnis, and seems to have the positive streakiness that Kipnis has as well. As Wolters progresses, I think his “lows” will be pretty high, and his highs will be all-star level. He can defend as well. Ronny Rodriguez is another guy that can defend, and has a big stick. Ultimately, it will be his lumber that allows him to excel, and as he “grows up,” could become an offensive game changer.
Jose Ramirez feels new to me right now. We’ve watched him come from a head-scratcher two years ago, to a “Hey, I’m not going anywhere” kinda guy last year, to a bona-fide prospect over the winter leagues. The kid can hit. He’s not big, but boy does he understand how to get on base. Lindor is the best player in the minor leagues…period. People keep talking about his average. Wait until you see what this kid starts to do as he grows into his body. Impact won’t cover it.
Robel Garcia dropped off the map last year, but there’s something there. This year will showcase if it’s major league potential, or if he goes away. Then there’s Paulino, who I just can’t help but thinking is the best bat the system has had in 20 years. You can make your own comparisons, and I’m not going to say anything out loud, but there are only so many Mozart’s that the system has had since 1990. He can’t defend, and likely won’t end as a middle infielder, but boy, the sky is the limit.
So what’s the poll? I hate projections, but why not, just for the heck of it, take a look in the crystal ball. 25 years from now, this will all have played out, and some of these guys will make major impacts, and some won’t.
Let’s focus on the ones that will. 20 years from now, which two players off this list will rate as the two best middle infielders of the bunch for the Indians. Will Kipnis and Cabrera force the Indians to begin to move some of these other guys before they reach Cleveland? Will Cabrera sign a deal to “remain in Cleveland for the rest of his career,” or will they allow him to go to open the door for Lindor, or Rodriguez or someone else who steps up? Will Paulino or Rodriguez or even Lindor move to another position?
There are many questions to wheedle through here before you come up to your final decision in this week’s power poll.
Who are going to be the two most impactful Indians’ middle infielders of the current batch?
Get on your thinking caps gang, and make your pitch, and remember…pick two
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.