IPI's Mid-Season Rankings: #15-#22
Tony Lastoria produces the best Indians prospect rankings in baseball every year, providing some of the most essential information on Tribe prospects for any Cleveland Indians’ fan. In working with Tony over the years, one of the pieces that we are going to start developing here at Indians Prospect Insider is a mid-season prospect report, that will update Tony’s rankings mid-season, after the Major League First-Year player draft. To do this will be a massive undertaking from year-to-year, as Tony spends hundreds of hours compiling data and player development interviews to create his rankings.
While this is going to be a focus of the site next year around the all-star break for our premium customers, I was able to sit down with Tony this week and talk to him about some of the movers and the shakers in this year’s rankings. While this isn’t a straight up Tony Lastoria top 21, I’ve used our conversation, his pre-season rankings, Jeff Ellis and Tony’s outstanding draft coverage, player performance this season, and a sprinkle of my own bit of knowledge to compile a top 21 look at the prospects in the system here in mid-to-late July.
This ranking system varies slightly from Tony’s rankings, but do incorporate them fully, with other information and preference that I’ve input as well.
There are a couple of things to take into account with regards to my mid-year rankings:
- Players that are injured are taken into account, but I’ve downgraded them several slots from where I would normally rank them, especially if their injuries have severely affected their ability to play in 2012. For example, Chen Lee has made my rankings. If he were healthy, you would likely see him 5-10 slots higher. My weighted system was based on upside, past performance, and performance this year. Without that third component, I had to downgrade a few players.
- Some players are considered major leaguers now, and won’t show up in the rankings. For example, Zach McAllister would clearly be in my top 5-10 if he were still a prospect, and a couple of starts ago, he would have still made it. At this point, McAllister isn’t a prospect, he’s a bona-fide major leaguer. Cody Allen, on the other hand, has made only two appearances, and while he’ll likely never see the minors again, I will consider him a prospect until he spends a couple more weeks with the big league Tribe. YOU WILL see him in this ranking system.
It is likely that the Indians will be players in the trade deadline in some form or fashion, although the sweep by Baltimore will likely curtail any major deals. If a player in the rankings is dealt, I will alter them accordingly in a future report.
Part 1 of the rankings will be today, in which I’ll look at the Tribe’s 15-22 prospects. #15 will be free, while #16-#22 will be a premium feature. You can find the link to #16-#22 HERE, and after the article. I’ll follow that up later in the week with the #1-#7, and #8-#14.
Without further ado…here we go with #15...
#15: CF/OF: Luigi Rodriguez, Lake County Captains:
Rodriguez has a whole bunch of tools at his disposal, and in many ways, is similar to Levon Washington in ability, without the brashness. His stand out ability can’t be taught, as he likely has the best speed in the entire system. Like many young, latin players, Rodriguez is all raw ability. He has outstanding gap power, but is about as free a swinger as there is in the system. He has that plus-plus speed, but is still learning how to run the bases. He can play and cover the entire outfield, but often gets out of position, and can miss cut-off men. Remember, he just moved to the outfield in 2010, so he still has a long way to go.
This season, when Rodriguez has been on, he’s been really on. He started off the season absolutely raking, and was hitting .367 on April 18th, with four doubles and two triples, and he already had five stolen bases in the first 12 games. He also had struck out 13 times. He would go 1-for-16 in his next four games, and his average would drop below .300 for the first time. Just when you thought he was down and out, he followed that up with three straight three-hit ballgames, raising the average back up to .354. He would then fall back to 2-for-28 over the next seven games, dropping his average back to .280. He would go 5-for-10 in his next tw0 games, and, well, you get the point. Rodriguez is still figuring things out. He has stretches of really good, and stretches of really bad.
He hit .349 in April, .222 in May, .297 in June and .246 so far in July. But, his power continues to develop, as he’s hit nine homers so far this season, and driven in an impressive 42 batters. He had never hit over three homers in any professional season, and only had 19 RBI in 59 games in the Arizona Rookie League and Lake County. While he hit .304 last season, and .301, his .277 isn’t a measurable dropoff, especially when you take into account his power surge. Still, He has 99 strikeouts on the season, against only 39 walks, which is clearly the area that needs improvement. He’s the kind of guy that should live with a .380 OBP with that speed, and he has to make contact to do that. That’s why he’s so low in my rankings. Tools can only take you so far.
But…there are a lot of those things called tools, and he uses them all very well for a kid still in the early stages of his career. His walk totals have increased almost each month since April, and his strikeouts fluctuate with his slumps…clearly. In front of him, likely to start of next season, is the Carolina League, where many so-so hitters go to die. If he can hit there, he can hit anywhere. Tomorrow, we’ll look at another guy who I have passing Luigi, but with similar tools, and better power. He figured out Carolina, and there’s no reason to think that LRod won’t either.
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.