Who are the Most Intriguing Prospects in 2013?
Gomes and Soto headline the most intriguing prospects in the Cleveland organization
Today concludes my so-called "adjective" series in which I have looked at various levels of Cleveland's minor league system with different adjectives in mind. It started with the prospects with the most to prove, continued with the most exciting and impressive prospects, and ends today with the most intriguing prospects.
This list may be my favorite because it looks at players who are far from perfect. They are intriguing to look at because there is something there that could breakout in 2013. Whether it is a lack of raw stuff that buries a performer on the depth chart, ridiculous tools that just have not translated well into game action, or plenty of other things, the definition of intriguing in this context has plenty of flexibility.
As before, prospects on the previous lists are not eligible. Yes Trevor Bauer is one of the most intriguing players in all of baseball, but he was already profiled in the "Most to Prove" article. So it goes.
Yan Gomes, C
Honestly, the physical act of playing catcher alone impresses me. I tried playing catcher for one inning as a 9-year-old and never did it again, so the fact that Gomes is pushing for a major league job as a catcher is impressive on its own.
Adding in the fact that Gomes can also play first base, third base, and the outfield is simply amazing. Some players struggle to manage one position, yet Gomes is able to play almost half the spots on the diamond. How could you not be intrigued by that?
Right now it appears that the front office is sending Gomes to Columbus to make sure he can handle the catcher position at the major league level. Gomes does need to refine him defense behind the plate, especially if he is going to take over Lou Marson's job as backup catcher next season.
He may still have work to do, but having a backup catcher who is not only stuck behind the plate has some value. He may be the latter part of the Esmil Rogers trade, but he is certainly a fascinating addition to the roster.
Matt Langwell, RHP
It should surprise no one that 10 times out of 10 teams will favor the prospect with more raw stuff than one with only stats. So much of prospecting is projection, so minor leaguers who do more with less are often overlooked. You can call it unfair, but that is just how it works.
Langwell falls firmly into this category. His arsenal is decidedly average and likely has held him back for most of his professional career. It routinely has taken Cleveland longer to promote Langwell and he frequently is passed over by flashier options.
Yet through it all, Langwell has always put up results. In his minor league career, Langwell has over a strikeout per inning, a 2.92 SO:BB, and a 3.07 ERA in 293.2 innings. He also impressed during his time in major league camp this Spring Training after being one of the team's non-roster invites.
Langwell will never wow anyone on the mound, but there is something to be said for just getting the job done. He will likely not be one of the first options this season in the bullpen (because he might as well be contractually required to be passed over at least a few times), but when Langwell makes his major league debut, don't be surprised if he holds his own.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
There is no doubt that Urshela is my kind of player. I have a soft-spot for players who can flash leather and Urshela is one of the best defenders in the system. He could handle playing third base in the majors tomorrow -- though his bat would be nowhere near ready.
The great glove-shaky bat combination already rolled through Akron recently, with Kyle Bellow's offense allowing his prospect star to dim. The same could happen to Urshela -- as well as any prospect -- but his offense showed improvement last year in Carolina.
In 2012, Urshela ended the season with a .278/.309/.446 line, 14 home runs, and 30 doubles in 114 games. He certainly could stand to draw more walks (only 16 over the whole season), but when paired with only 60 strikeouts, things are not all that bad. The power is interesting and, after struggling with a wrist injury early in 2012, could be even better than he showed last season.
Double-A has a tendency of weeding prospects out and Urshela will run into that buzz saw in 2013. If he can hold his own in Akron this season, though, watch out. His bat is the only thing holding him back right now and if it becomes more consistent, he will be on the cusp of a major league job.
Giovanni Soto, LHP
Moving on with another Giovanni/Giovanny, Soto had a very successful campaign in Akron last season. His stats may not be impressive on the surface (3.93 ERA, 7.4 SO/9 in only 121.1 innings), but context is key here. Soto was only 21 last year and accomplished that at the Double-A level. Plus, Soto's innings were restricted because he had been injured in past years. So while the stats are not pretty, there is more there for Soto.
Going into 2013, Soto will look to develop his curveball and changeup in order to stick as a starting pitcher. His fastball and cutter are good enough to pitch out of a major league bullpen right now, but the left-hander has much more value if he can stick as a starting pitcher. If the off-speed can develop, Soto could find himself filling the role of left-handed starter that has been lacking in Cleveland recently.
In a way, Soto is playing with house money right now. He will very likely be a major leaguer one way or another, but he has the potential to be much more than a left-on-left bullpen option. It will be interesting to see if he can stay in the rotation and he will begin that trip in 2013 with the Aeros.
Luigi Rodriguez, OF
As a 19-year-old in Lake County last year, Rodriguez gave a peek at what he is capable of achieving in Cleveland down the road. In 117 games, the 5'11", 160 pound Rodriguez had a .268/.338/.406 line, hit 11 home runs, and stole 24 bases. He also has great speed and should become a top-defender with more experience.
Rodriguez has a ton of tools and is working on putting them all together now. He is quite raw, but most players his age are. What sets Rodriguez apart is how high his upside is. Like Soto, Rodriguez managed to find a great deal of success at a level he was young for. He will look to continue that in 2013 as he likely moves up to High-A Carolina.
Rodriguez still has work to do. Like plenty of young prospects, plate discipline and strikeouts are an issue (133 strikeouts in 2012), but that is something Rodriguez can improve upon. All minor leaguers have to learn to make adjustments as they move up the ladder and it will be no different for Rodriguez in 2013. Provided he keeps making those adjustments, Rodriguez has a decent chance of being Cleveland's centerfielder of the future.
Shawn Morimando, LHP
Similar to Rodriguez, Morimando managed to find success at Lake County last year as a 19-year-old. The left-hander managed a 3.59 ERA in 110.1 innings, and while his peripherals could have been stronger (69:52 SO:BB), just surviving in that league at that age merits recognition.
Morimando is far from an imposing figure (he is only 5'11" and 170 pounds), but his makeup is off-the-charts. According to scouting reports, Morimando is able to make adjustments almost immediately and has proven to be a fast learner. His stuff is not the best, but with his plus approach to the game, it would not be surprising to see Morimando rise above the sum of his parts.
If you haven't noticed by now, age is an important thing to me in prospecting. Young players who are able to handle the rigors of a certain league have more upside, both in that they are competing against older players and that they have more of their prime left. Morimando's 2012 raw stats may leave plenty to be desired, but he has youth on his side, has already proved himself at a full season level, and the necessary willingness to adapt in order to survive in professional baseball.
Jorge Martinez, OF
Many players in the minor leagues take a year or two to find their footing. It may not be exciting like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper rocketing through the minors on their way to stardom before they can legally drink, but slow progression through the system really is the norm.
In that light, Martinez has not been a true disappointment despite needing three years in the Arizona Rookie League to break through. Martinez has a toolsy frame and plenty of upside, though his overall results to date are not necessarily pretty (.269/.317/.410 line, 14 home runs, 11 steals in 146 games, most in offense-heavy Arizona Rookie League).
Still, Martinez has plenty of upside. He was moved to the outfield from the infield because of inconsistencies (and the talent ahead of him in the infield), but that same toolsy frame that looks good at the plate could translate to the outfield. Martinez should get his first crack at a full season league in 2013 and it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
If Martinez shows he can translate his raw ability into results at Lake County, he will become more of a priority prospect going forward. Otherwise, the next wave of prospects will begin to leave Martinez behind.
Luis DeJesus, RHP
If stats were all there was to prospecting, there is no way that DeJesus would find himself at #51 in IBI's Top 100 prospects. The right-hander has an impressive 2.93 ERA in 138.1 career innings, plus a decent strikeout rate (7.1 SO/9) and an ability to limit walks (2.2 BB/9). But, as we all know, stats cannot tell the whole story of prospects.
The blessing and curse of DeJesus' career will be the comparisons he gets to Josh Tomlin. There is nothing inherently wrong with Tomlin's career. He made it to the major leagues; that is a massive accomplishment in itself. But Tomlin's career has its valleys (6.36 ERA in 2012) and his career numbers leave something lacking (4.95 ERA, a below-average 2.1 fWAR in 341.2 innings).
DeJesus went to the same college as Tomlin (Angelina College in Texas). They both are right-handed starters with great control and a relative lack of strikeouts. If DeJesus becomes a decent back-of-the-rotation starter like Tomlin, that will be a successful career for him. But if DeJesus can improve his stuff a little bit or find a way to be even more effective, then he could have a long and profitable career.
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Yeah, you do a great job of highlighting some of the guys who don't get as much press. Very interesting.
I will be happy with any of those guys as well although I am not sure I am familar with Wilson will have to look him up. Austin Meadows would be great but its hard not to go with pitching. I agree the best player is the way to go. I wonder which way they will lean if say Meadows and Stanek are still available. Kris Bryant is another name to keep an eye on. I assume Frazier will be hands down the top pick.
Thanks for the informative read.
I'm glad some of the names weren't very familiar. That was the main goal of these articles; write about some prospects who aren't as well known. Good to know that it succeeded.
As for the draft, it's not my area of expertise, but I'd always go best player available. Picking 5th should put one of Appel, Manaea, Meadows, Stanek, or Wilson in reach (aka Keith Law's Top 5 as of March 14). I'd be very happy with any of those five right now.
I think Tony Wolters became pretty intriguing yesterday.
I think Soto falls in between. Not a SP but more then a "loogy" out of the pen. With Hagadone, Barnes and Soto we have some nice lefty options for the bullpen in the coming years.
Who do you think the Tribe will taret in the draft this year? Who would you realistically like to see them take?