A Large Minors Rundown: 10-1


10. Kelvin De La Cruz: LHP 2.36 ERA/106.2 IP/42 BB/108 K 01/08/1988 (A/A+)


2008 BA Ranking: Not Ranked


Adam: Probably should be up right next to Rondon, but I'm afraid of jinxing him. 20 years old, pitching regularly at Kinston now, and has only allowed 11 HRs in 198 minor league innings.


Andrew: It's easy to think of Kelvin as Hector's kid brother prospect but it's also easy to forget that Hector is actually a month younger and, thus, a great prospect as opposed to just a very good one. That's not to take anything away from Kelvin-he's going to finish out the year in Kinston and that's great.


Best Case/Worst Case: Tom Glavine/Jamie Walker


Trajectory: Going up


9. Jonathan Meloan: RHP 4.92 ERA/105.0 IP/60 BB/99 K 07/11/1984 (AAA)


2008 BA Ranking: #8 (LA)


Adam: As a reliever, struck out greater than 37% of the batters he faced till a AAA stop last season (where he struck out 24% of the batters he faced). His overall numbers are brought down by his numbers as a starter this season. As a reliever his worth is limited, but I'm going to guess he might become an "elite reliever" in the near future.


Andrew: Just ignore the numbers as a starter. He struck out 70 batters in 45.1 IP last year in AA. The end of the season is probably as important for Meloan as it is for any other prospect. If he pitches like he did in 2007 I have to think he's a shoo-in for the bullpen out of ST. If not, he's going to be neck and neck with Jeff Stevens and whoever they bring in through free agency. I'm pretty excited to see what he does with the return to the pen.


Best Case/Worst Case: Bobby Jenks/Lance Cormier


Trajectory: Steady


8. Carlos Santana: C .427/.556/.983 04/08/1986 (A+)


2008 BA Ranking: #25 (LA)


Adam: Reports on his conversion to catcher are very positive. If he sticks at catcher his offensive abilities make him a potentially very valuable contributor and position him as Victor's long-term heir apparent. Put up at OPS just a shade under 1.000 in the California League, which, while the league is known for its offense, is still nearly .250 points above the league average.


Andrew: There's not a lot to dislike offensively except for his hitless start in Kinston (wait! As I write this he has hit an RBI double). Barring something very strange he's going to start in Akron next year and a true 23 year old catcher in Akron is pretty exciting. I can't even look at his line without getting excited.


Best Case/Worst Case: Victor Martinez/Mike Redmond(?)


Trajectory: Going up


7. Wes Hodges: 3B .373/.464/.837 09/14/1984 (AA)


2008 BA Ranking: #4


Adam: Hodges is interesting. He falls into that solid but not spectacular category. He was pretty good in Kinston last year (.840 OPS) and he's been pretty good in Akron this year (.830 OPS), but not really great either. Probably projects as a contributor, but not a long-term impact bat. Wish he didn't have 39 errors in his 191 games at 3B.


Andrew: I think Hodges has probably become slightly overrated. He's got to keep moving up levels without losing anything off his bat and his defense has to keep him at third; not impossible but it's going to be difficult. If he can get that OPS to the bigs over .800 we have a starting third basemen for a while; otherwise we have Pedro Feliz. His defense is a big concern-if he gets moved off third I have to assume he's going to first and his bat is really going to struggle to play at first. There are also injury questions surrounding him though he's been durable this year.


Best Case/Worst Case: Chipper Jones with (way) less power/Lyle Overbay at third


Trajectory: Steady




6. Hector Rondon: RHP 3.72 ERA/109.0 IP/37 BB/114 K; 02/26/1988 (A+)


2008 BA Ranking: #28


Adam: Made a name for himself by pitching his way into this year's Futures game. As a 20-year old in A+ he's striking out 25% of the guys he faces and has a better than 3:1 K:BB ratio. If Huff is in the bigs next year, Rondon is posed to be our best minor league pitcher. With his tall frame, he could get better as well. The only thing keeping him below Miller is the time and injury risk between A-league ball the majors.


Andrew: His stuff is electric and the stats match the hype. The most important number in that line is the last one-20 years old. His GO/AO is pretty bad (0.88) and he's given up 8 Hrs in 109.0 IP. Not horrible but hopefully it doesn't get worse as competition gets better.


Best Case/Worst Case: David Cone/T.J. Beam


Trajectory: Going up


5. Adam Miller: RHP 1.88 ERA/28.2 IP/12 BB/20 K; 11/26/1984 (AAA)


2008 BA Ranking: #1


Adam: This is a tough one. Miller's injury issues have dramatically lowered his stock. But...what keeps him here is that if he was healthy, he could probably be pitching in Cleveland now. Until we see him in Cleveland, there aren't really any developmental issues, just health ones. His last extended healthy stretch (65 innings in Buffalo last season) he put up a FIP of 3.06.


Andrew: He's still really young. And has a hole in his finger.


Best Case/Worst Case: Ben Sheets/Mark Prior without any good years.


Trajectory: Going down


4. Beau Mills: 1B .364/.488/.853 08/15/1986 (A+)


2008 BA Ranking: #3


Adam: Similar to Weglarz with higher K-rates, lower BB-rates, and slightly more power. If he could stick at third he'd probably be the more valuable guy, but he's primarily played 1B this season. Both Mills and Weglarz seem like guys positioned to all of a sudden explode for a 35-HR season.


Andrew: If you take out an abysmal April (.714 OPS) his OPS jumps to .874 but his OBP dips. He's probably going to need to figure out how to take more walks sooner or later. Still, he was drafted as a hitter and that's what he's done; his OPS since the all-star break is .934.


Best Case/Worst Case: Paul Konerko/Ryan Shealy


Trajectory: Going up


3. Nicholas Weglarz: OF .400/.440/.840; 12/16/1987 (A+)


2008 BA Ranking: #6


Adam: Weglarz is 16 months younger than Beau Mills, has better plate discipline numbers (walks and Ks), and has shown similar power. Like Mills, probably a defensive liability and has primarily played LF.


Andrew: Well known as a physical specimen, Wegz is listed at 6'3” and 245 lbs. He turns 21 in December. Coming into this year had struck out once every 3.4 at-bats; this year that number dipped to once every 4.8 at-bats. I'm expecting a monstrous year from our giant Canadian in the very near future.


Best Case/Worst Case: Pat Burrell/Robby Hammock


Trajectory: Going up


2. David Huff: LHP 2.35 ERA/118.2 IP/20 BB/116 K; 8/22/1984 (AA/AAA)


2008 BA Ranking: #8


Adam: He's been dominating this year at both AA and AAA. Upped his K/PA% to ~25% this season, and his BB/PA% at Buffalo is a stunning 2.9%. Probably can't maintain that control, but his success in Buffalo hasn't been luck (.295 BABIP). I would think he's in line to get a long look in Spring Training with a mid-season 2009 call-up at the latest.


Andrew: Total stud. If anything, you can wish that he struck out more guys but with that control, who cares? Was considered something of a soft tosser when we drafted him but all indications that year are that his stuff has gotten pretty nasty-the Buffalo commentators seemed genuinely surprised by how good it was. Is still being handled with kit gloves after doing something to his UCL last year.


Best Case/Worst Case: Tom Glavine/Damian Moss


Trajectory: Going up


1. Matt LaPorta: OF/1B/DH .382/.532/.915 01/08/1985 (AA)


2008 BA Ranking: #27 in all of Minors; #1 in Milwaukee.


Adam: Possibly the best Indians offensive prospect since Manny and Thome.


Andrew: There's not a lot to say about LaPorta's past-his numbers speak for themselves. Has been scuffling of late but has had a number of well documented issues surrounding him: the trade, his grandfather's death, house shopping with his fiance, playing in the Futures game, and packing for Beijing.


Best Case/Worst Case: Ryan Braun/Aubrey Huff the DH


Trajectory: Going up



Organizationally, the Indians have improved tremendously not only through trades but also through player progression. A number of players are approaching big time prospect status-Mills, Weglarz, and Rondon, among others. Organizational rankings are pretty tough to do unless you have a solid knowledge of every farm, which I don't. But, for the sake of discussion, I'd say we're looking at a system in the 7-11 range. There are only two elite prospects at the highest levels (Huff and LaPorta) but there are many guys who might get to that elite status quickly.


Overall, we look pretty stacked. It's going to be exciting to see if anything potentially useful comes back in a Byrd deal.

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