|2010||Top Prospects||4||Position Players|
|1||The Injured||5||Pitchers 1|
|2||Fringe Position Players||5.5||Pitchers 2|
|3||Fringe Pitchers||6||Santana & Recap|
I am breaking up the interesting pitchers into two lists because there are simply too many of them. I am going to include those guys who performed primarily below the AA-level in this first set. These pitchers are not necessarily further from Cleveland, since a few of them are very highly thought of and might advance through the system quickly, but their performance has to be viewed in the context of the lower competition they have faced. I have also added newly-acquired Mitch Talbot to the end of this list. He belongs on the previous fringe list, owing to his age and 2009 performance, but as the numbers below should suggest he would have graded out as a very good prospect prior to this season.
Alexander Perez (19.9, High-A) – Perez got shut down for much of the last two months of the season, but prior to those troubling "soreness" issues, he was one of the Tribe’s biggest 2009 breakouts. A product of the Indians Dominican system, Perez made a very convincing jump from rookie ball last year to Lake County (3.04 ERA, 3:1 K:BB) to Kinston (2.87 ERA, 3.4:1 K:BB). Assuming he comes back healthy (he has avoided surgery so far), Perez will spend most of 2010 as a 20-year old, with Akron not too far ahead of him.
Jason Knapp (18.8, Low-A) – We know the story on Knapp, great fastball and great strikeout numbers. He has had some control issues, and there is on-going concern about the health of his pitching arm. Given his age and performance, though, he is perhaps the highest ceiling pitcher in the Indians system at the moment.
Nick Hagadone (23.0, High-A) – Hagadone is another new acquisition, and another pitcher with injury questions. Hagadone has been limited to 80 innings in his 3-year professional career because of tommy-john surgery. Healthy now, scouts rave about his stuff (his greater than 30% K-rate this past season does not hurt, either). Like Knapp, Hagadone could use some improvements in his control. Unlike Knapp, Hagadone is decidedly a ground-ball pitcher whose strong downward action has limited his opponents to just a single HR in his pro career.
Scott Barnes (21.8, AA)
Barnes made it to Akron for the final month of the season, but spent most of 2009 in high-A ball. Barnes put up a solid across-the-board line in 2009 with decent K-rates and BB-rates and a solid overall performance. His adjusted FIP is a little less optimistic, though, and his 15 HRs allowed this season is a red flag to keep an eye on.
TJ House (19.7, Low-A) – "Why don’t we draft more high-ceiling high school pitchers like T.J. House". Probably because there aren’t many success stories like TJ House, at least based on his first full-season campaign. As a 19-year old House held up well against the much older Sally League competition. His numbers aren’t dominating, but that the Indians let him log nearly 135 innings speaks to his ability to keep himself out of trouble. The Indians are careful about the high-stress innings their young pichers experience…House made it easy on them by not experiencing many. Should get a nice test in Kinston in 2010.
Francisco Jimenez (20.8, Low-A) – Of all the names on this list, Jimenez is probably the one you have most likely never heard. 2009 was his stateside debut having graduated from two years of pitching with the Indians Dominical Summer League team. Jimenez logged just a little over 50 innings between short-season and Lake County, but he made quite an impression. 59 Ks, 7 BBs, and just 1 HR will do that.
Mitch Talbot (25.7, MLB) - Talbot had a brief stint in the majors in 2008, but has spent most of the past three seasons in AAA. A victim of Tampa's pitching depth, Talbot was a good prospect who was passed over largely because of his questionable fastball (a year ago his changeup was identified by Baseball America as Tampa's best). As the numbers below suggest, prior to his injury plagued 2009 he has shown the clear ability to control AAA hitters. The only question now is whether he can get major league hitters out in Cleveland.