|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 call these guys fringe guys because at the moment, their performance does not really warrant status as legitimate prospects. Some of them might be, some of them once were and might be again, but they all have substantive issues that cannot be ignored.
Jordan Brown (25.0, AAA): What can I say? Jordan Brown is defensively limited to positions that require substantive offensive performance. Offensively he lacks power and requires exceptional contact in order to be effective. 2009 was his best season and his numbers were certainly worth noticing, including a career high ISO of nearly .200 (which is a good barometer for decent power). But he also had a career low BB% (6.6) and saw his BB/K number drop for the second straight season. Jordan Brown is going to have to take advantage of whatever playing time he gets in 2010 and show that he can make above average, line-drive contact skills against major league pitching if he wants to have anything more than a journeyman major league career.
John Drennen (22.9, AA): Drennen had one of the more sizeable bounce back years for a position player in the Indians system. Once a promising young centerfield prospect with power, Drennen now looks to be more of a Jason Michaels/4th OFer kind of candidate if he can carry through with his 2009 season. Being a potential above average corner outfielder defensively, together with having just turned 23, give Drennen a little more leeway to work through his offensive limitations (strike out prone). Drennen needs an excellent season in Akron, presumably with a successful promotion to Columbus at some point, to be worth paying too much attention to.
Abner Abreu (19.7, low-A): Abreu is an exciting prospect. Or at least he could be if he didn’t have one of the worst contact skills in the system. There is no doubt he has a bat with huge power potential, serving as the 19-year old offensive core of the Lake County team for the first half of the 2009 season. But he had more than 6 times as many Ks as BBs, and only walked just a hair over 4% of the time. That raises serious concerns about his future development against better pitching. Plus he missed the last third of the season with a badly separated shoulder. Still under 20, I will be rooting hard for Abreu, but there are issues he needs to work through to be considered a serious prospect.
Adam Abraham (22.3, low-A):
Part of the triumvirate of Michigan 2008 draftees (with Putnam and Recknagel), Abraham had an interesting 2009. A corner infielder in college, the Indians began the process of converting him to catcher before last season. While he has a lot of work to be able to catch (), Abraham could have enough of a bat to be a major league backup catcher down the road.
Wes Hodges (24.8, AAA): Hodges came into 2009 coming off his best professional season and with the chance to earn consideration as the Indians 3B in 2010 if not late in 2009. Instead he dropped a big dud, losing plate control and power simultaneously. Making matters worse for Hodges is that he his defense at 3B has been unimpressive, he has a troubled injury history, and he is 25.
Trevor Crowe (25.6, MLB): Crowe’s playing status with Cleveland maybe should negate his consideration on this list. The problem with Crowe is that what we saw in Cleveland this season is pretty much the finished product. And it is not that great. I can think of several players I’d rather see occupying his roster spot.
Tim Fedroff (22.4, high-A): Fedroff was fairly highly thought of when he was drafted in 2008 and has performed well for stretches since his pro career began, including a 35-game stretch this season in which he reached base safely every time out. Fedroff’s challenge is that he doesn’t hit for power (and his 61% GB-rate this season suggests he is going to have a hard time changing that) and he is a corner outfielder, meaning he really has to excel in every other part of his game to make up for that limited ceiling. So far he hasn’t shown enough extra stuff (defense, baserunning, plate discipline, contact ability) to make him interesting.
Jason Donald (24.8, MLB): Jason Donald should be a legit prospect. A year ago he definitely was. A season in which he suffered through nagging injuries and very poor performance, poor plate discipline, all at the age of 25 put him on the outside looking in with regards to prospect status. I think he is a good bet to rebound with improved health and likely will be a valuable guy. But he has to show it.
Beau Mills (22.9, AA): Last season I had him as a top-5 prospect for Cleveland. That’s how bad his 2009 was. Mills, now a firstbaseman (albeit an above average one apparently), has to be an above average offensive player to succeed. After showing good improvements in all aspects of his game in 2008 ad showing he could hit for power to all fields, I really though 2009 would be a breakout year and Mills would show the huge power people saw from him prior to the draft. Instead his power dropped, his contact dropped, his plate discipline dropped and as a result his status as a prospect dropped. Again, these categories are performance based, not status based. I’m sure Mills is still, probably rightfully, viewed as a solid prospect by most. But his performance last season does not justify that view. He is still young enough to think this was one bad season in what can still be a great developmental story. But 2010 is a big year for Beau Mills. That big hole at first base this season could have been his.
Next up: Fringe pitchers