My opinions on Indians prospects. I'm withholding opinions on prospects I've never seen. Just one man's opinions.
Trey Haley – I’ve been very disappointed in his performance. The reports on him out of high school indicated that he had some pitchability. His projections are excellent and he has the ability to spin a breaking ball well. I was willing to be patient on him for 2 years, but no command or control to speak of is a major concern. I don’t know what to attribute this to, unless the Indians are reworking his delivery. He is still an incredibly projectable pitcher, but we’re not off to a good start here. Very disappointing so far. I haven’t seen him throw this year, but it’d be an interesting view.
Carlos Rivero – I was quite critical of him after seeing him in May. The positives are a good body and good throwing arm, but he doesn’t look to have the lateral agility or bottom half quickness to play middle infield, I didn’t see any real bat speed, and there isn’t much projectability to his body. He may gain weight, but he’s not the type of athlete that can retain existing agility after adding muscle mass. I think his hitting performance will improve based on his minor league track record, but the guy was never really that good of a prospect to get excited about to begin with. Jhonny Peralta comparisons are obvious, but Rivero doesn’t have the bat speed nor swing plane that Peralta has.
Eric Berger – This guy was a very good draft pick by the Indians. He’s a lefty that gets good downward plane action on his pitches, which I really like. Not many lefties throw this way – many of them are taught to throw at lower arm slots for whatever reason. His delivery is not the cleanest and his durability is a question mark, but I think this guy is a prospect. He reminds me of Scott Lewis, but more velo and less pitchability.
Carlos Santana – I think Santana is an excellent prospect. I wrote a lot about him last May, so reference my previous reports. His batting average is low right now, but I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be hitting for average. He’s got excellent bat speed and quickness, and his BB/K are excellent. He’ll hit for better average in the future than what he has done so far this year. He’s an excellent athlete with clear potential to gain strength in the future to boost his power even more. Given his athleticism, he could easily play 3B or a corner outfield spot if he’s ever blocked at C. He is smallish for a catcher, so scouts will question his durability. Santana is one of the most exciting position prospects I have ever seen. I hope he stays healthy playing catcher.
Hector Rondon – Now here is an interesting pitching prospect. Rondon has an athletic, easy, fluid delivery and he has loose arm actions. It is not difficult to project Rondon to throw even harder in the future. I think he’s a guy that could easily pump 92-94 MPH consistently in the future. His command of his fastball good, but his breaking ball is not there yet. His arm slot is a low ¾, and I believe he is more apt to throwing a slider than curveball. He has good arm speed and I think the breaking ball could come on in the future. I fear that he will be rushed to the major leagues and not develop the way he needs to. His numbers show that he could be in the majors soon, but I don’t think it’s the case. He’s more advanced than he should be at this point. Rondon is a potential 2-3 starter down the road, but he has more physical development to do, in addition to nailing down the breaking ball. I hope the Indians are patient with him, b/c I like him.
Jeanmar Gomez – Pretty good pitching prospect, but not nearly in the same league as Rondon. Gomez gets by on a deceptive arm action and major league average stuff, similar to Rafael Betancourt and Russ Ortiz. Gomez isn’t the type of pitching prospect that I go crazy for, but flies under the radar and could turn out to be a good major league pitcher. He isn’t really all that projectable, and he doesn’t really have strike out stuff, but I think he’s a decent pitching prospect.
Alexander Perez – Not as athletic, loose and fluid as Rondon, but Perez is a prospect that should generate some excitement from Indians fans. Perez pitches taller than Rondon, and has the makings of a better breaking ball, but doesn’t have the projection that Rondon has (even though he’s younger). He’s got good pitching proportions, has a quick arm, and a good arm slot.
Lonnie Chisenhall – OK, I’ve figured Chisenhall out. I was critical of the selection at first b/c he didn’t profile anywhere all that well. I asked a friend of mine in scouting about Chisenhall, and he said “tweener, but he can hit a little”. Same thing I thought after seeing him once. Others have similar opinions. Bottom line is that physically, he is a tweener, but he guy has a flat skill at putting the good part of the bat on the ball. The guy is a good hitter, and that is what makes him a prospect. He still doesn’t have the upside of a hall of famer, but the guy can hit. At first glance, scouts will see him and profile him as a 3B that doesn’t seem to have enough power to fit in as a corner infield guy, but Chisenhall has shown in Kinston that he can get extra base hits, and hit for more power than scouts think he will after seeing him once or twice. He’s got the potential to be a very solid 3B at the major league level. He is the type of guy that will be underappreciated by many. Astute pick by the Indians (never thought I would say that).
Cord Phelps – He’s the type of guy that I’d generally call an overdraft, but I like this guy. I think he’s got a pretty good skill set, and I think he’s got some extra base pop in his bat. Just watching him take infield practice, I would think 3B more than 2B, but I think he can hack it at 2B. He doesn’t have the stereotypical agility scouts like in middle infielders, but he’s certainly adequate. I think he is a better hitter than he’s demonstrated so far in Kinston. He won’t show up on a lot of top prospect lists, but I think Phelps is pretty solid. He could eventually be a pretty good 2b/3b/of utility guy if he doesn’t work out as a starter.
Zach Putnam – You can see my previous posts on him to see me criticizing him. I don’t think he was worth the $$ the Indians gave him, but he’s a decent pitching prospect. I’ve said from day one that he’d end up in middle relief, and it looks exactly like where he is headed. I think his UPSIDE is an 85 cents on the dollar version of Chad Qualls.
Kelvin De La Cruz – This guy is talented arm that I hope comes back healthy. It’s been a shame that he hasn’t thrown this year.
TJ House – The guy is plugging right along, and is looking like a better prospect than Trey Haley at this point. I think that House is the type of pitcher that will need to pass the Double-A test before I get too excited about him. I follow college baseball prospects closely, and if House would have ended up as a freshman in college, he’d be looking like a first round pick when he would become eligible. House doesn’t have the projectability of Haley, and his upside is less, but I think House could end up having the prospect status of David Huff did if he stays healthy and continues to progress. He strikes me as a guy that might hit a wall when he goes to Double-A b/c the stuff and upside isn’t all there for me, but just my opinion.
Connor Graham – I’ve seen him pitch for 3 years at Miami. See a previous post of mine for my opinion.
DRAFT PROSPECTS –
Alex White – As a supporter of the UNC baseball program, I’ve seen him quite a bit. White reminds me of a young Dave Burba – there is some stiffness in his delivery, and I believe it leads to streaks where his command is subpar. White’s stuff is similar to Burba’s; a good hard fastball, slider and splitter. I think he pitches similarly to him, as well. Both are stingy pitchers that will walk guys, but don’t give up a ton of hits. I’ve seen the talk about moving him to the bullpen, and I don’t think it’s a good idea. Obviously, the pen fast-tracks him, but the opportunity cost is a solid 3 starter. White is a “what you see is what you get” pitching prospect, that doesn’t offer much projection, but he doesn’t need much of it. I tend to like the loose, fluid, athletic guys like Rondon more, but White was a good selection by the Indians.
Jason Kipnis – I was disappointed in this draft pick. It’s difficult to project a prospect like this to start regularly in a major league outfield. He doesn’t have the size or power projection to be a corner guy, and I’m not so sure he’s even a CF guy. Even at CF, you’ve got much more talented players in the major leagues. However, Kipnis has a good swing and the type of plane that should generate some decent power in the future (but below major league average at the present time). The optimistic comparison that stands out to me is Nate McLouth. Both are very similar players, but McLouth really demonstrated great improvement in his development as a baseball player. There are lots of guys like McLouth that never make the majors that nobody knows about. Kipnis could easily end up being one of those guys. You hate to see 2nd round draft picks used on guys that project as 4th outfielders, but perhaps the Indians see something in him. I can see him being a 15-20 HR guy with a .375 OBP someday, as an upside projection. I see some reasons to be optimistic, but I probably would have steered clear of this guy in the draft this early.
Top 6 Prospects
1 - Carlos Santana; One of the best position prospects in the minor leagues. If any of you get the chance to see him in Akron, he’s worth the price of admission.
2 – Matt LaPorta – I’ve never liked some of the stiffness I’ve seen in his swing going back to his days as a freshman at Florida, but the guy has produced. He is going to be a valuable asset for the Indians in the coming years.
3 – Hector Rondon – Talented arm with good projection. He has good command, and I like the way his fastball rides. More velocity to come. Indians need to be patient with him.
4 – Lonnie Chisenhall – The guy hits the ball square. This is difficult for scouts to identify if they only see him once or twice a year.
5 – Nick Weglarz – I love the upside, but I fear that major league pitching will eat him up. I see a Jack Cust kind of player here. I hope I am wrong.
6 – Alex White – It’s unnecessary to move him to the bullpen, and would certainly be an underutilization of his talents.
I see a drop off in prospect quality below the top 6, so I’m just ranking the top 6. These six guys are all legit prospects.