2010 Top Prospects: The High Performing Pitchers

This is the third installment of the 2010 Top Prospects series (Prequel and Down and Out being the first two).  In this one I want to review the Indians best performing pitching prospects.  This isn't a list of the Indians best pitching prospects, but instead simply those that performed like top prospects in 2010.  Jason Knapp is one of Cleveland's top pitching prospects, but the 28 innings he pitched between rookie ball and low-A in 2010 don't really tell you that.  Hector Rondon, Alexander Perez and Kelvin De La Cruz are also legitimate prospects, but as reviewed in the last piece of the series, they didn't perform as such in 2010.  Indeed, the Indians list of top performing pitchers will be brief; Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt Packer (and Giovany Soto!).  There is a lot more talent in the system than that, as I'll comment about at the end and in the next installment, but from a strict performance perspective this year was terrible for Cleveland pitchers.

Alex White (21.8, AA)

Alex White
IP
FIP
ERA
BB%
K%
GB%
PS
Net
2010
150.2
3.80
2.46
7.4
18.8
55.5
7.81
+20

 

White, Cleveland's 2009 top draft pick, had a successful debut season.  He started in Kinston, but was promoted to Akron after less than 50 innings of work.  His performance, did not suffer, though it did change somewhat following the promotion.  White was healthy, got lots of groundballs, and did a decent job of doing the positive thing well.  His K numbers are not terribly impressive on the surface, but recall that the Indians had White try a couple of different approaches this season.  His first 8 starts in Akron were great (ERA <1.80), but he was succeeding by inducing a lot of weak contact.  Told to use his pitches differently, he came back with four straight starts in July with 7, 7, 7, and 8 Ks (with just 3 walks).  I think this bodes well for translating his stuff to higher levels.  He has swing and miss capabilities, even if he is not projected as a real top of the rotation starter.

Joseph Gardner (22.3, A+)

Joe Gardner
IP
FIP
ERA
BB%
K%
GB%
PS
Net
2010
147.1
3.65
2.75
10.2
23.4
69.0
7.24
+49

 

As White's rookie classmate, Joe Gardner came into the season with a much smaller spotlight on him.  He quickly changed that by destroying Lake County for 25 innings (while getting nearly 3/4 of his outs on Ks or GBs).  His success didn't really tail off at Kinston, though his strikeout rate did settle down to something merely in the "very good" range.  In writing about him mid-season, Kevin Goldstein said the following:

Gardner's been displaying one of the best sinkers in the minor leagues, a 90-94 mph bowling ball that gets swings and misses as often as in generates groundballs. In 98 innings across Low- and High-A, the big righty has whiffed 111 while giving up just 65 hits, and scouts are wondering how he lasted until the third round of last year's draft.

He also noted that Gardner's sinker might be his "best pitch by a mile" raising questions about his ability to maintain his success at higher levels.  But the Indians seem pretty good at working that pitch in particular.  It might be tempting to want the minor leaguer with the best slider in the minors, a pitch likely to generate much more impressive swing and miss totals, but don't the sinker-pitchers seem like a more durable bunch?  2011 will be Gardner's chance to show he can get out higher level guys in Akron.

Matt Packer (22.8, AA)

Matt Packer
IP
FIP
ERA
BB%
K%
GB%
PS
Net
2010
132.2
3.00
2.04
4.2
23.7
62.0
6.88
+69

 

Another 2009 draftee, although in this case a far lower profile choice (32nd round), Packer had the most statistically impressive season of any Indians pitcher.  Good K-rates, excellent BB-rates and GB numbers.  Packer's steady domination of low-A hitters led to his late season promotion straight to Akron.  The decision to bypass Kinston altogether may reflect Packer's slightly older age, but it also suggests how impressive his performance at Lake County was.  While his numbers declined somewhat in his 37 innings at Akron, he still performed like a good pitcher.  Presumably Packer will form part of the top end of Akron's rotation at the start of 2011 with the chance of establishing himself as a legitimate starting pitching prospect.

Giovany Soto (19.2, A)

G Soto
IP
FIP
ERA
BB%
K%
GB%
PS
Net
2010
113.2
3.80
2.93
7.8
23.1
57.0
7.64
+42

 

The gifts of Jhonny Peralta never stop.  Soto is young and still low in the system, but prior to joining Lake County's rotation was having an excellent season.  Good peripherals all around, and hopefully a lot of projection for future growth.  Should be at the top of Kinston's rotation, perhaps with Pomeranz, to start next season.

The Indians have a lot more pitching talent than this, and in the next part of this series I'll talk about a lot of it.  But for 2010, these four were really it amongst the starters.  I fully expect Drew Pomeranz, who hasn't thrown an inning of professional ball, to show up as the top pitching prospect, if not the top organizational prospect, on nearly every off-season list.  I don't think that should be a discouraging sign. Last year I had to divide the Indians top pitchers across two lists there were so many of them.  There will be a second list in a few weeks with a lot more names now, but it is also worth looking at what happened to all those guys.

Of last year's top pitchers, Carrasco, Gomez, Tomlin, Talbot and Herrmann all made successful contributions to Cleveland.  It is far from certain how much of an impact these guys will have going forward, but that is a pretty successful conversion rate.  Rondon, Perez and Knapp were all felled or limited by injury.  Injuries to young pitchers happen all the time, of course, but not always to three of the top 5 pitchers in an organization at the same time.  That is a tough blow. 

A large group of other guys are still hanging around the fringes...Todd, House, Espino, Price, Hagadone, Barnes, Judy, Putnam, CC Lee, Cook, Stowell, Pestano and Bryson.  Aside from a few of the relievers, none of this group took big steps forward.  But they also did not take major steps back, and are all guys to watch for next season.  Barnes, in particular, is a guy I have a lot of optimism for going forward.

And of course there were organization additions like Kluber and McAllister.  And recent draftees like Austin Adams, Brett Brach and Preston Guilmet.  And young international prospects like Felix Sterling and Takafumi Nakamura. 

All is not lost.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker