As the season enters its final weekend, offseason prospect recaps are beginning to trickle in. I will once again be running a series looking at the Indians minor league system. Last year I divided the exercise into a 6-part series (full set of links here). I prefer to break the Indians prospects down categorically rather than give a falsely precise numerical breakdown - so once again I'll be looking at injured prospects, fringe pitchers, fringe position players (in both cases, guys that could become important, but aren't yet for one reason or another), and the guys that matter, true positional and pitching prospects.
My breakdown will be based on a combination of factors. Once again I'll be giving you the prospects progress score, the metric Jay initially developed which looks at the three critical components of prospect status - performance, age and position. I'll remind you all of the details of that in the next part of the series when we start looking at this year's crop. I also factor the various scouting reports, player's health, and my own view of the players. I am not a scout and I assure you that I have no professional baseball qualifications. But for those who have followed LGT for awhile, you know I have been doing this for quite some time now and I feel comfortable defending my positions on most players.
Last year's rundown covered a pretty remarkable 58 players, reflecting the strong depth within the Indians system. Most of these guys weren't true prospects, but they were interesting enough to mention. I haven't compiled this year's list, but I'm betting it will cover a similar number of guys. This year's minor league system, on the whole, was quite successful. Most of the Indians top prospects performed well, particularly on the offensive side of the field, and several relatively unheralded guys made huge performance leaps. But the Indians starting pitching talent, particularly among the top tier of prospects, struggled with both performance and health.
A large group from last year's list saw time in Cleveland this year. A number of these guys spent enough time to not be considered. Here's the complete list:
That is a talented group and a group that will take on prominent roles in Cleveland in 2011. 40-60% of the likely starting rotation, the catching battery, an outfield spot, and wherever LaPorta's bat places him. With the injuries to guys like Rondon, it is important that Carrasco and Talbot are able to come in and fill big roles in the rotation next season (and I think the results from this season are quite positive - despite his second half struggles I have been impressed by Talbot's rookie campaign). The depth in the Indians system is what makes potential surprise guys like Tomlin and Gomez possible (though I still think Gomez is a much better bet going forward). If Santana can come back healthy and resume his ass-kicking ways, that will be a huge offensive boost. Getting value out of Brantley and LaPorta is hugely important. For the Indians to be successful, they have to generate talent like this out of their system. This is something we can all look at in greater detail throughout the offseason, but that process has already begun. What is necessary now is simply for enough pieces to stick over the next two seasons. Hopefully this series will help you identify who some of those pieces might be.