The Akron Aeros announced today that Nick Johnson was being activated and would make his major league debut with the Indians organization this weekend. Johnson is just one of several Tribe assets who have yet to play this season because of injury. Johnson, and his career .401 OBP across nearly 800 games in the majors, has a better chance than most to make an impact in Cleveland this season. But it is worth reminding ourselves that although the Indians have had a fairly strong start to the minor league season, there are a number of assets that have not yet been in play.
Nick Weglarz: Weglarz has probably been hurt the most, professionally, by his time on the DL this year. Coming off a 2010 campaign in which he hit .285/.390/.503 splitting time between Akron and Columbus and already on the 40-man roster, Weglarz would certainly have been a candidate to help out during the absence of Sizemore and Hafner. Instead, a meniscus tear while running the bases in spring training has had him shelved. He should begin a rehab assignment soon, though.
Hector Rondon: Like Weglarz, it would have been easy 14 months ago to envision Rondon occupying a spot in Cleveland right now. Rondon was the top pitcher in the system in 2009, holding AA and AAA hitters at bay with exceptional control (8.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9). 2010 began terribly for Rondon, however, and news of an ulnar ligament tear followed quickly thereafter, accompanied by TJ surgery. Rondon should be back on the mound by the end of the season, but won't be in the Cleveland mix till spring training 2012.
Alexander Perez: If Rondon was the best pitcher in the system, Perez was the biggest breakout. As a 19-year old, he rolled across LC and Kinston, showing excellent command and intriguing projection. Instead, he stepped off the mound during his second start last season holding his elbow, following Rondon to mid-season TJ surgery. Perez is further from the majors than Rondon, with his future timeline subsequently more in doubt.
Rob Bryson: The "other guy" from the CC Sabathia trade, Bryson came back healthy last season with a vengeance. Bryson struck out 40% of the batters he faced across a broad swath of the Indians' system (LC, Kinston, Akron), setting himself up for the Columbus call-up mix in 2011. Bryson's snakebite this time, thankfully, did not involve his arm, but instead involved a freak broken foot. Bryson is also a late summer rehab candidate, so he is likely out of the mix until 2012 (while he potentially gets passed by a big group of active relievers).
Jason Knapp: The "other guy" in the Cliff Lee trade, Knapp, according to team officials, isn't actually injured. He is spending time in extended spring training as a way of limiting his pitching load, given that he did only pitch 30 innings last year because of injury. In those 30 innings he looked good, though. Should start in Kinston sometime in the next 6 weeks.