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BA's Top 10 Prospects


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Here's the list from Baseball America, along with their take on our system:


1. Carlos Santana, c


2. Matt LaPorta, of


3. Nick Weglarz, of


4. Adam Miller, rhp


5. Beau Mills, 1b


6. Lonnie Chisenhall, ss


7. Kelvin de la Cruz, lhp


8. David Huff, lhp


9. Michael Brantley, of/1b


10. Carlos Rivero, ss

After the Indians nearly reached the 2007 World Series, forecasts had them contending for another American League Central title in 2008. Yet despite outscoring their opponents by 44 runs, the Indians finished 81-81. They languished in last place for much of the season until mid-August, precipitating the trade of C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers on July 7, though their 40-28 record after the all-star break was the sixth-best in baseball.


Sabathia is the only star the Indians have drafted since they made him the 20th overall selections in 1998. The club has gotten little return on its first-round and supplemental first-round choices since. The Tribe had 12 such picks from 2000-03, and among them only Jeremy Guthrie has found any big league success—and that came after the Orioles claimed him on waivers.


Sabathia's departure left Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Aaron Laffey and Jensen Lewis as the only homegrown draftees to make much of an impact for 2008 Indians. Former Tribe draft picks Ryan Church, Guthrie, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Luke Scott have enjoyed various degrees of success with other clubs.


Nevertheless, the Indians have found alternate ways to build a perennial AL Central contender. Asdrubal Cabrera, Franklin Gutierrez, Travis Hafner, Cliff Lee, Kelly Shoppach and Grady Sizemore all came to Cleveland as minor leaguers through trades, while Shin-Soo Choo had only two big league hits before the Tribe acquired him. Victor Martinez signed with the Indians out of Venezuela, while Fausto Carmona, Jhonny Peralta and Rafael Perez were found in the Dominican Republic.


By dealing Sabathia and Casey Blake, Cleveland continued its history of bolstering its farm system with other organizations' prospects. Catcher Carlos Santana, the prize of the Blake trade, and outfielder Matt LaPorta, the key to the Sabathia deal, immediately became the Tribe's two best prospects. Two more players in those transactions, outfielder/first baseman Michael Brantley and righthander Jonathan Meloan, also should help the big league club in the near future.


For the first time in five years, righthander Adam Miller doesn't rank No. 1 on this prospect list, but he still has as much star potential as any Indians draftee in the system. And if the 2003 first-rounder can stay healthy after pitching just 95 innings over the last two years, Miller could join Meloan in immediately upgrading a bullpen that posted the second-worst relief ERA (5.13) in the majors last season.


Another homegrown pitcher, lefty David Huff, could upgrade the rotation in 2009. They're a little further away, but two more Tribe draftees, outfielder Nick Weglarz and first baseman Beau Mills, could bolster the lineup by the end of 2010.


In an effort to reap more from the draft, Cleveland spent $7 million on its 2008 crop—up from $3.6 million the year before. The Indians doled out $1.1 million to sweet-swinging infielder Lonnie Chisenhall in the first round and far exceeded MLB's slot recommendations to land righthanders Trey Haley, Zach Putnam and Bryce Stowell, lefthander T.J. House and outfielder Tim Fedroff. They also maintained a strong international presence, paying $715,000 for Venezuelan catcher Alex Monsalve and $575,000 for Dominican shortstop Jose Ozoria.





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And here's their list of Best Tools in the system followed by their projected lineup in 2012 if nothing changes (it obviously will) and their previous lists of top prospects and draft picks over the past decade:




Best Hitter for Average Michael Brantley

Best Power Hitter Matt LaPorta

Best Strike-Zone Discipline Nick Weglarz

Fastest Baserunner Delvi Cid

Best Athlete Michael Brantley

Best Fastball Adam Miller

Best Curveball Kelvin de la Cruz

Best Slider Adam Miller

Best Changeup David Huff

Best Control David Huff

Best Defensive Catcher Wyatt Toregas

Best Defensive Infielder Mark Thompson

Best Infield Arm Carlos Rivero

Best Defensive Outfielder Delvi Cid

Best Outfield Arm Matt Brown




Catcher Carlos Santana

First Base Matt LaPorta

Second Base Jhonny Peralta

Third Base Lonnie Chisenhall

Shortstop Carlos Rivero

Left Field Nick Weglarz

Center Field Grady Sizemore

Right Field Shin-Soo Choo

Designated Hitter Beau Mills

No. 1 Starter Cliff Lee

No. 2 Starter Fausto Carmona

No. 3 Starter Kelvin de la Cruz

No. 4 Starter David Huff

No. 5 Starter T.J. House

Closer Adam Miller




1999 Russell Branyan, 3b

2000 C.C. Sabathia, lhp

2001 C.C. Sabathia, lhp

2002 Corey Smith, 3b

2003 Brandon Phillips, 2b/ss

2004 Grady Sizemore, of

2005 Adam Miller, rhp

2006 Adam Miller, rhp

2007 Adam Miller, rhp

2008 Adam Miller, rhp


Draft Choices


1999 Will Harley, c (2nd round)

2000 Corey Smith, 3b

2001 Dan Denham, rhp

2002 Jeremy Guthrie, rhp

2003 Michael Aubrey, 1b

2004 Jeremy Sowers, lhp

2005 Trevor Crowe, of

2006 David Huff, lhp (1st supplemental)

2007 Beau Mills 3b/1b

2008 Lonnie Chisenhall, ss





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Speaking of Santana, he was added to the 40 man without much thought. All signs point to this kid being an amazing get for Casey Blake. Here's Castro's look at the 40 man roster:


11/20/08 10:11 PM EST

Tribe adds top prospects to 40-man

Santana, Crowe, others protected from Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11

By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com


CLEVELAND -- With little dead weight on the 40-man roster and a long list of players eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the Indians found themselves in a bit of a squeeze this offseason.


In the end, the Tribe hand-picked five players worth protecting from the Dec. 11 Draft. The Indians purchased the contracts of catchers Carlos Santana and Chris Gimenez, outfielder Trevor Crowe and right-handed reliever Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Columbus, and right-hander Hector Rondon from Class A Kinston.


With those moves, the 40-man roster stands at 39. The Indians left a spot open in case they make an acquisition between now and the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the last day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.


When the Draft takes place, first baseman Jordan Brown, left-hander Chuck Lofgren and right-handers T.J. Burton and Randy Newsom are some of the more notable names eligible for selection by other clubs. If a team makes a claim on a player in the Rule 5 Draft, that player must spend the entire 2009 season on the big league roster or disabled list. Otherwise, the player must be offered back to the original club.


Santana and Crowe were no-brainers for Rule 5 protection, as both are highly regarded prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.


Acquired in the July 26 trade that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers, Santana had one of the strongest offensive campaigns in the Minors this season. He batted a combined .326 with 39 doubles, five triples, 21 homers and 117 RBIs in 130 games for Class A Inland Empire, Kinston and Double-A Akron. He won the California League MVP Award, despite not playing in that league for the final five weeks of the season.


Santana, 22, injured an abdominal muscle in his only game of action in the Eastern League playoffs, but he took part in the Tribe's Fall Instructional League in Goodyear, Ariz., without incident.


Crowe, 25, had another slow start at Double-A Akron this season after missing the first month of the year on the disabled list. But he rebounded to post a combined .302 average with 70 runs scored, 28 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 18 stolen bases and 41 RBIs in 84 games at Akron and Triple-A Buffalo. He was the Indians' first-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.


Stevens, 25, is a name to watch for the Indians' bullpen in 2009. He went 5-1 with a save and a 2.51 ERA in 17 relief appearances at Akron before joining Buffalo in June and going 0-3 with five saves and a 3.94 ERA in 19 games. He also pitched for Team USA in the Beijing Olympic Games. Stevens was the player to be named in the 2006 trade that sent Brandon Phillips to the Reds.


Though Santana is the most highly regarded catcher in the Indians' system, the team has high hopes for Gimenez, as well. He led the organization's Minor League system in both walk percentage (16 percent of plate appearances) and on-base percentage (.421) this past season at Akron and Buffalo. The 25-year-old Gimenez, a 19th-round selection in the 2004 Draft, hit a combined .304 with nine homers and 45 RBIs in 109 games. This was his second full season as a catcher.


Rondon, a 20-year-old native of Venezuela, was a Futures Game participant this summer, and he went 11-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts for Kinston. He finished fourth in the Carolina League in wins, second in strikeouts (145), sixth in innings pitched (145) and eighth in ERA.


Brown is the most notable name left unprotected. He batted .281 with seven homers and 51 RBIs in 109 games at Buffalo this season and was the Eastern League MVP in 2007 and the Carolina League MVP in 2006.


Lofgren, who went 2-6 with a 5.99 ERA at Akron this year, was once considered one of the more promising arms in the Indians' system, but his numbers have tapered off considerably the past two seasons as he's dealt with a personal issue in his family.


Burton went 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA in 29 relief appearances at Akron and pitched for the Canadian team in the Beijing Olympic Games. Newsom went 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA with 30 saves in 59 games between Akron and Buffalo.


Last year, the Indians lost first baseman Matt Whitney and outfielder Brian Barton in the Rule 5. Whitney rejoined the Tribe in Spring Training, when he didn't make the Nationals' Opening Day roster, but Barton stayed on with the Cardinals for the length of the season and isn't coming back. Whitney recently signed a Minor League free agent contract with the Nationals.





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