OK, let's look back on the top 100 prospect list I did back in February and updated at the beginning of April. Here is my updated top 50 list with previous rankings in parentheses and not considering that some of these guys may not qualify as rookies now, although they did when the season started. Note that I have not included 2011 draftees in this list as it is just an update of a list generated before this draft. This system needs more top-end talent. Really, after Washington, there isn’t any. Maybe Wolters will turn into one but most of the guys after Washington are lower-type upside guys. Some sleepers, some guys who can burst onto the scene, but not many top-end guys like the top 4.
1. Jason Kipnis (1) – ready for a big league callup and projects, offensively, better for his position than Chisenhall does.
2. Lonnie Chisenhall (3) – Not ready for the big leagues but he is there
3. Drew Pomeranz (2) - Control still lacking, promotion to Akron will be telling
4. Alex White (4) – Lack of star depth allows an injured guy to be #4 on this list
5. Vinnie Pestano (13) – Pre-season ranking by me was highest by any Indians writer or blogger… by far. He is showing why.
6. LaVon Washington (6) – Hitting for average is big stumbling block so far. All else looks positive.
7. Scott Barnes (39) - Like him more and more every time out.
8. Nick Hagadone (8) - Struggles at AAA aside, he can pitch
9. Tony Wolters (21) - Performance against older players starting to make me a believer that he can hit.
10. Zach McAllister (32) - Performance speaks volumes and McAllister keeps getting better and better and his fastball keeps improving.
11. Cord Phelps (10) - Solid guy but 5 errors already in the majors is a real watchout here. Without defense he is just Ryan Garko/Ben Francisco part deux, a guy with skills but without a true position that his bat and glove could profile him at.
12. Nick Weglarz (7) – Prospect star fading but still some time left this year to brighten it up.
13. Austin Adams (26) – Quietly having good year after being aggressively pushed up to AA by Indians. A real sleeper ,was a two-way player in college that some scouts liked better as a SS.
14. Josh Judy (15) – He is ready to contribute and has stuff to be a good 6th-7th inning guy right now.
15. Zach Putnam (20)– See Judy.
16. Juan Diaz (19) – Intriguing power is still there and he is hitting for average a little better, too.
17. Robbie Aviles (18)
18. Hector Rondon (16)
19. Chun Chen (27) – Solid guy at a premium position
20. Jesus Aguilar (68) – Potential turning into performance. It’s low A, which can really be deceiving, but this guy is showing more power this year. While I don’t think he will get to Russell Branyan’s franchise record of 40 HRs, he might get close if he isn’t promoted.
21. Alex Lavisky (35) – Demotion aside, having seen him play, the power is for real and he catches a good game.
22. Clayton Cook (43) – Solid, though not spectacular
23. Giovanny Soto (36) – See Clayton Cook.
24. Jason Knapp ((6) – Who knows what the future holds for this guy?
25. Ezequiel Carrera (37) – Solid backup OFer
26. Chen Lee (56) – After seeing him leave the ball up at AAA and not being able to stay on top of his slider, I am not sold on him yet. Yes, he eats up poor hitters but better hitters may dominate him, laying off the stuff in the dirt. Time at AAA will tell.
27. Michael Goodnight (47) – Performance equals ranking in this case. May have figured out what he needs to do to be successful and, in so doing, reach the potential he had in HS.
28. Jairo Kelly (NR) – An oversight on my part, not ranking him earlier,, he is showing well in Arizona.
29. Elvis Araujo (60) – Appears healthy and has always had the size and stuff
30. Felix Sterling (40)
31. Mike Rayl (88) – Performance equals ranking
32. Kelvin De la Cruz (25) – Fading but still young
33. Alexander Perez (31)
34. Rob Bryson (17) – Late start still has question marks about his health
35. Jordan Henry (22) – Absolute lack of power hurts him in this ranking. Geez!
36. Kyle Blair (9) – Biggest disappointment in the Indians’ system this year. Even starting at low A hasn’t helped. A real disaster right now as, when I saw him pitch, he was leaving EVERYTHING up in the zone.
37. Bryce Stowell (12) – Control struggles and injury (?!?) really hurt him although, in a heartbeat, he could shoot up this list. Most movement potential of any guy on this list…but throwing 101 mph will do that for you.
38. Joe Gardner (14) – Struggles this year may indicate that his stuff doesn’t play well as a starter in upper professional levels. A move to the bullpen, where he was projected to end up when he was in college, may be in the offing.
39. Carlos Moncrief (86) – Intriguing power/speed/walk rate combo in a strong-armed OFer. To me, he has Jonathon van Every potential. Has to hit for average, however, if he is to be successful.
40. Tim Fedroff (54) – maybe he has finally found his swagger and his game again.
41. Alex Monsalve (91) – Sixteen passed balls at low A tell a lot. He can hit, though.
42. Tyler Holt (23) – See Jordan Henry
43. Tyler Sturdevant (51)
44. Roberto Perez (50)
45. Adam Miller (41)
46. Jared Goedert (29)
47. Cole Cook (30)
48. TJ House (24) – Struggles at high A in light of solid performances by Clayton Cook and Giovanny Soto make his numbers in a pitchers’ park in a pitchers’ league look even more suspect.
49. Cory Burns (52)
50. Bo Greenwell (57)
Dropped out of top 50: Jordan Brown (12, traded), Paulo Espino (29), Corey Kluber (33), Matt McBride (34), Jess Todd (38, traded), Matt Packer (42), TJ McFarland (44), Chris Jones (45), Eric Berger (46), Tony Dischler (48), Marty Popham (49).
In summary: Decent progress by the prospects I ranked. 39 of the 50 guys I ranked in the top 50 at the beginning of the season are still there. Of the 11 that have fallen out, 6 were ranked earlier in the 40s and have only dropped incrementally to the 50s. Only one guy, Jairo Kelly, in the top 50 now who wasn’t in the top 100 in April and that was an oversight on my part. So, my pre-season rankings look strong with my man-love for Jordan Brown and, to some extent, Matt McBride, being the only glitches and my callout of Vinnie Pestano as a quality prospect being my biggest standout pick. But enough about me……J.
Biggest surprise so far: Jesus Aguilar
Biggest disappointment so far: Kyle Blair
Biggest potential for a strong second half: Chun Chen, Scott Barnes, Kelvin De la Cruz, Alex Lavisky, Bryce Stowell, TJ McFarland (note that after I wrote this he pitched a 1-hitter for 6 innings)..