Thursday, January 25, 2007


With some downtime between the Hot Stove and Spring Training, the Top Prospect Lists are coming fast and furious. These rankings always strike me as a bit arbitrary; as most people who put these lists together have never seen the prospects play and rely instead on pure stats and reputation.

The stats part is easy to see who’s thriving, but there are always other factors involved like age (a 24-year old playing against 19-year olds can be reminiscent of a dodgeball game involving Billy Madison) that complicate matters. Some players stay on these lists based on name recognition only (Jeremy Guthrie, as a 26-year old, still made some of these lists), but the players will separate themselves on the field this year.

Regardless, the lists are interesting to look at as it gives fans some names to watch as the season progresses in Buffalo, Akron, Kinston, and Lake County.

And away we go:
The exhaustive Top 75 from includes Adam Miller at #10, Lofgren at #46, Crowe at #57, and Barton earning an honorable mention nod. By the way, Kouzmanoff is #59.

Top Prospect Alert has another Indians-only Top 10 ranking.

Baseball Prospectus provides a comprehensive look at the Top 10, though you need a subscription to see 4 through 10.

John Sickels, who knows more than probably anybody about minor league players, lists his top 20, grading them out.

Baseball America and Chris Kline (who used to write about the Kinston Indians for the local paper) gave a “State of the Tribe Farm” last November and gives his Top 10, along with the annual “Best of…” the organization.

Since it’s difficult to gauge where the prospects rate against each other, due to them all being at different stages in their development, here’s a modified “Top Prospect List”, breaking down 5 names to watch on each level. I’ve omitted the names that you already know or have already seen for an extended period of time in Cleveland (Gutierrez, Carmona, Mujica, Mastny, and Perez) or have more than 50 IP or 130 ML AB.

The Fab Five (by level):
SP Adam Miller – See any of the above links if you’re still unaware of him to see the hype.
RP Tony Sipp – Talented LHP likely to see the Jake this summer…and not on a tour.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – Slick-fielding youngster who struggled at the plate in 2006.
OF Brad Snyder – Former 1st rounder needs to significantly cut down on K rate.
SP JD Martin – A year off of Tommy John surgery, he’ll look to recapture the dominance of 2005.

SP Chucky Lofgren – 2007, and AA, will be a big test to see if a monster 2006 was no fluke.
OF Russell Crowe – Terrific in Gladiator and Master and Commander. Wait, who?
OF Brian Barton – An old 24 to be in AA, but his .923 in 2006, regardless of level, is undeniable.
SP Scott Lewis – Still limited by arm issues, a 0.97 WHIP & a 1.48 ERA over 115+ IP bode well.
OF Jordan Brown – 2006 Carolina League Player of the Year in Kinston is under the radar…for now.

OF John Drennan – Time for this former 1st rounder to be known for more than a HR off of Clemens.
C Max Ramirez – Acquired for Sticky, he may end up elsewhere due to suspect defense; but he can hit.
SP Joe Ness – Big RHP who gets lost in the shuffle, but K/BB ratio from 2006 is a great sign.
OF Jose Costanza – “Can’t Stand Ya” is a little speedster who gets on base a ton.
SP James Deters – One of many young SP in Kinston; someone (maybe Deters) will take the next step.

Lake County
Mostly 2006 Draft Picks to watch here, so not too many results, just draft expectations.
SP David Huff – 2006 1st Round Pick
3B Wes Hodges – 2006 2nd Round Pick (no 2006 stats due to injury)
OF Josh Rodriguez – 2006 2nd Round Pick
C Matt McBride - 2006 2nd Round Pick
SP Joshua Tomlin – 2006 19th Round Pick pitched very well for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in 2006.

It’s an imperfect “Top 20” list, but these would be the names to watch when perusing the stats from the Tribe minor league teams as the season goes forward. Certain players like Sean Smith and Jensen Lewis could catapult into the forefront, but these players certainly present a list of (to steal ESPN the Magazine’s) Who2Watch4 in 2007.

With that farming out of the way, how about this farm boy and his SI spread?

1 comment:

Baltimoran said...

loved the pronk article, good to see Bill Selby's name in print...Drunkovon and Hadley started a Bill Selby fan club back in the day, I think Hadley had a man crush on him. Is Pronk's wife from cleveland? If she is it might give the tribe a shot at the "hometown discount", although it didn't work for Thome. PC made good points though as I believe Jake and C.C. will both be gone when thier contracts are up unless Sharpiro can work some magic. Hard to blame anyone for taking more cash, especially pitchers who could pull a John Smiley at any time.