Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Prospect Update

With the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft happening today (which I've never heard anyone refer to as their Christmas), I thought it would be interesting to see what the Tribe's Top 10 Prospects, as determined this off-season by Baseball America, are faring in the 2005 campaign.

  1. Adam Miller RHP - Currently on the DL in Kinston, with an eye for a return in the near future. This 20 year old, whose fast track to Cleveland has hit a little road bump, needs to prove that he is healthy before continuing his seemingly obvious trip to Jacobs Field.
  2. Michael Aubrey 1B - Also currently on the DL in Akron after playing 27 games, hitting .288 with 4 HR and 19 RBI. A modestly impressive OPS of .816 shows that Aubrey can certainly hit, if he can only stay healthy. BA's timetable of a midseason call-up to Buffalo with an eye to challenging Broussard in 2006 may be premature.
  3. Franklin Gutierrez OF - AGAIN, currently on the DL in Akron after playing 44 games, hitting a paltry.238 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. His OPS, a miserable of .694 (though not bad when compared to some in the Tribe lineup) may be an indication that Gutierrez tried to play through pain unsuccessfully. Again, he may still full need another full season in the minors before challenging the mighty Coco Crisp (wait, what?).
  4. Brad Snyder OF - Hitting .274 in Kinston, with 5 HR and 24 RBI is less than what the Tribe expects from this former 1st round pick, who continues to develop rather slowly. The hope is that his body will fill out, transforming him into a corner outfielder; but it doesn't look like that's happened yet for the Ball State grad.
  5. Jeremy Sowers LHP - The 2004 first rounder has impressed at Kinston, with a 7-3 record and a 2.63 ERA. He's also punched out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings while posting a 1.04 WHIP. Look for Sowers to move up to Akron as the season goes on and the parent club dips into the minors for some help.
  6. Fausto Carmona RHP - Currently 4-4 in Akron's rotation, posting a 3.89 ERA and the opposition hitting .262 against him. Though still only 21, his fast track has hit a snag in Akron, where he's spending another year. If Buffalo loses someone in the rotation, look for Carmona to get the call-up, but some feel that his stuff may translate better in the bullpen for the future.
  7. Fernando Cabrera RHP - The last man out of the pen in Spring Training has pitched like a man possessed in Buffalo, posting a 5-0 record, a 0.84 ERA, 43 K's in 32 IP, and an improbable WHIP of 0.91! He's doing it as the set-up man for Jake Robbins, so he's not ready to close just yet. But those numbers are hard to ignore. Cabrera's monster start in Buffalo gives the parent club some options to possibly move a bullpen piece for some offense (more on that later). Cabrera should be in Cleveland at some point before the All-Star break. Does anyone else get Fernando Cabrera and Fausto Carmona mixed up, or am I the only one who lies awake at night trying to remember which is which?
  8. Ryan Garko C/1B - His right handed stick continues to mash, though at a lesser pace than last year, compiling 8 HR and 28 RBI in 52 games. His average of .250 could certainly use some work, but his OPS of .786 keeps him in the discussion. The big problem with Garko is that he is blocked at the ML level by some long-term contract players. He is first a C (The Stick), then a DH (Le Pronk), and finally a decent 1B (Broussard). The Tribe brass will struggle to find a spot for Garko, but let's hope that his hitting forces his bat down I-90 into a spot (right-handed, no less) into the lineup.
  9. Nick Pesco RHP - Currently 6-4 with a 3.45 ERA in the Kinston starting rotation, Pesco has adapted well to High A hitters and should tag along with Sowers on the path to Akron as the season progresses.
  10. Andrew Brown RHP - Brown has disappointed in Buffalo, going 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA. There are other arms in Buffalo who have passed Brown up in the pecking order for a bullpen arm, notably Kaz Tadano and Chad Zerbe (a lefty).

Having impressive seasons thus far, but missing from the list from each level (AAA to High A) are:

Buffalo - Jake Gatreau, 3B, who was acquired for Corey Smith from the Padres in a swap of 1st Round Busts. All Jake has done is hit .295 with 11 HR and 30 RBI, while posting a .891 OPS. While the Aaron Boone Experiment (good name for a band) continues, Gatreau is blocked; but keep your eye on this 3B.

Akron - Dan Denham, P, who is 4-2 in Akron, with a 2.98 ERA and the opposition batting .198 against him. Denham, a former 1st round pick, may find himself leap-frogging some of the pitchers listed above if he continues his solid year.

Kinston - Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, is another purveyor of the hot corner in the bushes who is impressing early on in the 2005 campaign. Hitting .346 with 9 HR and 45 RBI in 49 games is not even the most impressive stat. His OPS tops the 1000 plateau, sitting at 1.014! With Akron's offense struggling, Kouzmanoff shoud get the call to come up north soon.

In response to What Can Be Done of yesterday, I ran across an interesting trade proposal from the Indians Compendium (http://www.insidethecomp.blogspot.com) a couple of days ago. He writes:
The Phillies Get:
RHP Bob Howry
IF Jose Hernandez
The Indians Get:
2B/3B Placido Polanco
All of the players involved in this proposed trade are free agents at the end of the year. Polanco makes more than Howry and Hernandez combined, but not too much. The Phillies are looking for a "proven" setup man, and Howry fits that bill. The Indians need a competent third baseman and a top-of-the-order hitter, and Polanco fits that bill. If the Indians are out of the race by July, they could easily flip Polanco to another team for a prospect. David Riske would replace Howry in the setup role, and Fernando Cabrera, who's been dominating AAA hitters, could be brought up to fill Riske's previous role. Aaron Boone would get moved to the bench, or he could agree to accept an assignment to Buffalo, in which case Mike Kinkade would be brought up to fill Jose Hernandez's role.

Makes sense to me, but staying up to watch the Tribe play the Padres until 1AM doesn't. Looks like Casey Coleman will have to let me know the results at 7:40.

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