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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (20) | 2012 (29) | 2011 (7) | 2010 (3) | 2009 (7)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [92-70] AL Central
AAA:  [71-73] International League — Columbus
AA:  [68-73] Eastern League — Akron
A+:  [57-83] Carolina League — Carolina
A:  [54-83] Midwest League — Lake County
A(ss):  [30-44] New York-Penn League — Mahoning Valley

Graduated Prospects
Yan Gomes (C); Cody Allen (RHP); Danny Salazar (RHP); Nick Hagadone (LHP)

The Run Down
The Tribe are coming off a surprisingly successful campaign in 2013, winning 92 games and earning a spot in the postseason.  Big league acquisitions had a lot to do with that success, but a fair amount of it needs to be attributed to homegrown talent, too.  At age 26, Jason Kipnis isn’t quite a youngster anymore, but he was drafted and developed by this org, and his breakout year can’t be ignored.  The same can be said for graduating prospects, Yan Gomes and Danny Salazar, both of whom offered value in the fantasy game (Gomes was actually acquired via Toronto, but you get the idea).  What remains on the Cleveland farm is a nice collection of talent, including two top-50 prospects, and perhaps a couple more in the 50-100 range.  Pitching is the glaring weakness here, and only one pitcher makes this top 10.  Of course, when considering that shortage on the pitching side of things, it’s probably important to also consider that the Tribe graduated Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister in the last two seasons.  Not too shabby.

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1.  Clint Frazier, OF:  Frazier is a superb athlete offering high-impact potential across the board in fantasy.  Drafted 8th overall last June, the 19-year-old is yet to reach a full-season level, so there’s quite a bit to be learned.  It’s also worth noting that toolsy high school outfielders can be high-risk investments — just ask Kansas City about Bubba Starling.  Reports on Frazier, however, are glowing from every source in the industry, and that bodes well.  I expect to see Cleveland hand him a full-season assignment at Low-A Lake County to begin 2014, where his considerable tools could lead to a Byron Buxton-type breakout.  I slotted Frazier at #31 in my Mid-Season Top 50.  He could easily crack the top 10 on that list before 2014 is through.  ETA:  2017

2.  Francisco Lindor, SS:  Lindor is undoubtedly the best baseball prospect in this org, but looking strictly at fantasy, he falls a bit short of the top of the list.  Back in June, I highlighted the 20-year-old as a highly-touted prospect to be wary of.  Here was my spiel, which still holds:  “Lindor is a master in the field, a real-life Henry Skrimshander.  The arm is plus, the hands are plus-plus, and the instincts and feel are otherworldly.  I watched him play Midwest League ball last summer, and it didn’t take long to realize the remarkable nature of his defensive game, and exactly how that sort of attribute can elevate a prospect’s status to elite levels.  Lindor will be a top 10 prospect on many lists this offseason, and rightfully so.  But his fantasy impact doesn’t figure to be as great as the names that will surround him on those lists.  Not that he’s an incompetent hitter — the 19-year-old his hitting .308/.379/.414 with 18 SB through 69 games at High-A Carolina — but it’s probably unwise to expect high-impact numbers from him at the plate.  And don’t get me wrong here, Lindor will eventually be a useful fantasy option at a shallow position, hitting for decent average, stealing bags in the double digits, and running into a homer once or twice a month.  I just wouldn’t expect that sort of production too soon after arrival.”  ETA:  Late 2014

3.  Trevor Bauer, RHP:  Given his deep arsenal of plus pitches, you’d be crazy to quit on Bauer just yet.  There just aren’t many arms around baseball that can deliver the type of stuff that Bauer’s can, so it’d be ill-advised to dismiss him at age 22.  Now, all that said, Bauer needs to make significant strides in both command and sequencing — he walked 5.4 batters per 9 IP in 2013, which is godawful.  His stubbornness has been noted, and has certainly contributed to his struggles, but that’s a personality trait that he should be able to work past as he matures, and once he does, he’ll be better suited to compete at the highest level.  Let’s hope that maturation begins to reveal itself this season.  ETA:  2014

4.  Francisco Mejia, C:  I’m a sucker for catcher prospects who can hit, and Mejia can hit.  Same as Frazier, he’s yet to reach the full-season level, and we’ll have a much better feel for the 18-year-old’s outlook once he settles into a Low-A assignment.  For now, Mejia looks like a long-term catcher with plenty of raw power, and ability to hit for average.  If that skill set keeps developing, this could be an elite-level catcher prospect for fantasy purposes.  One warning:  Extreme patience will be required of anyone looking to add Mejia in a dynasty league.   ETA:  2018

5.  Dorssys Paulino, SS:  Paulino’s full-season debut wasn’t overly impressive on paper (.246/.297/.349 with 5 HR, and 12 SB), but the 19-year-old still brings plenty of upside to the fantasy game.  The tools are here to hit 20+ HR while batting .300.  From a shortstop, that’d be huge production, but unless he’s traded to another org, it seems unlikely that Paulino will surface at short.  ETA:  2016

6.  Jose Ramirez, 2B:  Ramirez has already earned some time in the bigs — a late-season cup-of-coffee, during which he hit .333/.429/.500.  The 21-year-old has on-base skills and serious speed — he should steal 30+ bags in a regular role.  Ramirez is ready for an extended look in Cleveland, but playing time is going to be hard to come by for as long as he’s buried behind Jason Kipnis on the depth chart.  ETA:  2014

7.  Joe Wendle, 2B:  Wendle, a 6th round pick in 2012, did nothing but surpass expectations in his first full season of pro ball:  .295/.372/.513, 16 HR, and 10 SB through 474 PA at High-A Carolina.  His tools aren’t flashy, but he can square up pitches and spray liners all over the field.  The hit tool is definitely a plus weapon, and as Matt Carpenter has made clear, it’s probably silly to sleep on anyone who hits this well, regardless of the rest of his profile.  ETA:  2015

8.  Jesus Aguilar, 1B:  Aguilar features big boy power, a tool which will definitely translate at the big league level, provided he can make regular contact.  The 23-year-old tweaked his approach in 2013 and saw his whiff rate dip by 9 points.  The Indians are hopeful that the adjustments will lead to more regular in-game power at Triple-A in 2013.  If that’s the case, expect to see Aguilar in Cleveland at some point this year.  ETA:  2014

9.  Ronny Rodriguez, SS:  Rodriguez is a toolsy MI with significant upside in the fantasy game, but approach problems have prevented him from realizing his potential thus far.  The 21-year-old struggled in his first year of upper-levels baseball, hitting .265/.291/.376 with just 5 homers in 116 games.  He might never become the complete hitter that Cleveland fans are hoping for, but there’s potential here for 20-25 HR and decent average.  With Lindor and Kipnis entrenched in the middle infield for the foreseeable future, however, Rodriguez probably surfaces as a 3B.  ETA:  2015

10.  Tyler Naquin, OF: Naquin is rather unspectacular for fantasy purposes.  He has an okay stick that could allow him to hit in the .280-.290 range at the ML-level, but that’s a perfect world projection, and there’s very little impact coming from him in the other categories.  Plus makeup could allow him to surpass this outlook, but for now, I’m not interested in most dynasty formats.  ETA:  2015

From Around The Web

  1. The Thumb says:
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    This might sound stupid but yeah, what happened to Bubba Starling?

    • @The Thumb: As apox points out, nothing in particular happened — he was always raw talent with loads of upside & he remains just that… The hit tool hasn’t progressed as hoped & he’s struggling against offspeed offerings… those are the glaring issues so far

  2. apoxonbothyourhouses says:
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    Nothing happened to Bubba. It was expected that he’d struggle. People forget that he’s still only 21. He hit pretty well last year, albeit MUCH better at home than on the road. He’s still raw, but he’s more like “medium rare” at this point. He’s never going to be Mike Trout, but he could very well be Alex Gordon but, most likely, is Nate McClouth.

  3. TheNewGuy says:
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    Knee-deep in negotiations right now so I won’t go into the extent of the whole thing right now. All I’ll say for now is there’s competition for the player im after (B Hamilton) so I need to get this thing wrapped up sharpish!

    We are almost there, but one final thing I need to decide on. As part of a multiplayer deal i’d also be getting either Iwakuma ($3) or Garza ($2). Both nice players at nice prices, who would you rather keep?

  4. JohnnyM says:
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    I have the first pick in our dynasty draft this offseason. Between Buxton and Abreu, it’s no contest right? Buxton all the way? The immediate gratification side of me is leaning Abreu…

    • @JohnnyM: Gotta go Buxton, my friend. Patience will be rewarded in the long run.

  5. Count de Monetball says:
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    Scott, I have to say that your minor league previews are my favorite reads of the off season. It’s fun to daydream about what these guys can do! Thanks for the work!! By the way, I have two questions… 1. besides going to a lot of ML games (which is sounds like you do, how fun), what sources do you utilize to read in-depth scouting reports? 2. Some of your ETA’s seem a bit agressive in some cases (mostly for high A ball players), not for Cleveland necessarily. I was just wondering, assuming you have done this for several years, have you cross checked your previous ETA’s to see if they are generally pretty good.

    To be clear, I LOVE your writeups like Grey LOVES AU SHIZZ, well maybe not that much, and look forward to them every week (obvious since I always ask who’s next, I will refrain this time),

    • @Count de Monetball: Thanks!

      1) I live near-ish to the Kane County Cougars, so I get to see a lot of Midwest League action & it’s a particularly great league to scout, as just about all major prospects pass through the Low-A level. Aside from that, I have a couple industry sources from my days interning that I still keep in touch with… The bulk of my research, though, involves me watching games on MiLB TV (a great investment — HIGHLY recommended), scanning the various MiLB box scores, and of course, reading just about everything prospect-related from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Minorleagueball, Fangraphs, etc.

      2) I lean on the aggressive side with high-impact prospects… more conservative with the less talented guys… the ETA game is pretty tough to get right because there are so many variables that factor in, so I’m off by a year just as often as I’m right on…

      LA Dodgers are next.

  6. Tony says:
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    GO TRIBE

  7. Dan says:
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    If you were in a dynasty league that values these offensive categories (OBP, R, HR, RBI, SLG, SB), who would your first ten picks be in a minor leaguer draft?

  8. goodfold2 says:
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    what was originally supposed to be my jungmann for opp’s s.burnett AND estrada changed (opp woke up, even after specifically saying he’d do estrada and burnett for jungmann) and now he only wants burnett for jungmann or jungmann AND r j alvarez for burnett/estrada. should I just shut down talks with this guy or are any of these actually good deals for me
    1. jungmann for estrada str up
    2. jungmann and alvarez for estrada and burnett
    3. jungmann and 3rd round pick (2015) for estrada and burnett (opp might not do this one)

    2nd concern: grey said I should be getting more for beltran than deshields str up, but that springer is enough, does this apply to snydergaard as well?

    • @goodfold2: I would do Jung 4 Estrada, but not the others… no to beltran 4 deshields, yes to beltran for springer or syndergaard… springer would be best option

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Scott Evans: thanks.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @goodfold2: what about beltran for 5th overall pick if I could get another prospect thrown in (if springer nor syndergaard were able to be gotten first). people like bryant/ervin/frazier (CLE)/gray (COL)/moran (MIA)/appel. at least one of them if I had 5th overall pick.

          • @goodfold2: I’d do it for Bryant or Gray… probably not any of the others.

  9. TheNewGuy says:
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    OK like it or loathe it, here’s the deal I made yesterday. Had to rush it through due to other interest in Hamilton, but I like what I got in return, and Grey and co on here did too:

    B Hamilton & Iwakuma ($3) & B Jackson (throw-away)
    FOR Rosenthal & Stephenson & Estrada ($9) (throw-away)

    I found it hard to give up a top closer in Rosie but the speed potential of Hamilton is what made me decide to do it, 80+ steals can be a category winner, no other players have close to that speed potential. Plus im getting a solid keeper in Iwakuma, losing Stephenson but pitching prospects are a dime a dozen.

    Have I swayed you on it?

    • @TheNewGuy: I’m unswayed. You gave up way too much for a very iffy “category winner”. Prospects like Stephenson are definitely not a dime a dozen… Hamilton will not steal 80 bags…

      • TheNewGuy says:
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        @Scott Evans: Well other ‘perts tend to have different opinions, Grey likes it a lot as does Mike, they are much higher on Hamilton. I do value your opinion highly bud as the prospect Guru, just hoping you’re wrong on Hamilton!

        As for Stephenson, he was cut by two teams in my league last year, and I got him the 2nd time on a waiver claim, so he wasn’t exactly highly in demand (80 prospect pool). I tend to feel there’s so many good pitching prospects around, so unless they are elite then im starting to change my tune and target bats instead. Look at what happened to Bauer, Hultzen etc…still not surfaced properly yet (luckily I offloaded them in time). Thought id take a gamble on upside for once, really needed some more bats in my system.

        Any idea when the 2014 top fantasy prospects list is out btw dude? I mean the best prospects around going into 2014, not best ones purely for that year. Always makes very useful reading in the offseason.

        • @TheNewGuy: Yeah, I’m not as high on him as most others, but those are my two cents. I like the idea of bolstering the hitting side of your farm, I just don’t like Hamilton’s outlook for this season — I could be wrong here, but I don’t see him reaching base enough to make the impact that others are anticipating.

          My pre-season lists will be out in Feb, but those are 2014-specific… I’ve been doing the top 50 overall during the season (after the draft sometime) & I plan to do the same this year… I’ll look into putting one out in the pre-season, but there might not be time for it — still lots of team previews to get through. I’ll keep you posted.

          • TheNewGuy says:
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            @Scott Evans: Well im still on the lookout for a big power hitting prospect in return for another arm (likely Bradley). Owner of Springer seems to be backing down from our swap so im still looking.

            But if I get the chance to get one for Hamilton instead, I might consider it. One thing’s for sure if he’s starting it won’t be boring, you think he will be come opening day?

            Ok thanks buddy looking forward to the previews.

            • @TheNewGuy: Hamilton will be exciting for sure. He’s positioned right now be in center & batting first on Opening Day & I think the Reds want him to take that role from day 1.

  10. goodfold2 says:
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    1. assuming you even know this now, what is the order for the last 19 teams, by strength of prospects? (I could also just go by the strength of last year’s). I’m attempting to compile a list of the best 126 prospects still open to me(due to my last pick in my draft that starts on January 6th), using yours and BA top 10 lists. If BA has a guy you don’t have listed i’ll put him 11th and so on. I am up to 106 guys (but some of them are C and having D’Arnaud I can probably ignore the majority of them) and need 20 more from these last 5 teams (unless you do these reports before or right around january 6th) SEA/HOU/KC/TEX/MIN. I’ll go back to last year’s lists and 2013’s first 3 round guys i guess.
    2. i know I can’t just take all of your #1’s as equal to all other teams, since LAA farm is crappy but teams like STL and CUBS is strong. I need some kind of adjustment. Would every 5 teams better move a guy up 1 spot be a good rule? Or higher like every 8 up. Example:
    m.olsen is 6th on OAK’s list. OAK is 5 teams better than LAA.
    Sappington is 5th on LAA’s list, so olsen would actually go higher than sappington (if my qualifier is correct). also I could do diminishing returns as to going even higher. 5 goes up 1 spot, it takes another 8 to go up 2 (13 spots total for 2).
    the only other way for me to do this would be to just list my 126 people and ask for a rank of all of them (which is ridiculous), so I need to be able to compare team list to team list and find out a relative value. thanks.

    • @goodfold2: 1. I use BA’s organizational talent ranks from the previous season & go in reverse order. Here’s that list –> http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2013-organizational-talent-rankings-list/ … I’ll start doing 2 previews per week in Jan or Feb

      2. I wouldn’t value the order of the previews too much, as that BA list was generated last March & didn’t factor in to draftees or breakout prospects… Addison Russell is a legit top 10 overall prospect, but Oakland was the 6th team I previewed… it’d be crazy to adjust him in your ranks because of when we published that particular prospects post. If I were you I’d do my best not to treat this so black & white — think of the prospects in tiers (top 10, top 25, top 50, top 100, top 200), but don’t worry too much about who’s #57 & who’s #56.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Scott Evans: problem would be that there isn’t a top anything overall list right now. BP does that up to 100 (i need deeper than than since around 13 guys are already taken per team in this league, and BP isn’t out until after my draft starts anyway. under each team from this:http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/2013draftdb.php
        most players are given a number. I suppose I could go off of their numbers, yes?

  11. goodfold2 says:
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    how high on WSOX prospect list would you have abreu 1B? He must not have been on team when you did WSOX list.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: grey doesn’t have either him or the other cuban guerrero 2B LAD high at all. good for me, since some people in my dynasty will likely draft the both of them before it’s my turn at 20.

      • @goodfold2: I like Abreu & I especially like him at US Cellular Field. Could easily be a top 10 1B this season. I’m no as high on Guerrero.

  12. Grey

    Grey says:
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    FYI, I’ve emailed you back a few times… I’m probably not the only one not getting through to you…

    • I don’t care about anyone else but you, Grey.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Ha… Okay, replied back…Fingers crossed…

  13. goodfold2 says:
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    ok, i’ve went over all 30 teams with your rankings for the 11 teams you’ve finished, and BA with the other ones, and added in the highest ranked guys from this past draft (2013). BA has those guys ranked too. It appears I will at 20th (my picks are at 20/50/110/126) not be getting any of bryant/appel/frazier/gray/MAG/abreu/guerrero/k.stewart/tanaka, but I could get one of d.smith 1B NYM/moran 3B MIA/peterson P SEA/a.marte OF ARI/shipley P ARI/gonzalez P TEX/monaea P KC/renfroe OF SD/ervin OF CIN/meadows OF PIT/stanek P TB/jagielo 3B NYY/clarkin LP NYY/ball P BOS. which 5-7 or so of those guys should I avoid. I will get one of these listed people, for sure.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: i’ll also be trying to come up with a top 50 people still not owned, as i’ll be picking again at 50th. I might want to avoid C and MI with my 4 picks altogether as I already have a ton of MI (d.robertson OAK/salcedo ATL/rosario MIN/lee TB/phelps BAL/gumbs NYY) and D’Arnaud, but only 1 each at CI (Jimenez LAA) and OF (Wates HOU).

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Scott Evans: starts January 6th. seems people take sometimes a few hours per pick.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @goodfold2: but first round likely goes quick at the start since most will already know who they want.

          • goodfold2 says:
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            @goodfold2: forgot, add shipley P ARI to that list. he’s open also.

  14. goodfold2 says:
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    i am super weak at CI prospects (also OF). new owner of a team has these 3 CI but very weak P prospects
    gallo TEX
    orpesa SF
    barnum WSOX
    should i try to trade any of my pitchers for any 1 of those 3 CI. it’s possible gallo would be too expensive.
    heredia PIT
    maurer SEA
    cabrera ATL
    alvarez LAA
    hale ATL
    fien MIN

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: also could throw in one of my many, many MI prospects, if any of those 3 CI are good enough to trade 1 of my pitchers and one of these MI
      lee TB
      gumbs NYY
      salcedo ATL
      rosario MIN
      robertson OAK
      gallo seems good enough possibly to give one MI and one P, but i’m not sure. it’s more likely I could get orpesa, don’t know how much to value him (in terms of one or 2 players for him). This opp is also weak at MI prospects.

  15. goodfold2 says:
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    that same owner offered gallo CI TEX for my bruce chen and b.maurer SEA P. is that good as is or should I be getting more in that spot (I could possibly get a mid-round pick thrown in)
    2. or would i rather have oropesa over gallo?

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