Cleveland Indians 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2012 (29) | 2011 (7) | 2010 (3) | 2009 (7) | 2008 (19) | 2007 (10) | 2006 (9)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [80-82] AL Central
AAA: [88-56] International League – Columbus
AA: [73-69] Eastern League – Akron
A+: [76-62] Carolina League – Kinston
A: [53-86] Midwest League – Lake County
A(ss): [41-34] New York-Penn League – Mahoning Valley
The Run Down
A lot has been made out of how horrendous the White Sox farm system is, how there’s a sizable gap between them at #30 and the systems ranked ahead of them. And while I would by no means rank Cleveland’s system beneath that of the White Sox, I don’t necessarily think they’re too far apart. And from a fantasy perspective, the Sox probably have more pieces who’re ready to contribute. Certainly the Tribe’s woes in this regard can be attributed to their having graduated a nice crop of guys last year, as well as a few trades (Pomeranz to Colorado). But the upper levels of the Cleveland farm system are almost entirely void of genuine big league talent. For chrissakes, their top two prospects – Francisco Lindor & Dillon Howard – have only five games of pro ball experience between them.
Arizona Fall League Players – Phoenix Desert Dogs
Players of Interest
Phelps has surprising pop for a scrappy second baseman, and I think that given the opportunity, he could suffice as a regular in the bigs. Unfortunately, that opportunity won’t arise in Cleveland as Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis man the middle infield. .198 ISO at Triple-A last year has certainly captured the attention of execs around the league. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Phelps get his chance at a major league job with a different club.
Hagadone should be used often out of the Tribe’s bullpen this year. The power lefty throws a mid-to-high-90’s fastball and counters with a late-breaking slider. He’s still working on his approach toward right-handed hitters, so for now he’s almost strictly a lefty specialist. Clearly, that’ll be something he’ll need to sort out if he’s ever going to have a chance at a late-innings role.
Chen Lee | RHP – RP:
Lee’s another arm that should have a spot in the Cleveland ‘pen. His 12.2 K/9 in 2011 during a twenty-game stint at Triple-A to go along with a 2.27 ERA shows he’s ready for a chance in the big leagues. Chen relies on deception, but his stuff isn’t bad featuring a low-to-mid-90’s fastball with late movement and a strong slider. He’ll likely return to Columbus to begin 2012, but expect to see him pitching in Cleveland before long.
Scott Barnes | LHP – SP:
Barnes was on track for a promotion to the big club last season, but was derailed due to a knee injury. He’ll return to Columbus to begin 2012 with hopes of a late-season call up. He throws a low-90’s fastball with decent command and also features a solid slider along with a change. Barnes projects at the backend of the rotation, but he might be relegated to a relief role ultimately.
The Indians picked up Derek Lowe this offseason, effectively blocking McAllister from breaking into the rotation. The righty was forgettable in four big league starts last year, posting a 6.11 ERA over 18 IP. It’ll take an injury or two for him to reemerge in that role. And time is not on his side, as he turns 25 later this year.
Chun Chen | C:
Chen has a very alliterative name, which I enjoy. He also fits Cleveland’s mold of offense-first catchers as he put up 43 XBH in 467 PA at Double-A last year. Though scouts have mixed feelings as to whether or not Chen’s bat can truly cut it in the bigs, his incremental improvement at each stage bodes well. His defense, on the other hand, could use quite a bit of work. He’ll return to Akron for 2012 to work on that aspect of his game. Expect a 2013 arrival. With Carlos Santana blocking him, however, Chen’s chance at regular time is slim.
Austin Adams | RHP – SP:
Adams has a nice heater, but beyond that he’s not too exciting. He’s already 25 years old too, which only adds to his uninteresting aura. With a fastball that can touch 100 MPH, however, Adams profiles best in a relief role. If he can refine his slider a bit, he could surprise folks and work his way into a late-innings role in Cleveland. For now, he’ll join the Columbus rotation for 2012.