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