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2011 Organizational Overview - Pitchers

2011 Organizational Overview - Pitchers
January 15, 2011
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Knapp is one of the Tribe's best young
pitchers (Photo: Lianna Holub)
This is the final report ranking the Indians prospects at each position and an overall report on the position. I'll be using the same rules as Tony concerning eligibility for prospects (50 IP, 130 AB, and played stateside). The age next to the players name is for next season using the July 1 cut-off date.

Left Handed Pitchers

Left Handed Pitchers Not Eligible: David Huff, Aaron Laffey, Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez

Prospect Ranking (Left Handed Pitchers):

1.) Drew Pomeranz (22)
2.) Nick Hagadone (25)
3.) T.J. House (21)
4.) Kelvin De La Cruz (22)
5.) Scott Barnes (23)
6.) Giovanni Soto (20)
7.) Matt Packer (23)
8.) T.J. McFarland (22)
9.) Chris Jones (22)
10.) Eric Berger (25)

The Indians left handed pitchers improved as a group dramatically over the last two years through trades and the drafting of Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz is everything that Hagadone is and more and is three years younger. Hagadone will be 25 and back in AA to start the season partially due to his injury history, but also his high walk rate (63 in 86 IP) which is a huge concern. I'm starting to think that we may have to count on him as a power lefty out of the pen like Matt Thornton rather than as a starter.

I'm still high on House and De La Cruz, but a subpar season this year would lead me to slide them down the list several spots. Barnes' performance in the Arizona Fall League will make for an exciting promotion to Columbus or a short return to Akron. If Packer can reproduce the numbers from last year he may become a top 10 overall prospect for Cleveland. Soto was a solid trade pickup and he had good strikeout numbers (107 K in 113 IP) as a 19 year old at Low-A. I'd like to believe that all of the top ten have legitimate shots to be major league contributors in their careers.

Didn't Make the Cut:

Francisco Jimenez (22)
Vidal Nuno (23)
Daniel Jimenez (21)
Mike Rayl (22)
Nick Kirk (24)
Ryan Morris (23)
Harold Guerrero (21)
Kyle Petter (21)
James Reichenbach (23)
Kirk Wetmore (22)

Future Prospects From the DSL Team:

Elvis Araujo (19): Did not pitch in 2010. Araujo would be on many top 25 lists if we counted players that had not yet played in the United States. He's coming back from injury this season, but look for him to make it to Lake County at some point this season.

Organizational Report:

Cleveland - Huff / Laffey / Sipp / R. Perez
Columbus - Berger
Akron - Barnes / De La Cruz / Packer / McFarland / Hagadone
Kinston - Pomeranz / House / Soto / Jones / F. Jimenez
Lake County - Rayl / Petter
Extended Spring Training - D. Jimenez / Reichenbach / Guerrero
Cut? - Morris / Wetmore / Nuno / Kirk

Tim Belcher says many good things about David Huff and I can see the Indians giving him another shot as a starter to open the season. Laffey could open as the long-reliever in a battle with Germano and Tomlin. Sipp and Rafael Perez will slide into their roles in the pen. The only lefty I see in Columbus could be Eric Berger as the Tribe looks like they are ready to make him into a reliever which would speed his progress to the bigs. Akron's pitching should be amazing with Barnes, De La Cruz, and Packer starting for sure with McFarland and Hagadone making occasional starts.

Pomeranz starts the year in Kinston with a possible mid-season callup to Akron. House and Soto can continue their development as starters and Chris Jones seems destined to be somewhat of a long-reliever for now. Francisco Jimenez's numbers were solid last year at Lake County and he'll have to continue to prove himself with so many young relievers around. At Lake County, Rayl could start or be a long reliever with Kyle Petter pitching out of the pen. Ryan Morris was a 4th round pick in '06, but his time with the Tribe may be up. Wetmore has proven little in two years and Nuno has just as much of a shot to make the Lake County roster as Kirk, but he could return to EST.

It's tough to talk about just one part of the pitching prospects, but the Indians have some high ceiling guys among the lefties. I think we would all like to see Pomeranz in the rotation by 2013 and the dream that maybe Hagadone could still be a starter. I wouldn't mind him as a lefty in the pen with Chris Perez, Rob Bryson, Joshy Judy, and Bryce Stowell someday (I hope Knapp can start too!). Pitchers like Barnes, De La Cruz, Packer, McFarland, House, and Soto have much to show over the next two years if they want to crack what should be a strong Indians rotation in 2013.

Right Handed Pitchers

Right Handed Pitchers Not Eligible: Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot, Joe Smith, Jensen Lewis, Chris Perez, Anthony Reyes, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Germano, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, Joe Martinez

Prospect Ranking (Right Handed Pitchers)

1.) Jason Knapp (20)
2.) Alex White (22)
3.) Joe Gardner (23)
4.) Rob Bryson (23)
5.) Bryce Stowell (24)
6.) Austin Adams (24)
7.) Vinnie Pestano (26)
8.) Josh Judy (25)
9.) Corey Kluber (25)
10.) Hector Rondon (23)
11.) Bryan Price (24)
12.) Clayton Cook (20)
13.) Alexander Perez (21)
14.) Frank Herrmann (27)
15.) Chen-Chang Lee (24)

There are so many pitching options and depth among relievers that it's difficult to compile a list without changing it over and over again. After typing this, I'm sure that I won't be happy with my own rankings.

The Indians and Ross Atkins must be pretty excited about the amount of pitching depth that they have assembled. The real answer to if our trades have been successful will be if these pitchers develop into solid major leaguers and not just minor league depth. I've got Knapp ahead of White just because of his amazing strikeout rate. He'll be 20 this year at Kinston and hopefully fully recovered from injury and ready to get to Akron soon. He struck out 47 in just 28.1 innings last year. White was solid and steady last year and he looks like a middle of the rotation starter at the major league level.

Joe Gardner had a great season last year and looks like a great 3rd round pick (142/62 K/BB). I'm higher on Bryson than most, but he looks like a power reliever (80 K in 53.1 IP) that would be nice to have in the bullpen soon other than guys like Joe Smith and Jensen Lewis. Bryce Stowell's season last year was a lot like Matt Packer's. Unbelievable numbers (102/36 K/BB in 67.1 IP) that weren't expected and a quick rise through the system. It's very exciting to think about Chris Perez and prospects like Judy, Stowell, Todd, Pestano, Bryson, Lee, Bryce, and Burns battling for those few spots in the bullpen in 2012 and '13. Throw in guys like Hagadone and Knapp that could be relievers, and I'm dreaming of a bullpen that ends the game if our starter makes it through six innings with the lead.

Didn't Make the Cut:

Kyle Blair (22)
Jess Todd (25)
Zach Putnam (23)
Cory Burns (23)
Trey Haley (21)
Adam Miller (26)
Paolo Espino (24)
Zach McAllister (23)
Tyler Sturdevant (23)
Brett Brach (23)
Preston Guilmet (23)
Marty Popham (23)
Yohan Pino (27)
Felix Sterling (18)
Matt Langwell (25)
Robbie Aviles (19)
Ramon Cespedes (20
Joey Mahalic (22)
Cole Cook (22)
Brian Grening (26)
Takafumi Nakamura (23)
Danny Salazar (21)
Michael Goodnight (22)
Connor Graham (25)
Antwonie Hubbard (22)
Jordan Cooper (22)
David Roberts (24)
Carlton Smith (25)
Ryan Gardner (22)
James Ehlert (23)
Nick Sarianides (21)
Alex Kaminsky (23)
Owen Dew (22)
Nathan Striz (22)
Anthony Dischler (22)
Jeremy Johnson (24)
Travis Turek (23)
Steven Wright (26)
Dale Dickerson (24)
Alexander Morales (21)
Kyle Smith (23)
Andrew Shive (25)
Matthew Speake (24)
Casey Gaynor (24)
John Goryl (25)
Luis Encarnacion (19)
Orlando Pereira (19)
Joseph Colon (21)
Fernando Flores (20)
Jose Lopez (20)
Enriquez Pacheco (21)
Rafael Homblert (19)

Future Prospects From the DSL Team:

Oswell Munoz (20): 3-2, 1.86 - 72.2 IP, 73 K/6 BB
Enosil Tejeda (22): 7-3, 1.76 - 71.2 IP, 78 K/15 BB
Moisses Ramirez (21): 26 GP, 2-4, 1.26 - 35.2 IP, 35 K/8 BB 14 saves

All three of these pitchers put up great strikeout numbers, but it's not like any of them are 17 years old though. They'll have to prove themselves during EST and then show what they've got for a short-season team starting in June.

Organizational Report:

Cleveland - Carmona / Masterson / Talbot / Carrasco / J. Smith / Lewis / Herrmann / C. Perez
Columbus - Tomlin / Gomez / McAllister / White / Kluber / Espino / Judy / Stowell / Putnam / Todd / Pestano
Akron - Gardner / Adams / Bryson / Lee / Graham / Price / Burns
Kinston - Knapp / Brach / Sturdevant / Popham / Toru Murata / Langwell / Guilmet
Lake County - Cl. Cook / Haley / Blair / Dischler / Dew / Sarianides / Goodnight / Nakamura / Ehlert / Cespedes
Extended Spring Training - Too many names worth listing
Cut? - Pino / C. Smith / Wright / Germano / Reyes / Grening / Mahalic / Roberts / Turek / Shive / Hubbard / Johnson / Goryl / Dickerson

The top four in the Indians rotation is set and a battle for the 5th spot and the long reliever will be interesting this spring. The bullpen appears set as well though Herrmann could be pressured in spring training.

If Tomlin doesn't make the Tribe roster, he and Gomez will form a solid rotation with McAllister, Kluber, and Alex White. That leaves pitchers like Espino and Pino fighting for a long relief spot (not to mention Hector Rondon being out for the season). Judy, Stowell, Putnam, Todd, and Pestano will form a strong Columbus pen even though several of them could pitch for a few major league club already. Carlton Smith and Steven Wright can't make this roster with the progression of some of the youngsters. The big question here is what if Adam Miller is throwing well, who would get forced out?

Gardner will be in the starting rotation at Akron that will be heavily left-handed (Barnes, De La Cruz, Packer, Hagadone). Adams and McFarland can spot start and relieve with Bryson, Lee, Price, and Burns. I think that Connor Graham can hang on, which would mean Grening and Mahalic would be without a spot.

Knapp and Brach will join lefties Pomeranz, House, and Soto to form a rotation that will be fun to watch in the Indians last year in Kinston. Sturdevant and Popham pitched well enough last year to join Guilmet in the Kinston pen. Matt Langwell will be a fringe guy here and I believe Murata starts his American career in high-A. This would leave few options for pitchers like Roberts, Turek, and Shive. Good prospects Alexander Perez and Danny Salazar are injured, so they should be in extended spring training to start the season.

Clayton Cook, Haley, Kyle Blair will start for Lake County with Rayl, Dischler, and maybe Owen Dew working for the other spots. The bullpen battle here should be tough with Sarianides, Goodnight, Nakamura, Ehlert, and Cespedes working with Nick Kirk. Pitchers Jeremy Johnson and Dale Dickerson may be done this spring training.

There is enough pitching depth that tough choices will have to be made if there are no injuries. The Indians may be cutting players this year that in past years could have hung on to in the organization. Imagine if Rondon was not injured what kind of tough choices that would have to made at Columbus. We can dream of a rotation of Carmona, Carrasco, Pomeranz, White, and Gardner some day soon. In saying that list, it doesn't even take into account Masterson, Rondon, Kluber, Hagadone, Packer, De La Cruz, Barnes, and Knapp. With this much depth, some of it has to work for the Indians, right? These pitchers should set us up for that playoff push in '12 and '13 and hopefully for years to come. As an Indians fan, you have to be excited the direction that the front office went in making this happen even if it cost us some of our top players.

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