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Indians Indians Archive Indians Top 50+ Prospects: #41-50
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria
For all you diehard Tribe fans out there ... we have a belated Christmas present for you as we begin running a piece as detailed and informative as any we've ever run in our two year history. Tony Lastoria (with help) has spent the better part of November and December putting together his list of the Indians Top 50 Prospects, complete with career stats, detailed bios, pictures, and video. And we kick it off today with prospects #41-50. Enjoy.

This is part three of a nine piece installment ranking the Indians top prospects. Part one provided a listing of prospects who just missed this list, and part two profiled the 2007 Draft picks and Dominican Summer League players.

All photos in this installment, except Perdomo, are courtesy of Carl Kline. To get in touch with Carl Kline for photo assistance, please e-mail me at and I will forward his e-mail address to you. Luis Perdomo photo is courtesy of John M. Setzler, Jr. /

All ages as of 04/01/2008

50. Randy Newsom - Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 25 Height: 6'2" Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Kinston/Akron422.805801861.06319418312.664.571.33

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: The Indians received Newsom in July of 2006 as the player to be named later in the Coco Crisp trade from January 2006. Newsom originally signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Tufts University (MA) with the Boston Red Sox in June of 2004. He turned out to be an important acquisition in 2006, as he was the Mills Cup Finals MVP that year for Kinston in their Carolina League Championship Series.

Strengths & Opportunities: Newsom is a side-arm/submarine-style pitcher who is a command-control guy. Newsom had been messing around on the mound at the end of spring training in 2005 throwing submarine style, and Red Sox officials saw it and approached him about actually going with the approach. The Indians were piqued by this unique arm slot when they had the opportunity to acquire him, and since arriving in the organization he has turned some heads.

Newsom does not throw very hard as his fastball sits in the 81-83 MPH range (he actually can throw harder), but as a submariner this is key as the lower velocity allows the ball to sink more and if you throw too hard the ball is flatter and much more hittable. With the pitch, he gets good sink down in the zone. He compliments his fastball with a changeup, slider, and a four-seam fastball he does not use very much. He has a lot of confidence in his changeup, and his slider is coming around. He is a very hardworker, and goes after hitters. He is also a very likable guy, great teammate, and his makeup is off the charts.

Newsom is also a groundball machine. His pitches get so much sink and in on right-handers that opposing hitters pound the ball into the ground (3.05 G/F ratio last year and 4.11 G/F ratio in 2006). He also has not been hurt by the home run ball, giving up only seven in 208 career innings pitched.

The Indians used him in several roles in 2007, and mostly exposed him to late-inning situations which he handled well. When the season finished, he went out to the Arizona Fall League and Mexican Winter League to get more work in against experienced hitters, and performed well. The key now for him is to become more consistent and show he can continue to pitch in pressure situations. His slider still needs work and he has to become more confident in using it. Also, he has struggled with left-handers and will need to continue working on that.

Outlook: Newsom knows his submarine style is his ticket to the big leagues. He has gone from the obscurity of being an unknown and undrafted pitcher in the Red Sox organization fighting to hang onto a baseball dream, to now a legit relief pitching prospect in the Indians organization. Newsom does not have a blazing fastball, wipeout slider, or a knee-buckling curveball, but he is extremely intelligent, has moxie, commands his pitches well, has great makeup, and goes right after hitters. He should start the season in the Buffalo bullpen and could make his professional debut with the Indians sometime in 2008.

Video: Newsom on the mound in spring training.

49. Brian Slocum - Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 27 Height: 6'3" Weight: 210 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Buffalo224.1555026.02112316285.549.691.42

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: The Indians drafted Slocum in the 2nd round of the 2002 Draft out of Villanova University. He came into the draft as a highly touted player where Baseball America ranked him as the #1 prospect in Pennsylvania and 40th overall nationally.

Strengths & Opportunities: When he came out of college, Slocum threw the ball in the mid-90s, but his velocity dipped to the upper-80s when he mistakenly took part in an upper body lifting program not authorized by the Indians after the 2002 season. The Indians put him on a proper program and after a few years, Slocum once again is throwing a lively low-to-mid 90s fastball. He compliments his fastball with a changeup and slider, where the changeup is an above average pitch, but while his slider has shown improvement it still needs work to be more effective. He is an aggressive pitcher on the mound and attacks hitters.

In 2005, the Indians moved Slocum to the bullpen and he stayed there until the second half of the 2006 season when the Indians decided they felt he best suited the team as a depth starter. Slocum has shown the versatility to where he can be a swing guy in that he can fill a need in the bullpen or as a starter when needed by the Indians in the future. Slocum needs to continue refining his delivery, and he needs better command of his off-speed pitches. He struggled in his first call to the big leagues in 2006, but some of it was due to over-thinking and things speeding up on him.

The real problem with Slocum is he has had a hard time staying healthy. In 2001 he had a sore shoulder, in 2002 he had bicep tendonitis, in 2005 he had a ganglion cyst in his right wrist and a blister on his throwing hand, and in 2006 he injured his elbow while warming up to pitch. Last year he made his first five starts at Buffalo, and then was sidelined with irritation in his elbow in May and never returned. He was ready to come back in August, but the Indians did not activate him because they sided on being cautious. Reportedly, he is healthy and ready to resume his role for the Indians in 2008 as a depth starter. In the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, in four starts Slocum went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and in 21.2 innings allowed 12 hits, 6 walks and struck out 16.

Outlook: At age 27, Slocum is what he is and is no longer much of a prospect. But, considering he still is rookie eligible and is a part of the organization's farm system, he still has to be considered one. The Indians showed a lot of confidence in Slocum's ability to be a contributor with the major league club when they kept him on the 40-man roster this offseason. While he will not be an impact player by any means, the Indians appear to have faith that if a rash of injuries befalls the Indians starting rotation or bullpen that Slocum could step in and adequately fill the void. Slocum will return to Buffalo in the starting rotation.

48. Shawn Nottingham - Left-handed Pitcher
Age: 23 Height: 6'1" Weight: 190 Bats: Left Throws: Left

2007 Kinston9124.7727260149.0157791159963.565.801.45

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: The Indians acquired Nottingham from the Seattle Mariners as the player to be named later in the Ben Broussard for Shin-Soo Choo trade during the 2006 season. Nottingham is a local kid drafted out of Jackson High School in Canton, OH, so the trade to the Cleveland organization has been a homecoming of sorts, especially last year where he pitched at Akron which is just minutes from his hometown.

Strengths & Opportunities: If you look at Nottingham's minor league career he has always been a consistent pitcher. Given his young age at a more advanced level as well as being left-handed, the Indians are excited about his potential. Nottingham is a fundamentally sound pitcher with a fastball that sits around 89-91 MPH, and he compliments it with a curveball and changeup. He has a good delivery, and has a good feel for all of his pitches. He is durable, and showcases some good tilt on his breaking ball.

After an impressive first two months last year at Akron where he was 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in April and 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in May, Nottingham hit a wall in June going 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA. He tailed off the rest of the season, and the troubles were mostly mental in that he struggled to regain his confidence, which carried over into his mechanics causing him to have issues finishing his pitches and consistently repeating his delivery. During bullpen sessions between starts, Nottingham continued to fine tune his mechanics and work on better repeating his delivery. Going forward, he needs to continue improving his fastball command.

Outlook: This year, it is unknown whether Nottingham will remain a starter or be moved to the bullpen. Given his age, the Indians may choose to stick with him a little longer in the rotation before considering a move to the bullpen, which would be a new role for him. He should start the year in the Akron rotation.

Video: Nottingham on the mound

47. Ryan Mulhern - First Base
Age: 27 Height: 6'2" Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Buffalo.290130476671383621676401331.350.475.825

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: Mulhern was taken in the 11th round of the 2003 Draft out of the University of South Alabama. Mulhern had a sensational 2005 campaign where he won the Lou Boudreau Award as the organization's top hitter by hitting .315 with 32 HR, 94 RBI and a 1.030 OPS in 112 combined games at Kinston and Akron. Mulhern took a step back in 2006 and struggled at Akron hitting .268 with 15 HR, 69 RBI and a .773 OPS in 121 games.

Strengths & Opportunities: Mulhern has very good power, but lacks good plate discipline. For his career, he averages a strikeout every 3.7 at bats. On top of that, for a player who strikes out so much he does not draw very many walks as he has a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio for his career. As with any power-hitter, a lot of his problems center around a lack of aggressiveness early in the count in not attacking fastballs, and then late in the count being over-aggressive when the pitchers are throwing more breaking balls.

Last spring and throughout the season, the Indians worked with Mulhern on his shaky defense and wanted to see improvement in his defensive play. They worked on his mental approach to playing the position, and he responded well to the additional instruction and showed improvement by season's end. Going forward, one of the Indians primary areas of focus for Mulhern in 2008 will be working with him on improving his plate discipline and getting him to work counts to draw more walks.

Outlook: The Indians were very pleased with his performance in Buffalo being that it was his first taste of Triple-A. At 27 years of age, Mulhern has pretty much maximized his potential and is a player at a position where there is no immediate need at the major league level for the Indians. He arguably is good enough to be a serviceable first baseman at the major league level, but as long as Garko et al are in Cleveland, Mulhern will never get a shot in Cleveland. He will open the season at Buffalo again, and could be someone the Indians move during the season to fill a need at the major league level and create roster room at one of the most crowded positions in the system (first base).

Video: Mulhern hits a home run

46. Michael Finocchi - Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 22 Height: 6'0" Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Kinston/Akron533.27450574.37227131523.766.301.39

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: The Indians selected Finocchi in the 14th round of the 2005 Draft out of Louisburg College (PA). Finocchi was sent to the Arizona Fall League (AFL) this past offseason and in nine appearances went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and allowed 7 hits, 4 walks and struck out five in 10.1 innings pitched.

Strengths & Opportunities: The Indians feel Finocchi had a very good year last year and then followed that up with a very successful stint in the AFL. The Indians are excited to see his progress going forward. Finocchi has a power sinking fastball that sits around 92-94 MPH, and he compliments it with a hard slider and changeup. His slider is his best secondary pitch, while his changeup still needs work. He has a sturdy frame and is durable, and has the potential to be a late inning reliever who gets hitters to pound the ball into the ground.

For a pitcher who throws as hard as he does and has sink on his pitches, he has a chance to be very successful. Finocchi is an extreme groundball pitcher as he had a 3.40 groundball to flyout ratio last year combined at Akron and Kinston, and had a 3.72 ratio in 2006 combined at Lake County and Kinston. In his brief showing in the AFL this offseason, Finocchi posted a 3.50 ratio as well. Also, Finocchi's ability to keep the ball in the park is sensational, as in 176 career innings pitched he has only allowed two home runs. Even though he has not piled up strikeouts in the past, he has shown the ability to strike batters out when needed.

One interesting note is left-handers only hit .184 (19-103) off him last year, while right-handers hit .273 (51-187). Going forward, if Finocchi continues to be effective against left-handed pitching, his value will only increase. Last year, Finocchi averaged 3.84 walks per nine innings, so he needs still needs some work with his fastball command. One of the ways the Indians plan on helping Finocchi in this area is to continue to work with him on throwing more first pitch strikes, and also setting up hitters and finishing them off.

Outlook: Along with Jeff Stevens, Finocchi is another reliever who took a meteoric rise in the bullpen ranks of the Indians farm system and is one to watch. He does not have overpowering stuff, but he continues to get hitters out every year and has shown signs that he could be a valuable middle relief option for the Indians down the road. He should start next season in the Akron bullpen.

45. Ryan Goleski - Outfield
Age: 26 Height: 6'3" Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Akron.25712847150121184973511019.332.369.701

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: The Indians selected Goleski in the 24th round of the 2003 Draft out of Eastern Michigan University. Last year, Goleski was picked up by the Oakland A's in the Rule 5 Draft, but he ended up being returned to the Indians when he did not make their opening day roster.

Strengths & Opportunities: Goleski's poor season in 2007 may have been a byproduct of the disappointment from not making the Oakland A's opening day roster and returning to the Indians where he was essentially being buried in a system deep with outfielders. He was pretty vocal about his displeasure of having to come back to the Indians, and according to sources who watched Goleski most of last season, he showed a lack of passion that seemed to carry over into his performance on the field and at the plate for most of the season.

To be fair to Goleski, it is only human nature to be disappointed in not seeing your major league dream realized and instead having to go back to the daily grind in the minors. On top of that, he also had injured his wrist during the offseason and it was not 100% healthy when the season started. The wrist injury would help explain the evaporation of his power in the early part of the season as he struggled to find his power stroke hitting only hit one home run with a .312 slugging percentage in April and May. But, from June through the end of the season, Goleski did manage to put up a slugging percentage almost 100 points higher (.405) and the last four months he had a .744 OPS.

By the end of the season Goleski was reportedly 100% healthy, but because he was trying to compensate for the injury he fell into some bad habits with his swing mechanics. As a result, for most of the last few months of the season the Indians worked with him to get rid of those bad habits. Still, even with the issues from last season, Goleski is a prototypical right-fielder in that he brings power to the plate and has a cannon for an arm.

Outlook: The question with Goleski is whether he can stay consistent, as he put up great numbers in 2004 (28 HR, .895 OPS) and 2006 (27 HR, .948 OPS), but fell off in 2005 (17 HR, .658 OPS) and 2007 (9 HR, .701 OPS). He needs to overcome the bad habits that plagued him in 2007, but if his power returns because of a healthy wrist and his two strike approach gets back to where it was in 2006, he should have a good year. If past history is any indication, this being an even numbered year and him likely to repeat at Akron to start 2008, look for him to have a great start in Akron where he eventually moves to Buffalo by mid-season.

Video: Goleski at the plate

44. Erik Stiller- Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 23 Height: 6'5" Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Kinston362.89255462.35620613491.887.081.11

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: Stiller signed with the Indians as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton University shortly after the 2006 Draft. At Princeton, Stiller had a career record of 15-14 with a 3.60 ERA in 38 starts. After signing in June 2006, Stiller made his debut that year with the Indians at rookie-level Burlington where he went 2-2 with a 6.45 ERA in four starts. The stay in Burlington was short, as he was moved up to short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley where he went 3-3 with a 3.23 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts).

Strengths & Opportunities: Last year, Stiller did not make a full season club out of spring training and had to stay behind in extended spring training, but he was eventually activated and called up to advanced Single-A Kinston on May 27th. Stiller quickly made an impression in Kinston coming out of the bullpen, and late in the season he was moved into the starting rotation when left-hander Ryan Edell and right-hander Kevin Dixon were taken out of the rotation due to high workload. Stiller participated in the Indians Fall Development Program and then was sent out to the Hawaii Winter League (HWL) to get more innings and work in as a starter, which is where it appears he will stick to start the 2008 season. In the HWL, Stiller went 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA in eight starts, and in 32 innings had a WHIP of 1.44 and struck out 36.

Stiller's fastball typically hovers around 90-92 MPH with the ability to reach back and get it to 93-94 MPH if needed. Last year, Stiller spent a lot of time trying to improve his overall physical strength in order to add a little velocity to his fastball, and he also made a few mechanical adjustments to help his fastball velocity. The work paid off as his fastball went from topping out at 91 MPH in 2006 to topping out at 94 MPH by the end of last season. In addition to the fastball, Stiller also throws a cutter, curveball, and changeup. His best secondary pitch is his changeup, but when he was in the bullpen early last year he rarely used it. Also, with his size (6'5" 200 pounds) it helps him get on top of hitters and his ball moving on a downward plane.

Stiller got a big break in that several of the Indians front office personnel are former Princeton student-athlete alumni, namely General Manager Mark Shapiro and Director of Baseball Operations Mike Chernoff. Chernoff and Stiller were former teammates on the Princeton baseball team, as Chernoff was a middle infielder and team captain his senior year in 2003 when Stiller was a freshman. The Indians want Stiller to continue to work on his fastball command and being more aggressive with it, and also continue developing his changeup now that he is a starter again.

Outlook: Stiller should return to Kinston to start the season and pitch in the starting rotation, although it is possible he could start the year in the Akron rotation as well if he has a great showing in spring training.

43. Eddie Mujica - Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 23 Height: 6'2" Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Buffalo/Cle215.864401450.75433711511.959.051.28

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: Mujica was signed by the Indians as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in October 2001. In 2005, he burst onto the scene going 3-1 with 24 saves and a 2.54 in 52 combined relief appearances in Kinston and Akron, and then went 0-0 with 4 saves and a 1.35 ERA in six games for Akron in six appearances in the Eastern League (EL) playoffs for the EL Champion Akron Aeros.

Strengths & Opportunities: In the spring of 2005, the Indians made a role change for Mujica from starting pitcher to reliever that jumpstarted his career. Mujica went from an unknown and struggling pitcher, to one of the better bullpen prospects in the Indians system in just over a year's time. The decision to move him to a bullpen role worked out well as he put up a great year in 2005, and followed it up with an even better year in 2006 by going 4-1 with 13 saves and a 1.57 ERA in 34 combined appearances at Akron and Buffalo.

Mujica features a mid 90s fastball and locates it well, and also has a good mid-to-high 80s slider. With the development of a nasty split-finger fastball a year ago he can be more than just a situational reliever since he now has a pitch in his repertoire to consistently get out left-handed batters. Mujica has excellent physical and mental makeup, and outstanding durability to handle multiple appearances. The Indians love Mujica's fearless approach, and his attitude and competitiveness thrive late in games. He believes there is not a player that is going to beat him, and when he gives up a hit he bears down and goes right after the next hitter. His confidence and short-memory, to go along with his fearless mentality and pitching abilities, make him a natural fit for a backend bullpen role.

Last year, however, Mujica slid back some because he struggled mentally with returning to Buffalo to start the season. He also had trouble handling the callups back and forth from Cleveland to Buffalo which often resulted in long layoffs between appearances. During the season he was working on refining his fastball to get more sink on it and also worked on his split-finger, and at times it hurt him because he is such a strike thrower that he left some pitches out over the plate that were hammered. He will continue to work on developing his split finger to use as a much needed put away pitch in the big leagues.

Outlook: Mujica is a quality bullpen arm the Indians will likely stash in Buffalo again this year. He will battle for a spot in the Indians bullpen this spring, but looks destined to return to Buffalo and continue refining his game and to work on improving his split finger.

42. Luis Perdomo - Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 23 Height: 6'0" Weight: 170 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Lake County463.275601066.04324626813.5511.051.05

Photo courtesy of John Setzler Jr / MiLB.comHistory: Perdomo was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in April of 2003. He spent three seasons at the Indians academy in the Dominican Republic from 2003 to 2005 before making his stateside debut in 2006 with the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Indians. With the GCL Indians, he ranked 2nd in the league in saves (9), appearances (19), and games finished (17). Last year at Lake County, Perdomo finished 2nd in the league in appearances (56) and fourth in games finished (40).

Strengths & Opportunities: Perdomo is a flame-throwing reliever who burst onto the seen last year in Lake County. Last year, after a rough start in April where in 10 appearances he was 0-2 with 2 saves, a 7.20 ERA and a .250 batting average against (BAA), Perdomo got rolling and from May 1st on finished the year 4-4 with 8 saves, a 2.57 ERA and a .164 BAA in 46 appearances. Perdomo's 2007 success has rolled right into the offseason, where in the Nicaraguan Winter League he was 1-2 with 5 saves, a 1.66 ERA and a .211 BAA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Perdomo's biggest weapon is a plus-plus fastball that consistently clocks in around 95-96 MPH, and he used that pitch to mow down 81 batters in 66 innings pitched last year. In addition to his fastball, Perdomo also throws a slider and changeup, with his fastball-slider combination the potential to be very good, and his changeup still is a work in progress. While he is small (6'0" 170 lbs), he is athletic, strong, and very durable.

Perdomo needs to work on being more effective against left-handed pitching. Last season against left-handers Perdomo had a 4.44 ERA and lefties hit .247 off him, while in contrast, Perdomo dominated right-handers as he had a 2.59 ERA and they only hit .138 against him. Of note, Perdomo's groundball to flyout ratio against lefties was significantly higher (3.64) against lefties than it was against righties (1.13), which shows he is getting in on their hands and getting them to role pitches over, and that the development of his changeup may be crucial for him to better attack left-handers. Perdomo also needs to continue working on consistently throwing strikes as he has had some troubles with walks at times.

Outlook: Perdomo certainly has the fastball to be successful, and he projects as a power armed pitcher in the middle of the bullpen. The Indians believe if Perdomo's secondary pitches improve that he could be a valuable reliever in the major leagues. He will continue to get work out of the bullpen in late innings, and should start the year in the Kinston bullpen. Although, given his age, he could be pushed up to Akron quickly, or even completely skip Kinston.

41. Brad Snyder - Outfielder
Age: 25 Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 Bats: Left Throws: Left

2007 Buffalo.2638625941681231035369112.355.448.803

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory: Snyder is a former first round pick of the Indians in the 2003 Draft out of Ball State University. At Ball State, Snyder was named the Mid American Conference Player of the Year in 2003 leading the league in doubles (25), walks (49), total bases (154), and slugging percentage (.770), and ranked second in runs (68), RBI (61), and on-base percentage (.522). In three seasons at Ball State, Snyder hit a combined .378 (211-558).

Strengths & Opportunities: Snyder's compact stroke generates excellent bat speed, and he has very good power to all fields. His swing is geared for pitches in the zone, and when he stays within himself he hits almost everything hard. Snyder has good speed, which plays up due to his very good instincts on the basepaths. Snyder has mostly played center-field during his time with the Indians, but his power bat and plus arm project him as a major league right-fielder. Snyder's athleticism is a big strength. His power/speed combination is salivating, and except for last season he has played well at each stop in the minors and is already at Triple-A. He has the potential to be a Jeromy Burnitz type player with more speed, or even an outfield version of Howard Johnson.

Snyder had eye surgery last offseason, and with some of the adjustments at the plate the Indians implemented, many (including me) felt that he could improve on his high strikeout rate in the minors. In 2006, Snyder set an Akron record with 158 strikeouts and struck out once every 3.3 at bats. But, last year in Buffalo his strikeout rate increased to once every 2.8 at bats. On top of that, his power and batting average slipped considerably. With his lack of discipline, he is still very susceptible to high and outside pitches and pitches in the dirt.

While there are always concerns when a player does not play up to par, the Indians are not overly concerned with Snyder. The Indians made some adjustments with Snyder's stance at the plate during the season last year and in the offseason to get him to stand over the ball more and get his head out over the plate. He has adapted well with the new approach and looked real good in the Fall Development Program (FDP) and looked 100% recovered from a broken right thumb that sidelined him the last month or so of the season.

Outlook: I have been one of the biggest supporters of Snyder the past few years as I love his all around game with power, defense, speed, athleticism, and hustle. But, Snyder's once promising professional career took a turn in the wrong direction in 2007 when he had a forgettable season at Buffalo. Still, it is a little too early to completely cast him aside, but his poor showing in 2007, strikeout rate, and erratic hitting is what caused him to tumble on this list so much from last year. The Indians expect him to have a big year in 2008 when he returns to Buffalo for another season, and it could be a make or break year for Snyder.

Up Next: Indians Top 50+ Prospects #31-40

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