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Indians Indians Archive Indians Top 50+ Prospects: #31-40
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria
Yesterday we started running Tony's long awaited Top 50 Indians prospects piece, which comprises the majority of this excellent nine installment series profiling the top prospects in the Indians entire minor league system.  Today we ramble on to part four of the series and the second portion of the prospect countdown, which unveils prospects #31-40 on Tony's list, and includes a couple of catchers that could be potential heir apparents to Victor Martinez.

This is part four of a nine installment piece profiling the top prospects in the Indians farm system.  Part three yesterday profiled the #41-50 ranked players in the Indians farm system. 
All photos courtesy of Carl Kline except where noted below.  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. 
These photos are credited to the following: 
Ryan Morris - John M. Setzler, Jr. / 
Ryan Miller - Blinn College (TX) Athletic Department 
Mike Pontius - Fred Wilke / St. Louis Dispatch 
Robbie Alcombrack - Timothy Turner / 
Santo Frias - Tony Lastoria /

All ages as of 04/01/2008.

40. Santo Frias - Right-handed Pitcher 
Age: 20  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 190  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

2007 GCL/Lake232.241110056.34314113552.088.790.99

Photo courtesy of Tony LastoriaHistory:  Frias was signed as a non-drafted free agent in December of 2005 and pitched at the Indians academy in the Dominican Republic in 2006 going 4-4 with a 1.30 ERA in 11 starts.  Frias made his stateside debut in 2007 pitching for the rookie level GCL Indians and later at Single-A Lake County. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  When Indians Farm Director Ross Atkins was heading up the Latin Operations in 2006 he was a big fan of Frias, and he still is.  Frias continues to improve, is a strike-thrower and has a big frame that he is still growing into.  He reminds some in the Indians organization of Fausto Carmona because of his big frame, big back, room to put on weight, and loose arm. 
Frias has a good three-pitch mix with an 88-92 MPH fastball, slider and changeup.  The slider is his best secondary pitch and has the potential to develop into a good major league pitch.  He has the frame and the pitches, and still is only 20-years old.  The Indians feel that as he fills out and matures his fastball has the potential to add velocity and become a big weapon.  He also has a very low home run rate (0.32 HR/9 career). 
Outlook:  Frias' performance in the GCL (2-3, 1.88 ERA, 9 starts) and Lake County (0-0, 4.32 ERA, 2 starts) was impressive to where he now is a legit pitching prospect in the Indians system.  Frias did go on the disabled list with a right elbow strain near the end of the season, but reportedly is 100% healthy and will be ready to go next year where he should start the season at Lake County. 
Video: Frias on the mound
39. Cirilo Cumberbatch - Outfielder 
Age: 21 Height: 6'2" Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right

2007 Lake/Akron.29984298478915264534505.385.423.808

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory:  The Indians signed Cumberbatch as an undrafted free agent in July of 2003 out of Panama City, Panama.  He was signed just before his 17th birthday, and made his professional debut in 2004 at Burlington.  This upcoming season will be Cumberbatch's sixth year in the organization and his fifth season playing, yet he still will be only 21-years old until the middle of the year. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  He has grown the past few years and this past year at Lake County started to make a name for himself with a good season.  Cumberbatch is solidly built and very strong.  He started to swing the bat better last year because he was handling breaking balls much better and using the whole field.  The Indians feel he is someone who can develop some good power in a few years because he has a projectable body that should continue to get bigger.  Last year at Lake County, he hit the ball hard all year and consistently hit the ball to all fields. 
Cumberbatch has very good makeup and is a very hard worker.  He is not a burner on the basepaths, but he runs well.  Defensively, he is very good running routes to balls, has shown a strong and accurate arm, and can play all three positions.  He is more a corner outfielder, but can play center field.  He has pull tendencies still, so he needs to continue working on staying in the middle of the field driving balls.  Keeping him in the middle of the field will help him stay on breaking balls better because when a player likes to pull the ball he is very susceptible to off-speed stuff because he is trying to get the barrel of the bat out there so much to pull it. 
Cumberbatch showed some clutch hitting ability last year, as with runners in scoring position he hit .373 with a .948 OPS in 83 at bats at Lake County.  He also finished the season up strong in August, hitting .347 with an .847 OPS for the month. 
Outlook:  With his growth potential to go along with his work ethic, Cumberbatch is another player to watch this year who may be on the verge of a breakout season.  He will most likely start the season in the Kinston outfield. 
Video: Cumberbatch at the plate
38. Sean Smith - Right-handed Pitcher 
Age: 24  Height: 6'4"  Weight: 195  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

2007 Buffalo974.2524210133.3130631658903.926.081.41

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory:  Smith was selected by the Indians in the 16th round of the 2001 Draft out of Sacramento City JC.  One of Smith's best attributes is how consistent he has been during his six years in the Indians system.  He has a career minor league ERA of 3.82, and to show how consistent he has been he never has had an ERA below 3.24 and never higher than 4.25. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Smith is a highly touted draft-and-follow player who always has had the talent, but a bunch of minor injuries early in his minor league career held him back.  Finally healthy the past two seasons, Smith was able to put up two good seasons in a row and has grown by leaps and bounds.  After he was disappointed to start the 2006 season in Kinston, his third straight year there, he refocused and put forth an excellent effort. Smith seemed to pick up steam when he was moved up to Akron later that season, and finished the year in Akron going 10-5 with a 3.88 ERA in 25 starts. 
Smith does not have electric stuff, but has learned that he has to attack hitters by getting ahead of them in the count and to be aggressive by pitching to contact.  His fastball consistently checks in at 88-91 MPH, and he also throws a 12-6 curveball, slider and changeup.  He has had command problems in the past, but his emergence the past two years was tied to more efficient use of his pitches, increased velocity in his fastball, and pitching with a lot of confidence. 
At one point early in the season last year at Buffalo, Smith had a streak of 22.2 consecutive scoreless innings, and his ERA ranked near the leaders in the International League.  But, he seemed to wear down late in the year as he put up a 4.81 ERA after the All Star break compared to the 3.93 ERA he had before the All Star break.  Smith gives up a lot of home runs, and is a fly ball pitcher (0.75 G/F ratio in 2007 and 0.85 G/F ratio in 2006).  He also needs to work on his walk-rate (3.92 BB/9 last year), and is something that should be further along at his advanced age. 
Outlook:  Smith went on the disabled list late in the season with shoulder fatigue and missed the last few weeks of the season, but he reportedly is 100% healthy now.  At this point, Smith is starting pitching depth at the Triple-A level for the Indians, and potentially trade bait to teams looking for young pitching to round out their major league starting rotation.  Smith could end up along the same lines of Brian Slocum based on pure stuff, and might be a middle reliever or a swing guy as long as he remains in the Indians farm system.  Smith will return to Buffalo in 2008. 
37. Wyatt Toregas - Catcher 
Age: 25  Height: 5'11"  Weight: 200  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

2007 Akron.25086284367116063927453.317.370.687

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory:  Toregas was selected by the Indians in the 24th round of the 2004 Draft out of Virginia Tech.  The Indians added Toregas to the 40-man roster this past offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, which gives them a third catching option they have not had on the roster in several years.  Since the graduation of Victor Martinez from the minor league system in 2003, the Indians have not had many catching options to turn to in the minors until now. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  In 2006, Toregas bounced back from a rough 2005 campaign and established himself as one of the Indians top catching prospects after he hit .294 with 8 HR, 52 RBI and an .816 OPS in 309 combined at bats in Kinston and Akron.  Last year, Toregas struggled through a season riddled with injuries as he was on and off the disabled list all year with back and elbow injuries and only played in 86 games.  The sore right elbow hindered his throwing abilities for the last half of the season, which was the result of a collision with Michael Aubrey while chasing a popup in the infield in early July. 
Toregas has ability with the bat, and a little bit of power pull side.  Toward the end of last season Toregas learned to hit the ball to right field and made strides in using the whole field. He became a good situational hitter moving runners.  When you can catch and throw like Toregas does it allows the Indians to give his offense more time to develop.  He is a leader, and he gives maximum effort and everything he has. 
Toregas is an excellent defensive catcher that can control a running game.   He consistently averages 1.85 seconds on throws to second base, which is much better than the major league average of 2.0 seconds.  Toregas is the best defensive catcher in the Indians system, and he has been ranked as the best defensive catcher in the league he played in the last two years.  He moves well behind the plate, handles a pitching staff well, and calls a good game. 
Toregas has the potential to be an adequate hitter, which to go along with his outstanding defense that has Indians officials excited, makes him very valuable.  Going forward, while Toregas performed well against left-handed pitching (.822 OPS) he will need to shore up his approach against right-handed pitching (.649 OPS) to be successful at Triple-A and beyond. 
Outlook:  Toregas is a player that continues to rise in the Indians farm system, and continues to improve physically each year.  With Toregas rostered and most likely in Buffalo next year, the Indians have a viable backup catching option to turn to if Martinez or Kelly Shoppach are injured. 
36. Ryan Edell - Left-handed Pitcher 
Age: 24  Height: 6'1"  Weight: 215  Bats: Left  Throws: Left

2007 Kinston1163.7031171121.71225012311092.298.061.26

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory:  Edell was taken in the 8th round of the 2005 Draft out of The College of Charleston.   Edell missed most of the 2006 season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, pitching in only six games and going 0-1 with a 3.44 ERA. The injury Edell suffered in 2006 is the same injury which sidelined left-hander Tony Sipp last season and ultimately led to Tommy John surgery for Sipp.  Edell was fortunate to avoid the surgery to correct the "Tommy John ligament", which is what the ulnar collateral ligament is commonly called these days. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Edell was having a breakout season last year in the starting rotation as he was 9-4 with a 3.21 ERA as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen with a few weeks left in the season. The move to the bullpen was not performance or injury related, it was just a way to limit his innings pitched since he had piled up a lot of innings on the year and was coming off a year in 2006 where he threw only 18.1 innings. 
Edell has a three pitch mix of a fastball, curveball and changeup.  His bread and butter pitch is a devastating curveball which was rated the best in the 2005 Draft.  His fastball only sits around 90-91 MPH, but he piles up strikeouts, pitches effortlessly and is composed when pitching in tight spots.  Edell is versatile enough where he could remain a starter or move to the bullpen depending on where the Indians need him as his curveball can attack lefties and his changeup is good enough to be effective against righties.  He has a very professional delivery, repeats his delivery well, and drives his fastball into the zone and in on the hands of the batter with ease. 
Outlook:  The Indians feel Edell certainly will play in the majors someday, but the question is whether he sticks as a starter or is made into a reliever.  It is not known whether the move to the bullpen will carry over to next season or not.  Edell has some bullpen experience during his early days at college, and he could become a permanent fixture in the bullpen because of the starting pitching depth in the system.  For now, it appears he will start the year in the Akron rotation. 
35. Frank Herrmann - Right-handed Pitcher 
Age: 23 Height: 6'4" Weight: 220 Bats: Left Throws: Right

2007 Kinston1154.0126260146.0163651528881.735.421.31

Photo courtesy of Carl KlineHistory:  The Indians found a hidden gem in 2004 with undrafted free agent outfielder Brian Barton, and it appears that lightning has struck twice with Herrmann.  An economics major at Harvard, Herrmann went undrafted and was signed by the Indians in August of 2005.  In Herrmann's debut season in 2006 he went 4-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 26 starts for Single-A Lake County, and he used his success in Lake County as a stepping stone into last season in Kinston.  At Kinston last year, Herrmann was named to the Carolina League All Star team. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Herrmann is a physically imposing pitcher, armed with a power sinking fastball that sits in the low-90s, slurvy breaking ball and decent changeup that has good movement.  The key to Herrmann's success is his bulldog mentality and his intelligence in coming up with a good game plan to attack hitters.  At times he can be too quick to the plate which can lead to him leaving the ball up in the zone, but he is a consistent strike thrower and he pitches to contact.  Herrmann is also very durable, and he saw his velocity increase some last season as he was topping out as high as 93 MPH many times late in the season and averaging 91-92 on the radar gun, whereas in 2006 he only averaged 90 MPH. 
The Indians felt Herrmann showed a lot of improvement in 2007.  When he came into the organization, he was very raw and the Indians had to break him down by completely re-developing his delivery and overhauling his four pitch mix to a more simplified three pitch mix of a fastball, slider and changeup.  He was also more a collapse, drop and drive guy when he came into the organization, but the refined delivery got him to stay taller in 2007.  Last season at Kinston, the focus was mostly on continuing to refine his delivery and how he attacked hitters.  While he is comfortable throwing his changeup to lefties, he continues to work on throwing his changeup in on right-handers.  He also worked on throwing his two-seam fastball in on right-handers to get them off the plate. 
His strength, durability and ability to throw strikes are definitely key assets for him where even with average stuff he could be a solid backend of the rotation innings eater in the majors.  Ultimately, what will separate him from being a long term bullpen guy or staying a starter is the development of his breaking ball.  Herrmann has dedicated the offseason to working on the pitch.  Herrmann is a fly-ball pitcher (0.87 G/F ratio in 2007 and 1.05 G/F ratio in 2006), and doesn't miss many bats (5.94 career K/9), so it will be interesting to see how he does as he moves up to Double-A and beyond. 
Outlook:  Herrmann was actually heavily recruited coming out of high school as a football player to play quarterback and safety, and at Harvard he was supposed to play both football and baseball but ended up just playing baseball because of the demands academically.  All signs point to him making an address change to Akron to start the year and staying in the starting rotation. 
Video: Herrmann on the mound 
34. Robbie Alcombrack - Catcher 
Age: 19  Height: 6'0"  Weight: 205  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

2007 GCL/Lake.23940134213210072314442.335.470.806

Photo courtesy of Timothy Turner / Aflac.comHistory:  Alcombrack was selected in the 7th round of the 2006 Draft out of Bear River High School, California.  Going into the draft, he was a pre-season Top 100 high school player according to Baseball America, and was ranked as a top five catching prospect.  He signed quickly, which is a rarity for a high school kid with such lofty draft status and a full scholarship to Arizona State already in his back pocket, but he wanted to get his professional baseball career going right away. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Coming out of high school, Alcombrack was highly coveted by scouts because of his power potential at the plate to go along with his defensive abilities behind it.  One of his biggest strengths is his soft hands to go along with his ability to call a game, handle a pitching staff, the ability to receive and block balls and throw runners out at such a young age.  The power potential is there as he has hit a good number of home runs and doubles throughout his career so far.  Being so young, he should only get bigger and stronger which should help his power emerge even more. 
He is still in the lower levels of the system and very young, so he still has a lot to learn.  He has a lot of room to grow and struggled early on last year, particularly in making consistent contact (78 Ks in 242 career at bats).  Alcombrack really likes to pull the ball, so he needs work on covering the outside part of the plate and staying on and hitting breaking balls better.  He was better at that late in the year and showed progress.  Alcombrack is still learning his swing and what he needs to do to be successful, and going forward he has to continue to make some adjustments to stay more in the middle of the field. 
Catcher is the toughest defensive position to learn, and Alcombrack needs to continues to work on how to attack certain hitters and receiving the ball, and work on his footwork when attempting to throw runners out.  Alcombrack also is still working on the adjustment to the psychological part of professional ball when it comes to making constant adjustments at the plate and the daily grind of the game.  Alcombrack came to the offseason strength and conditioning camp in the fall and was really slimmed down and looked in great shape, and it appears he has become more serious about his game and what he needs to do to get better. 
Outlook:  The Indians see him as a legitimate catcher at the big league level, and feel he has the tools to be one defensively.  As a hitter, it is still too early to tell as he is still very young, but he has the ability to be a complete catcher and we will see in the next few years where he goes.  He should open the season as the starting catcher at Lake County. 
33. Ryan Miller - Left-handed Pitcher 
Age: 21 Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 Bats: Left Throws: Left

2007 GCL/Mahoning443.831212049.33521220473.658.581.12

Photo courtesy of Blinn College (TX) Athletic DepartmentHistory:  The Indians selected Miller in the 36th round of the 2006 Draft out of Blinn College (TX).   Miller was a draft and follow player and had a commitment to pitch for and attend the University of Arkansas in the fall of 2007, but chose to sign with the Indians in May 2007.  As a freshman at Blinn College, Miller went 6-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 68.2 innings in 2006, and as a sophomore in 2007 went 9-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 85.1 innings (15 starts). 
Strengths & Opportunities:   Miller's professional career got off to a rocky start in at Mahoning Valley, going 0-2 with an 18.69 ERA in three starts to start last season.  The Indians quickly reassigned him to the Gulf Coast League (GCL) in early July and he seemed to settle in better and pitch with more confidence as he dominated GCL hitters.  In nine starts, Miller went 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA and a .160 batting average against (BAA) with 44 strikeouts in 45 innings. 
Miller will not blow you away as his fastball sits around 87-91 MPH, but he has a deep mix of pitches in that he also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup.  His curveball is his best secondary pitch, has good traditional 12-6 break, and he commands it well to where the Indians feel that Miller's curveball will be a good serviceable major league pitch in the future.  His power slider has less break, but it is quicker and more of a pitch he uses to backdoor right-handers and to attack left-handers. 
Miller's velocity changed throughout the season last year and did not remain consistent, although it could have been the result of pitching so many innings in college in the spring (85+ innings).  He needs to continue to get stronger and work on his fastball command as he walked a lot of batters in college (45 in 85 innings last year).  Miller's changeup is a work in progress, and he will continue to get a lot of work in developing the pitch to see where it goes. 
Outlook: Miller is yet more good young left-handed pitching depth in the system, and he made a solid debut last year.  He will try to use his success from last season as a springboard going into his first full season with the Indians organization this coming year, and likely will open the season in the Lake County rotation. 
32. Mike Pontius - Right-handed Pitcher 
Age: 20  Height: 6'2"  Weight: 235  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

2007 GCL/Lake035.03200234.03319413403.4410.591.35

Photo courtesy of Fred Wilke / St. Louis DispatchHistory:  The Indians selected Pontius in the 43rd round of the 2006 Draft out of high school (MO).  Pontius signed in August of 2006, and made his professional debut last year starting in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) before he finished up in Lake County.  He held opposing hitters to a .246 batting average against, and had 40 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Pontius is a strongly built kid who looks like he should be playing football, and is armed with power stuff, has no fear, and could be a closer type down the road.  Pontius has plus-plus arm strength and a blazing fastball that consistently clocks in at 94-96 MPH, and tops out at 97 MPH.  His fastball is part of a three-pitch mix where he also throws a curveball and changeup. 
Pontius is still very young and learning how to throw his curveball and changeup, as he got by in high school just throwing fastballs since no one could touch it.  At this point it is too early to tell what he will have with his curveball and changeup, but the curveball has shown good depth, has sharp 11-5 break, and can be an out pitch at the major league level.  His changeup is still a work in progress, and he also experimented with a cutter last season with mixed results. 
The Indians do not want to pigeonhole Pontius as a backend reliever yet as he still is only 20 years old, but he has a hard time repeating his delivery.  With his fastball and issues with his delivery mechanics, it makes him an ideal candidate for a backend bullpen role down the road, possibly even closer.  To be a starter, a pitcher has to be able to repeat his delivery and have at least three pitches.  The Indians want to keep him a starter as long as possible because staying in the rotation provides many more opportunities to pitch into jams and see every game situation, where as a reliever a lot of times a pitcher will come in with a clean slate and there is only so much he can learn in the limited amount of innings he works.  If a pitcher can get out there five or more innings a start, he goes through a gamut of game situations and defensive positioning.  Going forward, he needs to keep working on his fastball command and cleaning up his delivery mechanics. 
Outlook:  Last year Pontius pitched out of the bullpen, but there is no guarantee he will start in the bullpen in 2008 and may end up in the starting rotation in order to stretch him out.  While the Indians will not commit to it now, Pontius is most likely destined for a relief role, and should open the season at Lake County. 
31. Ryan Morris - Left-handed Pitcher 
Age: 20  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 175  Bats: Left  Throws: Left

2007 GCL/Lake323.891414064.74428231534.317.371.16

Photo courtesy of John M. Setzler, Jr. / MiLB.comHistory: The Indians selected Morris in the 4th round of the 2006 Draft out of high school (Charlotte, NC).  He made his professional debut that same year as an 18-year old with the Gulf Coast league (GCL) Indians, going 1-5 with a 4.61 ERA and in 27.1 innings game up 27 hits, 12 walks, and struck out 21. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Morris is a fierce competitor on the mound, and his makeup is off the charts.  He features a four-seam fastball that consistently clocks in at 87-91 MPH, and has natural sink.  He also throws a curveball and changeup, with his changeup being the better of the two at this time.  His curveball has good tilt and a lot of separation from his fastball, which creates a lot of deception and he has shown some ability to get some swing and misses with it.  Morris saw a significant increase in his velocity going into his draft year, and saw it increase some again last year with the Indians.  At 6'3" 175 pounds, he has a projectable body where as he matures and fills out he should also get stronger and add more velocity to his fastball. 
Last year, Morris went through his first spring training and extended spring and showed a lot of improvement at such a young age.  When short-season leagues started in June, he was assigned to the GCL team again, and blew away the numbers he had there the previous year as in five starts he went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and in 25 innings only allowed 13 hits, 8 walks and struck out 22.  He also held opposing hitters to a .148 batting average.  He followed that up with a promotion to Lake County where he held his own, going 0-2 with a 5.22 ERA and in 39.2 innings allowed 31 hits, 23 walks, and struck out 31.  He held opposing hitters to a .217 batting average, and combined at Lake County and the GCL left-handers only hit .153 against him. 
Going forward, Morris will continue working on refining his control and command.  Also, for young pitchers, the Indians spend a lot of time teaching them to be professional pitchers, how to setup hitters and finish them off, throwing first pitch strikes, not nibbling and being aggressive in getting guys out, and getting beat with their best pitch. 
Outlook:  The 2006 Draft is looking like one of the Indians best drafts in years, and if some of the young pitchers like Morris develop as hoped it would be a no-brainer.  Morris is a left-handed pitcher to keep an eye on this coming season to see his growth not only physically, but as a pitcher as well.  He will most likely start the season in the Lake County rotation.

Up Next: Indians Top Prospects #21-30

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