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Indians Indians Archive 2009 Indians Top Prospects: #95-91
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria
Yesterday we kicked off our annual Indians prospect countdown on this site with #100-96, and today we continue with #95-91. We'll be counting down the Indians Top 100 Prospects, five at a time, throughout the course of the next month. And we should conclude the countdown just as we get into spring training. In addition to the latest five, Tony gives us some updates on his prospect book, and also Terry Pluto joining he and Paul on "Smoke Signals" last night here on the site. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast feed on iTunes!

Yesterday we kicked off our annual Indians prospect countdown on this site with #100-96, and today we continue with #95-91.  But, before we continue the countdown, just a couple of quick notes:

Last night, Paul Cousineau and I had the pleasure of speaking with legendary Cleveland sports journalist Terry Pluto for close to 40 minutes on our on-line radio show Smoke Signals.  Terry brought up many fantastic points as usual, and we really covered the entire team from the starting rotation, bullpen, infield to the outfield.  Click on the link provided to listen to the show podcast, and thanks again to Terry for coming on our show.  Right-handed pitcher Frank Herrmann is scheduled to be our guest for next week's show on Thursday January 22nd, and I am chasing down potential interviews for future shows.  Some names that may be appearing soon on the show include Matt McBride, Vinnie Pestano, Nick Weglarz, Stephen Head and more.

Also, my prospect book is nearing completion and it looks like by this time next week if all goes well I will be sending it to be printed.  If anyone is interested in buying a copy, feel free to let me know by emailing me at .

And with that, back to the countdown: 
95. Jerad Head - Infielder/Outfielder 
Born: 11/15/1982 - Height: 6'1" - Weight: 205 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right

 23Lake CountyA14100000010.
  Career 2408171382024712271337215928.247.333.433.766

Jerad HeadHistory:  Head was signed as a non-drafted free agent in August 2005 out of Washburn University (KS).  Head originally signed on to play baseball at Kansas State University, but he eventually made the decision to go back to his hometown in Topeka to play baseball and basketball for the local University. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Since joining the Indians, Head's athleticism and versatility has been put on display from day one as he has been a jack-of-all-trades who can play at just about any position on the field.  He came in as an infielder in 2006, was moved to the outfield in 2007, and last year in spring training worked exclusively as a catcher although he did not get in any games at the position during the 2008 season.  As a hitter, he has good pop, but he has struggled some with the plate discipline which is something he is still working on.  He needs to be more consistent at the plate and learn to swing at better pitches as well as work on drawing more walks. 
Outlook: Head is a super utility player in the making in the upper levels of the system.  He should open the 2009 season at Double-A Akron. 
94. Brock Simpson - First Baseman/Outfielder 
Born: 11/15/1985  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 210  Bats: Right  Throws: Right

200822Mahoning VyA-60218326411222428240.294.373,390.763
  Career 60218326411222428240.294.373.390.763

Brock SimpsonHistory:  Simpson was a 46th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of the University of Kansas.  He did not play professionally until the 2008 season because he did not sign until August 13, 2007 and was still recovering from a broken hand he had injured during summer ball. 
Strengths and Opportunities: Simpson was never much of a hitter in college, hitting just .270 (128-for-474) in his three year 158-game Kansas career.  He is very much a long shot and may be more of an organizational player in the coming years, but the Indians definitely saw something with the bat even though the numbers said otherwise.  He has good size, and his versatility allows him to play infield or outfield which is a plus. 
Simpson was drafted as an outfielder, but upon joining the Indians organization he has been moved to first base.  It has been a challenging position change going from the outfield to first base, but Simpson worked hard in Instructional League in 2007 and continued to work hard on the position change throughout 2008.  Short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley manager Travis Fryman worked a lot with Simpson during the spring, which really paid off for him as he really had a good handle of first base when short-season play at Mahoning Valley started.  He is still very raw at the position and rough around the edges, and in time he will need to make a lot of the smaller adjustments to playing first base to smooth those edges out. 
Outlook:  Simpson should open the 2009 season at Single-A Lake County, although could be a bubble guy to remain with the organization through this coming spring. 
93. Ryan Blair - Outfielder 
Born: 04/06/1986 - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 185 - Bats: Left - Throws: Right

200822Cal St SacC572305276163533201615.330.385.491.876
200822Mahoning VyA-6624734588122225625.235.310.300.610

Ryan BlairHistory:  Blair was a 21st round pick in the 2008 Draft out of Cal-State Sacramento. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  While Blair only hit .235 with a .600 OPS in his professional debut at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley, he quickly became a favorite of many in the organization, namely Scrapper manager Travis Fryman.  One of Blair's strengths in the early going was his ability to go to the plate with a good plan which will serve him well as plays more games down the road.  His versatility as a hitter and outfielder allows him to play really any of the three outfield positions, and his 6'2" 185 pound frame is projectable and should fill out to where his power develops down the road.  The Indians also feel that he will get stronger as he takes part in their strength and conditioning program.  He has been compared to Matt Brown - another outfielder in the organization - and is learning how to swing the bat more aggressively because he has the potential to be more than a singles hitter.  He also has great instincts on the bases. 
Outlook:  Blair profiles as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, and should open the 2009 season as one of the starting outfielders at Single-A Lake County. 
92. Dustin Realini - First Baseman 
Born: 05/14/1984 - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 200 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right

200622Mahoning VyA-63222265313153718481.239.294.374.668
200723Mahoning VyA-15441910064121.
 23Lake CountyA248191831179270.222.308.321.629
200824Mahoning VyA-413230001250.231.353.231.584
 24Lake CountyA70235326814044143583.289.420.400.820
  Career 184622781623521095791555.260.355.371.726

Dustin RealiniHistory:  Realini was a 28th round pick in the 2006 Draft out of Santa Clara University. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Finally given an opportunity to play a little more, Realini put up a solid season at Single-A Lake County in 2008.  By playing everyday it gave him a chance to get in the groove timing-wise at the plate and see pitching daily.  At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has good size, some pop in his bat, and exhibits a great team attitude.  He is starting to grasp the ability to be patient at the plate and look for a certain pitch in a certain zone and swinging at that pitch and not going away from that early in the count. 
Going into last season, the Indians challenged him with improving his on-base percentage and he did just that.  Going into the season he had a career batting average of .243 and had drawn only 34 walks while striking out 92 times in 374 combined at bats (110 games) between Mahoning Valley, Lake County and Kinston.  For the season he put up numbers which far surpassed his career totals coming in, but the notable stat that stood out the most was his 63-45 strikeout to walk rate which was a big improvement over his career numbers not only in K:BB ratio but also in BB/AB ratio.  One of Realini's biggest assets is his ability to play multiple positions at first base, third base, and even left field.  He also has played some second base during his time in the Indians system, but he has mostly split time at first and third base. 
Outlook:  Realini's versatility will likely earn him a spot on the roster at advanced Single-A Kinston to open the 2009 season. 
91. Shawn Nottingham - Left-handed Pitcher 
Born: 01/22/1985 - Height: 6'1" - Weight: 190 - Bats: Left - Throws: Left

200318AZ MarinersR103.72120019.117828173.77.91.29
200520AZ MarinersR002.253304.0310060.013.50.75
 20Inland EmpA+433.8676037.14816210282.46.81.55
200621Inland EmpA+5124.1726260155.11647213521363.07.91.39
  Career 30374.46130930574.2604285452104873.37.61.42

Shawn NottinghamHistory:  Nottingham was a 13th round pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2003 Draft out of Massillon Jackson High School (OH), and was acquired by the Indians in July 2006 in the Ben Broussard trade. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Nottingham is a fundamentally sound pitcher with a fastball that sits around 89-91 MPH, and he complements 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 in Akron in 2007 where he was 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in April and 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in May that year, his career has since been on a rapid decline as he tailed off considerably the rest of the 2007 season and was knocked around pretty hard at Akron in 2008.  His troubles have mostly been mental in that he has struggled to regain his confidence, which carries over into his mechanics causing him to have issues finishing his pitches and consistently repeating his delivery.  During bullpen sessions between starts, he worked with coaches to try and fine tune his mechanics and work on better repeating his delivery and improving his fastball command. 
Outlook:  If you look at Nottingham's minor league career before last season he had always been a consistent pitcher and the Indians were excited by his progression because he had pitched well at a young age at more advanced levels, but all that has changed after what was really a lost season for him in 2008.  He will be one of those bubble guys this spring trying to hang on for at least one more year, and if he does he should open the 2008 season in the Double-A Akron bullpen. 

Up Next: Indians Top Prospects #90-86 this Sunday 

All photos courtesy of Ken Carr, except for Shawn Nottingham is courtesy of Carl Kline.

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