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Indians Indians Archive 2009 Indians Top Prospects: #70-66
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria
The Indians Top 100 Prospect Countdown here on is starting to get closer to the halfway mark, and we're getting to the point where many casual observers of the farm system will start to notice more names they may be familiar with. Today, we continue to sift through the depth in the lower half of the Top 100 listing with #70-66. Also, all the latest details on Tony's prospect book is inside this piece as well.

The Indians Top 100 Prospect Countdown here on is starting to get closer to the halfway mark, we're getting to the point where many casual observers of the farm system will start to notice more names they may be familiar with.  Today, we continue to sift through the depth in the lower half of the Top 100 listing with #70-66. 
As a sidenote, my 2009 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More book is now available.  Click on the hyperlink for all the details, and to order it just go to my website and click on the form to the top right to complete the order with a check or credit card.  If you wish to send a check or money order by US Mail, please contact me at and I will verify the order and provide my full mailing address for you so send payment. 
Here are the earlier rankings: 

100. Brian Juhl (C) 
99. Brad Hinkle (RHP) 
98. Mark Thompson (SS) 
97. Adam Davis (C/INF) 
96. Adam White (OF) 
95. Jerad Head (INF/OF) 
94. Brock Simpson (1B/OF) 
93. Ryan Blair (OF) 
92. Dustin Realini (INF/OF) 
91. Shawn Nottingham (LHP) 
90. Cirilo Cumberbatch (OF) 
89. Michael McGuire (RHP) 
88. Sung-Wei Tseng (RHP) 
87. David Roberts (RHP) 
86. Jason Smit (INF) 
85. Marty Popham (RHP) 
84. Jose Constanza (OF) 
83. Adam Abraham (INF) 
82. Isaias Velasquez (2INF) 
81. Gary Campfield (RHP) 
80. Heath Taylor (LHP) 
79. Rich Rundles (LHP) 
78. Dallas Cawiezell (RHP) 
77. Robbie Alcombrack (C) 
76. Carlos Moncrief (RHP) 
75. Nate Recknagel (C/1B) 
74. Karexon Sanchez (INF) 
73. Roman Pena (OF) 
72. Kyle Landis (RHP) 
71. John Drennen (OF) 
70. Todd Martin - First Baseman 
Born: 06/25/1983 - Height: 6'3" - Weight: 230 - Bats: Left - Throws: Left

200623GCL IndiansR11234520023100.217.308.304.612
200724Mahoning VyA-5419727718184023400.360.423.533.956
200825GCL IndiansR515160001020.400.438.400.838
 25Lake CountyA103641230391130.333.342.6671.009
  Career 10635245110171115839830.313.382.460.842

Todd MartinHistory:  Martin signed as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State in July of 2006.  In his first year of extended action in the organization in 2007 he hit .360 at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley which won him the NY-Penn League batting title.  He also set a Mahoning Valley record for the highest single-season batting average in franchise history, which surpassed Ben Francisco's league leading .349 batting average in 2002.  He also set franchise records for on-base percentage (.423) and slugging percentage (.533) in a season. 
Strengths & Opportunities: The Indians like Martin's powerful bat and approach at the plate, and he is a mechanically sound hitter with a great swing.  His success is directly tied to him being such an advanced, disciplined hitter at the plate where he rarely swings at a bad pitch, and he does a good job of spraying the ball around the field.  At times, he has a tendency to get too anxious at the plate, which results in too much of an uppercut in his swing.  He also needs to become more consistent with his swing and maintaining a downward plane to get backspin on the ball.  He can play both first base and the outfield, so he has some versatility there. 
The knock on Martin is in his one good season he dominated the NY-Penn League at an advanced age whereas most prospects his age are typically in Double-A or above.  Also, he has had a hard time staying healthy since signing with the Indians.  He missed a few games in 2007 with an arm injury and eventually had his season cut short with a sprained knee.  He went out to the Hawaii Winter League in 2007, but again his time was cut short after being sidelined with a wrist injury.  The health issues cropped back up again last season in May when he tore the meniscus in his knee and had to undergo surgery.  After a two month layoff to recover from the surgery, he finally got back into game action late in the season but was never himself and he continued to have setbacks with the knee to where he had to have another surgery this offseason because it was just not healing properly. 
Outlook:  Because of his age and injury history this upcoming season is going to be a big one for Martin to re-establish himself.  Fortunately for him, outside of Beau Mills, the Indians lack any high level first base prospect slotted for first base and designated hitter to start the season at Double-A Akron or advanced Single-A Kinston.   It is not known where he will start the season, but he has a good chance of being pushed up to Akron to start the season and serve mostly as the designated hitter there. 
69. Santo Frias - Right-handed Pitcher 
Born: 12/08/1987 - Height: 6'3" - Weight: 189 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right

200618DSL IndiansR441.301111055.1378318442.97.20.99
200719GCL IndiansR231.8899048.0361018471.58.80.92
 19Lake CountyA-004.322108.1740585.48.61.44
200820Lake CountyA-116.9455023.12618812204.67.71.63
  Career 782.6727260135.01064012431192.97.91.10

Santo FriasHistory:  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 before making his stateside debut in 2007 pitching for the rookie level GCL Indians. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Frias has a good three-pitch mix with an 88-92 MPH fastball, slider and changeup.  The Indians feel that as he fills out and matures his fastball has the potential to add velocity and become a big weapon.  The slider is his best secondary pitch and has the potential to develop into a good major league pitch.  He 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.  He has the frame and the pitches, and still is only 21-years old. 
Frias went on the disabled list with a right elbow strain near the end of the 2007 season and did not throw in the subsequent offseason.  He came back healthy in spring training and the start of 2008 where he opened the season in the Single-A Lake County starting rotation, but he went down with another arm injury at the end of April and never returned the rest of the season. 
Outlook:  When Indians Farm Director Ross Atkins was heading up the Latin Operations in 2006 he was a big fan of Frias.  His status for 2009 will not be fully known until spring training, but if he is healthy he could be ticketed for a return to Single-A Lake County in 2009. 
68. Michael Finocchi - Right-handed Pitcher 
Born: 04/28/1985 - Height: 6'0" - Weight: 195 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right

200621Lake CountyA413.44190036.24214114243.45.91.53
 21Kinston A+122.72200136.13511025236.25.71.65
200722Kinston A+322.84300357.05618026364.15.71.44
2008 Kinston A+116.52220029.03621919155.94.71.90
  Career 1193.6412407205.02178311941364.16.01.52

Michael FinocchiHistory:  Finocchi was a 14th round pick in the 2005 Draft out of Louisburg College (PA).  After a good year and very successful stint in the Arizona Fall League in 2007, one slip and fall on some ice in December 2007 pretty much ruined his 2008 season as he suffered a broken ankle and spent most of the season rehabbing the injury and was never 100% even when he came back. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Finocchi has a power sinking fastball that sits around 92-94 MPH, and he complements it with a hard slider and changeup.  He relies heavily on his sinkerball he pounds the zone to both sides of the plate and it is his out pitch.  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.  He is an extreme groundball pitcher, and even though he has not piled up strikeouts in the past he has shown the ability to strike batters out when needed. 
When Finocchi returned to action in midseason last year he was never really 100% back from the ankle injury as he was unable to drive off his right foot, which resulted in his velocity dipping considerably and his pitches elevating more.  In 2007 he had a 3.40 groundball to flyout ratio and a 3.72 ratio in 2006, but in 2008 his pitches were much more elevated as he only had a 1.65 ratio.  Also, coming into the season he had only given up two home runs in 176 career professional innings, but surrendered a staggering nine home runs last year in just 29 innings.  The problem was he was only sitting 88-89 MPH, which for a sinker-baller who often relies on the speed and torque on the pitch to get more downward movement a drop in velocity of 4-5 MPH is devastating as the pitch tends to flatten out.  Going forward, he needs to continue working on his fastball command by throwing more first pitch strikes in order to effectively set up hitters and finish them off.  The injury may have been a blessing for him as with the loss of velocity he had to learn how to pitch and not just throw, and the result was it made his slider a little bit better.  He still needs to work on becoming more comfortable throwing his slider and using it early in the count for strikes. 
Outlook:  For a pitcher who throws as hard as Finocchi does and has sink on his pitches, he has a chance to be very successful and could be a valuable middle relief option for the Indians down the road.  He should come into the 2009 season 100% healthy and ready to rebound from a disastrous 2008 campaign, and should start the 2009 season in the Double-A Akron bullpen. 
67. Kevin Rucker - Outfielder 
Born: 09/14/1989 - Height: 6'1" - Weight: 185 - Bats: Right -  Throws: Right

200717GCL IndiansR1132391008480.281.361.313.674
200818GCL IndiansR391051922402916445.210.314.305.619
  Career 5013722315021720525.226.325.307.632

Kevin RuckerHistory:  Rucker was a 47th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of a Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria, CA.  He signed late and had an injury, so he played very little with the Indians in 2007. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Rucker was one of the more intriguing players on the GCL roster last year, and at 6'1" 185-pounds is a player with a lot of talent who is also very rough around the edges and raw for a prospect, but the Indians are excited about his potential.  He is very inconsistent at the plate, but has good raw power and the skills to hit the ball way out of the ballpark when he makes contact.  Last year was his first full season in the organization, and at 18-years of age he was mostly learning to live on his own and also get acquainted with everyday life as a professional baseball player.  His arm strength and speed are above average, and he can go get the ball in the outfield. 
Rucker sort of went unnoticed coming into the draft because he spent a lot of time playing football in high school as a full-time defensive player at the free safety position.  His prowess as a free safety in football certainly translates to his excellent ability to track down balls as an outfielder, and it is his most developed tool.  His instincts in the outfield are getting a lot better, and the adjustment from center field to right field has gone well.  The Indians are really working with him on being a more consistent hitter and putting up more quality at bats by staying with a steadier approach, sticking to a plan at the plate, and trying not to swing at balls out of the zone.  They feel this will come as he matures, and he has a bright future as a potential everyday player in the big leagues. 
Outlook:  While the projection is long, Rucker reminds some in the Indians organization of Andre Dawson.  He has a good shot to open the 2009 season in the Single-A Lake County outfield, but may need to open the season in extended spring training for more instruction before moving onto Lake County later in the year. 
66. Matt Meyer - Left-handed Pitcher 
Born: 01/17/1985 - Height: 6'4" - Weight: 220 - Bats: Left - Throws: Left

200621Mahoning VyA-221.98190227.1236015314.910.21.39
200721Lake CountyA000.50110018.012115202.510.00.94
2008 KinstonA+424.23420155.14826229614.79.91.39
  Career 983.4010406150.2133577811704.910.21.42

Matt MeyerHistory:  Meyer was a 15th round pick in the 2006 Draft out of Boston College. 
Strengths & Opportunities:  Meyer throws from a sidearm three-quarters arm slot with a fastball that has good tailing action and consistently sits at 91-92 MPH topping out as high as 93 MPH.  He complements it with a deceptive slider that he has tightened up to where it is more of a power slider sitting in the 81-84 MPH range.  His slider is the pitch he has the most confidence in and will throw in any count, and when he needs to reach back for a big pitch or throw a quality strike, the slider more times than not is what he relies on.  In his short minor league career he has shown the ability to pile up strikeouts (career 10.2 K/9), but he also piles up the walks (career 4.9 BB/9).  He has had some trouble with right-handers, but is very tough on lefties and it is why many of the Indians top decision-makers project him as a lefty specialist down the road.  He has always been especially tough on left-handed hitters because of his unique arm slot where he throws from the side and across his body.  He also has a funky hitch in his delivery just before he lets go of the ball where he whips his hand through at what seems like the last second, so it is hard for opposing hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. 
The game at times can speed up on Meyer where he starts just being a thrower and not a pitcher.  He worked with Kinston pitching coach Greg Hibbard on being more prepared mentally with his pre-pitch routine to slow his heart rate down and get back into the moment of making one pitch at a time and be more in control of his emotions.  As a result, by the end of the season Meyer was a much more confident pitcher who looked like he was in control on the mound where earlier in the season it looked like he was making pitches wishing for outs. 
He was not pinpointing or real dominating to either side last year, but did a better job of pounding the zone and letting batters get themselves out.  He is also finishing pitches more out front and staying in the glove better instead of trying to spin out toward the third base side.  Going forward he needs to continue working on his fastball command and tightening up his slider, and work on repeating his delivery.  He still has a tendency to spin off to the right side a little bit, and sometimes his arm slot can be inconsistent. 
Outlook:  While Meyer still has a ways to go, the Indians are excited about his potential as a power-armed situational lefty in the bullpen.  He should open the 2009 season in the Double-A Akron bullpen. 
All photos courtesy of Ken Carr 
Up Next: #65-61

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