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Indians Indians Archive 2010 Indians Top 50 Prospects: #10-6
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

Here is the next group of prospects in the 2010 Indians Top 50 Prospect Countdown here on and  As a reminder, these scouting reports will be linked and listed for easy access on my site.

Also, my new 2010 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More
book is now available.  To order the book (which profiles over 165 players in the system and runs 214 pages in length) ... go here for all the details.


10. Alex White – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 08/29/1988 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 195 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right 

2009 20 DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Alex WhiteHistory:  White was selected by the Indians in the 1st round of the 2009 Draft out of the University of North Carolina.  He signed right at the deadline on August 17th for $2.25 million.  He was the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2008.  He is from Greenville, NC which is about 20 minutes from the Indians High-A Kinston affiliate. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  White is a big, strong, athletic right-handed pitcher with three power pitches that all project as legitimate above average major league pitches.  His stuff is electric, fronted by a plus-plus fastball that has good life and sits at 92-95 MPH and has touched 97 MPH.  His fastball comes out of his hand free and easy and has good, late heavy sink to it.  He has also shown an ability to maintain his velocity deep into games, and he has the arm strength to add more velocity.  He features two different secondary pitches, a splitter and slider that are both swing-and-miss type pitches.  He recently added the splitter to his repertoire as in high school he was more of a power sinker-slider pitcher, and has really improved it to where it is now his best secondary pitch and his most effective pitch against left-handed hitters.  The splitter has good late fade, and there is no question it is a weapon for him.  His slider sits at 82-86 MPH and has good late break to it, and flashes plus ability already with good tilt and depth when he is on with the pitch. 

At 6'2" 235 pounds, White has very good size and profiles as a strong, durable workhorse kind of pitcher.  He is a plus-plus makeup guy who is very intelligent, coachable, grounded, and strong in his values.  He has a good feel for pitching, and a great track record of being able to pitch when under pressure.  He is extremely athletic, which helps him field his position well and do a good job of repeating his delivery.  He is a competitor who is a bulldog on the mound that goes right after hitters.

White has unbelievable makeup and composure, which to go along with his mid-90s fastball, devastating splitter, and wipeout slider is why the Indians feel he has a chance to be successful power backend reliever down the road.  He has the makeup and mentality to pitch out of the bullpen as he showed some versatility on the mound in college where he pitched effectively in both the starting rotation and bullpen.  The Indians believe his track would be shortened if he were put him in a bullpen role, and that his strike throwing ability and stuff would play up in the role. For now he will pitch out of the starting rotation and the plan is to develop him into a starter, but at the moment the bullpen certainly seems like his best long term fit.  By starting him he can get regular work in games and in side sessions, and have more opportunities to be exposed to various game situations and to develop all of his pitches regularly in an outing.  Also, with three pitches of his quality, you have to start him as the bullpen should only be as a fallback option if he fails as a starter. 

The Indians interest in White goes all the way back to when he was in high school as they scouted him heavily three years ago and their scout Bob Mayer got to know him well, but they were unable to draft him.  They watched him the last three years at North Carolina, and he was one of their main targets since the beginning of last season in preparation for last year’s draft. Upon drafting him last year, there was no immediate need to get him to sign since he had accrued so many innings already that year at North Carolina and likely would have only made a handful of appearances in late August had he signed earlier.  He joined up with Double-A Akron late in the season for three weeks as part of a return to throw program to build his arm strength back up so he could go to Instructional League in the fall to get acquainted with the organization and begin his first exposure to pro ball.  While with Akron, he got a crash course on the organizational philosophies, minor league lifestyle, coaching, facilities, and more.  He went out to Instructional League and pitched well, and his best outing was his final outing there in mid-October when he was stretched out to five innings and allowed no earned runs on five hits, no walks, and had three strikeouts and hit 94 MPH on the gun. 

One of the big concerns last year with White was a drop in velocity, which is a big reason he slid out of the top five picks in the draft and ultimately to the Indians.  There were no reported injuries or any disclosures of shoulder tendonitis, but combined with the fact he had an over-reliance on his secondary stuff and the velocity of his fastball dipped, something was not right and it was a red flag for teams.  The Indians believe the velocity issues were mechanical in nature and are fixable with coaching, and that a full offseason of rest should bring the life back to his arm.  The key pitch in his arsenal is his slider as it is the one pitch that lacks consistency, and without it makes his fastball-splitter mix more conducive to the bullpen.  He needs more consistent command of it in the zone as in college the pitch regularly ended up out of the zone, which will fool college level hitters but not get pro hitters to bite.  In addition to the velocity and slider issues, the other big concern is his inconsistent command and performance.  He has problems controlling the strike zone, and lacks consistent focus where at times he can lose it for an inning and get knocked around.  At Instructional League last fall the Indians got to work on fixing some of his issues, mainly getting him to work on repeating and smoothing out his delivery and try to throw all of his pitches for strikes to both sides of the plate. 

Outlook:  The addition of White to the Indians farm system adds yet another high level power-armed pitching prospect that they did not have at this time last year.  With the infusion of so much talent via trades last July and now White, the Indians upper level pitching landscape has changed dramatically in just a short amount of time.  There is no rush to get him to the big leagues considering the Indians are retooling for contention in 2011, but he is an advanced pitcher and could come quick and should finish the year at Double-A Akron, and potentially Triple-A Columbus depending on his progress.  If all goes well, his ETA in Cleveland should be sometime late-2011.  When spring rolls around and the 2010 season gets underway, he will be in big league camp during spring training before going to minor league camp about halfway through, and is expected to be in the High-A Kinston starting rotation at the outset of the season. 

Photo courtesy of Carl Kline 

(no site stat pages for White since he has not pitched professionally yet)

9. Carlos Carrasco – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 03/21/1987 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 215 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right 

2004 17 GCL Phillies R 5 4 3.56 11 8 48.0 53 19 2 15 34 .276 2.8 6.4 1.42
2005 18 Lakewood A 1 7 7.04 13 13 62.2 78 49 11 28 46 .302 4.1 6.7 1.70
2005 18 Batavia A- 0 3 13.50 4 4 15.1 29 23 8 5 12 .392 3.0 7.2 2.25
2005 18 GCL Phillies R 0 0 1.80 2 2 5.0 3 1 0 1 2 .176 1.8 3.6 0.80
2006 19 Lakewood A 12 6 2.26 26 26 159.1 103 40 6 65 159 .182 3.7 9.0 1.06
2007 20 Clearwater A+ 6 2 2.84 12 12 69.2 49 22 8 22 53 .199 2.9 6.9 1.03
2007 20 Reading AA 6 4 4.86 14 13 70.1 65 38 9 46 49 .247 5.9 6.3 1.58
2008 21 Reading AA 7 7 4.32 20 19 114.2 109 55 13 45 109 .254 3.5 8.6 1.35
2008 21 Lehigh Vy AAA 2 2 1.72 6 6 36.2 37 7 1 13 46 .250 3.2 11.4 1.38
2009 22 Lehigh Vy AAA 6 9 5.18 20 20 114.2 118 66 14 38 112 .262 3.0 8.8 1.37
2009 22 Columbus AAA 5 1 3.19 6 6 42.1 31 15 3 7 36 .196 1.5 7.7 0.90
2009 22 Cleveland MLB 0 4 8.87 5 5 22.1 40 22 6 11 11 .400 4.5 4.5 2.31
    MiLB Totals   50 45 4.08 134 129 738.2 675 335 75 285 658 .241 3.5 8.0 1.30
    MLB Totals   0 4 8.87 5 5 22.1 40 22 6 11 11 .400 4.5 4.5 2.31

Carlos CarrascoHistory:  Carrasco was signed as a 16-year old undrafted minor league free agent out of Venezuela by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003.  The Indians acquired him as part of a four player package they received from the Phillies when they traded Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to them on July 29th, 2009.  Carrasco is a former #1 prospect in the Phillies organization and was #1 or #2 in almost every publication from 2007-2009.  Except for the last week of the Triple-A season he pitched the entire season in the International League and finished 2nd in games started (26), 2nd in innings pitched (157.0), 1st in strikeouts (148), 4th in batting average against (.245), and 2nd in K/9 (8.48) among starting pitchers.  After his final Triple-A start he was called up to Cleveland in September and made his major league debut on September 1st against the Detroit Tigers. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Carrasco has a very good three pitch mix led by a fastball that consistently comes in at 92-94 MPH and has topped out at 96 MPH.  He complements the fastball with a very good plus changeup that he commands well to both sides of the plate and has good depth and fade.  His third best pitch is a curveball which has the makings of being another plus pitch for him.  He has outstanding command of his fastball and locates it well, and it plays up a bit because of the quality of his changeup.  The fastball has good movement and late life, and he does a good job of keeping it in the strike zone.  The Indians feel his fastball-changeup-curveball mix are all major league above average pitches in the making, with the fastball and changeup already there.  He has shown an ability to strike batters out and limit the walks, and has a good, clean delivery with a good head on his shoulders.  He turns 23 years old just before the start of the season, so there certainly is still a lot of upside and projection left in him. 

Carrasco's numbers in his short stint with the varsity team in Cleveland were dreadful, but he was still much better last year during his time with the Indians and in Triple-A Columbus than he was with the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley club before being acquired.  Between his time in Triple-A, Cleveland, and in winter ball last year he threw over 200 innings, but his body held up and he was as strong as ever near the end of the season.  In August he showed no wear and tear at Columbus as his fastball was consistently popping the guns at 95 MPH in the eighth inning of games.  His ability at 22 years old last season to pile up the innings and stay strong along with no significant injuries throughout his six year minor league career make him an extremely durable pitching prospect. 

While Carrasco displays very good mound presence and executes his pitches well, things tend to go downhill quickly for him when runners reach base and a few hits are strung together against him.  His numbers have yet to truly back up his excellent stuff and potential because of his age mostly because he always seems to have that one disastrous inning every time out.  Going all the way back to rookie ball, he has a tendency for making bad situations worse where all the damage against him tends to occur in one inning because he turns one run innings into three or four run innings.  His one inning meltdowns have resulted in many scouts giving him the "soft" label because he is unable to battle and get himself out of jams.  The Indians are aware of this issue and feel that his troubles pitching out of jams is something he will in time learn to manage.  He was able to power his way through the lower levels of the minors on his stuff alone, so he is just now realizing the importance of adjustments within innings and in at bats and is something they will try to expedite this coming season by getting him to be more consistent outing to outing, inning to inning, and pitch to pitch.  Bottom line, it is all about learning to avoid the big inning, handling adversity, and being more consistent with his stuff. 

Carrasco also has a tendency at times to overthrow, which results in his ball flattening out and him getting hit hard.  This was evident in his callup to Cleveland where his emotions were all over the place and he was over-throwing, and the result was 40 hits and 6 home runs in just 22.2 innings over five starts.  He also tends to lose his release point on his curveball at times so needs to be more consistent with that.  He needs to get better at getting right-handed hitters out more consistently as they touched him up some with the big hit (1.17 HR/9 in AAA).  Teams run on him pretty easily, so controlling the running game may be the final thing he does to polish himself off, and it likely will be one of his main goals at Triple-A Columbus to start the season.  Last, he has never really put up a very good statistical season during any of his time at Double-A, Triple-A or the big leagues the last three years except for his initial callup to Triple-A in 2008 which was just six starts, so his lack of good performance above the High-A level is concerning. 

Outlook:  With his powerful pitch mix, intelligence, and desire the sky is the limit for Carrasco.  He certainly has the weapons and talent to compete at the major league level, now it is just whether or not he can make the transition and pitch there.  The Indians will be patient with him as they know there will be a lot of growing pains still as he continues to make that transition to being a big league pitcher.  They know that when they acquired him he was extremely talented but also still very unpolished.  They feel he is a good arm who has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter - or better - for the next six to seven years.  He will compete in spring training for a spot in the big league rotation, but is not expected to make the team and instead begin the season at Triple-A Columbus for more seasoning and to finish him off as a pitcher so when he finally does get the call sometime in 2010 it is for good. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Carr 

Carlos Carrasco page 

Carlos Carrasco Baseball-Reference page 

Carlos Carrasco page

8. Hector Rondon – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 02/26/1988 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 180 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right 

2005 17 DSL Indians R 3 3 1.65 15 12 65.1 60 12 2 8 55 .230 1.1 7.6 1.04
2006 18 GCL Indians R 3 4 5.13 11 11 52.2 62 30 6 3 32 .286 0.5 5.5 1.25
2007 19 Lake County A 7 10 4.37 27 27 136.0 143 66 13 27 113 .269 1.8 7.5 1.25
2008 20 Kinston A+ 11 6 3.60 27 27 145.0 130 58 12 42 145 .239 2.6 9.0 1.19
2009 21 Akron AA 7 5 2.75 15 13 72.0 60 22 3 16 73 .227 2.0 9.1 1.06
2009 21 Columbus AAA 4 5 4.00 12 12 74.1 83 33 8 13 64 .282 1.6 7.8 1.30
    Totals   35 33 3.65 107 102 545.1 538 221 44 109 482 .255 1.8 8.0 1.19

Hector RondonHistory: Rondon was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in August of 2004. In 2007 at Single-A Lake County he took part in one of two no-hitters for the team on the year, throwing six no-hit innings while striking out five and combining with two other pitchers to throw a no-hitter in early July 2007. He was also selected to the World Team as part of the Futures Game which took place at Yankee Stadium over All Star weekend in 2008.  He split time last season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, so did not place in any league rankings for stats, but he did finish 1st in the entire organization with 137 strikeouts on the year.  He walked more than two batters in a game only once in 27 appearances all season last year (four walks May 25th), and in 10 of his 12 outings for Triple-A Columbus went at least six innings. He played winter ball in Venezuela, and in six starts went 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA and in 25.1 innings allowed 23 hits, 5 walks, and had 14 strikeouts. 

Strengths & Opportunities: Rondon is a young and projectable starting pitcher who has a dominating plus pitch in his a four-seam fastball and two average pitches in his slider and changeup.  He pitches with power, aggression and consistently puts the ball on the plate.  For him, it is all about his electric fastball, a pitch that has good life and consistently clocks in at 92-95 MPH and has topped out as high as 96 MPH.  He relies heavily on his fastball, almost to a fault, but it has proven to be a weapon for him to attack hitters and get outs at the top of the zone.  He can get away with a little bit more with his fastball because of the life it has especially the last two to three feet through the zone where it has a little bit of jump to it and gets on a hitter quickly.  He is a competitor on the mound and very aggressive with his fastball where he likes to challenge hitters.  He has some deception with the fastball and is very confident in it, and because of that hitters don't seem to get very good swings on it.  He also shows the ability to stay strong late into games as his velocity has the same life hitting 93-94 MPH in the sixth inning of his starts which is a sign of really starting to get in a groove with his delivery. 

Not only does Rondon have enough velocity to challenge with his powerful fastball, but he has also flashed a lot of touch and feel for finesse when it is needed with his secondary pitches.  His slider used to be more of a show pitch, but has come a long way and is becoming more of a nasty weapon that he can consistently throw for strikes low and away to right-handers.  He has worked very hard on the slider and while it is still considered just an average pitch the Indians believe it has a lot left and is still coming and will be a plus pitch for him soon.  He also throws a straight changeup that continues to show improvement, and projects to be an average major league pitch.  He also has a curveball in his arsenal that has shown potential in the past to maybe one day be an average pitch, but the pitch is rarely used. 

Rondon has really filled into his body in the last year, but he is still somewhat long and lanky and has plenty of projection still with his body.  He has a free and easy delivery and repeats his delivery well, which is due in large part to his very good athleticism and confidence.  The big thing is his lower half has gotten a lot stronger which allows him to maintain his delivery longer.  He has shown exceptional command of his pitches with the ability to throw strikes and locate his pitches well to both sides of the plate, and a lot of this is directly correlated with him getting just a little bit more mature and bigger.  He often gets himself into good counts, and continues to get more consistent with making his pitches and get stronger.  He pitches to contact since he is almost always in the zone, so he gives up some hits but also limits the walks, and he has the stuff to put hitters away and make them swing and miss.  Not only does he pile up the strikeouts, but he limits the walks as demonstrated by his exceptional career strikeout to walk ratio (4.5 to 1).  He has a good plan when he takes the mound, sticks with it, and shows good tempo.  He is mature beyond his years with an excellent work ethic, and stays calm under pressure, keeps the ball down in the zone, and controls his effort level.  He has been very durable as aside from some minor bicep tightness last June he has never missed any start over his career.  He projects as a good #3 starter in the big leagues or a dominant late inning reliever. 

In the early part of May last year the Indians experimented by moving Rondon to the bullpen.  The big league team was having bullpen troubles, and the Indians wanted to see if he could help fill an immediate need, so put him in the bullpen to see how he would adapt.  It was a move that they carefully considered, but in the end felt that it would not negatively affect him.  The thinking with the move to the bullpen was that he has a very impressive arm and is someone who they felt could get major league outs because his stuff would play up when being used in short stints.  While they believe he will one day help the big league team out as a starter, they felt he was more prepared to potentially help in the bullpen right away because of where his secondary pitches were, so they just took a look at him in that capacity.  He only made two appearances in the pen and did well before the Indians quickly abandoned the idea, mostly because they did not want to rush him to the big leagues just yet because he still needed a lot of work on his secondary offerings.  The move did help solidify their belief that he can help them in either a bullpen or starting role at the big league level while he continues to work as a starter in the minors. 

The Indians really feel the last piece to the puzzle for Rondon is finishing off the development of his secondary pitches because they do not feel either pitch is currently effective enough to get outs at the major league level.  He loves to compete with the fastball on the plate almost too much, so they have challenged him to develop and use his secondary pitches more.  Since he is such a good strike thrower and has such a great fastball, a better slider and changeup would help change the eye level of his pitches and makes him less susceptible to hits.  The slider is most important as it has plus potential, but it is about getting him to be more consistent with it and using it more regularly.  His slider was a lot better last year, and he is aware of what makes the pitch work well, it is just a matter of doing it more consistently.  His changeup is still too hard, so he needs to continue to refine it to make it into at least an average major league pitch. 

In addition to his secondary pitches, if Rondon wants to remain a starter he also needs to continue putting on good weight so his body can handle the heavy workload as a starting pitcher.  He is also continuing to work on solidifying his delivery since he tends to get a little sloppy at times with it.  He has shown problems working out of the stretch and controlling the running game as his kick to home plate early last season was often 1.45 seconds, but he worked very hard with Columbus Pitching Coach Scott Radinsky to get it down to 1.3 to 1.35 seconds which really helped slow the running game down. 

Outlook:  Rondon used a breakout performance in the second half of the season at High-A Kinston in 2008 as momentum where from the start of spring training last year he had baseball people inside and outside the Indians organization buzzing about him.  He filled out considerably in the offseason, and just looked like a completely different pitcher on the mound all year.  He wowed Indians officials with a sensational spring training, and carried it right through to Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus where over the course of the season his fastball showed much improved life, his command and control was noticeably better, he looked more composed on the mound, and his secondary pitches continued to improve.   His final numbers suffered from what looked like some fatigue the final two weeks of the season when he got knocked around in two of his final three starts for Columbus, so instead of calling him up to Cleveland when rosters expanded in September the Indians shut him down.  He is not yet all of what he is going to be as while his upside is exciting, he is not ready just yet for the big leagues.  That said, he is the best pitching prospect in the upper levels of the Indians system, and should make a big contribution to the Indians pitching staff in 2010.  He should open the 2010 season in the starting rotation at Triple-A Columbus, though will likely be in Cleveland sometime around the All Star break if not sooner. 

Photo courtesy of Tony Lastoria 

Hector Rondon page 

Hector Rondon Baseball-Reference page 

Hector Rondon page 

7. Nick Weglarz - Outfielder
Born: 12/16/1987 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 245 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left 

Year Age Team Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS
2005 17 Burlington R 41 147 22 34 11 0 2 13 17 42 2 .231 .313 .347 .660
2006 18 GCL Indians R 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
2007 19 Lake County A 125 439 75 121 28 0 23 82 82 129 1 .276 .395 .497 .892
2007 19 Kinston A+ 2 7 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 2 0 .143 .250 .571 .821
2008 20 Kinston A+ 106 375 68 102 20 5 10 41 71 78 9 .272 .396 .432 .828
2009 21 Akron AA 105 339 69 77 17 2 16 65 75 78 2 .227 .377 .431 .808
    Totals   380 1309 235 335 76 7 52 202 246 331 14 .256 .381 .444 .825

Nick WeglarzHistory: Weglarz was selected by the Indians in the 3rd round of the 2005 Draft out of Lakeshore Catholic High School (Ontario, Canada).  In 2006 he only played one game for the rookie level Gulf Coast League (GCL) Indians as he was sidelined for the entire season with a broken hand.  He has had quite the busy travel schedule the past two years as in October/November 2007 he played in the World Cup for Team Canada out in Taiwan and Australia, in March 2008 played for Canada out in Australia in the Olympic qualifiers, in July/August 2008 played for Canada in the Olympics out in Beijing, in March of 2009 played for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, in July 2009 played for the World Team as part of the Futures Game at the All-Star game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and then in October/November 2009 played in the Arizona Fall League where in eight games hit .240 (6-for-25) with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K, and a .704 OPS. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Weglarz is an impressive physical specimen at 250+ pounds who is as strong as an ox and has the most powerful bat in the Indians system.  He has some flaws in his swing that will need to be tinkered along the way, but his long arms and good bat speed generate tremendous power.  He is a developed hitter with above-average hand-eye coordination, and he loves low pitches so he can extend through it either away or down and in.  He understands the value of on-base percentage and has a good understanding of the strike zone.  His plate discipline is off the charts good, and it is not just the walks, it is how smart he is as a hitter where he lays off so many borderline pitches when he is ahead in the count, which shows how mature of a hitter he is and how he stays within himself and sticks to his plan.  He is still a young, unpolished hitter who strikes out a lot, but he also shows excellent patience in waiting for his pitch and rarely swinging at pitches outside of the zone, which is uncommon for a player his age. 

Weglarz's batting average may not always impress, but when you factor in his excellent walk percentage, good strikeout to walk ratio, and his on-base ability, there is a lot to like about him besides the power at the plate.  His size is striking and he has thighs the size of tree trunks, but even with all that size he still shows some good athleticism.  He has loads of confidence in his abilities, and is very much a gentle giant as he may be one of the kindest and most level-headed players off the field.  His advanced approach at the plate, discipline, and light tower power is what has made him such an intriguing prospect for the Indians, and why he is often compared to big leaguers like Jim Thome and Adam Dunn.  As with most big sluggers, he has below average speed though he is a very good base-runner. 

Weglarz was drafted as a first baseman; however, since joining the Indians he has not played first base as they decided to move him to the outfield.  He is continuing to get bigger and grow into his body as he matures, and some think he will get too big to where he has to go back to first base down the road.  At the moment though the Indians have no plans to move him back to first base, especially with the significant progress and strides he has made as an outfielder.  He makes all the routine plays, moves well, reads the bat off the ball well, and has a strong, accurate arm.  He worked out some in right field last year, and in the limited time he showed good arm strength and kept his throws on a line with good carry.  The Indians have worked hard on his footwork, throwing mechanics, and his route-running to the ball and believe that while he will never be a Gold Glover out there that he has become a solid average defensive outfielder.   Even after the 30-plus pounds of muscle weight he has gained the last two years, it is a testament to the athleticism he has for a guy his size, and his determination that he has improved and stuck in the outfield. 

Upon reaching Double-A for the first time last year, Weglarz struggled mightily and showed signs of pressing early in the year where in 19 games in April he only hit .089 (5-for-56) with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 10 BB, 19 K, and a .386 OPS.  His struggles that first month were a byproduct of him trying to do too much along with some mechanical issues that needed to be ironed out.  The Indians worked with him on maintaining a more consistent bat path each at bat and to relax more, and the big issue was that he was not seeing the ball well and was missing pitches.  To counter this problem the Indians made an adjustment to his batting stance and got him to spread his legs out to give him a wider base so he could better see pitches.  The changes worked as he bounced back in May to hit .329 with 6 HR, 28 RBI, 15 BB, 15 K, and a 1.055 OPS, and then in June hit .281 with 5 HR, 21 RBI, 22 BB, 20 K, and a 1.007 OPS.  Near the end of June he started to have problems with shin splints, and ever since then his numbers slowly started to tail off to where they fell off a cliff in August.  He hit just .217 with an .806 OPS in July and then hit .100 with a .425 OPS in ten August games before finally succumbing to the pain of the injury and going on the disabled list.  The injury turned out to be a stress fracture in his left shin area, and it forced a premature end to his season.  He went out to Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League in the fall to make up some at bats and test out the leg, but the pain continued and he ended up having surgery where a steel rod was inserted into his leg to speed up the recovery from the stress fracture to his tibia.  The surgery was successful and he is expected to be 100% for spring training. 

There is no question that the shin injury had a big affect on Weglarz’s performance in July and August, as a deeper look into his numbers showed his ground ball percentage almost doubled between June and July, going from 36% in June to 62% in July and then 64% in August.  His career average for groundball percentage is 42.3%, so a 63% average in July and August show that his leg was bothering him and is what accounted for his rapid drop in production as he was swinging on an injured leg that did not allow him to get the drive he normally gets into pitches and instead was rolling over on a much higher rate of pitches. 

The Indians believe Weglarz has some bat-to-ball ability he has not yet shown, and that as he improves and becomes more consistent it will show itself much more.  Last year he never hit as good as he ever has in his career, but by the same token also never hit as bad as he ever has in his career either.  While mainly attributable to injuries, the inconsistent performance is somewhat alarming, especially considering how he had an inconsistent year at High-A Kinston in 2008.  His strikeouts are also a concern, though is a byproduct of his patient, powerful approach.  The Indians have continued to work on his leg position and made some mechanical adjustments with his hand placement in his swing to get more leverage and make his bat path more consistent.  He needs to continue working on using the other side of the field and hitting balls the other way by staying on balls and not falling into his tendencies to pull off and roll balls over where he grounds out.  He needs to continue to maintain and improve his good play in the outfield, something that can easily slip for a player his size. 

Outlook:  For the first time in years Weglarz's only commitment for the 2010 season will be playing in the Indians organization.  He won't go to play in the Olympics, the Olympic Qualifiers, or the World Baseball Classic as he will be with the Indians from the day spring training opens in late February until the day the season ends in early October.  He was rostered in the offseason so he may be shuttled around between Double-A Akron, Triple-A Columbus and the big league team, but the bottom line is he will finally be able to settle in this coming season.  That along with 100% health should help catapult him into a breakout year in the upper levels of the system and prove he indeed is one of the best young power hitting prospects in the game.  He should open the 2010 season with a return trip to Double-A Akron, though could move quickly to Columbus if he shows he is healthy and performs well. 

Photo courtesy of Tony Lastoria 

Nick Weglarz page 

Nick Weglarz Baseball-Reference page 

Nick Weglarz page

6. Jason Knapp – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 08/31/1990 – Height: 6’5” – Weight: 235 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right 

2008 17 GCL Phillies R 3 1 2.61 7 6 31.0 26 9 1 12 38 .228 3.5 11.0 1.23
2009 18 Lakewood A 2 7 4.01 17 17 85.1 63 38 3 39 111 .208 4.1 11.7 1.20
2009 18 Lake County A 0 0 5.40 4 4 11.2 10 7 0 8 12 .238 6.4 9.6 1.61
    Totals   5 8 3.80 28 27 128.0 99 54 4 59 161 .216 4.1 11.3 1.23

Jason KnappHistory:  Knapp was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2008 Draft out of North Hunterdon High School (NJ).  He signed with the Phillies for $600K.  The Indians acquired him as part of a four player package they received from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade.  Even though he was slowed for most of the second half of the season with a shoulder injury, he still finished 10th in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (123). 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Knapp is a very raw product that brings a lot of excitement because of his big size and strength in his arm.  He is a big physical, strong, young pitching prospect that has a powerful frame and arm that unleashes a blazing fastball that lights up a radar gun consistently at 93-95 MPH and has touched 99 MPH.  His fastball is plus-plus and because of his incredible arm strength and youth many people feel that as he matures he could hit a few MPH higher and potentially touch 100-101 MPH.   He is a really impressive power arm with a riding fastball that strikes a lot of guys out.  His secondary stuff – a curveball and changeup - is very raw.  He has flashed an above average 12-6 power curveball that has plus potential.  He shows a lot of confidence in his curveball and an ability to throw it for strikes and it has developed into a second swing-and-miss pitch for him.  He has made good strides with his average changeup and it also has plus potential.  He has a slider he used to throw that at some point he could unveil to hitters again as the command and control of his fastball and other secondary pitches improve. 

Knapp has front of the rotation stuff and ability, now it is all about building his execution and command of all his pitches.  Everything is raw with him, be it his delivery, command, or his pitches, which makes him such a high risk high reward kind of pitcher because of the untapped talent and such huge upside which could go in either direction as he matures.  He is a 6'5" pitcher that is built like a rush linebacker and is an intimidating presence on the mound.  He has a powerful, very aggressive, big delivery and throws the ball from a low-three quarter arm slot.  He is a competitor who thrives on the competition and the excitement of being out on the mound.  He is very mature and professional for his age, and is extremely driven, disciplined, and very hardworking.  He is from a cold weather state (New Jersey), so should have no problems adapting and pitching in the cold in the Cleveland area.  What he turns into no one knows at this time, but he has the goods where he could end up as an elite power front of the rotation starter who eats innings, or he could end up as a guy who just has two excellent pitches and is a ninth inning closer.  

After being acquired from the Phillies, Knapp did not pitch right away for the Indians as he was on the disabled list and still recovering from bicep tendonitis.  When the Indians acquired him they were not allowed to perform an MRI per MLB rules.  When completing a trade, all a team can do is request all of the medical information the former club has on file, everything from doctor notes, x-rays, or previous MRIs that were done prior to the trade and then take all that information and have their doctors look over the information.  In addition to the information given to them by the other club, a team can give the player a thorough physical evaluation.  After the physical and review of medical records, the doctors will either clear or not clear the player and based on that finding it is up to the front office to make a decision.  In the case of Knapp, he was cleared by team doctors as there were absolutely no red flags with his arm/shoulder, and the Indians were fine with that and okayed the trade.  The issue with his bicep and shoulder area is thought to be him as an 18-year old still growing into his body where he was adjusting to the torque required to throw the ball so hard and for so many innings. 

Knapp eventually was cleared to play and made his Indians debut at Low-A Lake County on August 11th.  After a few appearances things still didn't feel right, so he was shutdown again and this time the Indians were allowed to perform an MRI.  Upon reviewing the MRI they found some bone chips in his shoulder ("loose bodies"), so on September 15th he had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder to remove the loose bodies.  The injury is not considered serious, though it is a cause for some alarm.  It will be interesting to see how he comes back from it and if anything else comes up.  He visited his doctor for a followup in January and his doctor felt he was doing extremely well in his rehab.  He is expected to participate in spring training on a return-to-throw program by throwing long toss, so the start of his season may be delayed somewhat, but the important thing is he is healthy, progressing well in his rehab, has had no setbacks to date, and should be fine to pitch a majority of the coming season. 

The caveat with a guy like Knapp who looks good on paper is that projection often does not always translate.  He is only 19 years of age and is dripping with big league potential, but as often is the case though with very young pitchers projection can often not meet reality as time progresses.  He also needs to prove he can be durable and handle the workload of a starting pitcher as he has the stuff, the makeup, and the body to be a dominant starting pitcher for the Indians for many years, but injuries are always the great equalizer and an unpredictable factor that can sideline a career.  If he can avoid any serious injuries, the key to his success will be developing much better command of all his pitches, which for a pitcher like him is often the last thing that comes.  He needs to try to become as consistent as possible with his mechanics and the command should come after that.  His delivery is kind of awkward as he doesn't close his front shoulder when he plants on his front leg, which many people think could lead to more health concerns down the road.  Refining his delivery is a must and is something the Indians will obviously focus with him on improving.  As he refines his delivery and repeats it better, he has the potential to add velocity.  The development of at least one very good secondary pitch is vital, which will likely be the curveball, and his changeup still needs plenty of work. 

Outlook:  Knapp was one of the biggest buzz players in the South Atlantic League last year as scouts talked a lot about him.  There is no doubt that he has front of the rotation stuff and ability, but now it is all about developing him as a pitcher.  He is still young and rough around the edges, but his electric arm is hard to ignore as guys that big who throw that hard do not grow on trees.  They are very valuable commodities.  He is a high upside arm that when picked up in a trade like the Indians did with him in the Lee deal can turn trades into lopsided ones down the road.  But Indians fans need a lot of patience as his development will take time, and he probably won't see time in Cleveland if things go well until sometime in late 2012 at the earliest.  Since he is coming back from minor shoulder surgery, the Indians will be very cautious with him this season.  He will open the season in extended spring training and should be back in game action pitching for either Low-A Lke County or High-Kinston in June. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Carr 

Jason Knapp page 

Jason Knapp Baseball-Reference page 

Jason Knapp page

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