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Indians Indians Archive 2010 Indians Top 50 Prospects: #5-1
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

Here is the final 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.

5. Abner Abreu – Outfielder
Born: 10/24/1989 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 170 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right 

Year Age Team Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS
2007 17 DSL Indians R 56 228 34 69 13 7 4 41 18 46 5 .303 .353 .474 .827
2008 18 GCL Indians R 51 199 32 50 16 4 11 37 9 52 4 .251 .289 .538 .827
2009 19 Lake County A 63 246 36 75 16 4 7 30 11 68 3 .305 .351 .488 .839
    Totals   170 673 102 194 45 15 22 108 38 166 12 .288 .334 .498 .832

Abner AbreuHistory:  Abreu was signed by the Indians as an undrafted free agent in October 2006 out of the Dominican Republic.  When the Indians worked him out they loved his power potential and quickly signed him for $75,000.  As a 17-year old in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 he opened some eyes after he piled up 24 extra base hits in 228 at bats, and in 2008 with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team finished with 31 extra base hits and led the league in doubles (16), home runs (11), total bases (107) and slugging percentage (.538).  Last year at Low-A Lake County he only hit .208 with 0 HR, 3 RBI and a .532 OPS in 17 April games, but in 29 games in May hit .348 with 6 HR, 22 RBI, and a .982 OPS, and in 17 games in June hit .339 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, and a .930 OPS before his season ended due to a shoulder injury. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  When the Indians signed Abreu they loved his raw ability with the bat and his loose, wiry frame.  He is an impressive athlete dripping with tools that has some of the best raw power of anyone in the entire organization.  As he grows into his big frame he has the potential to add much more strength with the chance to have plus power at the major league level.  His swing is effortless and generates excellent bat speed where he crushes balls to all fields and can hit the ball out to any part of any ballpark.  The ball just sounds different off of his bat, and he shows an innate ability to square up the baseball well when he makes contact.  He has strong hands and wrists that create a natural whip in his swing that is hard to teach, and showcases a very quick bat on inside pitches that allows him to drive the ball pull side.  He is a very aggressive hitter so is prone to strikeouts, but has shown an ability to make contact with pitches all over the zone.  For his age he recognizes pitches very well, and as he matures and moves up he is expected to get even better in this area.

Abreu's build and look is a lot like his favorite player Alfonso Soriano in that he is very lean and lanky with very long arms and legs, but even with his wiry frame he has some awesome raw power and the ball just explodes off his bat.  While he is tall and very skinny, he has a body that will allow him to gain weight and grow into it more the next few seasons.  Though his speed does not show on the bases, he is an average runner.  He is a quiet player, but is very patient, confident and a hard worker.  He also speaks good English, which helps him communicate and fit in better with his American teammates. 

Not only is Abreu a gifted hitter, but he has proven to be a very versatile, gifted defender as well.  In fact, his best, most consistent tools may be his defense and throwing arm.  He came into the Indians organization as a shortstop, but they moved him to third base in 2008 with the Gulf Coast league team and he displayed some real soft hands and good range at the position.  Because of his athleticism, cannon for an arm, and powerful bat, they moved him to right field last year because they view him as an impact defender and bat at that position and he made huge strides out there for his first year at the position.  Some scouts have compared him to a young Vladimir Guerrero in the minors not only because of the promising power bat, but because of the high level of defense he plays in right field.  He shows crazy range in right field tracking down balls in the gaps or on the line with ease, and almost looks like he is gliding out there.  As he gets bigger and stronger it will probably limit the ridiculous range he has now, but he projects as a well above average defensive outfielder with excellent arm strength and accuracy. 

Abreu struggled a lot the first month of last season, but the Indians believe his early struggles last year had something to do with the cold weather since it was his first experience playing in it.  Once the weather started to heat up in May and he settled in, he took off.  Another reason for the early struggles was that he was initially too geared up for the fastball, so he was slow on the curveball and left the zone too much on other pitches which resulted in him often getting himself out.  The struggles resulted in a loss of confidence and he became tentative in the early going, especially considering all the breaking balls he was seeing.  He did a poor job of recognizing pitches he could have probably driven, but after some work in the cages with him they got him to stay confident with his approach and simplified it so he would be better able to attack the right pitches.  He really began to settle in and was on his way to a monster breakout year, but in June injured his shoulder when he dove for a ball in the outfield.  He ended up separating his shoulder which resulted in season ending surgery. 

While Abreu has all the tools to be a big league superstar, he is also still very raw and has yet to play at a more advanced level in High-A or Double-A which often weed out the pretenders.  He is a very aggressive hitter at the plate so he will likely always be prone to high strikeout totals and a low amount of walks.  The key going forward is not to significantly reduce the strikeouts, but to better improve his plate discipline where he can work counts a little more by being a little more patient to wait for his pitch and draw a few more walks.  Developing that plate discipline is a key attribute for him if he wishes to experience success as he moves further along in the system, and is a goal he has set for this coming season to focus on.  The Indians also made a subtle adjustment to his stance as he was standing too straight up whereas he is now leaning more forward.  He needs to work on strengthening his core and the mental side of the game without swinging a bat.  He is also just an average runner down the line and does not steal any bases, but it is felt he can improve in both of these areas.  Once he gets healthy and continues to learn his swing and strike zone he is going to be an even more special player than he already is. 

Outlook:  Abreu's youth combined with his unbelievable raw power and defensive ability make him an exciting player to watch as he continues to grow as a player the next few years.  His ceiling is unlimited, and he is no doubt the most talented player in the Indians system below Double-A.  The scary part is that so many of his tools are already playing, yet he has not reached his peak physically or mentally, so much more is expected to come.  The shoulder injury he suffered last year really put a damper on what was a great year, and had he not been injured he may have gotten a lot more recognition from national publications going into this season.  He is expected to be 100% healthy this spring, and considering he only played about two months at Low-A Lake County last year he likely will return there to start the 2010 season, but should move quickly to High-A Kinston and spend the majority of his season there. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Carr 

Abner Abreu page 

Abner Abreu Baseball-Reference page 

Abner Abreu page

4. Michael Brantley - Outfielder
Born: 05/15/1987 – Height: 6’2” – Weight: 210 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left 

Year Age Team Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS
2005 18 AZL Brewers R 44 173 34 60 3 1 0 19 22 13 14 .347 .426 .376 .802
2005 18 Helena A- 10 34 8 11 2 0 0 3 6 4 2 .324 .425 .382 .807
2006 19 West Virginia A 108 360 47 108 10 2 0 42 61 51 24 .300 .402 .339 .741
2007 20 West Virginia A 56 218 41 73 15 1 2 32 31 22 18 .335 .413 .440 .853
2007 20 Huntsville AA 59 187 28 47 6 1 0 21 29 25 17 .251 .353 .294 .647
2008 21 Huntsville AA 106 420 80 134 17 2 4 40 50 27 28 .319 .395 .398 .793
2009 22 Columbus AAA 116 457 80 122 21 2 6 37 59 48 46 .267 .350 .361 .711
2009 22 Cleveland AAA 28 112 10 35 4 0 0 11 8 19 4 .313 .358 .348 .706
    MiLB Totals   499 1849 318 555 74 9 12 194 258 190 149 .300 .387 .369 .756
    MLB Totals   28 112 10 35 4 0 0 11 8 19 4 .313 .358 .348 .707

Michael BrantleyHistory:  Brantley was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 7th round of the 2005 Draft out of Fort Pierce Central High School (FL).  The Indians acquired him from the Brewers in October 2008 as the player to be named later in the C.C. Sabathia trade. His father is former major leaguer Mickey Brantley.  Last year at Triple-A Columbus he finished 3rd in the International League in runs (80), 7th in walks (59), and 1st in stolen bases (46).  His six home runs last year were a new career high, and in fact doubled his career home run total. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Brantley is an incredible athlete who is a classic leadoff hitter in the making.  He has proven himself to be one of the best players in the minors at making consistent contact and bringing a solid plan to every at bat by being patient at the plate, staying within himself by rarely swinging at pitches out of the zone, hitting for average, and getting on base.  At just 21-years of age his bat-to-ball ability is phenomenal and he has displayed elite strike zone management ability by striking out an average of just once every ten at bats in his career.  He uses the whole field well, and grinds out every pitch and at bat.  He also has plus-plus speed to steal a base at any time, and really improved last year where he became a consistent base-stealing threat and has shown great instincts as a runner on the bases. 

Brantley’s power is still emerging, but he will never be a home run hitter.  His best comp may be as a Kenny Lofton type offensive player, a hitter who can steal 40-50 bases and can pound the gaps and hit the occasional home run and pile up 40-50 extra base hits in a season.  Lofton averaged nine home runs and 42 extra base hits a year in the ten seasons during the prime of his career from 1992 to 2001.  At 6’2” 210 pounds, he is hardly built like a 5'9" 160-pound "slap-hitter", but for him to become more powerful and drive the ball more consistently into the gaps it all depends on his bat speed and strength in his hands and arms.  He added ten pounds of muscle in the offseason, and that along with his body physically maturing should help him start driving the ball more consistently.  His lack of power still comes down to his approach as he sacrifices some of his bat speed in order to make more consistent contact.  The hope is as he matures and grows into his body and also learns how to speed up his bat without taking too much away from his bat-to-ball ability, the power will come. 

Brantley plays the game exceptionally hard, and handles himself like a 28-year old veteran.  His makeup and maturity level are off the charts, which helps him handle tough situations well and never be out of control when he is playing.  He always appears calm and collected where he is playing with a relaxed aggression, which comes from his great focus and passion for the game as well as his temperament that teams drool over. 

With his plus speed, instincts, and athleticism, Brantley moves like a gazelle in the outfield.  He has an ease to his game on defense, and is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the Indians system.  He shows excellent range, though his speed covers up a lot of his mistakes as he doesn’t get the greatest of jumps on balls.  His throwing arm is barely average, so he will never be an elite defensive outfielder.  He is also versatile enough where he can play all three outfield positions, and he even played some first base in the Brewers organization.  He still projects to be at least an above average defender at any outfield position, and will continue to work hard on improving defensively. 

Last year at Triple-A Columbus, Brantley was one of the youngest players in all the International League.  His overall numbers were not very impressive, but he is another example of a player who showed a lot of progress and development that did not show up in the stat sheets.  Still only 21 years old when the season started, his age and inexperience showed early in the season as he got off to a slow start in Columbus adjusting to the new level in Triple-A. He also battled through a hamstring injury he suffered in the first week of the season which lingered for most of the month before he took almost a week off to get it healthy. Those two factors combined were a big reason why in 17 games in April he only hit .217 with a .574 OPS and had 7 walks to 14 strikeouts.  He rebounded from his poor April to hit .261/.726 with 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in May, .271/.686 with 17 walks and 10 strikeouts in June, .280/.764 with 11 walks and 3 strikeouts in July, and .298/.782 with 9 walks and 7 strikeouts in August.  His overall batting average may not have shown it, but he adjusted to the league and his approach remained consistent.  His outstanding makeup and maturity is a big reason why his early season struggles with performance and injury did not affect him and end up snowballing into a year long slump.  He just picked himself up and had a steady progression over the course of the year, and was rewarded for his efforts late in the year with a callup to Cleveland. 

Brantley is far from a perfect player.  While he has three excellent tools with the bat, speed and defense, he is average to below average at best with his arm and power.  His lack of power is more a result of his approach where he strikes through the ball in a downward motion in order to hit the ball on the ground and try and beat it out.  Developing some more power, not to hit home runs but to consistently pound the gaps to keep hitters honest will be a big key for him in the next year or two.  He still needs more work polishing off his defense by improving his route running, getting better reads on balls off the bat, and getting better with his situational throws. 

Outlook:  Brantley is just what the doctor ordered for the Indians big league strikeout laden lineup.  Not only will he provide a refreshing change with more contact and less strikeouts, but when he gets on base he will be exciting to watch.  In the post-steroid era where the game is changing back to one that focuses more on offensive players who make consistent contact, have speed, and play defense, he provides everything teams look for in a leadoff hitter.  He is on the brink of a very good major league career, and barring injury will open the 2010 season in the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Carr 

Michael Brantley page 

Michael Brantley Baseball-Reference page 

Michael Brantley page

3. Nick Hagadone - Left-handed Pitcher
Born: 01/01/1986 – Height: 6’5” – Weight: 230 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left 

2007 21 Lowell A- 0 1 1.85 10 10 24.1 14 5 1 8 33 .163 3.0 12.3 0.91
2008 22 Greenville A 1 1 0.00 3 3 10.0 5 0 0 6 12 .135 5.4 10.8 1.10
2009 23 Greenville A 0 2 2.52 10 10 25.0 13 7 0 14 32 .149 5.0 11.5 1.08
2009 23 Lake County A 0 1 2.45 5 5 14.2 8 4 0 5 21 .163 3.2 13.3 0.92
2009 23 Kinston A+ 0 0 5.06 2 2 5.1 5 3 0 5 6 .250 8.8 10.6 1.96
    Totals   1 5 2.16 30 30 79.1 45 19 1 38 104 .161 4.3 11.8 1.05

Nick HagadoneHistory: Hagadone was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round of the 2007 Draft out of the University of Washington.  He signed with the Red Sox for $575K.  The Indians acquired him as part of a three player package they received from the Red Sox in the Victor Martinez trade.  He tore the UCL ligament in his left elbow in a game on April 16, 2008 and ended up having Tommy John surgery on June 10, 2008. 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Hagadone is a very big, physical left-handed pitcher who features an incredible fastball which sits at 95-97 MPH and tops out at 99 MPH.  Some think that because he is so strong and has such a live arm that he has the potential to reach triple digits with his fastball down the road once his mechanics are straightened out and he peaks physically.  He commands the strike zone well with his fastball with no fear of putting the ball over the plate.  Because of his height he gets a nice downhill plane to his fastball and also has some good natural sink to it, which results in a lot of groundballs.  Hitters time after time have proven that they are unable to lift the ball against him as he does not allow very many home runs (1 HR in 104.1 career IP).  He complements his fastball with two good secondary offerings, a slider and changeup.  His slider is a plus offering that shows a lot of depth and tilt, and is an out pitch that he dominates and puts left-handers away with.  The changeup is an average pitch and a work in progress, but has shown much improvement where it gets nice downward movement. 

Hagadone's intangibles are off the charts, which are a nice bonus to a guy who throws 99 MPH, is left-handed, and strikes guys out regularly.  He sets the benchmark very high when it comes to work ethic, discipline, and the passion to play the game of baseball.  He is a very mature player who is extremely intelligent and is a student of the game.  When he is on the mound he oozes confidence and is always sure of himself.  He is an intense competitor who is tenacious and goes right after hitters.  He is just a really impressive arm who has a presence about him, which can be very intimidating for opposing hitters.  He projects as a frontline starter, and the Indians will give him every chance to come back strong and healthy from his Tommy John surgery and live up to that projection.  Worst case, he ends up as a dominant late innings reliever or possible top shelf closer. 

When the Indians acquired Hagadone last year from the Red Sox, he was in the middle of a rehab program in his return from Tommy John surgery so they kept him on his restricted 50 pitch count or three inning limit (whichever came first) for every outing for the remainder of the season.  Even in limited duty in each outing he showed what made him so highly sought by the Indians as while he was still rusty and working his way back from surgery his velocity was about all the way back and he was for the most part dominating.  He was 23-years old, so given his advanced pitching ability and age he probably feasted some on Low-A hitters, but the important thing was he had no setbacks and his outstanding stuff returned.  After the season he participated in the Indians strength and conditioning camp in the Instructional League program out in Goodyear, AZ.  He was shut down from doing any throwing until just before spring training and was out there just to complete his rehab and strengthen his arm.  The Indians wanted him at or as close to 100% to start the upcoming season and to ensure his arm is strong enough to handle the rigors of a full season without any (or very limited) restrictions. 

Hagadone showed last year he still had the overpowering stuff to dominate hitters and that his velocity was back, but his command was still not all the way back or anywhere close to the rate he had prior to his injury.  This is to be expected as with any pitcher who undergoes Tommy John surgery usually command is the last thing to return.  He is expected to be moved quickly through the system this year because of his age and pending roster status, but before he has any visions of making that quick ascent up the Indians' minor league ladder next season he not only needs to prove he is healthy, but he also needs some improvement with his pitches and mechanics.  His delivery is something that will be worked on to get him to maintain a more consistent rhythm because when his tempo is good his command is a lot better.  He will also need to refine and tighten up his slider, and work on getting an even better feel for his changeup.  He was a closer in college, but the Red sox made him a starter after they signed him, so it remains to be seen if he can continue to be a starter.  He has the pitches to start but lacks starting experience, and in addition it will take some time to stretch his arm out so he can handle a full season's workload in the rotation. 

Outlook:  Hagadone has star potential written all over him, the question is whether he will come back 100% or not from his surgery and the answer to that should be found out very soon this upcoming season.  Because he is now 24 years old and should pitch with little restrictions this year, he could move extremely fast in the system in 2010.  If not for the specific throwing plan he was on last year he would have spent a good deal of time in High-A and maybe even Double-A in order to be challenged by better hitters, but the focus last year was on his health and not challenging his development as a pitcher.  That's not the case anymore.  He is up for roster protection at the end of the season, and while he is pretty much a slam dunk to be rostered regardless of what happens this season, it is a big year for him to make up for lost time and get to the level he needs to be at in order to be a potential factor for the big league staff sometime in 2011.  He likely will open the season in the High-A Kinston starting rotation, but should move to Double-A Akron very quickly if his arm is sound and he performs well.  It is not out of the realm of possibility that he could shoot all the way up to Triple-A Columbus by the end of the season, and could convert to a bullpen role at some point this season to help expedite his movement. 

Photo courtesy of Tony Lastoria 

Nick Hagadone page 

Nick Hagadone Baseball-Reference page 

Nick Hagadone page

2. Lonnie Chisenhall – Third Baseman
Born: 10/04/1988 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 200 – Bats: Left – Throws: Right 

Year Age Team Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS
2008 19 Mahoning Vy A- 68 276 38 80 20 3 5 45 24 32 7 .290 .355 .438 .793
2009 20 Kinston A+ 99 388 59 107 26 2 18 79 37 80 2 .276 .346 .492 .838
2009 20 Akron AA 24 93 13 17 5 1 4 13 7 16 1 .183 .238 .387 .625
    Totals   191 757 110 204 51 6 27 137 68 128 10 .269 .336 .460 .796

Lonnie ChisenhallHistory:  Chisenhall was selected by the Indians in the 1st round of the 2008 Draft out of Pitt Junior College.  He signed quickly after the draft by agreeing to a $1.1 million bonus.  He played his freshman season in 2007 for the University of South Carolina (20 games, .313, 1 HR, 13 RBI), but was kicked off the baseball team in March 2007 because of burglary and grand larceny charges.  He plead guilty to the charges and received six months probation, and transferred to Pitt Junior College in 2008 where he hit .410 (68-for-166) with 27 doubles, 8 homers and 66 RBI.  Last year at High-A Kinston it was a homecoming of sorts for him as he is from Morehead City, NC, which is on the Atlantic Coast and about an hour from Kinston.  He attended Kinston Indians games at Grainger Stadium as a youth and even got to go out on the field as a kid as part of Kinston's Field of Dreams program where they introduce area youth baseball teams on the field before games.  He defeated five other players in the All-Star Home Run Derby before the Carolina League vs. California League All Star Game last year.  He had an MVP-caliber season at Kinston and probably would have won had he not been promoted to Double-A Akron for the last month of the season.  Even though he missed the last month and played just 99 games with Kinston he still finished 11th in the Carolina League in hitting (.276), 4th in HR (18), 6th in RBI (79), 11th in total bases (191), 3rd in slugging percentage (.492), and 3rd in OPS (.838). 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Chisenhall has quickly grown into a living legend in the Indians system as he was the talk all around the scouting world last year because so people many felt his swing was the best they had seen in years.  He is a very advanced hitter who is extremely passionate about hitting.  He has a very impressive low maintenance swing with a very patient, polished approach that has adapted very well to the professional game.  He is a line drive gap-to-gap hitter with plus bat speed, is short to the ball, and shows good command of the strike zone.  He shows a great ability to consistently square up the baseball with the barrel of the bat at a high rate, has a very good swing plane, and is quiet in the box. He hits to all fields well, rarely gets fooled, and is very good at putting the bat on the ball and hitting it hard.  He has a consistent approach day in and day out and his swing never changes, so he rarely gets into a funk or extended hot streak because he is always so consistent at the plate.  He does a great job of making adjustments at the plate, touching up opposing pitchers who try to work him inside, and when they start pitching him away he counters by making the proper adjustment of going with what they are giving him and going the other way.  It all combines to what many think will make him a perennial .300+ hitter in the big leagues. 

To the surprise of many last year Chisenhall showed a little more pop and an ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark than originally anticipated.  He has some natural power, but he doesn't have to generate much power because of his bat speed and the way the ball just jumps off his bat.  He does not have light tower power where in batting practice he is just launching balls out of the stadium, but in a game the ball goes a long way off of his bat.  With the way he maintains a consistent bat path and how the ball jumps off his bat he should always pile up a lot of extra base hits be it doubles or home runs.  The Indians love his youth and tools, and feel with his hitting approach and ability at the plate he has a chance to develop even more power in the future.  The initial projection on him when he was drafted was that he was a .300+ hitter in the making in the big leagues because of his sweet swing, and that his line drive stroke would lead to a lot of doubles in the gaps with the occasional home run to where he could be about a 20 home run hitter in the big leagues.  But with his power surge last year as well as the thought that more power may still be coming have many rethinking that initial projection to where he now could potentially be a 30 home run hitter in the big leagues and still be a .300+ hitter. 

Chisenhall held up extremely well in the pitching dominated Carolina League last year, and even though he was two to three years under the league average age he still put up an MVP caliber season.  He showed the maturity as a player to handle what is a very tough league, and often considered a separator for Indians prospects.  He is a very intelligent baseball player that is still very young and developing physically who is very gifted and loves to play.  He has unbelievable poise for his age where he doesn’t feel pressure and is a clutch performer.  As a runner, he has average speed but has good instincts, runs the bases hard, and makes good decisions.  He came into the draft with some makeup concerns because of the larceny charges, but has been the model player and proved that he has matured and that his issues back in college are in the past. 

When the Indians drafted Chisenhall they selected him with the idea that he would continue to play shortstop his first year in the organization and then move to third base in 2009 after they had time with him in Instructional League and a full offseason to work on the transition.  They also wanted to move him to third base because of his bat as they felt a move to the less demanding position of third base would help him focus and develop into a better run producer by playing a corner infield position.  The Indians knew there was no question his bat would play at third base, but they also felt he had the skills and tools which would allow for an easy transition and that he had a chance to be an above average defender there.  They have since been proven right as he transitioned well to the position last year and they believe he will be a long term permanent fit there. 

Chisenhall is an extremely talented, athletic third baseman who has a lot of confidence in his defensive ability and makes all the routine plays but also makes the exceptional plays look easy.  As a former college shortstop he has plenty of arm and good actions with his hands, and at third base last year showed his above average arm strength and the instincts and good range to handle the position.  He goes back on balls well and shows a strong arm, and he uses his hands well when he has to come in on balls.  He works diligently with coaches before games to get better and is very receptive to instruction and working hard at applying it in pre-game workouts and in the games. 

One of the biggest areas of improvement for Chisenhall last year was his defense.  Errors typically don’t tell the whole story how a player is performing defensively; however, when you consider that Chisenhall had 19 errors in his first 52 games - about one every 2.5 games – but his last 71 games had just three errors, it is noteworthy and good to see.  While there were some speed bumps along the way as evidenced by the high error totals the first two months of the season, the sudden drop in errors over the last three months shows how well he adapted to the new position.  The Indians feel it was just him learning his limits as he had always played shortstop and was learning what playing third base entailed, what plays he could make, and what plays he should just eat the ball or let the shortstop get.  What that meant is because he is aggressive and confident he learned on the aggressor side and made some errors. 

With all the positive attributes that Chisenhall has, it is hard to find a true weakness for him.  His one area of weakness last year was the jump in his strikeout rate.  At short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley in 2008 he only struck out 32 times in 276 at bats good for one strikeout every 8.6 at bats; however, last year at High-A Kinston and Double-A Akron he struck out 96 times in 481 at bats which translates to one strikeout every 5.0 at bats.  The increased strikeouts are obviously a byproduct of his aggressive approach at the plate which also leads to a lot of extra base hits, but he needs to make a few adjustments at the plate to reduce the strikeout totals and improve his strike zone recognition late in the count.  He also at times can be over aggressive at the plate which can result in a lost at bat, and he tends to sit fastball too much.  He still has to work on his throwing as he tends to be erratic at times, mostly because of a bad habit of double pumping before he throws the ball. 

Outlook:  It is clear that Chisenhall is going to be a major league player, there is no doubt about that as an injury would be the only thing that would prevent that.  He went from a very good prospect going into last season to now an elite level prospect that is widely regarded as the best third baseman in the minors.  With his swing, his power, and his approach, the plan will be how quickly the Indians can get him to the major leagues.  That's how talented he is.  He is still only 21 years old and needs more development time, and considering there is not a rush at the moment to get him to the big leagues the Indians are likely to use all of this upcoming season to finish him off as a prospect and be ready for a big league gig perhaps when spring training starts in 2011.  In the meantime Jhonny Peralta and even Wes Hodges will serve as good stopgap options and keep the position warm for the eventual arrival of “The Chiz”.  He should open the 2010 season as the starting third baseman for Double-A Akron, and depending on how things go could spent a good portion of the second half of the season with Triple-A Columbus. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Carr 

Lonnie Chisenhall page 

Lonnie Chisenhall Baseball-Reference page 

Lonnie Chisenhall page

1. Carlos Santana - Catcher
Born: 04/08/1986 – Height: 5'11" – Weight: 190 – Bats: Switch – Throws: Right 

Year Age Team Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS
2005 19 GCL Dodgers R 32 78 14 23 4 1 1 14 16 8 0 .295 .412 .410 .822
2006 20 Vero Beach A+ 54 198 16 53 10 2 3 18 23 43 0 .268 .345 .384 .729
2006 20 Ogden R 37 132 31 40 5 1 7 27 30 19 4 .303 .423 .515 .938
2007 21 Great Lakes A 86 292 32 65 20 1 7 36 40 45 5 .223 .318 .370 .688
2008 22 Inland Empire A+ 99 350 88 113 34 4 14 96 69 59 7 .323 .431 .563 .994
2008 22 Kinston A+ 29 105 34 37 5 1 6 19 20 24 3 .352 .452 .590 1.042
2008 22 Akron AA 2 8 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 0 .125 .125 .500 .625
2009 23 Akron AA 130 428 91 124 30 2 23 97 90 83 2 .290 .413 .530 .943
    Totals   469 1591 309 456 108 12 62 309 288 283 21 .287 .395 .486 .881

Carlos SantanaHistory:  Santana was an undrafted free agent signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic in August 2004.  He was traded to the Indians along with Jon Meloan on July 25th, 2008 for Casey Blake.  Last year he played for the World Team in the 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game as part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Weekend at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  He was named the 2008 California League MVP and 2009 Eastern League MVP.  He is the third Double-A Akron player to win MVP honors, joining Jordan Brown (2007) and Victor Martinez (2002).  At Akron last year he dominated the league in almost every category as he finished 11th in the Eastern League in batting average (.290), 3rd in runs (91), 2nd in HR (23), 2nd in RBI (97), 1st in walks (90, 15 more than 2nd place player), 4th in total bases (227), 2nd in on-base percentage (.413), 1st in slugging percentage (.530), and 1st in OPS (.943). 

Strengths & Opportunities:  Santana is widely considered the best young catching prospect in all of baseball, largely because of what he can do with the bat.  He is an everyday big league catching prospect with an approach that is big league ready and plus-plus power to all fields.  He has a great feel for the bat and strike zone, is a true hitter, and has an incredible ability to square up balls where they just explode off his bat.  He has averaged 90 walks the past two seasons, and drawn more walks than strikeouts in both seasons which shows his incredible eye and patient approach at the plate.  He is an intense competitor, and a very aggressive attack the ball kind of hitter.  He is aggressive and attacks anything in the zone, but is also extremely patient where he will not swing at very many pitches out of the zone.  Pitchers often pitch around him, but to his credit he does not get frustrated as he takes what the opposing pitchers give him, which is a clear sign of just how advanced a hitter he really is.  He doesn't expand his zone as he rarely swings at a bat pitch, and when he does get a pitch to hit he makes consistent, hard contact and drives the ball really well.  His approach on both sides of the plate is very good, and he maintains a good low maintenance swing from both sides. 

As a switch hitter at a premium position, Santana is very athletic and has a lot of strength.  He is lean and not a very big guy as he only stands at 5'11" tall, but he is built like a Greek god and is very strong in his arms and wrists.  He is still filling out his body, so more weight and power are sure to come.  His consistency as a player is also a big strength as a lot of scouts have been extremely impressed with how consistent he is across the board.  He maintains an outstanding contact rate and he never really struggles offensively, and probably has the best balance of any hitter in the Indians' system.  He is very athletic and moves well for a catcher who is not a liability on the base paths.  He is an average runner, but is smart on the bases where he gets good jumps going from first to third and second to home.  He already has loads of power, discipline, and bat-to-ball ability, and the Indians believe that there is more to come as his numbers could increase and get better as he matures. 

Santana's offensive game is compared a lot to former Indians catcher Victor Martinez because of their comparable offensive skill set, they both switch hit, and they both moved from another position to be a catcher.  There are some differences though as Santana is a couple inches shorter than the bigger bodied Martinez, and he is also leaner and a little more muscular than Martinez was in the minors.  Another big difference is unlike Martinez who lumbers around the bases, Santana is very athletic and runs well.  Santana and Martinez are both aggressive hitters, but while Martinez may hit for a higher average, Santana has shown a penchant to be more patient at the plate and draw more walks and also has more raw power. 

Santana is not just a big time offensive talent as he also has developed into a very good backstop who still has a lot of upside behind the plate.  He has a great passion for catching and loves to take charge and is a leader on the field.  He is a former third baseman and outfielder that the Dodgers moved behind the plate to take advantage of his rocket fueled throwing arm.   He has one of the best arms in the game as he showcases excellent arm strength with a lightning bolt for an arm, and shows good accuracy.  He also loves to throw the ball, whether it be throwing out potential base-stealers or throwing behind runners on base. 

While Santana's throwing has not been much of a problem for him in his transition to catching, it is his receiving skills and all the other intangibles that go into catching which he has worked very hard to develop and improve.  Last season was only his third full season playing catcher, but the strides he has made with picking up the nuances of catching and developing his skills behind the plate has been very impressive.   Thanks to his outstanding work ethic he has become an above average receiver.  While he is still a little rough around the edges, he shows very good hands, receives the ball well, takes charge of his staff and calls a good game, and he moves well behind the plate and blocks balls well.  He has shown a hunger and willingness to learn and improve his defense and becoming a better game caller, and it showed last year as by the end of the season he had made big improvements in both of these areas.  Everything the Indians asked of him from a game-calling standpoint he answered the bell on, and he also had a significant improvement with his use of the English language to help him better communicate with his pitchers.   He also made significant strides with his focus and being a leader.  He has proven to be a long term, permanent fit at the catching position, and just needs to continue to get more experience behind the plate. 

In the offseason Santana went out to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball, but had some problems with his wrist when he first got there.  It turned out he had a fractured hamate bone in his right hand, so he underwent surgery in early December to correct the issue.  The recovery period for the surgery is typically eight to ten weeks, which should not affect the start of his season.  If anything it will just slow him down the first two to three weeks of spring training.  In addition to coming back healthy from his surgery, the big thing the Indians want to do with him this year is finish of his development as a catcher by honing in on the nuances of the position.  This is why he will start and spend roughly the first half of the season at Triple-A Columbus.  There he can work on polishing off his defense behind the plate as well as improving his English, communicating with and handling the pitchers on his staff, calling games, and improving his leadership abilities.  He is also working on other things like knowing when to visit the mound to settle his pitcher down, game management, and working on situational pitching.  He is an intense competitor and at times he can overreact to bad calls, so he needs to control his emotions a little better. 

Outlook:  Santana has done a good job so far of living up to all the hype.  Last year at this time he was the near unanimous #1 ranked player in the Indians system by most publications and was included in many baseball wide Top 50 Prospect lists.  The year he had last year is a testament to his passion for baseball and wanting to be one of the best at what he does, and he certainly has a chance to do just that.  His ability to hit for a high average, hit with power, exhibit outstanding plate discipline, and play good defense makes him an elite level player that projects as a perennial All-Star performer at the big league level. There will be some seasoning in the major leagues when he gets there, but there is no question that he will help the Indians in the near future where he has the potential to be a .280-.300 hitting, 25-30 HR, and 100 walk catcher in the big leagues.    He is without a doubt the Indians best prospect, and while he will open the 2010 season at Triple-A Columbus, he should be up around the All Star break this year and become the regular everyday catcher in Cleveland for the next six to eight years. 

Photo courtesy of Tony Lastoria 

Carlos Santana page 

Carlos Santana Baseball-Reference page 

Carlos Santana page 

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