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Indians Indians Archive Indians' Recent Drafts Showing Success So Far
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

Alex WhiteBoy, talk about a complete change in draft success of late.

Now, it is still way too early to really get too excited over how the 2008 and 2009 Draft’s have shaken out for the Indians; however, you have to like what has transpired to date with both, particularly the 2008 Draft which may go down as one of the all time best drafts in Indians’ history.  This of course is a huge change from the struggles in the draft the Indians had experienced throughout most of the late 90s and the first half of the 00’s.

On top of all that, the Indians had a very aggressive and successful 2010 Draft as far as who they selected, so if they can sign a lot of the high upside guys they drafted this year the Indians will have a very good talent base from the past three drafts to build from.

Add onto that all the talent they have received in their recent veteran-for-prospect trades over the last three years as well as their strong presence in the International market, and you can see where the Indians future looks promising and that they have a lot to build upon going forward.  As always, the key will be on player development, avoiding injuries, and ultimately a lot of these prospects becoming what we hope.

Here is a quick rundown of the 2008 and 2009 Draft’s highlighting the guys already at the Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus level:

2008 DRAFT

Lonnie Chisenhall (3B, 1st round): .272 AVG (91-334), 12 HR, 53 RBI, .777 OPS, 27 BB, 47 K

Chisenhall’s advanced, polished swing has really settled in well at Double-A Akron this year and he has had a very good, consistent season.  While he is such a quiet, unassuming player he has a very good work ethic and has made himself into not only one of the elite hitters in minor league baseball but also into an above average defensive third baseman.  His overall numbers are somewhat deceiving as he played about two weeks with a bad shoulder where his performance as a hitter dropped off a cliff.  He is the heir apparent at third base for the Indians, likely around this time next season if things continue to go well.

Cord Phelps (2B, 3rd round): .313 AVG (110-352), 6 HR, 39 RBI, .824 OPS, 32 BB, 50 K

Phelps is a well rounded player, but his best attribute is certainly his advanced eye, patience, and ability to make consistent contact and get on-base at a very good clip.  The most encouraging thing with him this year is how he is driving the ball more with more authority as it was one of the things that held him back in the past from being rated as a better prospect.  He lacks versatility, though the Indians could experiment with him down the road at third base or even the outfield if they need to get him into the lineup at another position.  Because of his switch hitting ability and being so fundamentally sound at the plate, he could be a solid #2 hitter in the big leagues.  He could make his Major League debut sometime next season.

Bryce Stowell (RHP, 22nd round): 34 G, 2-0, 1.40 ERA, 58.0 IP, 5.9 H/9, 4.8 BB/9, 13.8 K/9

Stowell has seen a large velocity increase this year as he is up from the 95 MPH he was topping out in previous years to the 99 MPH he has touched this year.  There is even an unofficial account that he hit 100 MPH in his last outing in Akron before being promoted to Columbus.  He is an aggressive, fierce competitor on the mound where his fastball-slider mix can be very dominating in a late inning bullpen role.  He has had some walk issues, but with a guy who throws as hard as he does, it is not as much of a concern.  He very likely will not see time in Cleveland this year, but will certainly be a bullpen option at some point next season.

Others: Zach Putnam (RHP, 5th round) has had a solid season even though he has dealt with some minor nagging injuries.  He was in big league camp and is now in Triple-A, and has a nice mid-90s fastball-splitter combination which coming out of the bullpen could be devastating to hitters.  He is another bullpen option for 2011.  Eric Berger (LHP, 8th round) had a setback with an intercostal strain that came up at the end of spring training which sidelined him for about the first six weeks of the season, so it took him some time to get back into form.  He seems to be settling in now and was just recently promoted to Triple-A.  He is starting depth, and could become a left-handed bullpen option down the road.  Tim Fedroff (OF, 7th round) has had a solid season at Akron, and is setting himself up to be outfield depth for the Indians in the near future and likely a 4th outfield candidate for them later next year or in 2012.

Sleepers: The three high profile high school arms Trey Haley (RHP, 2nd round), Clayton Cook (RHP, 9th round), and T.J. House (LHP, 16th round) have all shown varying levels of growth.  Marty Popham (RHP, 20th round) and Roberto Perez (C, 33rd round) are interesting later round selections that scouts feel have Major League potential.

2009 DRAFT

Alex White (RHP, 1st round): 22 G, 8-7, 2.19 ERA, 127.1 IP, 7.1 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 7.1 K/9

White has lived up to his billing as a big, strong, and athletic pitcher who displays some power stuff and who can eat innings.  He is already over 127 innings on the year with still a month to play, so clearly the Indians are setting him up for a high innings threshold next year where he could potentially go 180-200 innings between the minors and big leagues.  His low-to-mid 90s sinking fastball and splitter are clearly his best pitches, but it has been an improved slider he has dusted off and put into use that has made the difference for him since he rarely threw it in college.  He is already in Akron and could very well move to Columbus by the end of the season, and could be a rotation option for the Indians if things continue to go well at this time next year.

Jason Kipnis (2B, 2nd round): .316 AVG (121-383), 12 HR, 54 RBI, .900 OPS, 45 BB, 79 K

Kipnis may be the story of the year in the Indians system because not only is he hitting, but he is doing it while making a tough transition from the outfield to second base.  Usually when such a big change like that is made the offense suffers because there is so much focus on the defense, but that has not been the case.  In fact, he has taken to second base so well he is viewed as at least a Major League average defensive second baseman with the potential to still be above average.  He is not very big at 5’10” and 175 pounds, but he is deceptively strong along the same lines of Dustin Pedroia, and has shown good pop in his bat and just an overall fundamentally sound approach at the plate this year.  He looks to be moving quickly, but with Jason Donald and Cord Phelps above him, it looks as if the Indians may let him play all of next year at Columbus before considering him as an option in 2012.

Others: While only at High-A Kinston at the moment, Joe Gardner (RHP 3rd round) has had a banner professional debut this year.  He missed his professional debut last season because of an oblique issue, but went to Instructional League and just dominated.  He used that as a springboard for this season where he is advancing quickly through the system and showing an incredible ability to put the ball on the ground (3.60 GO/AO) and miss bats (9.6 K/9).  He should end the season in Akron.  Jordan Henry (OF, 7th round) has moved up quickly to Akron because of his ability to get on base (.410 OBA) and approach at the plate (53 BB, 55 K).  He may be a slap-hitting scrawny outfielder with no pop, but his speed, incredible range in the outfield, and ability to get on base make him an intriguing leadoff prospect.

Keep an eye on:  A lot of players from the 2009 Draft are in Kinston and have had good seasons to date.  Cory Burns (RHP, 8th Round) has 32 saves this year, which leads the minors.  He doesn’t throw very hard, but he creates a lot of deception with his Luis Tiant-like delivery and has a good changeup and fastball command.  Matt Packer (LHP, 32nd round) has had an amazing statistical season (8-5, 1.58 ERA, 102.2 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 8.7 K/9).  While he is currently starting, he is projected as a reliever because of his size, versatility, and durability.  Kyle Bellows (3B, 4th round) is already showing above average Major League caliber defense at third base, and he is having a solid season with the bat.  Austin Adams (RHP, 5th round) has a nice mid-to-upper 90s fastball and power curveball mix, and has shown a lot of improvement this year to where he is a bullpen prospect for the Indians down the road.  Lower round selections Tyler Sturdevant (RHP, 27th round) and Nick Sarianides (RHP, 28th round) are two late round relievers to keep an eye on.

For breaking news and other information follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @tlastoria.  His new book the 2010 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is also available for purchase on or his site.

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