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Indians Indians Archive Cleveland Indians Top 50 Prospects: #31-40
Written by Al Ciammiachella

Al Ciammiachella

goodyearballparkToday we're going to look at prospects #31-40 in the Indians system.  There's a nice combination of upside and established guys in this range, and we see fourplayers with 3B experience.  One of those four is unlikely to be a 3B in the majors, but the other three project to be plus defenders at the MLB level.  We also get to take a closer look at one of my personal favorite kids in the system (hint: he's an OF) as well as a couple of starting pitching prospects born in the 1990's.  If you missed Monday's introduction and prospects #41-50, here's the link to check out part one of the series. 


40. Clayton Cook, RHP

DOB: 7/23/1990

Height/Weight: 6-3/175

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 9th round pick in 2008

2010 Stats: 6-7, 3.35 ERA, 83 K and 37 BB in 118 1/3 IP for low A Lake County

Scouting report: Cook is a tall, somewhat lanky pitcher that still has quite a bit of projection in him.  Drafted out of high school, he’s still just 19 years old and is coming off of a solid season at low A when most kids his age are either in short season leagues or college.  His four seam fastball sits between 89-92 MPH, which is an improvement from where he was at in 2009.  It’s a solid offering with decent movement, but needs more velocity before it can become a major league pitch.  He commands it well and can keep hitters off balance by attacking both sides of the plate.  He added a two-seamer to his repertoire last year, and it is a tick slower than the four-seamer but with better movement.  Like most pitchers his age, he throws a curveball and is developing a changeup that is his 3rd best pitch right now.  He keeps the ball down, gets plenty of groundball outs and keeps the ball in the ballpark (11 HR given up in 211 career IP). 

Cook is still very young and should fill out into his frame as his career progresses.  He’ll likely pick up a couple of MPH on his fastball, but still never really be an overpowering strikeout guy.  If he can continue to command his fastball and get plenty of groundball outs, he won’t need to rack up prodigious strikeout numbers.  The key to him remaining in the starting rotation will be the continued development of the changeup.  He can be effective against hitters in the low minors with the two fastballs and the curveball, but to be able to work against hitters from both sides of the plate at the higher levels, he’ll need a third reliable pitch. 

Cook will likely fight it out with Kyle Blair to see who gets to go to Kinston and who opens at Lake County.  Even if he starts back in Lake County, he’ll likely be in Kinston by the end of the year.  He won’t be able to legally buy alcohol until the end of July, so there’s really no reason to rush him beyond Kinston at this point in his career.

Glass half-full: He could become a solid back of the rotation guy if he the changeup progresses

Glass half-empty: A bullpen role where his stuff can play up in shorter appearances.


39. Juan Romero, 3B

DOB: 06/16/1993

Height/Weight: 6-1/175

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: International FA in 2010

2010 Stats: .241/.321/.483 with 7/14 in 145 AB’s for rookie level AZL Indians

Scouting report: Romero is a lottery ticket at this point in his very young career.  He won’t turn 18 until this June, and has 145 at bats under his belt here in the states.  Instead of playing this year as a high school senior, he’ll be starting his 2nd year of professional baseball.  So his placement even this high on the list is pretty much all about projection at this point. 

Romero has some pop in his bat, as he tied for the AZL lead with his 7 HR’s.  He slugged .483 and posted a solid .804 OPS.  For the season, 19 of his 35 hits went for extra bases.  Romero’s issue at this point is his approach, and in that he is no different than most teenagers signed from the Caribbean or Latin America.  Romero struck out 67 times and walked just 16 in his stateside debut, a ratio that is obviously going to have to improve if he wants to find any kind of sustained success in professional baseball.  But the raw talent is there, and if you add pitch recognition/selection skills that the Indians will teach him to the power he has already shown, look out.

In addition to his success with the bat, the Indians were very happy with Romero’s athleticism in the field.  He has a strong arm, but was charged with 9 errors in 28 games at 3B in AZ.  I will admit that I have never seen Romero play in the field, so anything I say about his defense would be pure speculation at this point.  He’s a guy I’m really excited to get my eyes on this spring in Goodyear. 

Romero will likely stay in Goodyear for extended spring training, as 3B is a very crowded position in the organization and he is still just 17.  But expect him to take the torch from Gio Urshela in Mahoning Valley as the next Latin 3B prospect to keep an eye on in the organization once the short season leagues start up in June.  This is admittedly an agressive ranking for a guy with Romero's experience, but his upside is pretty significant, even though he is quite a ways from realizing his potential.   

Glass half-full: He finds success in Mahoning Valley this year.  Too early for any other sort of prediction. 

Glass half-empty: He’s back in the Dominican Republic in a few years


38. Kyle Bellows, 3B

DOB: 08/19/1988 

Height/Weight: 6-3/210

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 4th round pick in 2009

2010 Stats: .253/.318/.385 with 10/66 for high A Kinston 

BellowsScouting report: Bellows is an outstanding defensive third baseman, one of the best in minor league baseball.  He moves very well laterally, does a great job charging bunts and slow rollers, and has a cannon for an arm.  In the Kinston games I saw last year, Bellows made several outstanding defensive plays, including one that brought the opposing fans at visiting Potomac to their feet.  There is no doubt in the Indians front office that Bellows has the potential to be a plus defender at the hot corner in the major leagues.  He was a shortstop in college who was moved to 3B once he was drafted, and has taken very well to the move (sound familiar?) 


Bellows problem so far is his offense.  He was a solid but not spectacular hitter in college, and he’s had a little trouble adjusting to the wood bats in the pros.  He has solid bat to ball ability, and above-average raw power but has had some trouble having that power translate to games.  He’s listed at 210 lbs, but I had a chance to talk to him at the end of last season and he looked skinnier than that.  His frame will allow him to put on some more muscle, and hopefully that will help turn some of those doubles and flyouts into HR’s.  Bellows did skip low-A and go straight to Kinston from Mahoning Valley in his 2nd professional season, and he hardly embarrassed himself at the plate in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League.  But he didn’t do enough to put himself higher on the prospect map. 

Third base is probably the Indians deepest position in the minors, and if Chisenhall starts the season in Columbus as expected, Bellows should be right behind him in Akron.  With his first full professional season in the books, look for Bellows to be a breakout candidate in Akron.  He’s in a more hitter friendly park and has a full season under his belt so he knows what to expect with the bus rides, has picked out a bat he feels comfortable with, etc.  He’s low on this list now, but is a guy who could be 10-20 spots higher next year.

Glass half-full: A gold glove caliber 3B who hits 20 HR a year with a batting average around .265.

Glass half-empty: Same thing, only in Columbus instead of Cleveland.


37. Jess Todd, RHP

DOB: 4/20/1986

Height/Weight: 5-11/210

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: PTBNL in the DeRosa trade; 2nd round pick in 2007 for St. Louis

 2010 Stats: 4-2, 4 S, 3.31 ERA 53 K and 18 BB in 49 IP in Columbus; 7.50 ERA, 9 K and 3 BB in 6 IP in Cleveland

toddScouting report: Most Indians fans have seen Todd pitch at this point, as he logged 20+ innings in Cleveland after coming over in the Mark DeRosa deal in 2009 as well as his 6 innings for the big club in 2010.  He’s a fun guy to watch, as his stuff plays up in his short relief roles and he leaves nothing on the field when he takes the mound.  Todd throws four pitches, somewhat unusual for a reliever.  His fastball sits in the low 90’s, but he can reach back and touch the mid 90’s when he needs to.  He also throws a nice little two-seamer that has some downward movement to it.  His best pitch is probably his slider, which generates the majority of the swing and miss K’s as long as he sets it up well with his fastball.  His fourth pitch is a fringy changeup that is nice when he can control it, but is really more of a “show me” pitch to keep hitters honest since the rest of his arsenal is hard stuff.

Todd pitched well in Columbus last year, striking out more than a batter per inning and limiting his walks.  It was a little bit of a surprise not to see him called up to Cleveland sooner, but when he did get the call he struggled, allowing 12 baserunners in 6 IP.  Todd has good stuff and an aggressive mentality, but he’s in danger of being passed up by the plethora of AAA and AA power arms in the system.

Todd is still on the 40-man roster, and has a chance to break camp with the big club.  

Glass half-full: He becomes a late-inning setup man, but probably never the dominant 8th inning guy the Indians envisioned when they traded for him

Glass half-empty: He continues to get knocked around in the big leagues and ends up a AAAA guy. 


36. Felix Sterling, RHP

DOB: 3/15/1993

Height/Weight: 6-3/200

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: International FA

2010 Stats: 2-3, 3.16 ERA, 57 K and 20 BB in 51 1/3 IP for the AZL Indians

Scouting report: Sterling is a big, strong, young prospect out of the Dominican Republic.  He’s bigger than most of the teenage international signings that we usually see, and has a lot more weight on him.  He has three pitches, a fastball that sits comfortable in the low-mid 90’s, a curveball that has been called more of a “slurve” than anything, and a changeup.  He has better feel for the fastball and breaking ball at this point than the changeup, but that is not unexpected for a pitcher with his age and experience.

Sterling has already show that he has the ability to miss bats, as he struck out more than a batter per inning in his stateside debut.  He’s still more of a thrower than a pitcher, but there aren’t a lot of 17-year olds who find that kind of success, even in rookie ball.  He has more weight on him than most of the kids you see signed from the Caribbean, which is a good sign but also means he has a little less room to grow than most of the IFAs.  He finished 2010 in the top-10 in the AZL in ERA, WHIP and K’s. 

I’d expect Sterling to stick around in AZ for extended spring training and then likely join the Mahoning Valley rotation when the short season leagues start up in June.  There is a chance that the Indians will get aggressive with him and start him off right in Lake County, but it would be a difficult full season assignment for him at age 18, and there’s really no reason to rush him at this point in time.

Glass half-full: Patience, grasshopper.  I’ll settle for a healthy season at Mahoning Valley and an appearance with Lake County late in the season.  If he can continue his developmental track though, you’re looking at a #2 or #3 starter.

Glass half-empty: He struggles with command and pitches the full year in Arizona. 


35. Giovanni Soto, LHP

DOB: 5/18/1991

Height/Weight: 6-3/155

Bats/Throws: L/L

Acquired: From Detroit for Jhonny Peralta; 21st round pick for Detroit in 2009

2010 Stats: 9-8, 2.93 ERA, 107 K and 36 BB in 113 2/3 IP in the low A Midwest League

 Scouting report: Soto is a young, skinny lefthander with a bit of projection in him.  Acquired from Detroit in exchange for Jhonny Peralta, Soto performed well ingiosoto the Midwest League as a 19-year old in 2010.  He’s not a flamethrower at this point in his career, and generally sits in the high 80s with his fastball.  For me, that is actually good news, because as Soto gains weight and strength in his lower half, that velocity should creep up into the 90s, and if he can strike out nearly a batter per inning as a 19-year old without a dominant fastball, imagine what he can do when he starts throwing harder?  In addition to the fastball, Soto throws a cutter, a curve and a changeup.  The best of his three secondary offerings at this point is his cutter, so he will need to get a better feel for one of his slower pitches if he wants to keep more advanced hitters honest.

 Soto should open the season in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League as part of the Kinston rotation.  Expect him to be a one level at a time guy, as he’d have to make a pretty big leap in performance to make it to Akron in 2011. 

Glass half-full: He gains 30 pounds over the next three years and sticks in the rotation as a 3/4 guy.

Glass half-empty: His fastball never gets faster and he tops out at AA.


34. Giovanny Urshela, 3B

DOB: 10/11/1991

Height/Weight: 6-0/185

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: International FA prior to 2009 season

2010 Stats: .290/.326/.367 with 3/35 in 221 at bats for short season Mahoning Valley

Scouting report: Urshela’s calling card at this point is his defense.  Scouts were calling him the best defensive 3B in the New York-Penn League, as his above average range and arm stood out among his peers.  Some even go as far as to project him as a gold glove caliber defender someday.  He played the 2010 entire season at age 18, which is an age you more typically see in the complex leagues in Arizona or even the Dominican Republic.  The Indians didn’t expect to get too much from his bat, and were pleasantly surprised by his .290 average in the NYP league.  He didn’t show much pop, with only 11 extra base hits, but his power should develop as he gets bigger and adds strength to his frame.  The hit tool is there, and he does a good job of putting the bat on the ball, but he needs to bulk up and show a little more pop before he can be projected as an everyday MLB 3B. 

Urshela missed a couple of weeks with a hand injury, but it’s nothing to be concerned about and he finished the season strong.  He’ll be 100% heading into spring training this year. 

Urshela is all about projection at this point.  He’ll be 19 years old during the whole 2011 baseball season, and will likely spend that entire time at low A Lake County.  At his age, he’s a one-level at a time guy until at least AA.  He’s another guy on my “must see” list when I head down to Goodyear this spring.

Glass half-full: A slick-fielding 3B who puts on 30 lbs of muscle and makes an MLB appearance by 2014

Glass half-empty: A slick-fielding 3B who never hits enough to play the position above AA. 


33. Abner Abreu, OF

DOB: 10/24/1989

Height/Weight: 6-3/170

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: International FA following the 2006 season

2010 Stats: .252/.289/.362 with 4/58 in 409 AB for high A Kinston


Ab_AbreuScouting report: Abreu is a guy that I had sky-high expectations for entering 2010.  He had a career .832 OPS as a teenager between the DSL, AZL and low A Lake County entering the season.  He’s wiry strong, with plus raw power to all fields.  He’s an athletic defender with a cannon for an arm in RF.  He still has room to add weight to his frame and not lose athleticism, and with added strength should come even more pop with the bat.  A bad shoulder injury that was suffered diving for a ball in the Lake County outfield cut short his promising 2009, but the Indians had seen enough to give him an aggressive assignment to high A Kinston as a 20 year old.  The pitcher-friendly Carolina League proved a difficult assignment for the Dominican OF, as in a career-high 409 at bats he put up an OPS of just .651. 

Abreu’s main issues are with his approach and pitch recognition.  Because he is so strong and his arms are so long, he has the ability to make contact with virtually any pitch that is in the same zip code as the plate.  His approach is reminiscent of a young Vlad Gurerro, where he swings at just about everything because he is talented enough to make contact with pitches well outside of the strike zone.  But making contact with pitches and picking a pitch to hit are two very different things.  Pitchers at high A took advantage of his aggressive mentality, and he struck out 130 times and took just 20 walks last season.  If Abreu is going to find success at the higher levels of the minor leagues and into the majors, he has got to start swinging at pitches that he can drive.  He also had struggles with pitch-recognition, and had some difficulty with hitting/laying off breaking balls in high A. 

 I got a chance to see Abreu in spring training, then in early 2010 and late 2010 as well.  In Kinston’s season ending series against Potomac, it was clear that Abreu was trying to be more selective at the plate.  One at bat in particular, he took a couple of curveballs in the dirt for balls, only to get rung up looking on a fastball that looked like it was about 6 inches below his knee.  That can be a frustrating experience for a young hitter, as he’s clearly trying to be more selective at the plate, only to pay for it because of a blown call by a young umpire.  It’s going to be a challenge, but Abreu needs to continue to work on pitch selection and recognition so he can put his plus raw power to use.  If he can cut down on the strikeouts and take more walks, that would be an excellent sign that he’s starting to figure things out.

Abreu will likely start off 2011 in Kinston for a 2nd shot at the Carolina League.  His ceiling is still sky-high, but is floor is also precariously low at this point.  He’s one of those guys who could be in the top-5 on this list next year, or he could be down in the 40s.  I’ve had him at about 6 different spots on this list, and really can’t come up with a definitive ranking for him.  Time will tell, but he’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on as 2011 progresses.  I know we’re supposed to be objective and not root for certain players, but Abreu really is one of my favorite players in the system, and I’ll be pulling for him to put it together this year. 

Glass half-full: Abreu refines his approach and becomes an impact bat and defender in RF.

Glass half-empty: Abreu’s approach and pitch-recognition issues continue to plague him, and he never makes it above AA. 


32. Corey Kluber, RHP

DOB: 4/10/1986

Height/Weight: 6-4/215

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: Acquired in the Jake Westbrook deal; originally a 4th round pick for San Diego in 2007

2010 Stats: 9-9, 3.49 ERA with 165 K and 56 BB in 160 IP between AA and AAA

Scouting report: Kluber had a big year in 2010.  He wasn’t seen as a top prospect in the Padres organization going into 2010, but added several MPH on his fastball and really started missing bats in the Texas League.  Kluber throws a mid-90s fastball and a plus slider that is his strikeout pitch.  His third best pitch is a changeup that he will have to work on if he wants to remain a starter long-term. 

Kluber was leading the AA Texas League in K’s at the time of the trade with 136 in 122 2/3 IP, and had been named as the TL Player of the Week.  After he was traded, Kluber made 5 starts in the Eastern League for Akron before finishing up the season with two starts for AAA Columbus.  Kluber walked more and struck out less in his brief AAA stint, but for now we can put that down to small sample size and see what he has in him for 2011.

Kluber should start 2011 in the Columbus rotation, and will fight with David Huff and Jenmar Gomez to be the first starter called up to Cleveland in case of injury or ineffectiveness in the big league rotation. 

Glass half-full: Kluber refines his changeup and becomes a productive 3/4 starter

Glass half-empty: A move to the bullpen where his two good pitches will play up in shorter outings.


31. Jared Goedert, 3B/1B

DOB: 5/25/1985

Bats/throws: R/R

Acquired: 9th round pick in 2006

2010 Stats: .283/.358/.532 with 27/83 between AA and AAA

 Scouting report: Goedert wasn’t really on the prospect map entering 2010.  He was coming off of an injury-plagued 2009 that saw him hit just .224 in 359 at-batsGoedert for AA Akron.  Goedert hadn’t fared much better in 2008, as he put up just a .709 OPS in Kinston that year.  Goedert had a big 2007, where he posted a 1.020 OPS between Lake County and Kinston, but he was in danger of getting the dreaded “organizational depth” label when he was tabbed to start 2010 in Akron again.  Goedert broke out in a big way, hitting 7 HR and posting a .922 OPS in Akron in just 163 at bats en route to earning a promotion to AAA Columbus.  The move didn’t do anything to slow him down, as Goedert pounded 20 HR in 318 AAA at bats to help slug Columbus to the overall AAA title.  His 27 overall HR between AA and AAA led all Indians farmhands.  

Goedert has a short, compact swing that is quick to the ball and provides power to all fields.  He has above average gap power, especially when he is able to extend his arms and get some loft on the baseball.  Goedert had some injury issues earlier in his career which help explain his ineffectiveness at the plate from 2008-2009, as a torn labrum in his left shoulder restricted his strength and movement and was a real hindrance at the plate.  Now that he is healthy, Goedert is back to hitting the ball with authority like he did in Lake County in 2007. 

A lot of Tribe fans were clamoring for Goedert to get some at bats in Cleveland in 2010 to see just how legit his power surge was.  For better or worse, the Indians left him in Columbus, mostly due to his issues defensively.  By all accounts, Goedert is a below average defender at 3B and might make the move across the diamond to 1B to increase his versatility and hide his defensive shortcomings.  I would have liked to see him make an appearance in the Cleveland lineup in 2010 as well, but it just wasn't going to happen.

No matter how you look at it, Goedert had an outstanding season in 2010.  His performance for AAA Columbus was a revelation, and he showed power that I just didn't see coming after back-to-back down seasons.  Goedert is going to get a shot to make the Indians out of spring training this year.  His bat should play at the major league level, the only question is going to be his defense.  As we know, 3B is wide open going into 2011, and I really don’t see any reason why Goedert shouldn’t get an opportunity to win the job in Goodyear.  Even if he doesn’t get the starting job at the hot corner, he could make the club as a corner IF/DH and be a power righthanded bat off the bench. 

Glass half-full: Goedert’s 2010 breakout was real and he hits enough to overcome his defensive shortcomings as a corner IF.

Glass half-empty: His 2010 with the bat was a mirage, and he never hits enough to make up for his glove.   


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