The Indians didn't have as many prospects residing in Buffalo this year as they did in seasons past, but there were a couple performances worth noting.
Fernando Cabrera was the star of the pitching staff. In his first full season as a reliever, he dominated International League hitters, and forced his way in the Indians bullpen late in the season. He's assured himself of a spot in the majors in 2006.
Andrew Brown also would have a spot in next year's bullpen, except for the fact that the Indians now have another option on him. The PTBNL in the Milton Bradley deal was shifted to the bullpen this season, and after a slow start, settled in quite nicely. His ratios aren't that dissimilar to Cabrera's. Brown's had some innjuries in the past, but his stuff has never been a question mark.
Fausto Carmona is an interesting pitcher. He's young enough and has good enough stuff to place him among the best pitchers in the organization, but I still wonder if his success can continue at the major-league level. Carmona seems to succeed with his control and his "heavy" fastball. It's not the classic pitching prospect profile, but he's gotten results thus far, and he has youth on his side. He has a shot to be the Indians' fifth starter next season.
Jason Davis had some decent spot starts in Cleveland, but his Buffalo line doesn't really put you in awe. His strikeout rates are up a bit from last season, but he gave up more hits than in 2004. Jason will also be in the running to be the fifth starter, but I could also see him as the Indians' longman.
Kazuhito Tadano took a small step forward from 2004. He upped his strikeout rates, lowered his walk rates, and slightly decreased his hit rates. His upside looks more as a middle reliever or a longman than a starter.
Brian Tallet also projects as a 6th starter or long reliever. The 27-year-old was still recovering from Tommy John surgery last season. He's out of options in 2006.
Kyle Denney, Steve Watkins, and Billy Traber became minor-league free agents after the season. Traber signed with the Washington Nationals, while Denney and Watkins still remained unsigned. Both would probably remain in Buffalo as depth if re-signed.
Ryan Garko is probably the only one listed here (other than Ramon Vazquez) that has a decent shot of making the majors next spring. His hitting has never been much of an issue, but can he learn to play first base?
Jason Cooper hit for power with the Bisons, but the strikeout rates are a red flag. Strikeouts at the major-league level are fine if you can mash the pitches that you do hit, but when you strike out 30% of the time in AAA without a lot of walks, it's a concern.
Jake Gautreau faded down the stretch after starting off 2005 on fire. He could be a useful utility player. Probably the first callup if the Indians need a third baseman.
For my thoughts on Brandon Phillips, click here.