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On the Farm

As kov noted, Cleveland prospects are all over Baseball America's latest Prospect Hot List, with Jeremy Sowers headlining the list. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Trevor Crowe also made the top ten, and John Drennan and Scott Lewis were "In the Team Photo."

I liken Sowers to Pirates pitcher Zach Duke, who the Indians saw last week - a pitcher who's never going to get great marks for his stuff, but uses good control, and - most importantly - a good pitching plan of attack to get hitters out. He's probably one bad Jason Johnson start away from Cleveland. I caution that there's going to be an adjustment period for Sowers, as with any young starter. But I think he's ready to enter a big league rotation right now.

Kevin Kouzmanoff is bit more problematic for the organization. He's old for AA, but the Indians have Andy Marte in Buffalo and a surprisingly productive Aaron Boone in Cleveland. The Indians could have he and Marte share time at 3B and DH, but I don't see anything more dramatic than that. A position change left on the defensive spectrum isn't feasible IMO; he's had back problems in the past, and I don't think he's physically capable of playing second base. Kouz hit two homers tonight for the Aeros; he's now hitting .420 in 143 at-bats.

Trevor Crowe could make the switch, though. He's really been impressive in Kinston, and he has played second base in the past, although not at the professional level. His combination of on-base skills plus speed would fill a need at the major-league level, though he's at best a year away. I would think he'd get a promotion to Akron soon, and his best case scenario has him at Buffalo to start 2007. The Indians aren't real aggresive with promotions, and they'll be even more conservative with him if Crowe does make the switch.

The Indians are at a stage where prospects are getting blocked thanks to core major-leaguers. That's a good thing in my book (you can never have enough talent), but the tricky part is to figure out who to keep and who to deal.  Kouzmanoff is a case in point - he's stuck behind Marte in AAA, and, at the moment, Aaron Boone in the majors. Right now, he'd be a nice trading chip should the Indians be looking for help next month.