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Top Prospects, part 5.5: The pitchers

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2010 Top Prospects 4 Position Players
1 The Injured 5 Pitchers 1
2 Fringe Position Players 5.5 Pitchers 2
3 Fringe Pitchers 6 Santana & Recap


Following up on the previous post in this series, the following is a list of the Indians pitching prospects who were primarily at or above the AA-level in 2009.  Todd and Carrasco have already seen time in Cleveland, but none of the others are far off. 

Hector Rondon (21.2, AAA) - I think Rondon is the Indians top pitching prospect.  He is not universally liked by scouts who question either the ceiling of his fastball or the development of his secondary pitches.  But if you look at what Rondon has done in his four years with the organization you can see that he has consistently gotten better even as he has faced increasingly difficult competition.  He gets good K-rates, but really excels as a control pitcher.  If he can maintain his control while developing a nice swing and miss pitch, I still think he is capable of being a front-line starter.  Rondon is on the 40-man roster now, so there is no reason to think we won't see him in Cleveland at some point during the 2010 season.

H Rondon IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2007 136.0 3.94 4.37 4.7 19.6 42.7 27 6.51
2008 145.0 3.44 3.60 7.0 24.0 40.1 46 7.43
2009 146.1 3.64 3.38 4.8 22.8 37.0 48 9.35

Carlos Carrasco (22.2, MLB) - Part of the Cliff Lee/Ben Francisco quartet, Carrasco's status as a fine pitching prospect is unquestioned.  He has shown increased control while maintaining strong K-rates throughout his minor league development, with overall solid performance numbers throughout.  The only question now is in making that transition from minor league prospect to major league pitcher.  Carrasco has great off-speed stuff, but as we all witnessed during his time in Cleveland last year, his fastball is prone to being hammered.  Whether it is deception, velocity, movement or set-up, Carrasco needs to find something to make his fastball work at the big league level.  He should have that chance at some point in 2010.

C Carrasco IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2007 140.0 4.82 3.86 11.4 17.1 40.9 -31 4.17
2008 151.1 3.33 3.69 9.0 23.9 46.7 39 8.83
2009 157.0 3.48 3.48 6.7 22.2 40.6 28 8.69

Jess Todd (23.2, MLB) - Todd made 19 appearances in Cleveland following his mid-season acquisition, so it is not as if he is unfamiliar to most of us.  With only 22 innings of major league work, though, it is worthwhile to consider Todd in the mix with the rest of these pitchers.  Over the past two seasons Todd has successfully made the transition from intriguing starting prospect to dominating high-majors reliever.  Relievers get a pretty strong penalty against them in the Progress Score ratings, so that he scores so well speaks to the level of performance he has put up in the minors, including a greater than 5:1 K to BB ratio this season.  Could be a nice cornerstone bullpen piece for the next "era" of Indians championship baseball.

J Todd IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2007 58.1 2.49 2.78 6.1 29.9 52.6 45 4.58
2008 153.0 3.49 2.88 6.9 22.3 49.5 34 8.16
2009 53.0 2.64 2.04 6.1 31.1 45.6 40 7.67

Jeanmar Gomez (21.4, AA)

I admit to being partial in my appreciation of Gomez. He has followed a trajectory somewhat similar to Aaron Laffey's in consistently outperforming expectations placed on him, and thereby raising the view on his ceiling.  Like Laffey, Gomez is also a groundball heavy pitcher.  However, Gomez is not quite as much of a groundballer as Laffey, with GB-rates hovering just under 50% the past three seasons.  And he is more of a strikeout pitcher, and has become more of a strikeout pitcher every season.  This past year Gomez put up a very respectable 20% K-rate, much better than anything Laffey ever put up in his development, and a sizeable improvement on the 15% he struck out in low-A just two seasons ago.  The cherry on top of his 2009 season was of course his no-hitter, but he was very good all throughout.  He has certainly earned a spot in the Columbus rotation, but given the number of pitchers competing for those spots at the moment, it is possible he could begin the year in Akron.

J Gomez IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2007 140.2 4.78 4.80 7.6 15.4 49.8 -21 4.48
2008 138.1 3.97 4.55 7.6 18.1 46.5 0 5.30
2009 147.1 3.82 3.30 7.3 20.2 48.7 23 7.51

Josh Judy (23.4, AA) - Judy is perhaps the most borderline pitcher who made it to the "interesting pitcher" watch-list.  He's a reliever, he's not young, he's at AA.  But he struck out more than 32% of the guys he faced, had good GB-numbers, only allowed 2 HRs all season, and has probably set himself up for second-half 2010 bullpen consideration in Cleveland.  Judy only profiles as a set-up man, but I hear teams need a few of those.

J Judy IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2007 25.1 4.41 0.36 10.5 20.0 48.3 10 -1.00
2008 88.1 3.13 3.26 7.1 26.5 47.5 40 2.22
2009 54.0 2.87 2.83 8.3 32.1 50.7 41 4.93

Zach Putnam (22.0, AA) - It is a little hard to read Putnam's development.  Viewed as either a pitcher or a position prospect coming out of Michigan, the Indians drafted him in 2008 and began the process of making him a major league starter.  He began 2009 in the Kinston rotation, but after five starts got promoted to Akron and simultaneously moved to the bullpen, with the view of possibly fast-tracking his progress towards Cleveland.  At the moment it is not entirely clear whether the Indians see him developing as a starter or as a reliever.  I see him perhaps following something like the developmental path of Justin Masterson, after recording more than 11 K/9 against righties in Akron last season.  I honestly have no idea where and in what role the Indians will start Putnam in 2010, but given the quantity of starting candidates it probably makes sense to begin him in the bullpen, but give him multiple inning stints to keep his inning totals up.

Z Putnam IP aFIP ERA BB% K% GB% Net ProS
2009 80.2 2.89 4.13 6.7 23.5 53.6 41 4.82

Up Next: The series finale, including a review of the Indians top prospect, Carlos Santana, and a recap of the entire series.