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Minor league depth: Sorting through the detritus

The Indians have quite a few older players performing well in this high minors this year.  Some of these guys were formerly legitimate prospects who fell off the map because of injury or lack of performance, some of them are simply minor league vets putting together a great season.  Given the questionable talent on Cleveland's roster, and the questionable tenure of the talent that is there, it is worth sorting through some of these guys and evaluating whether any of them stand a shot of contributing in Cleveland.

Jared Goedert (3B/OF, 25.1) - Jared Goedert had a great run for Lake County...3 years ago.  You'll be excused if you have forgotten that stretch, as he has done little since.  But already this season Goedert has managed to ring up 30 extra base hits (20 2Bs, 10 HRs) between Akron and Columbus.  When Goedert was on the brink of looking like a prospect the Tribe tried to turn him into a second baseman (de ja vu all over again...) with no success.  What he provides defensively would be limited.  His offensive success when he was younger was a combination of power and plate discipline.  He has re-found his power stroke this season but his plate discipline has gone, meaning he is very contact dependent (his BABIP this season is nearly .400). 

Goedert's numbers are enticing, but it is difficult to make an argument that he deserves a shot in Cleveland when Andy Marte, who has the same profile coupled with much better defense and a better pedigree, is still sitting on the Cleveland bench.  If Marte weren't around, though, it is not hard to imagine Goedert occupying his minor role.

2010 line: 53G, .338/.390/.591, 20 2B, 10 HR, 8.0 BB%, 18.0 K%

Joshua Rodriguez (2B/U, 25.5) - Rodriguez probably has the best pedigree of anyone on this list.  An alum of the Rice baseball program, following a minor breakout season in 2007 Rodriguez was one of the Tribe's top 10 prospects heading into 2008.  The past two seasons have been rough, though.  His transition to AA in 2008 went disastrously (.694 OPS, 122 Ks in 137 games), and his follow-up campaign in 2009 was derailed by injury (just 33 games).  Nearly forgotten coming into this season, a strong performance coupled with an opening above him in the organization (created by Asdrubal's injury) and pressure from below (in the form of Cord Phelps) have pushed Rodriguez into Columbus' starting lineup.  His line on the season, split pretty evenly between Akron and Columbus, reflects the best of Rodriguez - above average power for his position coupled with a strong enough walk rate to offset his strikeout problems.  Rodriguez began his tenure in the organization as a full-time shortstop before transitioning to 2B.  Rodriguez has a strong arm, and while not providing great defense, probably is the most legitimate middle of the infield defender on this list. 

If Valbuena and/or Donald continue to struggle and Rodriguez stays healthy, I think it would not be a bad idea to drop Anderson Hernandez from the roster and give Rodriguez a temporary starting gig in Cleveland, with the idea of previewing his potential as a 2011 utility infielder on the team.

2010 line: 37G, .313/.413/.530, 10 2B, 5 HR, 15.4 BB%, 17.0 K%

Chris Gimenez (U/C, 27.4) - Gimenez is the only one here with major league experience, but his .497 OPS last season explains why he is no longer on the Indians 40-man roster (or anyone else's).  But the fact that Gimenez can play catcher, either corner infield and both corner outfield positions, and that he has shown decent patience and power, makes me guess he'll be on someone's roster again.  Gimenez is a streaky hitter, so it is hard to get a sense of what his true ability or ceiling is.  After getting a late start in April this season for Columbus, he came out of the gate roaring putting up a 1.013 OPS with 5 HRs in just half of April's games.

The current makeup of Cleveland's roster doesn't have any use for Gimenez's skill set.  We already have excess marginal corner players and catcher is occupied.  With both Santana and Marson it is hard to see Gimenez having a spot with Cleveland when, on another team, he might have a backup catcher role.  Gimenez has the most Casey Blake-like profile, though, so it possible a multi-faceted role based on his positional flexibility can emerge for him.  He's not great, but he is better than he showed in Cleveland last season.

2010 line: 44G, .288/.350/.488, 8 2B, 8 HR, 8.9 BB%, 17.3 K%

Jordan Brown (OF/1B, 26.5) - Brown is a well-discussed commodity.  He has struggled somewhat in his return from injury this season, further diminishing what little shot he has at seeing time in Cleveland.  He has a contact-dependent bat, with occasional flashes of power (mainly in the form of doubles), and nothing in the way of defensive value - a fairly marginal skill-set.  When he is on, as he was last season (.913 OPS), his bat is probably good enough to provide some value.  It is a real question how likely he is to be on at the big league level.

The only real opportunity for Brown in Cleveland anytime in the near future would be a simultaneous departure of Branyan and Marte.  LaPorta and Weglarz are, appropriately, going to get priority.

2010 line: 29G, .271/.308/.430, 9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5.1 BB%, 9.4 K%

Wes Hodges (1B/DH, 25.6) - Even less to offer than Brown, now that he is no longer viewed as viable at 3B.  Probably has more true power than Brown, but many more problems in his basic plate approach.  I can't imagine Hodges has any future in Cleveland in any role.

2010 line: 62G, .266/.304/.409, 15 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 5.8 BB%, 17.8 K%

Jose Constanza (CF, 26.6) - I am on record with my view of Constanza.  If the Indians are going to give Trevor Crowe, who profiles as a poor 4th OFer, a roster spot, they would be better served giving that role to Constanza.  Constanza's higher ceiling comes from three well developed, if marginal, skills.  He is very fast (49 SB in 2009, 12 so far this season), a good defender in CF, and he has good contact skills at the plate (his K-rate hasn't been above 11% since 2007).  He has no power and never will, and perhaps that limitation would allow major league pitchers to toy with him, but he does have a few skills.

I don't know if Cleveland views Constanza seriously at all.  I don't know what they view in Crowe.

2010 line: 47G, .340/.383/.424, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6.3 BB%, 9.4 K%