2013 in Review: Minors
Players: SS Francisco Lindor • C Tony Wolters • RHP Mitch Brown • SS Dorssys Paulino • OF Tyler Naquin • 2B/SS Ronny Rodriguez • OF Luigi Rodriguez • OF LeVon Washington • RHP Cody Anderson • OF Clint Frazier • RHP Trevor Bauer
Second-Half Record: 35-35 (3rd, CL Southern, 8.0 GB)
About the Carolina League
The Carolina League is a eight-team league based in - you guessed it - ACC country. The majority of the teams are actually located outside North or South Carolina, but the league name has stuck. The Indians have had a team in the Carolina League for quite a while, though for many years their affiliate was Kinston. In 2012, the Kinston franchise moved to Zubulun, North Carolina and took the name of former AA Southern League team.
Because the Carolina is so small, it has some advantages. The relatively small geographical footprint means that there isn't as much travel time as in other leagues, and because everyone plays each other so often there are adjustments made against players, which is something prospects will need to experience before getting to the majors.
The Carolina is another pitcher's league (ranked 7th out of 10 full-season leagues by Baseball America). However, Carolina's home park has one of the better run-scoring environments in the league, trailing only Winston-Salem in runs per game (9.53), hits per game (17.89), and home runs per game (1.46). So pitchers are at a bit of a disadvantage at home, but the road schedule should balance things out.
The average age in the Carolina is between 22 and 23. There's a lot of second-year college draft picks here, with some high school/DSL players sprinkled in.
On to the players!
An eclectic group, with a some young prospects (Lindor, Rodriguez, Wolters), a couple college outfield prospects (Naquin, Smith), and some older but intriguing guys (Wendle, Myles). There's even a 25-year-old Independent League signing (Matera) to boot.
Lindor deservedly should get most of the attention here. He was at least 3 years old for his league, and he was one of the best offensive players regardless of age. His OBP ranked 15th in the league, and he was only one of eight players to hit over .300 for the season. That's in addition to great defense and 20 stolen bases.
Tony Wolters shouldn't be ignored, either. Just before the season he transitioned from second base to catcher, and picked up the position very well. In addition to the offensive numbers listed above, he caught 28% of base runners trying to steal. It looks like the experiment is going well, and the Indians have themselves yet another catching prospect. Luigi Rodriguez had his season cut short because of injuries, but when he did play he was pretty good for his age. And Joe Wendle, who was picked in 2012 in part to save bonus pool money for the high-round high school pitchers, was one of the best offensive players in the league. He's 23, so he's doing what he should be doing in the Carolina League, but he should be getting a everyday spot in Akron next year because of what he did in 2013.
The Carolina Mudcats were not very good at run prevention, allowing the second-most run/game in the league. The starting rotation had intriguing pitchers, starting with Shawn Morimando and Cody Anderson. Neither projects as a high-upside guy, but both have the potential to help somewhere on the Cleveland roster. Joseph Colon, who has seemingly been around forever in the organization, had a very nice season, and could snag a rotation in Akron next season.
As for the bullpen...yuck. Jeff Johnson was the best of the bunch, and got a promotion to Akron at the end of the season, but I'm not seeing much major-league help from the rest of the bullpen. Let's just leave it at that.
Prospects That Matter:
Already included: SS Francisco Lindor, C Tony Wolters, OF Luigi Rodriguez, LHP Shawn Morimando
Potential for 2013 review: None
Potential for 2014 mid-season review: OF Tyler Naquin, RHP Cody Anderson, RHPJeff Johnson, OF Jordan Smith
Potential for 2014 review: 2B Joe Wendle, RHP Joseph Colon, OF Bryson Myles
Rule 5 Eligible: LHP Elvis Araujo, RHP Joseph Colon, RHP Cole Cook, RHP Owen Dew, RHP JD Reichenbach, RHP Robert Whitenack, SS Erik Gonzalez, OF Anthony Gallas, OF Bo Greenwell*
*If he re-signs with the Indians before the Rule 5 Draft
Starting here we'll be seeing some potential tough calls for the Rule 5 Draft. There are three players that are going to be talked about by the Indians.
- LHP Elvis Araujo is an extremely talented pitcher but hasn't been able to stay healthy.Was ranked #26 in the organization by Baseball America last year. Probably will end up as a reliever, and high-upside left-handers usually get attention in Rule 5.
- SS Erik Gonzalez had a breakthrough season at both Lake County and Carolina. Projects as a utility guy, and again that type of player is usually a target in the Rule 5 draft.
- RHP Joseph Colon was really good after missing the first half of the season. I could see someone selecting him based on a scouting report.
Minor League Free Agent: OF Bo Greenwell