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Tony Wolters to move to catcher, and other minor league news

In what might be the biggest player move of the spring so far, the Indians announced yesterday that Tony Wolters would be changing positions.


Paul Hoynes has the story:

Tony Wolters, their No. 3 pick in 2010, will move from second base/shortstop to catcher this year. He'll start the season at Class A Carolina.

Wolters played shortstop up until last year, when he moved to second base. His bat, while affected by a hamate bone injury last year, should play at shortstop or second base, but the concern was that he didn't have the range to shortstop. That's not that big a deal in an organization that doesn't lack for shortstop prospects, from Ronny Rodriguez to Francisco Lindor to Dorsyss Paulino, but the Indians also have several second base prospects in the organization as well, not to mention Jason Kipnis, who is just going into his second full season in Cleveland.

So the Indians have decided to turn Wolters into a catcher. The move will delay Wolters' path to the majors at least a year, as he'll probably spend much of 2013 in Carolina again. But if works out, he'll become the Indians' top catching prospect in an organization that didn't really have one beyond Yan Gomes and perhaps Roberto Perez. A drastic position chance ended up working for Jason Kipnis, and the Indians are rolling the dice again with Wolters. Tony caught in high school, and seems to be the right size for the position, but it's going to take some time to really know for sure if he can be a major-league catcher.

In related news, the Indians are going to jump second base prospect Jose Ramirez from Lake County to Akron to play alongside Ronny Rodriguez at shortstop. Ramirez is prospect that isn't highly rate yet, but is intriguing on several levels. He's a very small man, even for an infielder (5'9", 165 lbs), but has very good speed and even batted eye-hand coordination; last year in Lake County, he hit .354/.403/.462, striking out 26 times in 313 Plate Appearances. He's unlikely to hit for much power as he faces more advanced pitching, but perhaps that's what the Indians are going to try to find out. He'll only be 20 this season.

Also, the Indians have traded catcher Brian Jeroloman to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for cash. Thus passes the end of the Brian Jeroloman Era.