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Cleveland Indians Minor League Update: June 29-July 5 (PTM Update)

The complete mid-season Prospects That Matters update.

Tyler Naquin (left) and Francisco Lindor (right)
Tyler Naquin (left) and Francisco Lindor (right)
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Minor-League Updates

April 6-12April 13-19April 20-26 (PTM) April 27-May 3

May 4-10 May 11-17 May 18-24 May 25-31

June 1-7 June 8-14 June 15-21 June 22-28

Permanent Prospect That Matters post

New Prospects That Matter (Original Post)

In this update, four players who were PTM will be moved to Too Accomplished to be Prospects, and three players will join the PTM. If you've been following the weekly updates throughout this season, you'll have a fairly good idea who these four are. The four players who were added both meet the requirements laid out above in addition to having a history of success or the tools to succeed in the majors.

Here are the players that were not listed among the PTM before the season but are eligible for addition:

  • 1B/DH Chen-Hsui Chen (Age 24, AAA)
  • C Roberto Perez (Age 24, AAA)
  • RHRP Preston Guilmet (Age 25, AAA)
  • C Jake Lowery (Age 22, AA)
  • RHSP Will Roberts (Age 22, AA)
  • LHSP Shawn Morimando (Age 20, A+)
  • RHSP Michael Peoples (Age 21, A+)
  • RF Anthony Santander (Age 18, A-)
  • 3B Leonardo Castillo (Age 19, A-)

There's one player in Arizona (Francisco Mejia) that meets the criteria, but his season is just beginning.

That's not a huge list to choose from, and it excludes several players that are having fine seasons, even dominant seasons, but miss the criteria because of age. For example, Tyler Naquin, who is in his Age 22 season, is having an outstanding season in Carolina, and if I were basing this on projections/scouting, he'd be a shoo-in. But that's the point of the criteria: it purposefully makes a player dominating a level reach a higher, more age-appropriate level before he can be included. This is a list designed to just give the casual minor-league follower the prospects worth following, and if I included all the players having decent seasons at lower levels, then the list would be 2 or 3 times larger, and would defeat the purpose of a list, because if everyone's included, then the designation of a prospect loses its meaning. The criteria is strict at lower levels, and much more forgiving in AA and AAA, which is as it should be for this purpose, as results start to matter more at those levels. I fully expect Naquin, once he's promoted to Akron (whether its this year or next), to make this list.

With all that being said, here are the mid-season additions to the Prospects That Matter:

Anthony Santander is doing OK in Lake County, but he's not having what I consider a solid season. Likewise, Chun Chen is struggling a bit in his first taste of AAA. Both were borderline choices, but I decided to err on the side of caution for now.

[End re-post]

Comments on the PTM snubs

There were several questions on the system, mostly centered around Tyler Naquin and Clint Frazier. Although each will be included in the Prospects That Might Matter at Some Point section, I'd like to fully explain why Naquin and Frazier are not included, as they both certainly merit a full explanation. Each was excluded for different reasons, and serves as a good look at the

Clint Frazier - to me, this is a fairly easy explanation. This system is based on professional results, and since Frazier has just started his pro career, including him now would not only be jumping the gun, but would be subverting the system. We all think that Frazier will be a great prospect, and then hopefully a great major-league player, but there's still a long way to go in his development. If everything goes right (no injuries, no struggles), he'll debut with the Indians in 2017. If things go really well, he might get to Cleveland in 2016. In either scenario, he'll be added to the PTM by the middle of next season, as a 19-year-old, and the system is set up so that teenagers have a tough time making the list.

"But Frazier was a 1st Round pick." Well, yes, but again, the system is based foremost on professional performance, not scouting or where a player was drafted. Although good scouting reports will tip the scales on a player that's putting up decent numbers, it can't be the entire justification, or else this system becomes Ryan's Gut Feelling Based on Other's Scouting Reports, which will be entirely useless if you know how my gut feelings usually turn out. In Frazier's case, just be patient. It's not he's going to be ignored in the updates, as plenty of players who aren't part of the list yet are highlighted every week.

A good point was made about Mitch Brown in regards to this question. The question was: "why include Mitch Brown in the PTM after his Age 18 season when you won't include Clint Frazier?" And as I really have no answer to that question other than expediency (I put together the first one in April, well after it normally should have been done), I am going to remove Brown from the PTM, as I didn't follow the rules. The April inclusion was wrong even if Brown would have taken off in Lake County, as he hadn't met any of the age/level criteria as of April.

Tyler Naquin - I think most people were ok with Frazier being excluded, but Naquin was another matter. Here is a player that not only was a first round pick, but is in Advanced A a year later and performing about as well as you could hope. He seems like a player that should be a shoo-in for inclusion by a lot of criteria, especially since that it seems like he can stick in center field.

So why exclude him? The reason is that he doesn't meet the age/level criteria. And as unfair as that might sound, the age/level criteria is there for a reason. The goal of the system is to predict which players will become major-league players, major-league contributors, and major-league stars, and if every 22-year old that dominated the Carolina League, the system would quickly lose its usefulness. In 2008, there were three 22-year-olds that had very nice seasons in the Carolina League: Josh Rodriguez, Wes Hodges, and Jared Goedert, with two of the three players being high draft picks. The three players totaled 15 Plate Appearances between them (all by Rodriguez). Yes, these are anecdotes, and I'm sure counter-anecdotes can be found, but there were enough of those flameouts to justify this rule. In fact, it's the reason this system was created in the first place.

So if you're rooting for Naquin to appear on this list, you need to be rooting for a promotion to Akron. A 22-year-old dominating AA seems to have a much higher correlation with a future major leaguer than a 22-year-old dominating the Carolina League. So just be patient, and we'll see whether the system worked soon enough.

The Current Crop of Prospects That Matter

In this section I'm going to break down the current members of PTM into further sections:

  • Prospects That Really, Really Matter - players who've met PTM criteria at an excessively young age.
  • Prospects That Really Matter - those who beat the PTM criteria with room to spare.
  • Prospects That Matter - others who've cleared the bar.
  • Too Accomplished to be Prospects - graduates to the majors who are still of "prospect age"
  • Too Old to Matter - players who are still in the minor-league system but are too old to make the PTM list.
  • Prospects That Might Matter at Some Point - notable players who still have age on their side; could make future PTM lists.

Prospects That Really, Really Matter

  • SS Francisco Lindor (Age 19, A+) - At this point he's one of the best prospects in baseball, never mind the Indians system. Considered the best defender in the minors, he's started to hit for average, get on base, and hit for gap power. There's no real reason to rush him unless you want to consider major-league contracts (Asdrubal Cabrera is a free agent after the 2014 season), and I've come around to being all right with Lindor remaining in Carolina the rest of the season. You have to go back to Victor Martinez to find as exciting a homegrown position player prospect, and Lindor is about three years ahead of Martinez as far as making the majors.
  • RHP Trevor Bauer (Age 22, AAA) - It's important to note that despite all Bauer's rather public struggles at the major league level, he's still a very young player with very little professional experience. After this past week's performance, he may not get another spot start with the Indians this year (at least until the games don't matter), but that doesn't diminish his potential.

Prospects That Really Matter (in no particular order)

  • 2B Jose Ramirez (Age 20, AA) - Pushed to AA, Ramirez has held his own, so don't look at that .646 OPS and see a player that's struggled. He's walked (30) more than he's struck out (26), which shows a player that has an exceptionally good eye at the plate and the ability to make contact. Because of his size (5'9", 165 lbs), it's doubtful that he'll ever hit for much power, which limits his ceiling somewhat. But he certainly hasn't hurt his status this year.
  • SS Ronny Rodriguez (Age 21, AA) - Another player who has been aggresively promoted, Rodriguez initially struggled but has had a Kipnis-like June (.392/.405/.532) after looking awful in April. Unlike his keystone partner Jose Ramirez, Rodriguez is a free-swinger, but Ronny has the upside of a starting MLB shortstop or second baseman. Given the current organizational depth, I wouldn't be surprised if Rodriguez is included in a deadline deal this month.
  • RHSP Danny Salazar (Age 23, AAA) - promoted to AAA a month into the season, Salazar has returned to his former prominence after having Tommy Surgery a couple of years ago. His stuff is not in doubt, but he'll need to show whether he has the durability to remain in the rotation. Even if that doesn't work in, he'll be a quality back-end reliever.
  • OF Luigi Rodriguez (Age 20, A+) - promoted to Carolina after starting in Lake County, Rodriguez has played mostly left field because of Naquin. The speedy switch-hitter has done very well in his first taste of the Carolina League (.283/.383/.398) combining decent power with a good batting eye.
  • 3B Giovanny Urshela (Age 21, AA) - he hasn't been spectacular in his AA debut, but that's ok, as he's still very young. Urshela uses the Gandalf method of hitting, swinging at just about everything in the strike zone, but to this point it hasn't resulted in an excessive amount of strikeouts. Considered a very good defender, Urshela should be on your radar as the next third baseman in the system after Lonnie Chisenhall.
  • LHSP Shawn Morimando (Age 20, A+) - In an organization rife with disappointing pitchers, Morimando has exceeded all expectations. A 19th Round selection in 2011, Shawn has blown past other more celebrated high school arms to excel at Advanced A. He has a four-pitch mix, and is very polished for someone his age. His stuff isn't exceptional, and that worries me, but he's more than fulfilled the criteria for inclusion here.
  • C Jake Lowery (Age 22, AA) - The Indians for most of the season have been shuffling their catching prospects up and down their full-season leagues, but I think now they have everyone where they should be. For the first half of the season, Lowery and Roberto Perez shared playing-time, mostly because the Indians had an organizational hole because of injuries and promoted everyone up a level. Lowery probably should have started the season in Carolina again, but he had no problems offensively in a tough hitter's league. A 4th Round pick in 2011, Lowery's upside was as a starting catcher, and it looks like he's back on that path.

Prospect That Matter (in no particular order)

  • LHRP Giovanni Soto (Age 22, AA) - has been hurt most of the season.
  • C Tony Wolters (Age 21, A+) - has transitioned to catcher with no apparent setbacks. Has really started to hit (.318/.400/.439 in June) after a slow start, which was probably caused by the defensive change.
  • LHSP T.J. House (Age 23, AAA) - like with Salazar, House was promoted to AAA early this season, and even got to put on a major-league uniform for a couple days (though he didn't get into a game). Not ready for a big league rotation, so don't expect him to help this season, but he could be in the conversation next year.
  • SS Dorssys Paulino (Age 18, A-) - has struggled in his first full-season experience, but time is on his side. If Paulino develops, he probably won't stick at shortstop, with third base or second a possibility.
  • RHRP Trey Haley (Age 23, AA) - one of the biggest disappointments this season, Haley has walked an incredible 21 in only 17 AA innings.
  • RHSP Preston Guilmet (Age 25, AAA) - even though he doesn't get rave reviews for his stuff, you can't argue with what he's done at every level of the organization. A 9th Round selection in 2009, Guilmet's rates have uniformly excellent (career 7.2 H/9, 9.8 SO/9, 2.0 BB/9). Yeah, his upside is a 7th-inning, possibly 8th-inning guy, but there's little risk here.
  • SS Juan Diaz (Age 24, AAA) - has really struggled in his first full season in AAA, Diaz is in danger of being passed by players currently behind him in the organization.
  • LHRP Scott Barnes (Age 25, AAA) - Scott has had several opportunities to stick in the majors, but hasn't taken advantage of them. Now that's carrying over to AAA.
  • 1B Jesus Aguilar (Age 23, AA) - plugging along in AA, though time is not on his side.
  • RHRP Shawn Armstrong (Age 22, AA) - has just recently started to pitch again after missing most of the first half of the season due to injury.

Too Accomplished to be Prospects

  • 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (Age 24, MLB) - still finding his way in the majors, but the talent is definitely there.
  • C Yan Gomes (Age 25, MLB) - one of the biggest surprises of the season, Gomes has become a key member of the team. More than just a normal backup catcher, Terry Francona has tried to find ways to get him into the lineup despite having one of the league's best offensive catchers on the roster.
  • LHP TJ McFarland (Age 24, MLB/Baltimore) - still is considered part of the organization because all the Rule 5 requirements haven't yet been satisfied, but with only two months more to go, the chances of McFarland returning to the Cleveland organization are remote.
  • RHP Hector Rondon (Age 25, MLB/Chicago Cubs) - like McFarland, Rondon is all but guaranteed to remain with the Cubs now that we're three months into the season. Unlike McFarland, I think Rondon can become a major league starter, which is why his selection stings. He had missed several years due to multiple arm surgeries, and was on the cusp of returning to full-time pitching when he was nabbed in the Rule 5 Draft.
  • RHRP Cody Allen (Age 24, MLB) - an integral part of the Cleveland bullpen, and after this season, likely to move up to 8th inning duties.

Prospects That Might Matter At Some Point (not a comprehensive list)

(comments to be added later)

  • CF Tyler Naquin (Age 22, A+)
  • CF Clint Frazier (Age 18, A-)
  • 1B/DH Chun-Hsiu Chen (Age 24, AAA)
  • RHP Cody Anderson (Age 22, A+)
  • C Francisco Mejia (Age 17, R-)
  • LHSP Luis Lugo (Age 19, SSA)
  • OF Carlos Moncrief (Age 24, AA) - Just so it doesn't get lost, here's a comment that Adam had on Moncrief in the last Minor League Update thread:

I wonder if it is getting to the point that we can consider Moncrief a legitimate prospect. At the moment, he is hitting .288/.364/.463 for Akron, with 12 assists from right field.

The issue with Moncrief is that he is old (he’ll turn 25 this November). But Moncrief is old, in part, because he spent his first two pro season pitching. Thinking more broadly about the issue of age and development, one of the reasons we prioritize youth is the added future physical development and improvement to a player’s raw toolset. Moncrief’s criticisms have nothing to do with his physical tools, though (he has plus natural power, a plus-plus arm, and average to above average speed), they have everything to do with his baseball skills. Baseball skills, unlike physical skills, can get better with age. Most importantly, Moncrief’s skills have gotten better. This past off-season I finally saw Moncrief mentioned on a couple of prospect lists, but I distinctly remember the prediction that he was going to get exposed by the improved breaking pitches at the AA level (the same was said about Giovanny Urshela, by the way). That has not happened at all. Here is Moncrief’s development from A-ball, to high-A, to AA this year over the past three years:

BB%: 13.8>11.3>10.8
K%: 39.6>31.0>20.0
ISO: .190>.215>.175
BABIP: .314>.341>.338 (for context)

I have highlighted the massive drop in K% because of its obvious importance. Even with these massive chances in bat to ball ability, Moncrief has maintained decent power and has not been particularly luck-aided.

Given his age, Moncrief is just an extended bad stretch from not being anything. I would argue that at this point, Moncrief’s prospect status has less to do with developing his skills than simply maintaining the development he has achieved. From Cleveland’s perspective, Moncrief possesses a skill-set (true corner OF) that they lack in the full-season system.

by APV on Jul 2, 2013 | 8:36 AM reply rec flag actions

  • OF Anthony Santander (Age 18, A-)
  • RHSP Jake Sisco (Age 21, A-)
  • RHSP Caleb Hamrick (Age 19, SSA)
  • CF Tyler Holt (Age 24, AA)
  • CF LeVon Washington (Age 21, A-) - Disabled List
  • C Roberto Perez (Age 24, AAA)
  • RHSP Michael Peoples (Age 21)
  • RHRP Jose Flores (Age 24, AA)
  • C Eric Haase (Age 20, A-)
  • RHSP Mitch Brown (Age 19, R-)
  • 2B Joseph Wendle (Age 23, A+)
  • 1B Jerrud Sabourin (Age 23, A+)
  • RHSP Dylan Baker (Age 21, A-)
  • RHRP Enosil Tejeda (Age 24, AA)
  • RHSP Kieran Lovegrove (Age 18, R-)
  • LHSP Matt Packer (Age 25, AA)
  • 3B Erik Gonzalez (Age 21, A-)
  • RHSP Jordan Cooper (Age 24, AA)
  • RHRP Jeff Johnson (Age 23, A+)
  • LHSP Elvis Araujo (Age 21, A+) - Disabled List

Too Old to Matter but Possible Contributors

  • RHRP Chen-Chang Lee (Age 26, AAA)
  • RHRP Austin Adams (Age 26, AA)
  • UT Cord Phelps (Age 26, AAA)
  • RHRP Bryce Stowell (Age 26, AAA)
  • OF Tim Fedroff (Age 26, AAA)