It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Francisco Lindor (SS)- I give Lindor the slight nod over Trevor Bauer even though I tend to go with high end pitching. Shortstop is that one position these day where I guy that can field and hit is worth his weight in gold. Lindor has the chance to be above average in all aspects.
2. Trevor Bauer (SP)- Not much suspense here as I gave it away just a second ago. Bauer has good stuff, and despite his troubles in Arizona, I truly believe that he is a top of the rotation type starter. I don’t think it will be long before he is the Indians number one guy.
3. Dorssys Paulino (SS)- Paulino might not stick at SS ultimately, but you can’t ignore what he did as a 17 year old stateside last year. Paulino dominated the rookie league in Arizona and made it to short season ball already and didn’t look over matched. A plus bat potential, and the Indians will worry about position later.
4. Tyler Naquin (OF)- I didn’t particularly like the selection of Naquin for the Indians in the first round last year. I felt with their pitching needs, there were more appropriate selections. That being said, Naquin is solid in most facets of the game and should hit for average and gap power. Kind of a poor man’s Shin Soo-Choo. And that isn’t bad at all.
5. Mitch Brown (SP)- Brown is a guy that rose up draft boards quickly near the end of the spring. Part of it is because he is from cold weather Minnesota. Brown has a good three pitch mix, has a good idea how to mix them, and I believe could rise to be a #2 starter type.
6. Ronny Rodriguez (SS)- The Indians seem to have their fair share of SS prospects in their system, and Rodriguez is the furthest along. Rodriguez does make some errors at SS, losing focus from time to time, but he does have the requisite tools. Offensively, he shows substantial pop but needs more patience. Just 21 in 2013 however.
7. Luigi Rodriguez (OF)- Another potential high end player from the Indians Latin efforts. Rodriguez needs work on pitch recognition, but he does show a bit of patience for a 20 year old in A ball already. Has some pop and runs well too. Could be a leadoff type guy down the road.
8. Jose Ramirez (2B)- What is not to like about a 20 year old in A ball that .354 and walks almost as much as he strikes out? Well, his stature scares scouts off, but not me. Jose Altuve and Alexi Amarista don’t have size and they do just fine. Ramirez is one to watch going forward.
9. Dillon Howard (SP)- This is more a nod to Howard’s status as a draft pick in 2011 more than what he did last year. Howard struggled statistically last season, and reports were his fastball wasn’t what he showed in high school, but I am not giving up on him yet. Ground ball machine, good pitchers frame, and potential for high end stuff.
10. Anthony Santander (OF)- Santander more than held his own as a 17 year old in the Arizona League last season. He showed good pop, solid speed, and wasn’t entirely over matched. Looks like as he matures he could be a corner outfielder.
Just Missed The List:
Lovegrove is a high school draftee from 2012 that has mid rotation potential. Allen is a fast rising reliever that looks like a set up guy. Wolters is solid across the board with his tools. And Baker is a strong armed pitcher from the 2012 draft that has closer or mid rotation potential.
Lugo is a projectable lefty with a good strikeout rate already. Bautista is another young SS that didn’t look out of place stateside last season.
I happen to like the Indians system probably a bit more than others do. So why did I rank them 26th? Well, there system is tremendously dependent on a lot of young guys panning out. But I do believe that with the sheer number of lower level guys with tools, they should hit on a few. Not mentioned were Felix Sterling, Elvis Araujo, Eric Haase (Metro Detroiter), Jorge Martinez, and Danny Salazar. With a good year from some of these guys, and a good draft, Cleveland could move up substantially. Until that happens though, they are going to remain a relatively thin system at the top with a bit of potential.
The strength here is in young Latin position prospects, and the weakness still resides in pitching.