Top 100 Prospects: No. 96-100

Ranking the Top 100 minor-leaguers has been a painstaking project for more than 15 years for the Indians Ink staff. Our current issue available at newsstands or by ordering online from this site, takes a look at players who are headed towards helping the Indians in Cleveland in the future. We'll share them here in the coming weeks, five at a time.

This year, some familiar names top the list – though there certainly is quite a turnover from last year's Top 100. Part of the reason is because the Indians brought up so many prospects a year ago. Nine players from the 2010 list played enough in Cleveland to lose rookie status, led by last year's No. 1 prospect, catcher Carlos Santana. Others to "graduate" were No. 2 Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco (3), Lou Marson (6), Jason Donald (7), Jeanmar Gomez (19), Josh Tomlin (22), Hector Ambriz (29) and Frank Herrmann (40).

Others from the 2010 list are now playing in other organizations, including: No. 18 Carlos Rivero, Ryan Edell (32), Niuman Romero (36), Neil Wagner (39), Josh Rodriguez (49), Jose Constanza (50), Lucas Montero (56), Roman Pena (71) and Jesus Brito (75).

Management has added prospects in trades for veteran players and the 2010 draft produced players worthy of being considered among the organization's top prospects. That's the case with Drew Pomeranz, who has yet to throw a pitch as a professional, but is regarded as one of Cleveland's most advanced draft picks in years. He was selected at No. 5 overall. Despite not signing until the August deadline, which delayed his pro debut, scouts believe the left-hander will be advance quickly.

Other top picks from 2010 to make a quick appearance on this year's list are second choice LeVon Washington, third pick Tony Wolters, fourth selection Ryan Blair and eight-rounder Alex Lavisky.

The Indians Ink Top 100 differs from some publications that project a player's worth several years down the road. Our staff factors that in, but our list is more heavily weighted towards players closest to contributing in Cleveland. We love what we've seen from Lavisky, Wolters and several other prospects – but have them ranked behind players who are more mature, more developed, and in our opinion more likely to wear an Indians uniform ahead of them.

Sometimes, however, a player's obvious ability outweighs where he actually ranks on the Tribe's totem pole of prospects. That is why players such as Lonnie Chisenhall, Alex White and Jason Kipnis are ranked ahead of Jordan Brown, a former Indians Ink No. 1 who has already played a few games in the majors. That's why Adam Miller reappears this year after a one-year absence. Miller may never make it because of a series of surgeries to his pitching hand, but the fact that the guy is still giving it a go to regain his 100-mph fastball means he should be ranked.

We start with five young players, ranked No. 96 thru No. 100:

Kyle L. Smith
Dec. 25, 1987, in Visalia, CA
Position: Infielder
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-1/190
Acquired: 14th-round pick in 2009 Draft from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Strengths: Solid defender, not flashy, and has a good arm. Can run and shows leadership. Skills project as utility infielder unless he steps up at plate.
Weaknesses: Must cut down alarming strikeout rate (101 Ks to three HR in 2010) and gain better plate coverage.
2011 Projection: Back to Lake County. If he shows improvement at plate, a midseason move to Kinston.

Alex Kaminsky
Feb. 25, 1988, in Fostoria, OH
Position: Pitcher
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-1/190
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent, June 12, 2010, out of Wright State.
Strengths: Commands fastball, curve and changeup. Mixes pitches well.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have overpowering stuff and lacks experience against top competition. Success last summer may have been achieved against younger, greener foes. We'll see.
2011 Projection: Lake County, after a possible stint at extended spring training.

Anthony Gallas
Dec. 14, 1987, in Cleveland, OH
Position: Outfielder
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-2/210
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent, June 21, 2010, out of Kent State.
Strengths: Has some pop in bat and a decent arm. There's some athleticism, but not in great abundance.
Weaknesses: Less experienced than others his age as playing high school ball in Cleveland suburb of Strongsville didn't allow him to get on the field as much as prospects from warmer climates. Needs work in all aspects.
2011 Projection: Mahoning Valley with a possible move up to Lake County.

Argenis Martinez
April 8, 1990, in Caracas, Venezuela
Position: Infielder
B/T: S/R
HT/WT: 5-11/160
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent, Aug. 7, 2007.
Strengths: Speed, dexterity and glittering glovework. Willing to work the count and try to draw a walk. Decent arm is better suited to second base than shortstop. Turns double play well.
Weaknesses: Offensively challenged. Zero homers in 215 games as pro. But if he can slap out enough singles to hit .280, his speed and defense can make him a valuable team member.
2011 Projection: Back to Lake County, to try and hike .219 average against similar competition.

Erik Gonzalez
Aug. 31, 1991, in Puerto Plata, PR
Position: Second baseman
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-1/160
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent, Aug. 26, 2008.
Strengths: Quickness and athleticism. Raised average 96 points (.248 to .346) in second year in Dominican Summer League. Cut strikeouts from 36 to 19 in just about the same (256 to 258) number of plate appearances. Willing worker.
Weaknesses: Erratic in field, not much pop at plate. May fill out and move from second to a corner spot, but will need to develop more power at bat, too.
2011 Projection: Plenty of time in Goodyear, AZ., in extended spring training, then Arizona Summer League.

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