Prospect Pipeline

Cleveland Indians Top 50 Prospects Countdown:45-40

Scouting Baseball's lead analyst, Jeff Ellis, will be rolling out his top 50 Indians prospects based on observations, scouting reports, and firsthand exposure.

Here are the next five players in the Cleveland Indians top prospect list. These players are either future middle relievers, young talent that is very far away, or propsects whose stock has taken a tumble from a year ago. If you missed the first installment, one can find it HERE.

45. Francisco Perez LHP RK

Remember what I said about not reviewing the guys in the rookie league that I lack experience with? Well, here is one of the two exceptions on my list. If you want a helium candidate for next year, this is your guy. He turned 19 this summer and has shown three pitches in the low minors. His fastball can hit 94 but, with his build, it would be easy to see him adding more velocity. He is a helium guy to watch, who could fly up this list by next year.

44. Joe Colon RHP MLB/AAA

Colon is a step up from the previous two. A long term starter in the Indians minors, last year he switched to the pen and saw his velocity and stuff play up. His velocity was sitting mid 90’s once he moved there and he was able to mostly use his fastball, which was his only truly above average offering. His fastball acts like a sinker, which really dives down in the zone and induces a lot of weak contact. As a guy with a sinker ball, he has rarely put up big strikeout numbers in the minors. The Indians have a few sinkerball pitchers in their system. Since these players will always post low strikeout totals, they have to limit walks and homeruns. In general, the lack of strikeouts will also prevent them from being more than a six or seven innings guy. There just aren’t a lot of backend arms who pitch to contact. Colon has done all of these things in the minors. The question is will it translate to the majors?

43. Aaron Civale RHP A

Civale being this low shows a lot of depth in the Indians system. He made a few top 200 lists for last year’s draft. I understand the logic there, since he showed a really strong changeup coupled with good command and control. I think long term he is more of a pen arm. He is rated higher than the other pen arms, as there is still a chance he could be a starter, but I think the pen is his most likely outcome. If his stuff plays up, he has the two pitches and command to make him a pretty safe bet as a future major leaguer out of the pen.

42. Ulysses Cantu 1B/DH RK

The first obvious knock with Cantu is his position. He is a bat first player who could play first, but not well, down the road. He has the arm for third, but not the footwork. He was hurt in the spring, had a down year, and slid in the draft. He got to Arizona and it was a struggle all year. He is a guy who you tell to take the winter and come back fully healthy. Cantu has a good eye and can hit, but the power is more gap power. The bat feels light for a DH or even at first base. The ceiling here is a guy with average power and plus on base numbers. He is a young kid, barely 18 on draft day, but I don’t see a chance for a lot of physical growth. He is short and squat, with an unathletic build. The bat is nice, but does not profile as an ideal fit at first. It is kind of a Ryan Garko skill set. If you are a fan, you are highly betting on the bat. 

41. Mike Papi OF AA/A

I was so high on Papi when he was drafted but, after watching him in AA this year, he looks like a different hitter. At Virginia, he was an on base machine with pop, but since then he has struggled to make any type of consistent contact. When he was in the lower levels, he should have feasted on the younger, less mature pitching he faced as a polished college player, but it never happened. He had a hot streak towards the end of the year, which helped Akron to win the Eastern League championship. I don’t think this was a sign of turning things around as much as just a good stretch. When one looks at Virginia hitters and pitchers, it has been a struggle almost across the board for all of them to transition to the minors. 

40. Perci Garner RHP AA/AAA/ MLB

Garner is a great story, which by now everyone who follows the Indians is familiar with. I think the best part of this story is the fact that he was cut by the Phillies, and then the Indians were able to see something there to turn him into a major league player. He is the oldest player on the list, turning 28 this year, and could have called it a career a few years ago. Instead he worked hard, listened, and found his way onto a major league team this year. One can often hear a lot of interesting stories about players in the minors. Well, I can tell you I got nothing on Garner. Every report on him was that he works his tail off and is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. Everyone was excited to see him get his shot in the majors, because he is simply a plus human being. Garner is a sinkerball pitcher to the extreme; he mixes in a slider but, over 90% of the time, what he throws is his sinker. After years of struggles with command, Garner seemed to figure things out with the Indians. Garner is a step ahead of Colon because he is a better athlete (former division one quarterback, after all) and shows better command and control. His home run rate has been low and, since coming to the Indians, his walk rate is stronger. Garner’s interesting background always meant he was behind the typical age and development curve. Just two years ago, Garner had a walk rate near seven, which lead to his release. Now he is in the majors, and there is a chance for him to continue to show development in spite of his age. The value in Garner is as a guy who can give you two or three innings and shoulder a big workload as a reliever throughout the year. I would not be surprised at all to see him end up leading the majors in games pitched at some point in his career. Joseph Colon  Ulysses Cantu Perci Garner Mike Papi Aaron Civale Cleveland Indians

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