Around the MinorsSeptember 04, 2008
Rating the Prospects: The AL Central
By Marc Hulet

Prospect rating season is just about upon us with the Minor League Baseball season all but over and we are now into playoffs in most leagues. Over the next five weeks (one division a week), with your help, I am going to pick the Top 15 prospects in each organization's stable.

After that, the next six weeks will be devoted to ranking those prospects that people helped choose in the comments section of the articles. Things to consider when choosing the prospects are 1) tools, 2) statistics, 3) history, and 4) level of competition/age. The players also must still be rookie eligible, which means pitchers cannot have exceed 50 big league innings and hitters cannot have exceeded 130 at-bats at the MLB level.

Feel free to also comment on who you think is the best prospect in the division, as well as which team has the best minor league system. The players listed below are in no particular order and these are just working/brainstorming lists.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins
The Pitchers: Phillip Humber (Triple-A, right-hander), Tyler Robertson (High-A, left-hander), Anthony Swarzak (Triple-A, right-hander), Brian Duensing (Triple-A, right-hander), Jeff Manship (Double-A, right-hander), Jose Mijares (Double-A, left-hander), David Bromberg (A-ball, right-hander), Ryan Mullins (Double-A, left-hander), Mike McCardell (A-ball, right-hander), Loek Van Mil (A-ball, right-hander), Alex Burnett (High-A, right-hander), Anthony Slama (High-A, right-hander), Carlos Gutierrez (High-A, right-hander), Shooter Hunt (A-ball, right-hander), Kevin Mulvey (Triple-A, right-hander), Deolis Guerra (High-A, right-hander), Andrei Lobanov (Short season, right-hander), Bradley Tippett (Short season, right-hander), Daniel Osterbrock (Short season, left-hander)

The Hitters: Wilson Ramos (High-A, catcher), Joe Benson (A-ball, outfielder), Ben Revere (A-ball, outfielder), Jason Pridie (Triple-Al, outfielder), Trevor Plouffe (Triple-A, outfielder), Chris Parmalee (A-ball, outfielder), Deibinson Romero (A-ball, outfielder), Aaron Hicks (Rookie, outfielder), Tyler Ladendorf (Rookie, shortstop), Luke Hughes (Triple-A, third baseman), Erik Lis (Double-A, first baseman), Steve Tollenson (Double-A, second baseman), Daniel Valencia (Double-A, infielder), David Winfree (Double-A, outfielder), Steve Singleton (High-A, second baseman), Juan Portes (High-A, outfielder), Rene Tosoni (High-A, outfielder), Angel Morales (Short season, outfielder), Jonathan Waltenbury (Short season, first baseman), Alexander Soto (Short season, catcher),

Comments: So who did I miss? OK... Wow, there are a lot of intriguing (but VERY raw) players in this system. What a fun system. You do have to worry about how many of the high draft picks from four years or so ago have failed to pan out, such as Trevor Plouffe... who probably should have stuck to pitching. Regardless, it seems to be, at first glance, that Minnesota has the nicest system in the league.

Chicago White Sox
The Pitchers: Aaron Poreda (Double-A, left-hander), Lance Broadway (Triple-A, right-hander), Jack Egbert (Triple-A, left-hander), John Ely (High-A, right-hander), Adam Russell (Triple-A, right-hander), Kyle McCulloch (Double-A, right-hander), Nevin Griffith (Rookie, right-hander), Wes Whisler (Triple-A, left-hander), Kanekoa Texeira (Double-A, right-hander), Anthony Carter (High-A, right-hander), Jacob Rasner (High-A, right-hander), Levi Maxwell (A-ball, right-hander), Gregory Infante (Short season, right-hander)

The Hitters: Chris Getz (Triple-A, second baseman), Jose Martinez (A-ball, outfielder), John Shelby Jr. (High-A, outfielder), Christian Marrero (A-ball, first baseman), Sergio Morales, Sergio Miranda (High-A, shortstop), Francisco Hernandez (High-A, catcher), Gordon Beckham (2008 first round pick, shortstop), Jordan Danks (A-ball, outfielder), Cole Armstrong (Triple-A, catcher), Brandon Allen (Double-A, first baseman), Dale Mollenhauer (High-A, second baseman), Jorge Castillo (A-ball, first baseman)

Comments: So who did I miss? There aren't many, if any, impact players near the top of this system so Chicago is going to have to work the free agent market for the next few years. Aside from Beckham, there was nothing overly special about the 2008 draft unless your name is Williams.

Cleveland Indians
The Pitchers: Adam Miller (Triple-A, right-hander), Chuck Lofgren (Double-A, left-hander), David Huff (Triple-A, left-hander), Tony Sipp (Double-A, left-hander), Ryan Miller (A-ball, left-hander), Hector Rondon (High-A, right-hander), Scott Lewis (Double-A, left-hander), Rob Bryson (A-ball, right-hander), Christopher Archer (A-ball, right-hander), Joey Maholic (A-ball, right-hander), Ryan Morris (A-ball, left-hander)

The Hitters: Wes Hodges (Double-A, third baseman), Beau Mills (High-A, third baseman), Nick Weglarz (High-A, outfielder), Jordan Brown (Triple-A, first baseman), Matt McBride (A-ball, catcher), Trevor Crowe (Triple-A, outfielder), Josh Rodriguez (Double-A, shortstop), Lonnie Chisenhall (Short season, shortstop), Chris Gimenez (Triple-A, catcher), Carlos Santana (Double-A, catcher), Matt LaPorta (Double-A, outfielder), Ron Rivas (A-ball, infielder), Jared Goedert (High-A, infielder), Matthew Brown (A-ball, outfielder)

Comments: So who did I miss? Cleveland has traditionally been a team that favors college draft picks but the organization has some interesting young pitchers at A-ball but it's hard to pick exactly who the most promising is out of the group at this point. I personally think Nick Weglarz is a very interesting player and have liked him since he was drafted by Cleveland... His power will play in the majors, but I worry about the batting average.

Kansas City Royals
The Pitchers: Daniel Cortes (Double-A, right-hander), Blake Wood (Double-A, right-hander), Danny Duffy (A-ball, left-hander), Matt Mitchell (A-ball, right-hander), Sam Runion (Short season, right-hander), Blake Johnson (Double-A, right-hander), Brent Fisher (A-ball, left-hander), Rowdy Hardy (Double-A, left-hander), Mike Montgomery (Rookie, left-hander), Tyler Sample (Rookie, right-hander), Tim Melville (Rookie, right-hander), Chris Nicoll (Double-A, right-hander), Edward Cegarra (High-A, right-hander), Alexander Caldera (A-ball, right-hander), Daniel Gutierrez (A-ball, right-hander), Leondy Perez (Rookie, right-hander)

The Hitters: Mike Moustakas (A-ball, third baseman), Derrick Robinson (High-A, outfielder), Jeff Bianchi (High-A, infielder), Kila Kaaihue (Triple-A, first baseman), Eric Hosmer (2008 first round pick, first baseman), Johnny Giavotella (A-ball, second baseman), Joe Dickerson (High-A, outfielder), Adrian Ortiz (High-A, outfielder), Jose Bonilla (Rookie, catcher)

Comments: So who did I miss? The pitching is much, much deeper than the hitting but Mike Moustakas is a nice hitting prospect, despite his slow start to the 2008 season. Hopefully the Scott Boras contract dispute involving Pedro Alvarez and now Eric Hosmer can get worked out soon. It's not helping either player's career.

Detroit Tigers
The Pitchers: Rick Porcello (High-A, right-hander), Brandon Hamilton (A-ball, right-hander), Casey Crosby (Rookie, left-hander), Ryan Perry (High-A, right-hander), Cody Satterwhite (High-A, right-hander), Duane Below (High-A, left-hander), Alfredo Figaro (High-A, right-hander), Jonah Nickerson (High-A, right-hander), Brayan Villareal (A-ball, right-hander), Jon Kibler (A-ball, left-hander)

The Hitters: Cale Iorg (High-A, shortstop), Scott Sizemore (High-A, second baseman), Mike Hollimon (Triple-A, second baseman), Jeff Larish (Triple-A, first baseman), Matt Joyce (Triple-A, outfielder), Danny Worth (Triple-A, shortstop), Clete Thomas (Triple-A, outfielder), Ryan Strieby (High-A, first baseman), Alex Avila (A-ball, catcher), Will Rhymes (Triple-A, infielder), James Skelton (Double-A, catcher), Wilkin Ramirez (Double-A, outfielder), Justin Henry (A-ball, second baseman), Mike Gosse (Short season, second baseman)

Comments: So who did I miss? A few players have taken some big steps this season but not nearly large enough to off-set a very poor outlook for this system. There are some interesting young pitchers but they are a ways away, except perhaps for Porcello who could end up in Detroit in 2009. Offensively, though, no one really impresses me much. To make up for a lack of prospects in the system, Detroit has moved (rushed) some players through pretty quickly, such as 2007 draft pick Danny Worth.

Up Next: The NL Central


For the White Sox, I don't think you can overlook '08 draftee Stephen Upchurch. He was a 3rd round talent who they picked up in the 12th, and was ranked by BA as the top prospect in Alabama. I also wouldn't be too surprised to see the ODU tandem (Hudson and Carter) move quickly either.

What about Jon Meloan for the Tribe, who came over with Santana in the Blake deal? He should be in there.

Cleveland fan here:
Do you consider Aaron Laffey "graduated"? He is young, great ground ball numbers and spent much of this year in AAA. I also look at Asdrubal Cabrera as a prospect still, given his age and fact that he played a chunk of the year in Buffalo (and really well for a 22 year old with Gold Glove SS defense).

Who else are you missing? How bout Jeff Stevens. More great K rates and solid performance at AA and AAA this year as a closer prospect. John Meloan is a weird case, he was by all accounts a lights out reliever and then the Dodgers, for no known reason, turned him into a mediocre starter. Also, watch Randy Newsome. He doesn't strike out anyone as a side-arm reliever, but somehow he keeps getting outs without giving up runs. At some point he has to be considered for the ML pen.

The story of this division's prospects, by far is the revitalization of Cleveland's system through the Casey Blake and C.C. Sabathia deals. LaPorta is top 5 in all of baseball and Santana might have worked his way into the top 15. Plus a handful of solid arms.

This doesn't even include the player to be named later from the Sabathia deal. Look for this to be a really good prospect. Either will be in the team's top 15. Possibly Michael Brantley, a speedy OF with over .400 OBP skills and young for AA (plus, look at those BB/K rates and tell me your mouth doesn't watter). Possibly Taylor Green, a high A infielder that can play 3rd and maybe 2nd with power and OBP skills.

Kelvin De La Cruz, P, for the Tribe?

To say Trevor Plouffe has been a flop isn't exactly fair. How many 22 year olds are in AAA. Not great numbers, but lots of doubles, and very good defense. He's not at all behind schedule! Plus, it loses a little credibility when he has played 3 IF positions but never played OF.

Maybe you meant Matt Moses, who has absolutely been a flop and was moved out to the OF?

A year ago, people thought denard span was a flop too, and he's been very instrumental in the Twins second half!

I do a top 50 Twins prospects thing, and I'm finalizing my post season version. You've got four pitchers in your list of 19 that won't touch my top 50.

Cleveland Indians Top 25 Prospects Not including the 2008 Draft:
1. Matt LaPorta OF
2. Adam Miller SP
3. Jonathan Meloan RP
4. David Huff SP
5. Trevor Crowe OF
6. Tony Sipp RP
7. Wes Hodges 3B
8. Scott Lewis SP
9. Beau Mills 1B
10. Carlos Santana C

11. Nick Weglarz OF
12. Jared Goedert 3B
13. JD Martin RP
14. Charles Lofgren SP
15. Stephen Head 1B
16. Wyatt Toregas C
17. Steven Wright SP
18. Josh Tomlin RP
19. Randy Newsom RP
20. Neil Wagner RP
21. Hector Rondon SP
22. Rich Rundles RP
23. Josh Judy RP
24. Rob Bryson RP
25. Ryan Miller SP

These are not in an exact order, but the top 10 are well above the rest.