2008 Top 5 Prospects: Cleveland Indians (Updated)

July 17, 2008

As we led up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, we took a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team had its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today I have updated the rankings for the Cleveland Indians Minor League organization due to the recent trade picking up Matt LaPorta. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Matt LaPorta, OF/1B: This former catcher is a big, strong power hitter who made a big name for himself in college. LaPorta has an easy loft to his swing and a strong, powerful frame which still has room to add some muscle. He has fantastic plate discipline and can flat out hit for power to all fields in any stadium. LaPorta doesn’t have much speed and many (including myself) expected him to struggle adjusting with his move to the outfield. He is a better fit at first base (thanks to good hands and solid instincts) and has been seeing a lot of time in that spot which is currently a hole in the Indians organization. The fact that he’s such a hard worker has helped a lot in his transition to new positions.

2.) Adam Miller, RHP: Despite having to battle back from a couple of different injuries, Adam Miller continues to be the Indians top prospect. Miller’s arsenal includes a mid to upper-90’s four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, change-up, and a great power slider with late break on it. He also has a great make-up and good command of his pitches. As of now he is projected as being a front line starter but that could change depending on how he returns from his injuries. If he doesn’t bounce back he could slip down to be a middle or back of the rotation guy or even to the bullpen.

3.) Beau Mills, 3B: Mills is a big, left-handed hitting third base prospect with a ton of upside. He has excellent hitting skills and has a chance to be a very good hitter as a professional. He does a great job adjusting to pitches and really makes pitchers pay when they make a mistake. Mills also has plus power with a solid line drive swing. He has some loft to his swing and will hit a lot of doubles and homers as a pro. Currently he’s a third baseman with average skills (range, arm, etc) and has many people saying he may end up at first base which I feel would be best for him.

4.) Chuck Lofgren, LHP: Lofgren is a polished lefty who has continued to improve his abilities on the mound. He has a low-90’s fastball and a fantastic change-up that many feel is one of the best in the Minors. Lofgren’s ability to get into the Indians’ starting rotation may run into a snag with how many players on currently on the list. He may find a spot in the bullpen in the meantime until someone falls off or gets injured.

5.) Wes Hodges, 3B: Hodges is a good overall athlete with a solid bat. His bat has great potential to hit for average as he makes good contact, has strong hands, has great bat speed, and a consistent eye at the plate. Hodges has improved his ability to drive the ball which as he does this more will continue to improve his power numbers. With Beau Mills most likely moving to first, Hodges has a shot to be Cleveland’s future third baseman.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

| | | |

Advertisements

Phantasy Impact: The REAL All-Stars

July 16, 2008

(Conlawprof/flickr)

Youkilis may be the AL starter but Morneau has been the best. (Conlawprof / flickr)

[Welcome to “Phantasy Impact” where we will take a look at fantasy baseball with stories, news, tips and more. In this column I will be using a percentage owned stat which is taken from ESPN reflecting how many leagues across the board a player is owned in. This should be very similar to whatever website you use for your league. This will be a periodic feature as I want to make sure not to tip off anyone in my keeper league. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate emailing me at any time and I will be happy to help.]

[TOP STORY]
The REAL All-Stars

The term “All-Star Team” as it relates to professional sports has begun to lose its meaning as the years go on. Sure you have a large collection of the sport’s best players, but when everyday people (also known as fans) get to vote for the starters it turns from recognizing the best to recognizing the most popular or the ones who play in the largest markets. While I know you can’t take the voting away from the fans (that’s almost as dumb as having the game end in a tie) there is something we can do.

Fantasy baseball has always rewarded fantasy owners for having the best players on their teams. Stats don’t lie. Well sometimes they do when they are skewed because of various factors, but you get my drift. If a player is putting up good stats then they are chosen by a team. So since fantasy numbers don’t lie, below is a collection of who really is the best player at each position and who should be starting in this year’s mid-summer classic. These players have compiled the best stats and are proven to be the most valuable player at their respective position. Now let’s take a look at the REAL All-Star team:

American League
C – Joe Mauer (.322, 58 R, 5 HR, 41 RBI)
1B – Justin Morneau (.323, 55 R, 14 HR, 68 RBI)
2B – Ian Kinsler (.337, 84 R, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 23 SB)
3B – Alex Rodriguez (.312, 53 R, 19 HR, 53 RBI, 13 SB)
SS – Michael Young (.302, 63 R, 7 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB)
OF – Josh Hamilton (.310, 60 R, 21 HR, 95 RBI, 7 SB)
OF – Grady Sizemore (.273, 60 R, 23 HR, 54 RBI, 22 SB)
OF – Ichiro Suzuki (.304, 63 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 34 SB)
P – Roy Halladay (11 W, 2.71 ERA, 121 K)
P – Cliff Lee (12 W, 2.31 ERA, 106 K)
P – Justin Duchscherer (10 W, 1.82 ERA, 66 K)
CL – Francisco Rodriguez (38 SV, 2.36 ERA, 41 K)

National League
C – Brian McCann (.302, 42 R, 18 HR, 53 RBI)
1B – Lance Berkman (.347, 79 R, 22 HR, 73 RBI)
2B – Chase Utley (.291, 68 R, 25 HR, 69 RBI, 10 SB)
3B – Chipper Jones (.376, 56 R, 18 HR, 51 RBI)
SS – Hanley Ramirez (.311, 80 R, 23 HR, 45 RBI, 23 SB)
OF – Matt Holliday (.337, 52 R, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 13 SB)
OF – Nate McLouth (.281, 69 R, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 11 SB)
OF – Ryan Braun (.286, 52 R, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 8 SB)
P – Dan Haren (8 W, 2.72 ERA, 112 K)
P – Edinson Volquez (12 W, 2.29 ERA, 126 K)
P – Tim Lincecum (11 W, 2.57 ERA, 135 K)
CL – Kerry Wood (4 W, 24 SV, 3.02 ERA, 55 K)

See now doesn’t that look better than the Yankee/Red Sox team we have this year? Thank goodness for the Texas Rangers.

(Hjelle/flickr)

There are too many Molina brothers to keep track of. (Hjelle / flickr)

[KEEP AN EYE ON]

Yadier Molina, C STL (10.7% owned)
If you, like me, are sick and tired of your catcher dragging your team down, look no further than this guy. Molina has held his own offensively this season despite miserable years in the past. Another upside is that this Molina could be in line for more RBI opportunities if he continues to hit in the number five spot in the order behind Glaus and Pujols. If he’s still out there now is the time to get him. Key Stat: Molina is hitting .379 this season against lefties.

Ben Francisco, OF CLE (15.8% owned)
Not many people are giving this guy much of a chance in fantasy leagues. Francisco has taken advantage of his opportunity to play everyday and hit third in the Indians lineup thanks to injuries to Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez and the horrid play of Ryan Garko. Francisco is hitting .294 with 37 R, 8 HR and 35 RBI on the season and has been especially hot as of late. Key Stat: Francisco is hitting .337/.379/.567 at home this season.

[DUMP ‘EM]

Jose Contreras, SP CHW (32.7% owned and falling fast!)
I had been meaning to warn everyone about this guy a while ago. He started off well as he has a tendancy to do but then reality catches up with Contreras and has been miserable over the past month. Over his past seven starts he’s 1-3 with an ERA of 8.60. If you rode his magic for awhile, hopefully you got out fast before his free fall began. And as a rule for the future, there are ALWAYS better options than Contreras in fantasy baseball no matter how good his start is, you just have to look. Key Stat: After the All-Star break last season Contreras posted a 6.01 ERA and hitters hit a whopping .331 against him.

[Grab ‘Em Now Player of the 2nd Half]

Normally this spot is the “Grab ‘Em Now Player of the Week” but I thought it would be fitting to have it be for the second half of the season.

David Price, SP TB (0.6% owned)
If you don’t know about this guy yet, check out my “Prospect Spotlight” on him which has been named by many as the most in-depth and best scouting report on Price on the internet. But enough about me, back to Price. As of now Price is dominating (and I use that word as I can’t think of a better word in the English language to describe it) the minors. Between A+ and AA this year he is 8-0 with ERAs of 1.82 and 1.38 respectively and 59 strikeouts in 60.2 innings pitched and that stat line doesn’t even do him justice with how he is doing. It looks as if Price will most likely receive an August call-up if not sooner as he will be an incredible addition to a strong Rays rotation. If you have a roster spot, scoop him up now. If you are in a keeper league and he is available well then you just struck oil.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

| | | |


Scouting Snapshot: Matt LaPorta

July 13, 2008

(jon.nelson/flickr)

(jon.nelson / flickr)

With all the excitement surrounding the big C.C. Sabathia trade last week, I received a lot of traffic and emails asking for more details about the key prospect in the deal, Matt LaPorta. Before the season began, LaPorta was ranked as my number one prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization (to answer your question I would now rank Mat Gamel as number one). Anytime an organization trades away their best prospect some attention will be paid. This is a fantastic deal for LaPorta as he will have a much better chance to find himself in the Majors at first base or the outfield in Cleveland where a disappointing Ryan Garko or group of random outfielders are the only thing holding him back as opposed to Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Ryan Braun would be in Milwaukee. With all that being said, here’s a brief scouting report of mine on the young slugger:

MATT LAPORTA | OF/1B
Organization: Cleveland Indians
DOB: 01/08/1985 | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 | Bats: R | Throws: R
Season & Career Statistics
Scouting Report
This former catcher is a big, strong power hitter who made a big name for himself in college. LaPorta has an easy loft to his swing and a strong, powerful frame which still has room to add some muscle. He has fantastic plate discipline and can flat out hit for power to all fields in any stadium. LaPorta doesn’t have much speed and many (including myself) expected him to struggle adjusting with his move to the outfield. He is a better fit at first base (thanks to good hands and solid instincts) and has been seeing a lot of time in that spot which is currently a hole in the Indians organization. The fact that he’s such a hard worker has helped a lot in his transition to new positions.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

| | | |