Prospecting

chisenhall_all-star_250_09.jpg‘Tis the season for ranking prospects and organizations. On Tuesday night, MLB.com unveiled its Top 50 Prospects list. Among those picked as baseball’s future stars was Indians third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, who came in at 36th overall.

Chisenhall was the lone Cleveland representative on Minor League expert Jonathan Mayo’s Top 50 list. Had Mayo’s list included the Top 100 prospects in the game, Tribe farmhands such as second baseman Jason Kipnis, right-hander Alex White and leftyDrew Pomeranz would likely have made the cut.

Considering all the focus on the Indians’ youth and future core, and the attention that some of the club’s recent trades for packages of prospects has garnered, I asked fans over Twitter for their thoughts on having just one players named to the Top 50 list.

Here are a few of the responses I received…

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Needless to say, I was blown away by all the optimism and positive feedback! Oh, wait…

When considering MLB.com’s Top 50 list, though, @thinkkaz was one person who showed a solid understanding of where Cleveland’s system currently stands. There is good depth and many players on the cusp of reaching the big leagues, but the club lacks a pile of players that make the top-prospect-list-makers drool all over themselves.

Asking for a bunch of players to be thrown into the Top 50 is expecting a lot, too. Yes, I know the Royals had six on Mayo’s list and the Rays had four. But there were also four teams — I’m looking at you Mets, Marlins, Brewers and A’s — who had no players in the Top 50. The Indians were one of 14 teams with only one player on the list.

Rest assured, Tribe fans, the Indians’ farm system is in good shape. Sure, the jury is still out on the overall return of the CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee deals, but Cleveland’s Minor League system is widely considered one of the best in baseball. Last year’s Draft haul only added to that evaluation.

If you like going with Baseball America, then know that BA has the Indians ranked seventh in the 2011 organizational rankings (ESPN’s Keith Law disagreed, ranking them 17th). That’s the third year in a row that the Tribe has cracked BA’s Top 10 (third in 2010 and seventh in 2009). BA also rated the Indians’ 2010 First-Year Player Draft as the best in the game.

Maybe you’re not seeing the money being spent wildly on the Major League roster right now, but know that the Indians have shown a willingness to increase spending behind the scenes. The Draft provides one example. Consider that the Tribe shelled out $9.4 million in bonuses for the 2010 Draft class compared to $4.9 million the year before. For their top 10 picks in 2010, Cleveland went overslot by more than $3 million in order to sign all the selections.

So, yes, the Indians only had one player — Chisenhall, currently rated the second-best third base prospect by Mayo, and one of only two third basemen in his Top 50 — on Tuesday’s much-anticipated list. That said, the Indians could have at least three prospects (Chisenhall, Kipnis and White), probably more, impacting the Major League club in 2011.

In the end, shouldn’t that matter more right now?

–JB

9 Comments

The fact that Santana is no longer a prospect but was injured for most of the season doesn’t help perceptions, either. He doesn’t show up on these lists but also didn’t have much of an impact on the major league team due to the injury. Adding Chiz and Kipnis to Santana in the coming years should make for a solid offense.

Especially if LaPorta can become 80% of the power hitter he was supposed to be.

I am very tired of hearing all the great things the guys did last year during the last 3 or 4 months of the season and how that raises hope for 2011.

Those great things didn’t start to happen until the Tribe was out of contention. I’ve seen that happen too many times in the past. Why should anyone think it will be any different this year?

I am very tired of hearing all the great things the guys did last year during the last 3 or 4 months of the season and how that raises hope for 2011.

Those great things didn’t start to happen until the Tribe was out of contention. I’ve seen that happen too many times in the past. Why should anyone think it will be any different this year?

The above represents the majority of the Indians’ fan base. 3 or 4 months is a large portion of the season. Manny Acta had a quote a while back noting that it wasn’t our 8 and 9 hitters that got hurt. Make no mistake, the Indians are a long shot to get to the playoffs, but if they can stay healthy they could surprise a lot of people. Remember 2005? I see no reason that we cannot put together a .500 season at least, provided our players are on the field. Going back to the 3 or 4 months point, would you rather they compete early and make you watch just to burn out in the second half?

tribe1045, competing early and then burning out in the second half would bring more people to the yard (at least in theory) during the early months of the season that had previously been dominated by LeBron James and the Cavaliers for a fan’s expendable entertainment dollars. AC has a very appropriate article from 1/14 about the rare opportunity that the Indians have to take back Cleveland, hence the available dollars we spend on sports. No one wants to go see a team with an overall losing record despite the fact that they are hovering near .500 for the last 2-3 months. The only thing that would work in the Indians’ favor with that scenario is the weather.

As for thinkkaz’s tweet I have a response: thank you captain obvious. Well done.

I am a simple sports fanatic and I do not claim to be omnipotent and infallible but I also try not regurgitate the most obvious of sports takes and then claim to be gospel. Yeah, that’s right I just went religious because that’s what baseball is to me, a religion (oops, Bull Durham reference regurgitated). I do not know thinkkaz and I’m sure the he/she was simply stating an opinion or perspective that no one had mentioned on JB’s twitter page but gimme something that makes me go, “hmm, I hadn’t thought about it like that.”

When all is said and done, Keith Law’s idea of where our organization should be ranked is more accurate–PROVIDED our prospects have the ceilings that scouts have given them. Saying we have a bunch of players “on the cusp” of reaching the bigs, and a few guys ready to “impact” the major league club in 2011 is saying nothing. If a guy comes up and throws one pitch and gives up a bomb, he’s “impacted” the major league club. For one, many of these guys would not be considered for big league positions on other clubs–so the fact that they’re knocking on the door in Cleveland is not saying much. How excited can a fanbase be about their up-and-coming prospects when their top prospects are projected to settle in as average major leaguers? Average major leaguers won’t bring a championship team to Cleveland. World Series teams, or perennial contenders, are solid across the board. I found AC’s article more deflating than anything else. It was basically saying that Indians fans should temper their expectations for our next crop of talent. Ie. we should not expect our Alex Whites and Carlos Carrascos to be lights out, but if all goes well he could be a middle of the rotation guy. A solid Jake Westbrook, innings-eater type player. Jake Westbrook (great guy, I had a great time rooting for him) is not what we need to get back on our feet. My dad rooted for the Indians for his whole life and never got to see them win a World Series. Rooting for the Tribe is something that is in my blood, but truth be told, at times I just wish they’d move the team. Bring it to a city that can bring in enough money to give the fans what they deserve: a contender. Because without increased revenue sharing or a salary cap, the Tribe will be dealing with a disgustingly unfair market indefinitely. Digging through the Goodwill of the free agent bargain bin every offseason for reclamation projects. If the FA is sucessful, they go on to bigger and better things the following year. I can’t be the only one that dies a little inside when the Indians headlines during the offseason (or ever, really) are the likes of “Acta has fun as Snowdays at Progressive Field”…another thing about Tribe depth: much of it, as a recent article points out, comes in the area of the bullpen. Relievers don’t bring fans to the stadium. Relievers, in my humble opinion, should be the last piece to the jigsaw puzzle of a contending team. It’s absolutely crippling when you have a good team and no stopgaps later in the game, as the Jose Mesas and Joe Borowskis of the world have taught us. But until you’ve got the lineup and the rotation that gives you leads late in games, it’s essentially building a tower from the sky down. Just my opinion.

That is truly AWESOME!! I had two thoughts hit me at once while wahnticg that. First, that we are blessed beyond our understanding. Second, that we could learn so much from these Kimyal people. Thanks for sharing this Tim!

well said

We all have bad days when we feel like crap .those r the most precious mtnomes of life because our soul, our being is releasing old emotions; pain, hate at ourselves and the world, judgments we feel about ourselves they r great transformational mtnomes .that shit is leaving exciting releasing .it’s stuff that we r ready to let go that has to do with our past, triggered by the present which leaves a great big space inside for a more open loving self .can’t get there if we block and resist the crappy hateful parts trying to get out It takes a lot of courage and strength to come out and be seen in ur natural state, to share ur vulnerability like u just did CONGRATULATIONS!! That was extremely transformational no mask just u is beautiful!! Inspiring!!

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