‘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…
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?