April 16, 2014

Keith Law Ranks Indians’ Farm System 29th in MLB

With trades surrounding prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz coupled with the promotions of key players like Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, the Cleveland Indians’ farm system has been “gutted,” per ESPN’s Keith Law, who ranks the Tribe’s developmental system 29th in all of Major League Baseball.

Entering what many believe to be their contention window in 2012, the team can no longer rely on a system of prospects who can be called up to fill in at a high level. Certainly, they have made trades or acquired multiple free agents who will likely litter the Columbus Clippers’ roster, but as it stands today, drafted and developed talent is at a relative low beyond that of the A-ball level.

Topping only the Chicago White Sox, Law states that, despite their current status, “one of the Indians’ better drafts in years last June should help.”

Presently, pitcher Dillon Howard and shortstop Francisco Lindor (last season’s second- and first-round picks, respectively) top most lists surrounding the franchise’s top prospects. Howard is 19-years old with Lindor being over a full year younger. Neither are anticipated to be nearing the big league level for several years.

[Related: The Expanded MLB Playoffs and Plagiarizing Parity]

  • Anonymous

    Greeeeeeeat now what’s left for us to talk about? 

  • Steve

    I agree that the system should be very lowly ranked, but there’s a lot of upside there. A lot of young guys have potential to shoot up these prospect rankings lists.

    BPro on Lindor: “After watching Lindor in the Fall Instructional League, I have very little doubt that he will develop into a very good major leaguer, one that can play a premium defensive position while providing above-average offensive production. At the plate, Lindor can track balls from release point to target like a ten-year veteran, showing advanced recognition skills and an approach that should put him in favorable hitting environments. His hands and hips work very well, showing fluidity when they fire, and bringing his bat head into the zone quickly and efficiently. He shows contact ability and he drives through the ball with excellent extension; it’s easy to project a plus hit tool and at least solid-average power at maturity. In the field, Lindor is as precocious and instinctual as positional prince Jurickson Profar, showing easy actions, a very strong arm, and a preternatural feel for his craft. I’m slobbering all over Lindor without apology.”

  • Anonymous

    exactly.  we don’t have many A prospects because they have been promoted or traded.   but, we have a ton of C+/B- prospects who are at some level of A-ball.   At least a good grouping of them should become A prospects at some point.

    Not the best of circumstances (our mid-level farm system was weak, which is also why we dropped quickly), but not the worst either.

  • kjn

    Anyone who sees this as a negative doesn’t get it.

    This is what your farm system should look like when you’re a team like the Indians and in your window of contention.

  • Anonymous

    it is a negative though.  it means our mid-minor league levels were empty.  the TB Rays have drafted well enough over the years that they would drop from top5 or so to top15 or so after promoting a bunch of guys.   dropping to 2nd last is not a good thing. 

    it’s not something to panic over either, but it’s definitely a negative.

  • kjn

    I guess it is a pov sort of thing, but - considering our limited resources and organizational philosophy – I don’t view this as a negative at all.

    This is how this organization was constructed over the last five years or so– acquire the best talent that will mature in the ’12-’14 window.

    If we had high level talent at the AAA level that couldn’t find a place on our ML roster, it would indicate a misuse of resources that should have been put toward making that roster better.

  • Anonymous

    fair enough.   it’s just that i still think our upper levels are suffering a bit from not focusing enough $$ on the draft until the last few seasons (and now that potential advantage is gone).

  • Gbwoy

    Since prospects are typically ranked on a combination of upside and probabilityof reaching that upside, it seems like Law is saying that Indians prospects don’t have much upside. 

    It’s not the end of the world considering the players they’ve graduated recently, but it is a negative.

  • kjn

    True. I’d have to imagine that was a result of “going for it” in ’07-’08 and spending that money on Dave Delucci and Kerry Wood.

    Based on the last few years, I kind of wondered if the club would be adopting more of a TB style with more money spent on the draft and fewer Sizemore/Hafner type pre-FA long termed deals, but the new CBA pretty much outlawed the drafting thing. Still, our complete lack of contracts post-’13 may indicate a change in how this club operates (that, or a sale).

  • kjn

    I’m not sure what Law is saying since the link doesn’t work for me, but based on other scouting site’s I’ve read there is a lot of upside but it still a far from the majors so anything could happen with it.

    Both these guys ranked the system poorly, but had good things to say:

    Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus: “the most difficult ranking in recent memory, and this system will be a monster next year. Whether by monster I mean strong, intimidating beast, or nightmarishly awful is to be determined.”

    John Sickels from minorleagueball.com: “While some of those C+s are future role players or relievers, the younger members of the group are high-ceiling guys who are just too raw or far away to get a higher grade just yet, but who could blossom within the next year or two.”

  • kjn

    I’m not sure what Law is saying since the link doesn’t work for me, but based on other scouting site’s I’ve read there is a lot of upside but it still a far from the majors so anything could happen with it.

    Both these guys ranked the system poorly, but had good things to say:

    Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus: “the most difficult ranking in recent memory, and this system will be a monster next year. Whether by monster I mean strong, intimidating beast, or nightmarishly awful is to be determined.”

    John Sickels from minorleagueball.com: “While some of those C+s are future role players or relievers, the younger members of the group are high-ceiling guys who are just too raw or far away to get a higher grade just yet, but who could blossom within the next year or two.”

  • Anonymous

    those deals are great at demonstrating why the past 10yrs putting your $$ into the draft was the better way to improve your club long-term.

    $10mil for Kerry Wood or $10mil to bump up to a top5 draft class that you will control for nearly the next decade.  Not a hard decision.

  • kjn

    Agreed, though hitting on draft picks is just as difficult.

    Basically, we have been horrible with our FA signings. We have also been pretty unlucky with the homegrown talent we’ve signed. Then don’t forget those few big trades that didn’t quite work out.

    There are days I’m amazed that the Indians have been as good over the last ten years as they have been.

  • Steve

     ”I’m going to make a uninformed statement based on an article I didn’t even read”

    Just a translation for everyone else.

  • Guest

    Plus the MLB club already has log jams at several positions. If no one great is coming up until 2015, fine. But we do have Barnes and some relief pitchers that probably will be called up in 2012. Replenishing the OF talent should be a priority.