The Indians got off to a less than stellar start to the season, but there is always time to look at what is coming next. This is the second top ten list of Indians prospects this season and the first that has to do with actual results from this season. The first list came out in March and showed the ten players most likely to break out in 2014. This list is not about the closest players to becoming Indians, but who have been most successful in the first month of the 2014 season.
Since this is a prospect report, only players who have yet to make their Major League debut will be considered (Trevor Bauer was a prospect three years ago, not today) and players can only make the rankings once per season, so even though Jesus Aguilar has had a fantastic April (.369 AVG, 10 XBH, 13 RBI) he is not eligible since he was ranked second in the first top ten. Including for each player is their current team, how they came to join the Indians organization and their Burning River Baseball prospect rank from 2013.
10. Roberto Perez – Catcher
AAA Columbus – Drafted 2008 R0und 33 – UR
The Indians are incredibly shallow considering minor league catching depth, which is the reason they converted top second base prospect Tony Wolters into a backstop and traded for Chris Wallace last season. Despite these two moves, Perez may be the Indians top catching prospect. This is a big surprise for the Indians as he has showed little promise in the past few years. He hasn’t batted above .300 or slugged above .400 for a full year since his first season in 2009, but he is doing so now for the Clippers batting a line of .375/.474/.625. Despite Wallace, Wolters, the recently reacquired Luke Carlin and the newly signed veteran, George Kotteras, Perez may be the Indians best choice if they ever need another catcher at the Major League level.
9. Bryson Myles – Left Field
AA Akron – Drafted 2011 Round 6 – #51
Myles has been an under-the-RADAR outfielder in the Indians system since 2011 and is now finally breaking out at the age of 24. He already has seven extra base hits in 16 games (.519 SLG), looking to destroy his previous high from last season of 30 (20 2B, 8 HR) in 92 games. He doesn’t project well as a Major Leaguer but has moved up the ladder of Indians outfielders, behind just Carlos Moncrief and Tyler Naquin at the top levels of the minor league system.
Fink is the first of four players from the class of 2013 to break into this month’s top ten. He saw a very quick rise through the bottom levels so far, passing through the rookie level and short season Mahoning Valley in 2013 before reaching Lake County this year. Now, he is one of the top hitters for the Captains with a team leading ten RBI on 17 hits through 17 games. While he is currently mostly starting at third base, the Indians are very deep on that side of the infield, so his ability to play first is more likely to help him advance.
7. Cody Ferrell – Center Field
A Lake County – 2013 Undrafted Free Agent – UR
The Indians have a couple of Ferrell’s make names for themselves in Cleveland, but only John and Wes (no relation), Cody is an outfielder. As already mentioned, the 2013 draft looks to have been a strong one for the Tribe and it continued even after the draft as Ferrell was signed as a free agent after the fact. This season, he has played both left and center field and is currently batting an impressive .321/.446/.566 for the Captains. He currently ranks first in OPS (1.012) and second in home runs (3) and RBI (8) of all Lake County players. With very low expectations coming into the year, it won’t take much for Ferrell to start surprising people.
6. Cole Sulser – Starting Pitcher
Advanced A Carolina – Drafted 2013 Round 25 – #79
Sulser is in his second professional season after an incredible debut with the Scrappers (1.83 ERA, 60 K’s in 54 IP) and is having no trouble maintaining that success at the next level. In four starts, Sulser holds a 3.32 ERA with 20 K’s in 22.1 innings as part of an impressive Mudcat rotation. There will by more on that rotation to come as three players out of the five man rotation are featured in this months top ten. The Dartmouth graduate turned 24 last month and may already be under pressure to advance to the next level as one of the older players in Advanced A.
Milbrath is in his second year with the Indians and already in ‘A’ ball, despite being just 22 years old. He joined the Captains during the 2013 campaign after starting off with the Arizona League team. This season, he is the only pitcher to throw a complete game, shut out in the entire organization, so far. He leads all Captains in ERA (1.86) and innings pitched (19.1 IP), while striking out 18 make him the top starter for Lake County so far.
4. Giovanny Urshela – Third Base
AA Akron – International Free Agent 2008 – #18
Urshela has been worth consideration since 2011 while he made his slow rise through the system. This is his second year in Akron, but he is still just 22 years old after signing at the age of 16. The main reason he has been forced to repeat at AA was not his own failure (he batted .270/.292/.384 in 2013), but the fact that the Indians signed a multitude of infielders prior to Spring Training who are still hanging around in AAA. This includes Justin Sellers, Ryan Rohlinger, Bryan LaHair and David Cooper, who all play corner infield spots. For his efforts, he has been given the Indians minor league player of the week award for the third week in April. Urshela leads Akron with 14 RBI, four home runs, 12 runs scored and 20 hits.
3. Shawn Morimando – Starting Pitcher
Advanced A Carolina – Drafted 2011 Round 19 – #32
Morimando is a strong left handed starter, who has been with the Indians since 2011. He was held back this season for his second tour with the Mudcats and is making the most of it so far. Through four starts he has thrown 22 innings and struck out 17 with a 2.45 ERA. He was decent last season with Carolina, but looked to need a little more time after going 8-13 with a 3.73 ERA. Now that he seems to have improved on that, it shouldn’t take long for the 21 year old to reach Akron.
Gonzalez has gotten buried somewhat with the exciting starts of other middle infielders like Francisco Lindor and Joe Wendle, but with those players moving on, he is now the top position player for the Mudcats. Last season, he spent most of his playing time at third base, behind Lindor on the Mudcats depth chart, but has now returned to his primary position of short stop. He was one of few minor leaguers to get serious playing time in Major League Spring Training, where he went 5/10 with three doubles and two runs scored. For Carolina, he has batted .346 with five more doubles, three triples and nine RBI.
1. Ryan Merritt – Starting Pitcher
Advanced A Carolina – Drafted 2011 Round 16 – #39
This kid has Merritt! It may be just having fun with small sample sizes, but Merritt has allowed just a single run through 24.1 innings. He has struck out 18 already and allowed just 14 hits for a sweet 0.82 WHIP. He has earned wins in three of his four starts and holds a 0.37 ERA. Merritt hasn’t shown this kind of dominance since being converted to starter in 2012. He was a solid starter with the Captains last season and will look to be among the Rubberducks soon if he can maintain anything near the start he has already put out.