All of the Indians minor league affiliates are in full swing now, giving the Tribe about 240 players currently active in the minor league, of which about 100 will be featured in these prospect top ten lists. This is the fifth top ten of the season, making the players listed about the 41st-50th best players in the Indians farm league. These ranking are however, based on this season's success, not their projected Major League talent.
1. Carlos Moncrief – RF – AA Akron – Drafted Round 14 in 2008
Moncrief is a little behind his fellow members of the draft class of 2008 (Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt Langwell, C.C. Lee, etc), but is still a very interesting prospect. I was lucky enough to see Moncrief play quite a bit this Spring as he was often used as a late inning replacement. Against Major Leaguers in Spring Training, he was 3 for 10 with three RBI and two runs scored. In his first year in AA, he is hitting .308 and has knocked in 58 runs and scored 62. He will almost certainly set career highs in almost all statistical categories this year and should have no problem in AAA in 2014. He is currently 24 years old and could be seen in Cleveland as soon as September of 2014.
2. Enosil Tejeda – RP – AA Akron – 2009 International Free Agent
Tejada was featured in last season's report at #33 and earned his way back this season after jumping from Advanced A Carolina to Akron half way through this season. He continues to be used exclusively in non-closer relief situations as he has over the past few years and has been completely dominant. His worst ERA season in his four years as an Indians farm hand was back in 2010 when he held an ERA of 2.90. He has been incredible at striking out batters this year, holding a K/9 of over 12 so far and has become even more impressive since his advancement, lowering his ERA below 2.00 and his WHIP under 1.00 since moving to Akron. It is much easier for players in his position to move upward quickly, so it would not be a surprise to see Tejada in Cleveland next year or even this fall.
3. Anderson Polanco – RP – AZL Indians – 2010 International Free Agent
The Arizona League Indians haven't been playing very long yet this year, but Polanco has already thrown 17.1 innings in relief and allowed just fou runs. He is another young fire-baller in the Indians system with 27 strike outs already. He was a starter in his first season with the Dominican Summer League, but is unlikely to return as that league is very favorable to any pitcher with decent stuff. He is just 20 years old right now and could advance quickly through the system now that he has cemented himself in America.
4. Dorssys Paulino – SS – A Lake County – 2011 International Free Agent
Finally, the player everyone has been waiting for has been brought back to the prospect report. Paulino was the most exciting International Free Agent in recent years and was ranked 17th in the rankings last season (2nd among short stops) after a great stop with the Arizona League Indians. He has struggled more than any of the other top prospects that were advanced this offseason, batting under .250 through the first three months of the season. A fantastic July has brought him back to respectability, but it may be too little too late for further advancement this year. This isn't a huge set-back for the Indians however as they would prefer their two top short stop prospects (the other being Francisco Lindor) be staggered through the system so they don't have to fight for at bats.
5. Kieran Lovegrove - SP - AZL Indians – Drafted Round 3 in 2012
Kieran has made just a few starts this season (his second in Arizona), but has already shown a marked improvement over last year. He earned his first professional win in his second game this season. He is the eighth player from the 2012 draft to be featured in this season's prospect report, showing the strength of that draft, and he has one of the highest ceilings of all players drafted last year. This should be his final year in Arizona and he may skip Mahoning Valley all together on his way to Lake County in 2014.
6. D.J. Brown – RP – A Lake County – Drafted Round 39 in 2012
Brown was an extremely late pick in last years' draft, but is still starting to make a mark. He skipped the first two levels of the Indians minor league system entirely, but that hasn't kept him down as he has posted an ERA around 3.00 through his first 18 games. Most impressively, he has struck out 41 batters in just 35.2 innings pitched. The fact that he was able to jump straight into 'A' Ball after being drafted and to dominate the way he have is truly amazing.
7. Ronny Rodriguez – SS/2B – AA Akron – International Free Agent 2010
Rodriguez has been the starting short stop for the Aeros all year, knocking in and scoring over 40 runs each while maintaining an average of .285. He has shown quite a bit of power for a minor league short stop, hitting 19 home runs in 2012 and averaging more than 22 doubles per year over his first three seasons. He will likely be moved to second base now that Francisco Lindor has been promoted to Akron. This creates a log-jam of sorts with Rodriguez, Lindor, Matt Lawson, Justin Toole and Jose Ramirez all looking for regular playing time at short stop or second base for the Aeroes. This playing time will likely be focused on Lindor and Lawson who project to be the best Major League prospects out of the group, but Rodriguez has earned a longer look for his play this season.
8. Jose Ramirez – 2B/SS – AA Akron - International Free Agent 2011
Speaking of that log-jam, Ramirez is also deserving of a spot on this month's countdown (Lindor was featured in April and Toole in May). The Akron roster (just like the Carolina roster of the year before) is absolutely stacked with talent, which can only be a bad thing to players like Ramirez who are going to be pushed into the background. Ramirez has more than 20 extra base hits in 2013 and has only struck out 29 times in more than 400 at bats, a feat no Major Leaguer can claim this year. Hopefully, there will be some further promotions (and possibly DFAs) in the near future that will allow Ramirez and Rodriguez to continue starting.
9. Jordan Smith – RF – A+ Carolina - Drafted Round 9 in 2011
Smith has been starting in right field for the Mudcats all season and is one of the Indians better speed outfield prospects (although he is far behind those already listed in the prospect reports like Logan Vick and LeVon Washington). Over the past two seasons, Smith has hit 10 triples and stolen more than 20 bases and maintains an average of almost .300.
10. Luis Lugo – SP – SS Mahoning Valley - International Free Agent 2011
Lugo has finally broken out of the rookie leagues (at the old age of 19) and is destroying the competition for the Scrappers. He retained his starting position coming out of the DSL (most starters from the DSL Indians are turned into relievers by the time the hit the US) and has allowed just six runs in six starts so far in 2013. He has thrown 26 innings and holds a WHIP of just one. He is the first player from the Scrappers to be featured in the 2013 prospect reports.