This is Next Year: August 2012

The third in a four part series covering the Indians minor league players. Here are part one and part two. Players are excluded if they have as much as an at bat in the Majors. Here are another ten young Indians to keep a look out for.

1. Jared Goedert – 3B/RF – AAA Columbus – Drafted Round 9 in 2006

Goedert has been around for a very long time by minor league standards as can be seen by the fact that his next home run will be his 100th as a minor leaguer. Disappointingly, Goedert has played in AA each of the last 4 seasons, but has yet to make it stick in AAA. This has been his best season so far as he has been destroying AAA pitching, but that is to be expected from a 27 year old. The only players ahead of him in home runs (11), RBI (49) and runs (44) are players with significant Major League playing time who are just biding their time while waiting for a call-up. Before Lonnie Chisenhall was drafted Goedert was considered the thirdbaseman of the future, but since Chisenhall has made his debut, the Indians have been trying to make Goedert into a versatile utility player. He has seen time at first, third, left and right field this season in an effort to make him a better fit for the Major League team. Because he is not currently being protected by the 40 man roster, he is eligible to be taken in the rule 5 draft at the end of the season and the chances are good that he will be. If the Indians want to actually give Jared a chance, they will at least have to bring him up as a September call-up and place him on the 40 man.

2. Thomas Neal – OF – AA Akron – Traded from San Francisco for Orlando Cabrera in 2011

Thomas Neal is in a very similar situation to Goedert. He was designated for assignment before the start of 2012 season, but was not claimed by any other teams. He has spent the entire season in Akron to this point after spending all of 2011 in AAA with Fresno and Columbus. Like Goedert, this is his seventh season, but he is two years younger, so there is a little more upside. This year he is hitting .312/.398/.463 with 22 doubles, ten home runs, 49 RBI and 69 runs. The fact that he is still in AA while the Indians have signed the likes of Vinnie Rottino and Lars Anderson and placed them above him in AAA makes it seem unlikely that he has any future with the Tribe. The disappointing part about this is that he was one of the Giants top prospects and the Indians got him for almost nothing.

3. Shawn Armstrong – RP – AA Akron – Drafted Round 18 in 2011

While he is AA Akron and playing well right now, Armstrong has done most of his damage in Advanced A Carolina. Combined over three levels, he has gone 2-3 with a 1.61 ERA in 39 games. Most impressively he has thrown 61.1 innings and struck out 72 batters. This is basically his first professional season as he only threw two innings after being drafted last season. The 2011 draft looks especially impressive as five players have already been featured in these reports, one of whom, Cody Allen, has already made his Major League debut and is dominating there. In his short time in Akron, he has allowed a single run in 11 games. Of course he has continued to get some swings and misses with 16 strike outs in 14 innings. The bullpen mafia looks to be set for a long time in the future. Seeing how fast Allen has risen, look for Armstrong as early as September 2012 with a more likely entrance sometime in mid 2013.

4. Danny Salazar – SP – AA Akron – 2006 International Free Agent

The 22 year old right hander has spent most of the season in Carolina and was just recently promoted to Akron. Overall, he is 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 56 strike outs in 63.1 innings. This has been his most successful season since pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2007. It is also his first year he has pitched beyond Lake County and he has spent the whole season in Advanced A and AA. Salazar will likely start 2013 in Akron, but could advance during the season as he did this year. His expected debut should be in 2014 at the earliest.

5. Charlie Valerio – C – SS Mahoning Valley – 2009 International Free Agent

Valerio is spending his first season above rookie ball and has been very successful. The Scrappers have transitioned him from being the firstbaseman he was signed as to being primarily a catcher this year. This year he has hit .296/.371/.456 with 16 extra base hits in 46 games. Most players see an offensive relapse when they are changing positions, but Valerio has taken well to it, posting his highest average in his three professional seasons. At 21 Charlie is still a few years away, but could be as far as AAA by 2014.

6. Luis Gomez – P – R DSL Indians – 2011 International Free Agent

This is Gomez’s first professional season and he is sure making it a good one. So far he has allowed three runs in 40.1 innings across six starts and six relief appearances. He has also struck out 38 and holds a WHIP of 0.74. All that still didn’t make him the best pitcher on the DSL Indians, but their best starter, Juan Nivar, was just suspended 50 games for substance abuse (steroids), so he has also been suspended from this list. Gomez is 19 (or so he says) and will likely pitch in the AZL or Mahoning Valley next year.

7. Mason Radeke – RP – A Lake County – Drafted Round 35 in 2011

Another relief pitcher from the class of ’11, Radeke has spent the majority of 2012 confounding single A hitters. He has struck out 95 in 86 innings and allowed just 36 earned runs. Radeke did make one start in Akron and 8 in Lake County in addition to his relief appearances and holds a record for 2012 of 6-7. The Indians strategy of drafting hard throwing, swing and miss college pitchers last year seems to be working and Radeke will likely spend 2013 with the Aeros. It’s completely possible that the bullpen could consist almost entirely of 2011 draft picks as early as 2014.

8. Alexis Paredas – RP – R AZL Indians – 2009 International Free Agent

Paredas has taken well to his first season of American baseball. The 20 year old has had no trouble dealing with the 18-19 year old hitters in the Arizona League and has thrown 32 innings in 14 games. He has only allowed 9 earned runs so far for an ERA of 2.53 and has struck out 34 keeping his K/9 above nine and his K/BB at almost 4. Paredas has had many chances to pitch multiple inning games as the Indians starting rotation has struggled some in the Arizona heat. This should be his last season in Rookie ball as most players are moved onto Lake County or Mahoning Valley at this point in their careers.

9. Victor Cabral – LF – R DSL Indians – 2011 International Free Agent

Cabral is the hottest hitter for the Dominican Summer League Indians, putting up a slash line of .301/.381/.417. He already has 30 RBI in just 58 games and has 17 extra base hits with 8 steals. Cabral is just 18 years old and has played both right and left field this season, only making one error to this point. He has played some DH as well as the Indians make sure everyone gets playing time in the field, while also keeping Cabral’s bat in the lineup. Hopefully he will be leading a different Indians offense next year as he should be making the move to Goodyear for 2013.

10. Luigi Rodriguez – CF – A Lake County – 2009 International Free Agent

The Indians don’t have very many power hitters currently in their system, but Rodriguez has a chance to be one of them. Although his batting average has slipped this year, he has found some strength that was missing the past few seasons, hitting 20 doubles and 9 home runs in 104 games in Eastlake. Most impressively he has 102 runs created (R+RBI-HR) and still has managed 20 steals. Did I mention that he plays centerfield? While he still has some things to work on (119 strike outs in 417 at bats and 6 errors as an outfielder), he could definitely be a player to watch for in the future. He will likely play for Carolina and possibly Akron as well next year after spending two seasons with Lake County. He is only 19, so he still has a few years to work with before he ends up like Jared Goedert.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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