This is Next Year: July 2012

Same rules as last time, here are another 10 outstanding Indians minor leaguers. Included this time that were not in May are players from the Dominican Summer League Indians, Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the Arizona League Indians who had not started play yet when the last one was written.

1. Chun-Hsiu Chen – C/1B – AA Akron – International Free Agent 2007

Chen is currently second on the Aeros in RBI behind only 8 year semi-pro Nick Weglarz. Unlike Weglarz however, Chen is on his way up, rather than going back down. Chun-Hsiu is currently in his second season with the Akron and has been working this season on transitioning from his original position of catcher into becoming a full time first baseman. The added time in AA has aided Chen offensively as well as he raised his batting average in 2012 to .317 from .262 in 2011. If Chen continues his progress this season he will likely reach career highs in runs (currently has 49), hits (99), doubles (25), steals (4) and walks (45). In addition to all that, he will likely make his way to Columbus by seasons end and could be in Cleveland as early as September 2013 depending on their need.

2. Jeremie Tice – OF – AA Akron – Drafted Round 6 in 2008

Jeremie Tice played well enough in Advanced A to make the All-Star team, but wasn’t going to stop then. Before the game was played Tice had moved on to Akron and has picked up his game even more. Combined between the two levels Tice has 36 extra base hits and 58 RBI this year. Most impressively he has actually hit at a higher rate in AA (.333 in 52 games) than he did in A+ (.282 in 52 games). Tice has played some at first base, right field and left field, but has seen the majority of his at bats at designated hitter. He will likely finish out 2012 and begin 2013 in AA. The earliest Indians fans should expect Tice would be late in 2014.

3. Jesus Aguilar – 1B – A+ Carolina – International Free Agent 2008

Aguilar was one of just two Indians farm hands in the Future’s Game, the other one being Francisco Lindor (who was covered in the May edition) and it was well deserved. He leads the Mudcats in doubles (21), hits (83) and runs (50) and is second in batting average (.305), RBI (45), and home runs (11). His rate stats (OBP and AVG) are his highest since he was in the Dominican Summer League in 2009. With Jeremie Tice moved on to Akron, Aguilar is the most dominant offensive force left in Carolina. 

4. Preston Guilmet – RP – AA Akron – Drafted Round 9 in 2009

The Aeros closer has arguably been the best in the Indians organization outside of Pure Rage himself. Guilmet has earned 11 saves already even though the Aeros have tended to spread around the opportunities with 6 other pitchers earning a total of 14 saves. Preston has only allowed 7 runs in 30.2 innings (2.05 ERA) and has kept runners off the bases with a WHIP under 1.00 as well. He also has a very impressive K/BB rate of 26/9. Guilmet has finished 20 of the 28 games he has pitched in and will look to start finishing games in Columbus by the end of 2013. 

5. Jorge Martinez – 2B – R AZL Indians – International Free Agent 2010

The Arizona League Indians have just recently started playing, but Jorge Martinez has started just about as hot as you can. The Indians second-baseman slash stats are .415/.456/.717 and he has knocked in 11 runs in 12 games to boot. The 19 year old is in his third year in Rookie ball, but will likely advance soon as he has finally figured something out. He is just one home run away from his career high at this level and is about half way to most of his other highs at just a quarter of the way through the season. Martinez is still a long way away, but he is still very young and could develop into something good.

6. Luis DeJesus – SP – A(SS) Mahoning Valley – Drafted Round 11 in 2011

Dejesus started 2012 in ‘A’ ball with the Lake County Captains and didn’t impress, but joined the Scrappers as soon as their season started and has dominated. DeJesus had only pitched in 13 professional games prior to this season so he probably should have been in Single A the whole time. So far in Mahoning Valley he is 2-0 in four starts with an ERA of 0.82. In his short career across three levels, Luis has struck out 71 batters in just 80 innings pitched. While he is still far away from the bigs, it is promising to see such a late round draft pick doing so well already.

7. Dorssys Paulino – SS – R AZL Indians – International Free Agent 2011

This promising young (17) shortstop has already started excelling in his first professional season. Paulino has already hit a couple home runs and is batting .327 through 13 games. While he has had some struggles defensively (5 errors), it is unlikely he will ever be a starting short stop for the Indians. Between Asdrubal Cabrera and Francisco Lindor after him, the Tribe is pretty set up the middle for the next decade. The Indians however, are not deep at some other positions like second base and third base that could be possibly fits for the young up comer.

8. Carlos Diaz – SP – R DSL Indians - International Free Agent 2011

In 5 games pitched (4 starts), Carlos Diaz leads all Dominican Summer League pitchers with a 0.90 ERA. Through 20 innings Diaz has 21 strike outs and has only allowed 2 runs on 11 hits. Unbelievably his WHIP of 0.95 is fourth on among the incredibly strong pitching staff for the DSL Indians. Every starter on the team with more than three starts holds an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP under 1.15. Diaz and any of the other pitchers who perform beyond expectations will likely see their way to either the AZL Indians or Mahoning Valley by 2013.

9. Cody Allen – RP – AAA Columbus – Drafted Round 23 in 2011

Cody Allen has moved faster up the Indians minor league system faster than any other player in recent memory. The extremely late round draft pick from just last year passed through four MiLB levels in just 46 games during his first season. This year he has seen time in Carolina, Akron and Columbus and has combined for a 2.01 ERA in 29 relief outings. Most impressively he has struck out 51 batters compared to only 9 walks. Seeing how fast he has already risen combined with the Indians struggles with the lower part of their bullpen, Allen could possibly see time in Cleveland this season and more likely in 2013. There are quite a few pitchers in Columbus right now with Major League experience, but the only pitcher that has been better than Allen (Chris Ray) was just released.

10. Jordan Smith – RF – A Lake County – Drafted Round 9 in 2011

Smith is in just his second professional season for the Indians and has excelled at two levels. In 65 games last season for Mahoning Valley, Smith knocked in 47 runs and scored 36. This year he has increased his power output, hitting a team high five triples along with four home runs and 16 doubles. He has also knocked in another 33 runs and scored another 36 in 2012 while keeping a very consistent .301 batting average. Jordan Smith could be just the left handed light hitting outfielder the Indians need. Look for Smith in Akron next season.

 

There are a few players who deserve mention for their minor league exploits, even though the Indians have removed their prospect titles and changed them to pros. Juan Diaz was considered good enough to take Asdrubal Cabrera’s role in Cleveland while the All-Star was out with an injury, but he isn’t good enough for AAA as he was sent back down to Akron following the call up. He has 7 home runs and 37 RBI already this year despite the interruption. Matt LaPorta also deserves recognition as he will likely set career highs in home runs and RBI this year in AAA as the prototypical AAAA or replacement player can’t seem to earn a spot on the big league club.

Jorge Martinez

#9 is #5 on this month’s list.

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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