Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
The Indians' system has seen a number of graduates in previous years, but the system has been very poor in recent years. The system coming into the year was extremely shallow at the higher levels, and it has not really improved on that point during the year. There are a few interesting prospects outside of Francisco Lindor in the minors right now, but they need a lot of help in the coming years.
Graduates in 2012
AA in 2012
These are prospects who reached AA during the 2012 season, playing for the Indians' Eastern League affiliate in Akron. These players could see time in Cleveland in 2013, but generally will be more likely to appear in 2014.
A first base prospect, Aguilar has hit well in each of the last two seasons, hitting over .280 each year and at least 15 home runs each season. Aguilar is listed at 6'3" and 255 lbs, but there are questions as to whether he isn't already larger than that. He seems like there is some potential with him, but the hard part is how much will actually translate for fantasy owners. I could see him ending up as the Indians' 1B in the future, but only really playable in deep fantasy leagues because of the position he will play.
Low-A in 2012
These are prospects who reached Low-A during the 2012 season, playing for the Indians' Midwest League affiliate in Lake County. These players are likely at least two to three full seasons away from arriving in Cleveland.
I wrote about Lindor back in June, at which point his season numbers really started to tail off. I'd be very surprised if anyone viewed Lindor any worse now than they did at the start of the season, but if they do, that could be a nice opening. My opinion hasn't changed on what he could be since I wrote that profile, as I still believe he could provide solid batting average along with solid across the board production. His defense will keep him at short, which will keep his value for fantasy owners high. He is still probably 3 years away, but I believe it will be worth the wait for fantasy owners.
Short Season Ball in 2012
Dorssys Paulino (BBRef Statistics)
Paulino was signed last year out of the Dominican Republic for a seven figure bonus, and his early performance this year is making that look like a worthwhile investment. Paulino reached the Indians' short season affiliate in the New York Penn League, despite being just 17 years old, and could make his full season debut in 2013. Between the Arizona League and the NYPL, he hit .333/.380/.558 with 7 HR, 38 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. Paulino may not be a shortstop in the long term, especially given that Francisco Lindor is already in the system and the shortstop of the future. With that said, Paulino is extremely young, extremely raw, but appears to have a very high offensive ceiling at this point.
Others of Note
Tyler Naquin (OF) - Naquin was the Indians' top draft pick this year, after crushing in the Big-12 this past year. Baseball America noted that a number of teams "view him as a tweener" prior to the draft, as his bat profiles better in center than right, but he's not necessarily going to stay in center. He may have more value in real life to the Indians than to fantasy owners, but it sounds like he has the potential to provide a good batting average with at least a little bit of power and speed.
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