I’ve been meaning to write a post about a couple of minor league transactions for a while now, so I’m sorry if this is a bit late. Recently, the Indians cut ties with two of their prospects – Jordan Brown and Jess Todd. Let’s take a look at their tenure with the Indians and what led to their departure.
Jordan Brown was an outfielder/first baseman who was most recently with the AAA Columbus Clippers. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations at the beginning of May; he reported to their AAA club, the Nashville Sounds where they were in need of some outfield depth. Brown’s departure left room on the 40-man roster for infielder Josh Rodriguez, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 draft last year and was recently returned to the Indians for $25,000.
A fourth round draft pick by the Indians in 2005, the 27-year-old Brown was batting .278 with the Clippers with three home runs and 13 RBI. In 2009 he earned the International League batting title with a .336 average. A number of fans were frustrated with the fact that his stellar season still didn’t earn him a call up in 2009. Even though he had a chance to make the team out of spring training in 2010, he injured his knee and was forced to have surgery; thus delaying the start of his season. Brown was called to the Indians for a brief stretch in 2010; in 87 at bats he hit .230 with two RBI. Despite his disappointing 26-game stint in the Majors in 2010, he hit .298 with eight homers and 67 RBI at AAA Columbus. He was already designated for assignment earlier this year – in January, to make room on the roster for the signing of Austin Kearns. He was not claimed, and returned to the Indians.
Brown was always spoken of as a highly touted prospect; someone likely to be part of the Indians’ future plans. There’s a point where he either fell out of favor with the organization, or was just trumped by more talented players around him. My guess is that it’s the latter reason – with Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta around, it’s tough to break past any of them. Also consider the fact that Nick Weglarz is waiting in the wings as well, there just wasn’t room for all of them.
Jess Todd is a bit of a different story. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 2007 draft, and came to the Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade (along with Chris Perez) in 2009. Prior to the trade, Todd was 4-2 with 24 saves and a 2.20 ERA with the AAA Memphis Redbirds and after the 2008 season was named the fourth best prospect in the Cardinals’ organization. In 2010 he struggled in a brief call up to Cleveland, where he had a 7.50 ERA in six innings over the course of five games, but had a respectable 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA in Columbus. At the beginning of the 2011 season, Todd pitched poorly in Columbus. In eight appearances, he allowed 18 hits and six walks in nine innings, with a 7.62 ERA. The Indians designated him for assignment on April 30 in order to make room on the 40-man roster for the call up of pitcher Alex White. Todd was claimed by the New York Yankees a few days later and went to the AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. With the Yankees, Todd was 0-1 and allowed two runs in 1.2 innings for a 10.80 ERA. They designated him for assignment today (May 12) in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Amaury Sanit.
Even though Todd wasn’t an Indians draftee that was waiting in the wings for several years, I still got the feeling that the club expected great things from him. Perhaps they saw enough of his performance at Columbus this year, and through his brief stints in the Majors, to know that he may not be the pitcher they hoped. It’s unclear what Todd’s future may hold now that he’s been designated by the Yankees.