With the Winter Meetings in Nashville just about a month away and while deals are not always finalized there, they are the structure for trade talks. It’s widely predicted that the Indians will retool/rebuild (whichever helps you sleep better), and they could use some of their prospects to help out Terry Francona and his new cast under the tepee.
In this post, we’ll look at the Indians minor league depth in pitching at every level; who they might talk about trading, who might be a factor next year if the Indians trade some current members of their pitching staff, as well as some guys to look at in the future.
LHP Matt Packer: Drafted in the 32nd round in 2009, Packer might have made his debut in 2012 if not for a shoulder injury that set him back most of the season. Packer didn’t get back to AA Akron (where he went 9-12 in 27 starts in 2011). Standing only at 6’0 180; Packer is not an imposing figure and you won’t confuse him with Randy Johnson. What the former Virginia Cavalier does boast, is above average control and an idea of how to pitch. You also shouldn’t confuse him with Jeremy Sowers either, boasting a much better fastball. Depending on what the Indians do this off-season, Packer has a shot to be the first phone call for a spot start. He’s currently relieving in the Arizona Fall League, trying to continue to work for lost time this season, so there’s a chance the Indians could use him as a reliever next year.
LHP TJ McFarland: McFarland had a bit of a down year, making the jump to AAA Columbus last year midway through the season. A 4th round pick in 2007, McFarland stands at 6’3, he is also more of a control pitcher, most effective when pitching to contact. His best attribute might be his durability, making 97 starts over the last four seasons (104 appearances overall) and a career high 163 innings. He also has a shot to make his debut, probably sooner than Packer. Though likely a 5th starter, he’s a better option at this point than David Huff.
RHP Matt Langwell: An 11th round pick in 2008, Langwell had an outstanding 2012, becoming a key fixture in the Akron Aeros dominant bullpen. After allowing two earned runs in 14.1 innings, Langwell moved to Columbus with ease. Finished with a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 54.2 innings with the Clippers. Despite pitching in a smaller park in Columbus, Langwell didn’t allow a single home run all season. The Indians seem to have some depth in relief pitching, so while he has a shot to crack the big league roster there, he could be used in a Zach Putnam-Kevin Slowey type swap (with better results hopefully).
RHP Danny Salazar: Considered by most to be the Indians best pitching prospect at this moment, Salazar recovered from Tommy John surgery, keeping him out of most of 2010 and 2011. Early in the year he had some more elbow issues, causing him to be shut down, but after getting healthy he showed why he is considered the Indians top prospect on the mound. He went 4-0 in Akron with a 1.85 ERA in six starts and was their number one in the playoffs on the way to Akron’s championship run. He has an electric fastball that sits 93-95 and tops out around 98 and also has an above average slider as well. With the development of his slider and getting more comfortable throwing his changeup, you’ll likely hear Salazar’s name a lot as the season goes on.
LHP TJ House another durable left handed starter, House has made 103 starts in his four year minor league career. He bounced back from a rough year in Kinston last season. He went 6-12 with 5.19 ERA in 2011 and wound up 10-5 in 27 starts, 23 of them with Akron. He has more swing and miss stuff than McFarland and a better repertoire, including a better fastball. He is currently having one of the better seasons in the Arizona Fall League, (2-1 2.86 21 strikeouts, 8 walks in 22 innings of work).
RHP Preston Guilmet: Guilmet has only been pitching for four years and has already earned two championship rings and recorded the final out both times. Racking up 70 saves in the last three years with a unique release point that really plays his tough splitter up, Guilmet is unafraid of any situation on the mound. He’s spent a full season at every level since being drafted, so it’s possible the Indians could have him go through 2013 in Columbus, depending if the bullpen lacks a once heavily bearded pitcher at the back end. Most of the guys on this list thus far, could wind up in a trade of some sort, but Guilmet has the chance to stick with the Indians more than the rest.
RHP Jordan Cooper: Most of the pitching staff at Carolina this year featured a young group who struggled to make adjustments at a new level. Cooper was middling through a rough year himself. His final three starts were impressive however (3-0 0.00 19 IP 16K/2BB). He’ll be 24 next season and the clock is ticking despite being drafted in 2010, but his fastball command and velocity were much better at the end of 2012 and make him someone interesting to watch in 2013.
RHP Mason Radeke: After being inserted into the starting rotation for Lake County in July, Radeke went 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 10 starts. In 53.2 innings, he posted a 62/12 K/BB ratio. Radeke is a bit under the radar (35th round pick in 2011 and hair that could be mistaken for Ronny Bass in ‘Remember the Titans) but has legitimate swing and miss stuff. His fastball sat mostly in the 91-94 range this year, but his slider really progressed into an out pitch once he racked up the innings. If he performs the same way in Carolina in 2013, he could find himself up on the Indians radar.
RHP Luis DeJesus: pitched in four games out of the bullpen in Lake County in 2012 for the first time in his life. He struggled in that role, but went down to Mahoning Valley in late June and wound up being the starting pitcher for the American League in the New York Penn League All-Star game. Posted a 52/17 K/BB ratio in 80.1 innings of work with the Scrappers, Luis features a solid slider and a potentially above average fastball. He won’t turn 21 until the end of 2013 and should be in the starting rotation in 2013 for the Captains.
You can read more of Justin’s Indians related work at Lakecounty-sentinel.com