With camp about to break and the Columbus rotation looking set, we can look at the ‘all-prospect’ pitching staff. Earlier this month I previewed the ‘all-prospect’ lineup.
1) RHP Trevor Bauer
Between AA-Mobile and AAA-Reno, Bauer dominated the competition and made his first MLB start just a year after being drafted. With just 29 career starts in the minor leagues, it was probably a good idea to get Bauer some seasoning pitching in the Midwest and to tighten up some things. The Indians seemed to be impressed with some of the things he did this spring. Spending the first half of the year in AAA at least, would be good, so Bauer can work some things out and not have a lot of pressure on him. He could be the type to over think some things.
2) RHP Danny Salazar
Finally healthy, Salazar flashed a plus fastball, a wipeout slider for his out pitch and good feel for an above average changeup. If he continues to refine his changeup, it could be enough to make him a decent three starter. If not, he probably better projects as back end, bullpen arm, where he could be dominant. His small 6’0 frame may not allow him to ever throw a 200 inning season, but the stuff is there to give him a shot at it.
3) RHP Mitch Brown
The Indians 19 year old, second round pick from the 2012 draft, Brown already has a solid fastball and a potentially solid four pitch mix. With drafting Tyler Naquin a in the first round, the Indians were able to give him a bit over slot to sign him. Many people think he wasn’t first round pick simply because he was hidden by playing in cold Minnesota. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him stay back in extended spring training in Arizona, but he could make his way to Mahoning Valley at some point late in the summer.
4) LHP Giovanni Soto
Soto was the pitcher the Indians got for Jhonny Peralta, which might end up being Peralta’s best contribution to the organization. Soto is probably a back end starter and his stuff probably plays up better as a reliever. At worst, he winds up serving in a Rafael Perez type role. He’s shown a good feel for a cut fastball and did throw a no hitter last season before the Indians shut him down to monitor his innings. He should find himself in AAA Columbus this year at some point and for the time being the Indians can afford to let him grow as a starter.
5) LHP Elvis Araujo
2012 was his first full healthy year since have reconstructive surgery in his left elbow. His control issues can partially be blamed on that and just being young. Elvis stands tall at 6’6 and throws a regular mid-90s fastball that plays up even faster at times because of his delivery that hides the ball behind his head. He has a live arm and showed a potentially very strong slider last year. At times he was dominating but when things went wrong, it got ugly. What really caused a lot of his control issues was his tendency to be erratic with runners on or when he started getting hit around. If he can get the mental side caught up to the physical side, he’s an extremely exciting prospect.
Closer: RHP Preston Guilmet
Guilmet doesn’t throw in the upper or even mid-90s like a typical closer. He can still hit 91-92 with his fastball but his funky, over the top delivery and fall-off-the-table splitter make him extremely effective. Think the guts and pitching style of Bob Wickman or Joe Borowski with potentially better stuff.
Set up: RHP Trey Haley
Haley finally found a consistent role and had success at it. Between his two and four seam fastballs, Haley can fire it by a lot of hitters. He improved on his off-speed stuff and during his stint in the Arizona Fall League, he started to mature a bit more by pitching to contact, rather than fishing for strikeouts all the time. If he can stay healthy, which is still an issue for the young Texan, he could have a real impact in the late innings, even potentially as a closer.
Set up: LHP Mike Rayl
The Indians sort of have a lack of left handed pitchers at the moment. Soto especially could wind up being a future LOOGY, even Araujo could, but having listed both of them as starters, Rayl could be a good fit, even though for now he’s going forward as a starter. It’s too early to tell if he won’t stick there, but the other option at this spot is Matt Packer, but he has had issues staying healthy at this point. Rayl did take a step back last year in the Carolina league, but so did many other Indians pitching prospects at that level. He’s posted better control in the past, so it will be interesting to see if 2012 was a problem or an outlier.