Some notes on the Indians minor league rosters and who to watch for:
LHP Giovanni Soto – He’s in the Columbus rotation for now. The Indians shut him down late in the season to limit his innings. He did wind up going to play in the winter leagues and did pitch in the World Baseball Classic. The Indians probably won’t let him go crazy with innings, but his restrictions should start to come out. I still feel that at some point this year, the Indians could wind up using him as a reliever out of the pen.
RHP Preston Guilmet – the right hander from Arizona continues to move up the latter progressively. He’s been the Indians minor league leader in saves over the last two years despite not possessing a cage rattling heater. If you catch a Clippers game he’s pitching in, you’ll notice his over the top delivery that really plays up his nasty splitter.
UT Cord Phelps – He has nothing left to prove at this level but because Mike Aviles was guaranteed a roster spot and they took Ryan Raburn north with them. Supposedly they are going to have him play a little first base but they also said he’d play some outfield last year but the opportunity never arose. Hopefully he keeps hitting to prove his way out.
OF Adam Abraham – Abraham is listed as an outfielder and may not see time at third or first base like he did in Akron. He may still move around a bit, but if he is stuck strictly to the outfield it hurts his value. Few players have hard to work harder to work up the ladder on this roster.
The first oddity on this roster is C Alex Lavisky. He’s skipping High-A Carolina, a level guys rarely skip. But the Indians are being aggressive with him and since they’re switching Tony Wolters to catcher, there was room to move him up. Alex Monsalve is sticking around in extended spring training to work through an elbow injury, so it will be interesting to see where the Indians move him when he’s healthy.
TJ House is being sent back to AA-Akron, not because of performance but maybe a bit of a log jam. With Bauer (supposed to be at AAA to start the year) and Corey Kluber, Daisuke Matsuzaka and others there he got sent back to Akron. Guys will get hurt and people will get released. House was added to the 40 man this offseason and I’d expect the lefty to make the move down I-71 at some point.
Jose Ramirez skipped Carolina and there’s no question
Lindor, Tyler Naquin, Jordan Smith, and Joey Wendle make up the meat of this order this year. Obviously Lindor is a big draw but Wendle, after playing in the playoffs for Lake County last season, is the full time third basemen in Carolina now and has a shot to be a quick mover. Smith came on strong last year in Lake County and a lot of people aren’t as high on him as I am. The Carolina league is known as a pitchers league but other than Lindor, Smith’s advanced approach at the plate give him a real shot to be successful in this league and finally start to rise up other people’s prospect boards.
The pitching staff includes a lot of returnees and Jordan Cooper had a memorable run at the end of the 2012 season after a very average large portion of the year. Maybe he’s starting to turn the corner, spotting a fastball better that he can run up to the mid-90s.
Lake County Captains
Dorssys Paulino, Nellie Rodriguez, LeVon Washington have a real chance to make this lineup a fun one to watch.
Paulino will play shortstop but he has a lot to learn if he wants to catch up to Lindor on the defensive end. Rodriguez is a big physical guy at first base who just happened to attend the same high school as Manny Ramirez, and has real power potential.
Washington is coming off hip surgery that cost him most of 2012 but he came back strong towards the end of the season and had a good spring training. He’s extremely focused on getting on the field and having people talk about his game rather than his time at the trainer’s table.
I’ve also heard good things about OF Jorge Martinez who will flank Washington in the outfield most of the year next to Luigi Rodriguez too.
On the mound RHP Mitch Brown was a second round prep pick from Minnesota and has maturity beyond his years already. Luis DeJesus is making the opening day start for the Captains as well, after starting for Mahoning Valley last year and was the NYPL All-Star starter last year.
To read more on Justin’s minor league coverage of the Indians system, check him out on LakeCounty-Sentinel.com