Cleveland adds prospect to new Top 100 rankings
Team's top 2013 Draft pick Frazier debuts at No. 56, joins Bauer, Lindor on list
CLEVELAND -- When the 2013 season began, the Cleveland Indians had two prospects ranked among the Top 100 in baseball. In drafting Clint Frazier, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, they now have three.
Frazier, an 18-year-old outfielder currently playing for the rookie-level Arizona League Indians, is rated as the No. 3 prospect in the organization and 56th-best prospect in the game. Shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Trevor Bauer remain Cleveland's top two prospects, while shortstop Dorssys Paulino and outfielder Tyler Naquin round out the team's new Top 5.
Though the Indians have high hopes for all of their prospects, there is a special level of excitement over Frazier, who was chosen as the national high school player of the year by multiple entities. During his first 18 games in Arizona, Frazier assembled a .310/.350/.549 line with three doubles, four triples, two homers and 16 RBIs.
He went deep in his first at-bat of his first game, which wasn't over until he'd also tripled and driven in four runs.
"Clint has had a great start to his professional career," Carter Hawkins, Cleveland's assistant director of player development, said in an email. "He can impact the game in a lot of ways, and in his short time with us has already shown that with his bat, his power and his ability to cover a lot of ground in center field. The sky is the limit with Clint, and we're eager to see his progress through our system."
Clearly, Frazier has the potential to make an impact for the Indians in the future. His ability, along with that of other prospects, should provide Tribe fans with plenty of reasons to keep tabs on Cleveland's various Minor League affiliates moving forward.
The Indians have managed to compete in the American League Central despite being one of seven teams that have not seen a single prospect graduate from the preseason rankings. Their position in the division has been aided in small part by Bauer and Danny Salazar, as well as reliever C.C. Lee, who wasn't part of the original Top 20 but cracked the rankings during the first half.
Bauer, the third overall selection of the 2011 Draft, came to Cleveland in December as part of a three-team trade with Arizona and Cincinnati. On four occasions, he was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make spot starts for the Tribe, going 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA across 17 innings. When the Indians needed a starter on July 11, they opted for Salazar, who struck out seven hitters over six innings, giving up just two hits and a run in a win over Toronto.
Salazar (No. 6) is still waiting for his second Major League appearance, and Cleveland has considered adding him to the bullpen as the regular season reaches its finish line. Lee (No. 15) recently gained experience with the Tribe relief corps, and in three appearances the 26-year-old was not charged with a run.
There are five players who were ranked among Cleveland's Top 20 before the season began but who now find themselves looking up at prospects with seemingly higher ceilings. Righty Dillon Howard, rated the Tribe's No. 10 prospect during the preseason, experienced the most dramatic slip, which was at least partially influenced by a recent 50-game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine.
Howard, 21, had not pitched in 2013, but he struggled last year with the Arizona League Indians, posting a 1-7 record and 7.90 ERA over 12 games (10 starts). Other prospects who have fallen out of the Top 20 rankings: left-hander Scott Barnes, who compiled a 7.27 ERA over six games with the Tribe this year, right-hander Kieran Lovegrove, shortstop Jorge Martinez and catcher Chun Chen.
Frazier's ascent to the No. 3 spot is the most noteworthy on the upgraded list, but the highly regarded positions of recent draftees Dace Kime, Kyle Crockett and Sean Brady should not be overlooked, either.
After the Indians selected Frazier in the first round, they nabbed Kime in the third, Crockett in the fourth and Brady in the fifth. According to Hawkins, Kime and Brady are both projected to be starters.
"Although Dace was mostly used out of the 'pen in college [at Louisville], we see his frame, stuff and delivery working well in a starter's role," Hawkins said. "We'll spend this year getting him stretched out and back on a starter's routine, and [we] look forward to seeing him in that role with a full-season team next year."
In the new rankings, Kime checks in at No. 9, while Crockett, tabbed as a potential "quick mover" through the system by Hawkins, can be found in the 16th slot. Brady, a 19-year-old southpaw, has scouts loving his "strike-throwing ability and advanced secondary weapons" according to Hawkins.
indians' top prospects
Perhaps no other prospect has taken more impressive strides than Cody Anderson (No. 7), whom Cleveland selected out of junior college in the '11 Draft. The 22-year-old starter has spent this season with Class A Advanced Carolina, where he is 7-3 with a 2.31 ERA. Over 101 1/3 innings, Anderson has issued 92 strikeouts with just 26 walks.
"Cody didn't have a lot of innings under his belt when we drafted him, so we've been conservative with him the last few years as we built up his workload," said Hawkins. "He really came into his own this year, showing a durable frame, repeatable delivery, above-average command and Major League stuff across the board. He's put himself in a great position to be a Major League option in the not-too-distant future."
Anderson wasn't represented in the preseason rankings, but his performance catapulted him into the Top 10. Some players, such as catcher Alex Monsalve, suffered reverse fates. In the new rankings, Monsalve fell from No. 11 to No. 19. An elbow injury has limited Monsalve's playing time to just six games in 2013.
Top 100 representation
The Indians' Top 3 -- Lindor, Bauer and Frazier -- are all rated in the Top 100 across baseball. Lindor, a 19-year-old shortstop who made his Double-A debut in Akron on July 16, is rated as the fifth-best prospect in baseball. Bauer, currently on the roster at Triple-A Columbus, checks in at No. 42 overall. And then there is Frazier, one of just eight picks from the '13 Draft, to crack the Top 100, at No. 56.
Each team that has a prospect rated in the Top 100 gets a certain number of points, depending on where their players are ranked. No. 1 overall prospect Byron Buxton, for instance, netted 100 points for Minnesota, while the second-ranked prospect, Oscar Taveras, gained 99 points for St. Louis, and so on. Using that system, the Indians were ranked No. 10 across baseball.
Overall, the new rankings gave Cleveland 200 prospect points. Bauer's fall from No. 17 was more drastic than Lindor's rise to No. 5, but the jolt provided by Frazier ensured that the status of Cleveland's farm system continued progress.
It's all but certain that prospects rated among the Indians' Top 20 will perform in front of fans at Progressive Field in the years to come. While Bauer and Salazar have already made their Tribe debuts, more time will pass before Lindor and Frazier can do the same. Will it be worth the wait? The Indians certainly hope so.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.