Indians Minor League: A Look at Prospects at Class-A Lynchburg

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Editor’s Note: Our Jeff Mount had the opportunity to see the Cleveland Indians‘ single-A affiliate  Lynchburg Hillcats in person, and offers his thoughts on some of the prospects he had the chance to see.

 I was able to attend the game between the Lynchburg Hillcats and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Saturday.  Lynchburg’s roster includes several players listed as top prospects for the Indians, so it was interesting to see how they looked.  I would have thought that a real major league prospect would be able to dominate against typical Class A players, but that turned out to not be the case.  Few players on either roster are hitting above .250, so when Clint Frazier is hitting .267 it is actually pretty good.

Here’s a few notes on what I saw:

  • D.J. Brown was the starting pitcher for the Hillcats. It took until about the fifth inning for me to figure out that it wasn’t Mitch Brown, so it became less impressive after that.  Brown is 24 years old, so whatever he achieves in A-Ball is somewhat colored by that; also, he topped out at 88-89, so it’s tough to consider him any kind of prospect. However, he figured out by the second inning that the umpire, who stood off to the side of the catcher and didn’t bend down until the pitch was halfway to the plate, was generous with his strike calls low and outside, so Brown just pounded that spot and got the Pelican hitters to hit ground balls.  He gave up one run in six-plus innings.
  • Clint Frazier had a line drive single to left but struck out three times, including his final at bat against a left-hander who topped out at 83 miles per hour. Again, Frazier is twenty years old, so nearly everyone he faces is significantly older, but it is hard to be encouraged when he shows little ability to adjust.
  • Bradley Zimmer showed better raw skills than Frazier, at least in my mind. He ran the bases very fluidly and had a smooth swing.  The Hillcats played Frazier in center and Zimmer in right, but I would think they profile better the other way around.
  • Nellie Rodriguez plays a nice first base for Lynchburg and has good power numbers. He is listed as 225 pounds but showed nice speed scoring from first on a double.  I have been conditioned to be skeptical about big power hitters with the Indians because so many have stalled at Triple-A, but Rodriguez seems to have more athleticism than some other guys we have seen, so maybe he will be different.
  • Mike Papi

    was the only other guy on the prospect list who played last night. I didn’t see anything special.  His career OPS is .610, so he is still figuring things out.

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  • The double play combination of Ivan Castillo and James Roberts showed some good leather. Roberts made several nice plays on defense.  Castillo just turned twenty and weighs 155 pounds, so it’s hard to say if he will ever develop enough punch to be a prospect, but he looked good on the bases and at short.
  • Luigi Rodriguez had more good swings than anyone in the Lynchburg lineup. He has slipped out of the prospect rankings after stalling in A-Ball, but his numbers indicate that he may be figuring things out.  Rodriguez was once rated as the fastest guy in the Indians’ system, but he is being used at DH now, which I usually interpret as indicating a loss of status for a prospect.  Since Tyler Naquin moved up from Akron to Columbus, there should be an opening for an outfielder at Double-A.  Zimmer looks like he is ready, but the Indians seem to like every player to spend a full year at each level, so Rodriguez may be a candidate.
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