Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 12/21/11

The Cleveland Indians tried to hold on and win the winnable AL Central, but even after making a mid-season trade for Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Verlander and the Tigers rolled their division foes on their way to an ALCS exit. One of the more important things the Indians may have done, however, was introduce two top prospects in Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis had an excellent debut, but I’d expect a little less power in his future with a few more walks, hits, and a higher OBP. Chisenhall played in about twice as many games, but he had a bit rougher of an introduction. Both of them are solid regulars, but I’d expect Kipnis to be the better player as their careers get going.

Down on the farm, life wasn’t very good. First of all, the top half of the 2011 Indians list got chopped off, which is enough to take a serious toll on any organization. Moving Kipnis and Chisenhall into the majors is a positive step forward as that’s the goal, but it does remove the top two prospects from the system. Next came the Jimenez trade that took Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, and Joe Gardner, who were the best three pitching prospects the Indians had. When that happens, you hope the rest of the system plays well enough to at least give the organization hope that the system can recover eventually from that.

That didn’t exactly happen. The Indians did have a pretty strong draft with Francisco Lindor, Dillon Howard, Jake Sisco, and spending heavily in the later rounds to grab several prospects who dropped, which is always a solid idea. They come into the organization, and it says a lot that 3 of the top 5 are newly-drafted players. There were a few nice seasons, but few Indians prospects outside of those drafted in 2011 represent guys that could be the core of the major-league team.

To be fair, the current, thin Indians system is not a complete failure. Promoting Kipnis and Chisenhall is the ultimate goal of a farm system, and both of those guys look to be core players in the future of the Indians. Trading Pomeranz and White, while it hurts the rotation’s depth, did bring Jimenez, who still has value despite a bumpy move to the American League. The question remains what is coming down the pipeline now. The recent draft does bolster the system and adds some potential, and there are some decent players that were already in the organization. But the major-league team isn’t without it’s problems, and there don’t seem to be any immediate answers coming from within.

 

Outstanding

Francisco Lindor SS

Bats/Throws: S/R

Height/Weight: 5’11/175

Age/Level (as of 4/2012): 18/Low-A

Projection: 3+ WAR

Lindor won’t amaze you with any one part of his game, but he’ll give you plenty to smile about as he can do just about everything very well. With above-average speed and an above-average arm, scouts believe Lindor will almost certainly stay at shortstop and be a pretty good one. At the plate, Lindor shows his lone major weakness in his lack of power, but he generates solid contact with a solid approach. It remains to be seen how his skills will translate into professional ball and if the power will become too much of a detriment, but Francisco “Truffles” Lindor (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) has a strong work ethic and a bright future.

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