Mark Shapiro sent the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to the National League for the second season in a row on Wednesday. Last season, while enduring another subpar season, the Indians dealt CC Sabbathia to the Milwaukee Brewers, essentially for Matt LaPorta. Yesterday, it was Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco left to pack their bags for Philadelphia as the house cleaning continues for the Tribe.
Knowing that the Indians will be cash strapped next season, Shapiro has rid the team of the high-dollar commanding players, and is trying to rebuild and reload the farm system to set the team up for success…further down the line.
The four prospects received by the Indians are Class A right-handed pitcher Jason Knapp, Triple-A right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco, catcher Lou Marson, and shortstop Jason Donald.
Bringing in another catcher certainly raises some questions about the future of Victor Martinez. Both Marson and Carlos Santana are twenty-three years young and currently listed on the 40-man roster for the Indians. Going into this season, some publications, most notably Baseball America, had Santana ranked as the top prospect for the Indians’ organization. While with the Akron Aeros, Santana has batted .275 with 19 home runs and 72 RBIs, and has also recorded 63 walks against only 58 strikeouts.
Lou Marson has had the cup of tea with Philadelphia, but is officially coming over from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has batted .294 to date, with 24 RBIs and only 1 home run. In seven games with the Phillies this year, Marson recorded four hits in 17 at-bats.
Carlos Carrasco also comes over from Lehigh Valley. He brings a fastball that sits in the low 90’s but can touch up to 95 mph. Last year, Carrasco struck out 155 batters, good enough for 13th among all minor league pitchers, and 2nd in the Phillies organization. This season, Carrasco has a 5.18 ERA to go along with a 6-9 record, but he has sat down 112 batters while walking only 38.
Jason Donald comes to the Tribe organization after spending time with Lehigh Valley and Reading this season. He is ranked as the #4 prospect in the Phillies organization by Baseball America, and certainly will provide the Indians with more middle infield depth in the coming seasons. He could compete with Luis Valbuena for 2nd base next season, or with Jamie Carroll for the utility spot on the 25-man roster.
Jason Knapp comes over as the big question mark. He has had recent arm soreness, but was evaluated and passed by the Cleveland medical staff. This eighteen-year old has been assigned to Lake County in Class A, and has only gone 2-7 on the year with a 4.01 ERA. In starting 17 games, Knapp has struck out 111 batters and walked only 39. Hitters are hitting a microscopic .208 against Knapp. If the arm soreness turns out to be but a minor bump in the road, Cleveland may have found them a true starter.
This trade has seemingly raided the Phillies’ farm system for four of their top ten prospects, all while cutting costs for next season. Unfortunately, with the excitement of new faces means saying good-bye to Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco.