How Good is Cleveland's Farm System? A Look at the Top Talent

This is the first in a three part series in which I take a look at the Cleveland Indians’ farm system and break down the Tribe’s prospects from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. To start things off, let’s take a look at the quality of Clevelend’s farmhands by  evaluating the Indians’ three top prospects.

After the Ubaldo Jimenez deal and the promotions of Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, the top-end talent has left the system. But there are still three prospects in the system who could turn into impact players in the majors: Francisco Lindor, LeVon Washington and Dillon Howard.

Lindor was the Tribe’s first round pick in the 2011 draft. Signed right out of high school, he flashes skills that could make him a true five-tool talent. Gold Gloves and 15-15 seasons could be in his future. The issue is that he’s only 17. As high as Lindor’s upside is, he still has a lot of growing to do.

In addition, high school players have a tendency to flame out before reaching the majors. As much as I like Lindor’s skill set, it’s hard to say he’s a surefire prospect when he has yet to step up to the plate in Rookie ball.

Washington is an intriguing talent. Tampa Bay’s top pick in 2009, he turned down the Rays’ offer and opted for a year of junior college instead. The Tribe then snatched him up in the second round of the 2010 draft and was able to sign him. At age 20, Washington had a chance to show off his skill set in the minors this year, but he underachieved big time.

Washington slashed .218/.331/.315 in 79 games with Low-A Lake County. Washington has 70 speed on the 20-80 rating scale, but still went just 15-21 in stolen base attempts. His power is average, but for a projected leadoff hitter you could do worse.

The issue is that Washington comes with a lot of risk. Many scouts consider him unpolished and he has some issues with his shoulder. Defense is a question as well. Washington played second base throughout high school and switched to center only in junior college because that’s where he projects to play in the majors.

Dillon Howard is the best pitcher in the Tribe’s system in terms of upside. The team’s second-round pick out of high school in Arkansas this year, Howard has a nice repertoire headed by a powerful slider in the mid-90s.

Like Lindor and Washington, Howard, another high school signing, is a risk to flame out—pitchers are even riskier than position players. So until he takes the mound in the minor leagues, we can’t make a true assessment of his skills.

If all three of these players can reach their potential, they will certainly give the Tribe a strong top three to top off their farm system. As good as these three players can be, though, there are too many question marks to count on them for now. Lindor is the only player I have any sort of faith in.

While having blue-chip prospects is a big part of having a strong system, it’s not the only important factor. Depth is another part that has to be analyzed. In the next two pieces I’ll take a look at the depth of pitching and bats in the minor leagues for the Tribe.

Which of the Tribe's top prospects will become impact players?

  • Francisco Lindor (60%, 6 Votes)
  • LeVon Washington (30%, 3 Votes)
  • Dillon Howard (30%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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Tags: Dillon Howard Francisco Lindo Levon Washington

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