We’ve already analyzed the top prospects and the noteworthy position players, so in our final look at the Cleveland Indians’ minor league depth, we now turn our attention to the premier arms in the system.
Pitching depth is something many Indians fans boast about. Losing Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, and Joe Gardner in the July Ubaldo Jimenez deal took a toll on the Tribe’s stock of young arms, but there still are some solid prospects waiting in the wings.
We’ve already discussed Dillon Howard, who is the best of the bunch. The next-best starter is Scott Barnes. As a 6’4″ southpaw, he fits just what the Tribe currently lacks in their Major League rotation and projects as a third or fourth starter. For now, though, Zach McAllister, Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff are probably in front of him on the organizational depth chart.
Another intriguing option, T.J. House, is a year or two away, but could develop into a solid left-handed back end starter.
Probably the most underrated pitcher in the system is 20-year-old Jake Sisco. He was the third round pick in 2011 and signed quickly so scouts were able to get a look at him at the minor league level early. Though he failed to impress in his debut (he sported a 5.24 ERA in rookie ball), Sisco had just finished a full season in junior college. A fresh start and full year in the system should equate to a nice jump for the young right-hander.
A name that has really started to soar on the organizational depth charts is Felix Sterling. He was an international signing in 2010 and had a solid professional debut in between rookie ball and Low-A Lake County, where he had a combined 4.12 ERA and 8.8 K/9. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the 6’3″ righty, but he could be a name to watch.
Bullpen is the Tribe’s true strength. Nick Hagadone, C.C. Lee and Bryce Stowell all have back-end bullpen ability and could be in the majors today if Cleveland didn’t already have a strong relief corps.
Any of these three could be considered the top option. Right now, my pick would be Hagadone. His southpaw status makes him perfect for a long relief role for the all-righty rotation Cleveland currently sports, and I like his upside the best. If it weren’t for his elbow surgeries in the past, he could be fighting for a rotation spot this spring and might work his way up to being a number two or three starter, if not an ace.
Lee and Stowell should both be hot commodities whenever trade talks for the Indians surface: they both could be valued greatly by teams in need of bullpen help, but don’t serve much purpose in Cleveland.
On teh whole, the Indians’ group of pitching prospects is quite impressive, but suffers from the same issue as the rest of the system: lack of a true blue-chip talent. There are some names of possible solid starters—Barnes, House and McAllister—and Howard and Sisco have some nice upside, but for now none of them can match the pedigree of White or Pomeranz.
In the next few years, we’ll be able to get a good look at some of these younger arms. Cleveland’s farm system should really get a jump in the rankings these pitchers continue to develop well.