From Photobucket, by Tony Lastoria

Cleveland Indians Top Prospects No. 10: Tony Wolters

When you hit .130 in the month of April, it’s easy to get lost in the mix of the talk of top prospects. That is even more applicable when you’re a part of the Cleveland Indians’ organization that has a myriad of potential impact talent. And that is exactly what happened to Tony Wolters. After being named the No. 5 prospect on this list last year, Wolters’ disappointing 2012 season (he hit .260/.320/.404 at High-A) dropped him further down this (and virtually every other) list.

A miserable April had a lasting effect on his numbers, and the fact that he was able to bring his full season line to respectable numbers is a testament to the resilience and work ethic of Wolters. But now he finds the likes of Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino Ronny Rodriguez, and Jose Ramirez right behind him on the development track.

Wolters is the furthest along of the Tribe’s noteworthy middle infield prospects, but he also is now the lowest in terms of potential impact. Wolters will never be a prospect who will excite scouts with his tools, but he’s that quintessential scrappy middle infielder with enough of a solid all-around game to warrant a roster spot.

One positive from 2012 was that Wolters found more pop in his bat: his slugging percentage went up from .363 to .404 despite his struggles early in the season. If Wolters flashes more offensive upside, he could carve out more significant playing time as he progresses.

Depth around the system is what could really kill Wolters’ future with the Indians. He’s likely to end up at second base since his defense at shortstop is not considered stellar and Lindor, Paulino and Rodriguez all chances to stick there. That means he will likely be more and more of a full-time second baseman through the rest of his minor league career and likely one step ahead of Ramirez. However, Ramirez is now considered a superior prospect in many eyes and let us not forget that some dude named Jason Kipnis in Cleveland is considered pretty good.

Like every Cleveland middle infielder not named Lindor, it’s hard to see exactly where Wolters could fit into the Tribe’s future plans. If he continues to show some pop, he could turn into a nice trade chip at the very least.

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