3/28/2014 12:40 P.M. ET
How do Indians' prospects fit Cleveland's needs?
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Indians:
The Indians are loaded with veteran players. However, they have a bounty of riches when it comes to middle infielders in development.
With Asdrubal Cabrera in his free-agent year, top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor may see playing time this season. Only 20 years old, Lindor came to the Tribe from high school as the team's first-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound switch-hitter has the chance to gain more strength, height and weight.
Lindor has the upside of delivering both offense and defense. He has shown that he is an improving hitter, raising his average from .257 in 2012 to .303 in '13, playing at Advanced A Carolina (.306) and Double-A Akron (.289). Lindor is a smooth, sure-handed shortstop with excellent range and a fine arm who has excellent baseball instincts.
Lindor is a tough out at the plate. He struck out only 46 times in 464 plate appearances last year. Lindor also has outstanding speed to steal bases, and enough power to hit the gaps or knock a ball over the wall. He is a true impact player in the making.
Trevor Bauer has pitched 33 1/3 Major League innings for Arizona and Cleveland combined. He has dedicated himself to changing his delivery. So far, the reports from the Indians are mixed. Bauer may see time in the rotation this season. Wild at times, he has to gain consistent command and control to prove that he can retire Major League hitters.
A former Tommy John surgery patient, C.C. Lee is an intriguing possibility for a bullpen role. Signed by Cleveland from Taiwan, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound, 27-year-old right-hander has a fastball that can touch 95 mph. He has a low-three-quarters arm slot that adds deception to his offerings. Lee's secondary pitches still need refinement, and he has innings to make up for time missed.
PROJECTED 2016 INDIANS LINEUP
Left-handed-hitting Tyler Naquin is a polished center fielder with speed and an excellent arm. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, he showed ability to hit fairly good pitching. Naquin, 22, may not hit for power, but his batting average, speed and defense make for a solid trio of skills. He was a first-round pick in the 2012 Draft.
Outfielder Clint Frazier, 19, has outstanding strength in his forearms and hands. He has incredibly fast bat speed, but he got fooled on breaking balls when I saw him in the Arizona League. Frazier's power should lead to gap doubles and home runs as he learns the nuances of hitting breaking balls.
The right-handed, 6-foot-1, 190-pound hitter scuffled some in center field when I saw him, but Frazier has the speed and the instincts to refine his mechanics and succeed in the outfield. He was the Indians' first-round selection in the 2013 Draft.
Middle infielder Ronny Rodriguez is a 6-foot, 170-pound right-handed hitter. At Double-A Akron last season, he hit .265 with 25 doubles and six triples to go along with five home runs and 12 stolen bases. Rodriguez hit 19 homers the year before at Class A Advanced Carolina. His speed and quickness are evident on both sides of the ball.
Infielder Dorssys Paulino set the Arizona League on fire in his 2012 season, hitting .355 with six homers and six triples. Since then, his bat hasn't been as loud. Paulino hit .246 last season at Class A Lake County. He sprays the ball around using a quick, short stroke. Paulino's speed is an asset.
Big right-hander Cody Anderson (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) should be on the starting pitching radar. He has an ERA of only 2.86 in three seasons. Anderson's stellar 2.34 ERA in the Carolina League led to a promotion to Double-A Akron to finish his 2013 season. He is consistent in his approach, repeating his delivery and using both sides of the plate to increase his strikeout totals.
Catcher Francisco Mejia played in the Arizona Rookie League at age 18. He hit .305 and showed a promising bat with nine doubles, a triple and four home runs in only 113 plate appearances. From the Dominican Republic, Mejia is 5-foot-10, 175 pounds.
Outfielder Carlos Moncrief may earn more attention after hitting .284 with 17 home runs, 26 doubles and seven triples at Double-A Akron last season. With new life in his bat, the 6-foot, 220-pound left-handed hitter is improving his contact rate as well.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.