Goedert, Chen still shining for Indians

Top prospect Lindor has Cleveland excited for future at short

By Zack Cox / Special to MLB.com | October 4, 2012 5:41 PM

This offseason, MiLB.com is honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League Baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

In many ways, this season was the reverse of the 2011 campaign for the Indians organization. Two-time International League champion Columbus Clippers (75-69) failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Carolina (63-77) -- the Tribe's Class A Advanced affiliate -- also missed the postseason, a year after a trip to the Carolina League Championship Series in its final season in Kinston.

On the other end of the spectrum, Class A Lake County, which finished dead last in the Midwest League in 2011, finished three games over .500 before bowing out in the semifinals. Cleveland's best showing came at Double-A, however, where Akron (82-59) jumped from fourth in the Eastern League's Western Division to first en route to the organization's only championship.

Though club records fluctuated, many of last year's top performers continued to put up strong numbers. Eight of last year's All-Star selections made the list again, either as winners or in an honorable mention capacity.

Indians Organization All-Stars

Catcher -- Alex Monsalve, Lake County (73 games), Carolina (34 games): In an Indians system lean on catching talent, Monsalve stands out. The fourth-year pro split time between Lake County and Carolina in 2012, batting .256 with eight homers and 42 RBIs. The Indians' No. 9 prospect, Monsalve was one of eight Cleveland Minor Leaguers selected to play in the Arizona Fall League.

"Monsalve is extremely physical," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development. "[He's] the strongest individual in our organization with a lot of raw tools, and he's developing his leadership, game-calling and bat-to-ball. He's made strides in all areas and we're very optimistic and remain excited about his potential."

First base -- Chun-Hsiu Chen, Akron (108 games): An Organization All-Star each of the last two seasons behind the plate, Chen makes the list again after moving to first base. The 23-year-old saw a decline in his power numbers (five homers, 43 RBIs) but improved his average (.308) and on-base percentage (.394) by more than 40 points and scored a career-high 62 runs for the Aeros.

The Eastern League midseason All-Star took the defensive transition in stride, committing only three errors in 62 games.

Honorable mention: Jesus Aguilar

Second base -- Jose Ramirez, Mahoning Valley (three games), Lake County (67 games): After leading all Indians Minor Leaguers with a .325 average in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2011, Ramirez improved in nearly every category in his second pro campaign. The Lake County leadoff man put together a .345/.404/.465 line and would have led the organization in average for the second straight year had he enough at-bats to qualify.

"He has unbelievable competitiveness," Atkins said. "[He has a] chance to be an above-average defender that makes all the plays, with exceptional bat-to-ball and above-average run skills. He's a four-tool player that has made a ton of progress at an early stage in his career."

The 20-year-old was at his best down the stretch. After finishing the regular season on a nine-game hitting streak (with nine RBIs and nine runs scored in that span), Ramirez went on to hit in all five playoff games. His seven postseason RBIs tied for third in the Midwest League, even though the Captains were eliminated in the semifinals.

Honorable mention: Cord Phelps

Third base -- Jared Goedert, Akron (35 games), Columbus (86 games): A mainstay at the hot corner, Goedert makes this list for the third consecutive season. The Kansas State product teed off on Double-A pitching to begin the season, hitting .395 with a 1.089 OPS in 35 games,] and continued to produce after a promotion to Columbus.

After injuries caused a dip in production in 2011, Goedert ranked second among Cleveland farmhands in both homers (19) and RBIs (77) this season. And his .311 batting average was his best mark since 2007.

The 27-year-old has bounced between Akron and Columbus the last three seasons, but he's led the system in homers and RBIs during that span.

Shortstop -- Francisco Lindor, Lake County (122 games): Shortstop was the most difficult spot on the list to select -- four of the Indians' top five prospects play the position and all four put together solid seasons.

Lindor gets the nod after backing up his status as Cleveland's top prospect in his first full season. After essentially bypassing Rookie and short-season ball -- he played only five games for Mahoning Valley after being drafted in the first round in 2011 -- the 18-year-old hit .257 and scored a team-high 68 runs for Lake County. A 2012 Futures Game selection, Lindor also was named to the Midwest League mid- and postseason All-Star teams.

"Lindor has the complete package. He does everything exceptionally well," Atkins said. "He's already become a leader on the field, and this is someone that's already only a year, year and a half away from the Major Leagues.

"He has a very solid approach from both sides of the plate, with very good instincts for someone his age. ... Now we just want to turn it into being an elite baserunner, someone who can steal bases and be a top-of-the-order type bat."

Honorable mention: Dorssys Paulino


Thomas Neal, Akron (117 games), Cleveland (nine games): Neal mashed his way to an Eastern League title with Akron, earning the first September callup of his eight-year career. Spending time at all three outfield spots, the mid- and postseason All-Star ranked third in the circuit in on-base percentage (.400), fourth in batting (.314) and tied for fifth with 77 runs scored.

"Thomas Neal has shown a lot of progress from 2011, just coming off a year where he was battling shoulder injuries," Atkins said. "In a ballpark that is very hard to show power, he did. He had a very high isolated power, hit a lot of home runs in that ballpark and really performed well over the course of the year."

The 25-year-old garnered Player of the Week honors on July 2 after going 13-for-24 with three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored over a six-game span.

Tim Fedroff, Akron (54 games), Columbus (69 games): Fedroff returns to the Organization All-Star roster after varying his hitting approach and building on what already was an impressive stat line. The North Carolina product led all full-season Indians farmhands with a .316 average while setting career highs in homers (12), triples (10), stolen bases (14) and OPS (.879).

The fifth-year pro proved he can perform at the Minors' highest level, batting a team-high .325 in 69 games with Columbus.

"He's continued to be a better player every year -- he's a better defender, he's a better baserunner. He was 9-for-9 [in stolen bases] over the last month," Atkins said. "[He has] an unbelievable ability to get on base; his ability to hit is as good as anyone we have."

Jordan Smith, Lake County (116 games): After a promising debut season with Mahoning Valley, Smith showed no signs of a sophomore slump in 2012. His .316 average was good for second in the Midwest League and tied Fedroff for third in the organization. Smith also proved he can hold up to the grind of a full season, never being held hitless for more than three consecutive games while compiling 44 multi-hit efforts.

"Smith is a very good defender at the corner position. He can handle right field extremely well," Atkins said. "His progress with his bat has been extremely encouraging, and if the power comes, he'll be a Major League player."

Utility/designated hitter -- Russ Canzler, Columbus (130 games), Cleveland (26 games): The 2011 International League MVP continued to crush the ball in his first year in the Cleveland system, leading it with 22 homers and 79 RBIs. Canzler, who started games at first base, third base, left field and DH, led the IL with 36 doubles while ranking third in RBIs and total bases (237).

The 26-year-old was named to his second straight IL All-Star team and has made the Organization All-Star squad for three different Major League clubs (Rays, 2011; Cubs, 2010).

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Danny Salazar, Carolina (16 games), Akron (6 games): The native of the Dominican Republic was the ace down the stretch for the Eastern League champions, going 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA following his promotion from Carolina in early August. After allowing four runs in a rough Double-A debut on Aug. 5, Salazar yielded only four runs over his final five starts, all Akron wins.

The 22-year-old's overall ERA of 2.36 would have been tops in the organization if he had enough innings to qualify.

"He throws 95 to 99 mph," Atkins said, "with an average breaking ball and an above-average changeup. After his finish in Double-A, he is going to be someone you should definitely be aware of in the next six months. He could make a bid to be helping out the Major League team next year."

Honorable mention: Paolo Espino, Luis DeJesus

Left-handed starting pitcher -- Chris Seddon, Columbus (20 games), Cleveland (17 games): A veteran of 12 professional seasons, Seddon turned in one of the best performances of his career in 2012 -- his first year in the Indians organization. The 28-year-old went 11-5 in 20 starts for the Clippers, posting a 3.44 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP that ranked third in the IL. He also showed a vast improvement with his control -- his 27 walks were a full-season career low.

Seddon's campaign culminated in a September callup, and he compiled a 3.67 ERA in 17 appearances, including two starts.

Relief pitcher -- Preston Guilmet, Akron (50 games): A key cog in the Aeros' championship run, Guilmet led all Cleveland Minor Leaguers -- and tied for first in the Eastern League -- with 24 saves. The 25-year-old thrived in the pressure of the playoffs, recording four saves while pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He also earned himmself a spot on the league's postseason All-Star team.

A 2009 ninth-round Draft pick, Guilmet posted a 2.39 ERA in 50 appearances -- his third straight sub-2.50 ERA campaign since converting from a starter in 2010. He was especially dominant through the middle third of the season, yielding one run and converting 12 of 13 save opportunities over 23 appearances from May 19-July 19.

Zack Cox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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