First of all, allow me to comment on the NCAA tournament.
As someone who’s seen a lot of MAC basketball games, I’m pretty ticked that the league didn’t get an at-large team in the tournament. I guess the problem is that the league is so balanced that no team tends to stand out, but the selection committee has stiffed the conference for so long it’s getting a bit comical. I’d probably take Miami-Ohio over Buffalo, but I really thought one of them would get in. Four teams (Miami, Buffalo, Ohio, and Kent) finished in the top 40 in RPI; Miami was the only school in the RPI top 30 not to make the tournament. Because the MAC is recognized as one of the better conferences in the country, no big program wants to play a MAC school on their home court. The MAC did get four teams into the NIT, but that’s little solace for a conference that frankly deserved another NCAA bid.
Ok, rant over. Now for five guys that didn’t make my prospect list, but are worth watching. Even with these mentions, I could feel comfortable mentioning 5-7 more, that’s how deep the system is right now.
SS Brandon Pinckney
12th round, 2003 draft
Listed at 165 pounds, the David Eckstein comparisions seems apt. The Indians needed a shortstop in Akron last year, so they promoted Brandon all the way from Lake County; he responded by posting a .311/.388/.355 line, which is pretty good considering he had more at bats in rookie ball (257) than in Low-A ball (172) at the time. I still don’t think his ceiling is that high, but he could make a nice utility player eventually. I would guess he starts the season in Akron.
RHP Kyle Denney
26th round, 1999
I’ve been banging the drum for him awhile, but Denney has gotten the Indians’ full attention with a pretty good spring thus far. In his 5-year minor-league career, he’s struck out 8.36 per 9 innings, and allowed 8.12 hits per 9 innings. He’s going to be 28 this season, but he still deserves a shot at some point this year. And it looks like he’ll get it, given the team kept him on the 40-man roster last winter. He’ll start the year in Buffalo’s rotation.
LHP Scott Lewis
3rd round, 2004
This is a projection pick, but the upside is there for Scott Lewis. The Ohio State product was injured much of 2004 (Tommy John surgery), but was dominant in 2003, striking out 127 in 83.2 IP for the Buckeyes. I’d guess he’d start in Lake County, so check him out this season if you’re in the area.
RHP Tom Mastny
11th round, 2003 (Toronto)
He just turned 24, and he’s only made it to the South Atlantic League, but he was so dominant in 2004 that I almost have to include him here. By all accounts his stuff isn’t overpowering, but he someone who can prove himself every step of the way like Kyle Denney and make the majors. I’d guess Kinston as this year’s destination for Mastny, or possibly Akron. He came in the John McDonald trade.
OF Mike Butia
5th round, 2004
There’s a lot to like about Butia, who has good power, pretty decent speed, and is a good defender. Thanks to a backlog of outfielders ahead of him in the organziation, Butia might be stuck in Lake County much of next year, much like Ryan Goleski was in 2004. He was the first position player taken by the Indians in the 2004 draft.
Assigned LHP Billy Traber, LHP Mariano Gomez, C David Wallace, and OF Darnell McDonald to minor-league camp
Traber isn’t ready to pitch in game situations yet, so he’ll continue to rehab in minor-league camp. Traber might be ready by the end of this season.