Yesterday we kicked off our annual Indians prospect countdown on this site with #100-96, and today we continue with #95-91. But, before we continue the countdown, just a couple of quick notes:Last night, Paul Cousineau and I had the pleasure of speaking with legendary Cleveland sports journalist Terry Pluto for close to 40 minutes on our on-line radio show Smoke Signals. Terry brought up many fantastic points as usual, and we really covered the entire team from the starting rotation, bullpen, infield to the outfield. Click on the link provided to listen to the show podcast, and thanks again to Terry for coming on our show. Right-handed pitcher Frank Herrmann is scheduled to be our guest for next week's show on Thursday January 22nd, and I am chasing down potential interviews for future shows. Some names that may be appearing soon on the show include Matt McBride, Vinnie Pestano, Nick Weglarz, Stephen Head and more.
Also, my prospect book is nearing completion and it looks like by this time next week if all goes well I will be sending it to be printed. If anyone is interested in buying a copy, feel free to let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org .And with that, back to the countdown: 95. Jerad Head - Infielder/Outfielder Born: 11/15/1982 - Height: 6'1" - Weight: 205 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right
History: Head was signed as a non-drafted free agent in August 2005 out of Washburn University (KS). Head originally signed on to play baseball at Kansas State University, but he eventually made the decision to go back to his hometown in Topeka to play baseball and basketball for the local University. Strengths & Opportunities: Since joining the Indians, Head's athleticism and versatility has been put on display from day one as he has been a jack-of-all-trades who can play at just about any position on the field. He came in as an infielder in 2006, was moved to the outfield in 2007, and last year in spring training worked exclusively as a catcher although he did not get in any games at the position during the 2008 season. As a hitter, he has good pop, but he has struggled some with the plate discipline which is something he is still working on. He needs to be more consistent at the plate and learn to swing at better pitches as well as work on drawing more walks. Outlook: Head is a super utility player in the making in the upper levels of the system. He should open the 2009 season at Double-A Akron. 94. Brock Simpson - First Baseman/Outfielder Born: 11/15/1985 Height: 6'3" Weight: 210 Bats: Right Throws: Right
History: Simpson was a 46th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of the University of Kansas. He did not play professionally until the 2008 season because he did not sign until August 13, 2007 and was still recovering from a broken hand he had injured during summer ball. Strengths and Opportunities: Simpson was never much of a hitter in college, hitting just .270 (128-for-474) in his three year 158-game Kansas career. He is very much a long shot and may be more of an organizational player in the coming years, but the Indians definitely saw something with the bat even though the numbers said otherwise. He has good size, and his versatility allows him to play infield or outfield which is a plus. Simpson was drafted as an outfielder, but upon joining the Indians organization he has been moved to first base. It has been a challenging position change going from the outfield to first base, but Simpson worked hard in Instructional League in 2007 and continued to work hard on the position change throughout 2008. Short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley manager Travis Fryman worked a lot with Simpson during the spring, which really paid off for him as he really had a good handle of first base when short-season play at Mahoning Valley started. He is still very raw at the position and rough around the edges, and in time he will need to make a lot of the smaller adjustments to playing first base to smooth those edges out. Outlook: Simpson should open the 2009 season at Single-A Lake County, although could be a bubble guy to remain with the organization through this coming spring. 93. Ryan Blair - Outfielder Born: 04/06/1986 - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 185 - Bats: Left - Throws: Right
History: Blair was a 21st round pick in the 2008 Draft out of Cal-State Sacramento. Strengths & Opportunities: While Blair only hit .235 with a .600 OPS in his professional debut at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley, he quickly became a favorite of many in the organization, namely Scrapper manager Travis Fryman. One of Blair's strengths in the early going was his ability to go to the plate with a good plan which will serve him well as plays more games down the road. His versatility as a hitter and outfielder allows him to play really any of the three outfield positions, and his 6'2" 185 pound frame is projectable and should fill out to where his power develops down the road. The Indians also feel that he will get stronger as he takes part in their strength and conditioning program. He has been compared to Matt Brown - another outfielder in the organization - and is learning how to swing the bat more aggressively because he has the potential to be more than a singles hitter. He also has great instincts on the bases. Outlook: Blair profiles as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, and should open the 2009 season as one of the starting outfielders at Single-A Lake County. 92. Dustin Realini - First Baseman Born: 05/14/1984 - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 200 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right
Up Next: Indians Top Prospects #90-86 this Sunday
All photos courtesy of Ken Carr, except for Shawn Nottingham is courtesy of Carl Kline.