The Indians 2009 Top 100 Prospect Countdown continues to work its way to #1 here at TheClevelandFan.com, and today we continue on with #80-76. One quarter of the Top 100 has been revealed, and as we continue to work our way up to the Top 10 lots of talent in a very rich and deep farm system for the Indians will continue to be revealed. For those that missed #100 to #81, or want to see them again, they can be viewed at the links below: #100-96 #95-91 #90-86 #85-81 Again, all of these scouting reports will be stored individually for easy access on my blog at the Indians Prospect Insider, and lots of other goodies like stat links and videos for nearly every player will be housed there.
And, another quick update on the 2009 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More book I have coming out....it still looks like it will go to print sometime this weekend. More details soon. Anyone interested in getting a copy, e-mail me at email@example.com . And back to the countdown.... 80. Heath Taylor - Left-handed Pitcher Born: 05/6/1986 - Height: 6'0" - Weight: 215 - Bats: Left - Throws: Left
History: Taylor was a 10th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. Strengths & Opportunities: Taylor features a traditional three-pitch mix of a fastball, curveball, and changeup, with his fastball sitting around 88-91 MPH. He had a great year his first season in his professional debut at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley in 2007 going 3-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 12 starts. When spring training broke this past season, Taylor was one of the big surprises as far as roster makeup was concerned as he started the year in the advanced Single-A Kinston bullpen and ended up skipping Single-A Lake County where he was projected to begin the season in the starting rotation. After an impressive first few outings in Kinston, Taylor's performance declined rapidly and was the result of a partial tear to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He went on the disabled list in early May and did not have to undergo surgery, but he was shutdown and had no baseball activity for six to seven weeks and did not start throwing again until July. Now that he is 100% recovered from the injury, his focus is on his health, improving his command in the zone, and making up for lost time. Outlook: Taylor participated in the Fall Instructional League in Arizona, and also went to the Hawaii Winter League to get in some work (4 games, 12.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 14 H, 4 BB, 9 K). He likely will get another shot to pitch in Kinston at the outset of 2009, likely in the bullpen. 79. Rich Rundles - Left-handed Pitcher Born: 06/03/1981 - Height: 6'5" - Weight: 210 - Bats: Left - Throws: Left(due to a formatting issue, Rundles' stats are listed at the end of the article)History: Rundles was signed in January 2007 as a minor league free agent. He was originally a 3rd round selection in the 1999 Draft by the Boston Red Sox. Strengths & Opportunities: Rundles put himself on the map in spring training last year where he reportedly wowed Tribe officials, and as a result he jumped onto the bullpen scene where by the end of the season earned the opportunity to get added to the 40-man roster and make his major league debut. His fastball sits around 88-91 MPH, and he throws an above average curveball and a changeup that grade out as average. After being a starter for most of his career, when the Indians signed him they viewed him as a left-on-left guy and immediately moved him to the bullpen and he has performed well since. When he came to the Indians, his arm slot was up high, but they worked on converting his arm slot to more of a sidearm so he would be even tougher on left-handed hitters. He has taken to it unbelievably well, which should only help him being productive to now dominant against left-handed hitters. Outlook: Rundles is now a depth bullpen option for the Indians and will go into spring training this year as a candidate to fill the final spot in the bullpen. If he does not make the Indians roster out of spring training, he will be optioned out to Triple-A Columbus. 78. Dallas Cawiezell - Right-handed Pitcher Born: 09/04/1985 - Height: 6'6" - Weight: 255 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right
History: Cawiezell was a 40th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of Valparaiso. Strengths & Opportunities: Cawiezell was a summer draft-and-follow in 2007, and the Indians were hoping for durability and power when they drafted and signed him, and so far have seen it. He is a bit of a project, but at 6'6 and over 250 pounds he is a specimen and an intimidating presence on the mound. He has a major league body and pounds the zone with an explosive fastball that sits at 92-93MPH and tops out at 95 MPH. He gets good downward action at times with his fastball, but it lacks much movement. He relies more on his ability to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate and has a ton of confidence in it. He complements his fastball with a slider and splitter, mostly relying on his fastball-splitter combination. Both secondary pitches need more work, but the split finger could develop into an out pitch at the higher levels. He has had problems getting a feel for the arm action required to throw a slider, and he is working on getting out in front in order to get downspin to create some depth and tilt to it as opposed to the side spin it currently has that causes it to drift. His slider is certainly a work in progress, and if he can grasp the pitch and tighten it up it will give him three good pitches in his repertoire. He has some control issues, which may be a result of his very unorthodox, inconsistent delivery. He faded in the second half of last season (4.79 ERA post-All Star), mostly the result of him coming down with shoulder inflammation in mid-June which sidelined him for about a month, but in any case he is still adjusting to the everyday rigors of professional baseball and maintaining consistency for an entire 140-game season. Outlook: Cawiezell had a very good season last year in Lake County, but it will only get harder as he continues to move up the minor league ladder. He should move up a level in 2009 and pitch out of the bullpen in advanced Single-A Kinston. 77. Robbie Alcombrack - Catcher Born: 06/10/1988 - Height: 6'0" - Weight: 205 - Bats: Right - Throws: Right
History: Alcombrack was a 7th round pick in the 2006 Draft out of Bear River High School (CA). Going into the draft, he was a pre-season Top 100 high school player according to Baseball America, and was ranked as a top five catching prospect. He signed quickly, which is a rarity for a high school kid with such lofty draft status and a full scholarship to Arizona State already in his back pocket, but he wanted to get his professional baseball career going right away. Strengths & Opportunities: Coming out of high school, Alcombrack was highly coveted by scouts because of his power potential at the plate to go along with his defensive abilities behind it. One of his biggest strengths is his soft hands to go along with his ability to call a game, handle a pitching staff, the ability to receive and block balls and throw runners out at such a young age. He showed the power potential in 2007 in the Gulf Coast League where he slugged 7 home runs and 10 doubles for a .488 slugging percentage, but it appeared to evaporate overnight as he hit just one home run last year at Mahoning Valley and had a .333 slugging percentage. Alcombrack is still in the lower levels of the system and very young, so he still has a lot to learn. He continues to get bigger and stronger, but there have been some conditioning concerns over whether he is putting on the right weight. He has a lot of room to grow, particularly in making more consistent contact (130 Ks in 407 career at bats). He is a dead-pull hitter, so he needs work on covering the outside part of the plate and staying on and hitting breaking balls better. He is still learning his swing and what he needs to do to be successful, and going forward he has to continue to make some adjustments to stay more in the middle of the field. From a defensive standpoint, he needs to continues to work on how to attack certain hitters and receiving the ball, and work on his footwork when attempting to throw runners out. There is also the possibility he may start playing more first base, a position he played some last year at Mahoning Valley. Outlook: Alcombrack is no longer the very young projectable catcher he was two years ago, so now that his age has caught up with his level, this coming season he will need to start showing some advancement with his abilities and some production with his bat. He will likely open the 2009 season at Single-A Lake County. 76. Carlos Moncrief - Right-handed Pitcher Born: 11/03/1988 - Height: 6'1 - Weight: 210 - Bats: Left - Throws: Right
Strengths & Opportunities: With Moncrief it is all about power as he routinely hits 96 MPH with his fastball and has the arm strength where he is expected to add even more velocity to his fastball down the road. He also throws a slider and changeup, with the slider a more advanced pitch with the potential to be a second plus pitch for him and a dominating strikeout pitch at the major league level. He also has a good feel for his changeup. Moncrief is very raw on the mound and lacks experience as a pitcher since he did not pitch much in high school. Even still, he has potential impact ability at the backend of the bullpen. He will be a project for the Indians the next few years as they work on fine-tuning his delivery and mechanics to make him more consistent with his command, get him in pitching shape, and improve his secondary offerings. If the pitching route does not work for him, there is always the possibility he could be moved back to a full-time outfielder where he first gained national attention from scouts with his impact power potential to go along with his average speed and excellent throwing arm. Outlook: Moncrief could open the year in the Single-A Lake County bullpen, but may also hang around in extended spring training to continue refining his delivery and mechanics in order to improve his command before being moved to Lake County later in the season. All photos courtesy of Ken Carr except for Moncrief photo courtesy of Chipola College
Up Next: #75-71Rich Rundles stats: