Young guns look to lead Tribe

Projected lineup

CF – Grady Sizemore
2B – Jason Kipnis
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera
C – Carlos Santana
RF – Shin-Soo Choo
DH – Travis Hafner
1B – Casey Kotchman
3B – Jack Hannahan
LF – Michael Brantley

SP – Justin Masterson
SP – Ubaldo Jimenez
SP – Josh Tomlin
SP – Derek Lowe
SP – Kevin Slowey
CL – Chris Perez

Five things to think about:

– About three years ago, Sizemore was at the top of many fantasy draftboards. Unfortunately, three years is a long time. It’s hard to trust Sizemore at this point, but with his early ADP being in the 230s over at Mock Draft Central, you won’t have to expend a high pick to get him. As an OF5, he makes sense.

Baseball Prospectus says that Kipnis could become “Chase Utley lite.” That’s pretty good, and it could happen soon for Kipnis, who hit 19 homers and stole 17 bases between Triple A and the majors last season. He’s a borderline starting mixed-league second baseman.

– Choo’s problems last season were mostly injury-related. Look for another 20-20 season from him, and draft him as an OF2 in mixed leagues.

– Masterson’s breakout 2011 was no fluke, folks. Bringing in a gloveman like Kotchman at first base will help his worm-burning repertoire, too. He’s a decent SP3 in mixed leagues, but is being drafted later than that.

– Jimenez over the last two seasons:

 

Ubaldo Jimenez Output

 

Year K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA
2010 8.69 3.74 48.8 2.88
2011 8.60 3.73 47.2 4.68

Only one number is much different, huh? Look for Jimenez’s ERA to settle somewhere in the middle – maybe in the 3.75 range – with his customary high strikeout total. I’ve got him ranked as a high-end SP4, where he offers some upside.

Plus:

Odd man out: SP Fausto Carmona is having visa problems, and might not have a job with the Tribe even if he does show up in Arizona. 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall has promise, but was a hacker (eight walks in 223 plate appearances) in his time with the Indians last season. With a ground-ball heavy staff, there’s a decent chance that the Indians will start the slick-fielding Hannahan at the hot corner and send Chisenhall back to Triple A.

Farm system: Aside from Chisenhall, most of this organization’s top prospects are far away from the majors. One exception is SP Austin Adams (3.77 ERA, 131 K in 136 IP at Double A last season), who could push his way into the rotation at some point this season.

Backup closer: Vinnie Pestano has 92 strikeouts in 67 big-league innings. He’s your handcuff for the shaky Perez, who whiffed fewer than six batters per nine innings last season and still doesn’t throw a ton of strikes. If you like to speculate on saves, Pestano should be on your radar.

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