Carolina Mudcats Top Five

They may not be in the pros yet but the Carolina Mudcats boast five players to keep an eye on.

By Tony Lastoria
Special To FOX Sports Ohio

The minor league season kicked off on Thursday night with the Indians’ affiliates in Columbus, Akron and Lake County all in action. One team has yet to start their season, and that is High-A Carolina who opens play tonight.

Yesterday I posted the five best prospects and then some to keep an eye on at Lake County, and today I follow suit with the five best prospects and more to follow this year at Carolina.

Cody Anderson – Right-handed Pitcher

The Indians took Anderson in the 14th round of the 2011 Draft out of Feather River College (CA).  He has a good, low maintenance delivery that projects well because of his big, strong, physical frame and athleticism. He has a power arsenal with a solid four pitch mix of a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, with the fastball sitting at 91-94 MPH and up to 96 MPH and the cutter being a legit Major League offering.  He has the tools and ability to be a Major League starting pitcher, but he is still very raw to pitching as he has only been pitching for three years and lacks much experience. He needs work with the consistency of his fastball command and with picking up all the nuances that come with pitching such as reading swings, learning how to attack hitters, and knowing when to expand the zone to let hitters get themselves out. For more a more detailed scouting report on Anderson, go to IndiansBaseballInsider.com.

Francisco Lindor – Shortstop

Lindor was selected in the 1st round of the 2011 Draft out of Montverde Academy High School (FL), and had a commitment to attend Florida State but signed with the Indians for $2.9 million.  He is a confident and accomplished special defender that is a no doubt bona fide Major League caliber shortstop prospect with Gold Glove ability.  His natural ability at shortstop is so advanced at such a young age and is something that is rarely seen with his excellent quickness, good athleticism, easy range and plus hands and feet.  At the plate he really shows a lot of skills and potential where he has a really professional approach with good instincts and above average bat speed from both sides of the plate.  He is also an above average runner and could end up a solid base stealer in the future. He is a relentless worker and has unbelievable maturity for his age, and is just the crown jewel of the Indians system and a star in the making. For a more detailed scouting report on Lindor, go to IndiansBaseballInsider.com.

Tyler Naquin – Outfielder

Naquin was selected in the 1st round of the 2012 Draft out of Texas A&M, and signed for $2.25 million.  He brings a broad range of tools, an advanced approach at the plate, and a good feel for hitting that many feel was the best pure hitter in the 2012 Draft.  He has unbelievable hand-eye coordination, has very good bat speed, used the whole field well, and has a chance to be an above average hitter.  His power is below average but the Indians feel there is some untapped power in his bat, and he still gets on base at a very good rate due to his patient approach and good bat-to-ball skills.  To go along with his plus bat, he also features what many consider a plus-plus arm in the outfield. He has slightly above average speed that plays up because of his smarts, he is a gamer, he has good baseball instincts, and he has a great makeup which all help his defense play up.  The Indians believe with his tools, speed, instincts, and arm he has the ability to pay center field in the Major Leagues. For a more detailed scouting report on Naquin, go to IndiansBaseballInsider.com.

Jordan Smith - Outfielder

The Indians picked up Smith in the 9th round of the 2011 Draft out of Saint Cloud St. (MN), and as a draft eligible sophomore was signed for $125,000.  He has a presence in the box with good patience and a good approach to hitting that is very consistent.  His best skill without question is his bat as he shows an impressive eye and displays very good bat-to-ball ability where he makes consistent, hard contact and limits strikeouts.  He is learning to drive the ball consistently and his power is still developing, and the power could still come as he becomes more aggressive in his approach and he continues to get bigger and stronger.  The Indians are committed to him as a corner outfielder and last season was the first time he played outfield full time and they were happy with the progress he made there. He shows solid average ability in the outfield with solid range and instincts where he makes good reads, takes good routes to balls, is a good decision maker, and has a strong, accurate arm.  His fate as a prospect is going to be determined on how the power develops as he has to be a run producer as a corner outfielder.  For a more detailed scouting report on Smith, go to IndiansBaseballInsider.com.

Tony Wolters – Catcher/infielder

Wolters was selected in the 3rd round of the 2010 Draft out of Rancho Buena Vista High School (CA), and had an agreement to attend the University of San Diego but signed with the Indians for $1.35 million.  He shows an advanced approach at the plate where he is selective and works counts well, and has some good, natural hitting skills with good hand-eye coordination, and some below average power.  He is a very fundamentally sound player that has good athleticism, is well rounded with his tools, and has lots of intangibles. He is so natural in the field and is a passionate defender that loves to play defense and shows slightly above average range but it plays up because of great natural instincts and fundamentals, outstanding hands, very good actions, exceptional balance, and confidence.  He has a solid average arm and has very good accuracy on his throws, and that along with his athleticism and work ethic is a big reason the Indians moved him to catcher late this spring. For a more detailed scouting report on Wolters, go to IndiansBaseballInsider.com.

Others of note:

Jacob Lee (RHP):  He is physically strong with a good build, solid delivery, and throws strikes.  His live fastball is his best pitch as it has good late pop through the zone and sits at 90-93 MPH and been up to 95 MPH. He also has a good feel for his solid average slider which has plus potential.

Shawn Morimando (LHP): He is a projectable, athletic left-handed pitcher that throws from a three-quarter arm slot with a clean, easy arm action and delivery. He has a nice four pitch mix led by an 87-90 MPH fastball that flashes 92 MPH and has good sink to it and life in the zone.

Bryson Myles (OF): He has an interesting speed-power combination that is packed into a powerful, compact frame. He is a plus runner that has well above average times to first base, and with his speed he has the range to play any outfield position though his fringy arm limits him to center field and left field.

Grant Sides (RHP): He is a physically strong pitcher with a powerful two-pitch arsenal that misses a lot of bats with a plus fastball that sits at 92-94 MPH and has touched 97 MPH and a developing slider that has potential to be a plus offering for him if he can develop more consistency it.

Joey Wendle (2B): He profiles as a left-handed hitting offensive second baseman with solid defensive skills, a solid average arm, and the instincts to be an average defender there.  He has an advanced feel for hitting, very good plate discipline, and some surprising power.