The Forgotten Prospects
With the Indians slowly sinking into oblivion this year, now is probably a good time to talk about the future of this team.
I'd like to start with two players that aren't considered prospects anymore because of their major-league experience, but their age, position, and success really makes them de facto prospects.
I'm talking about Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Phillips. Both can play shortstop, but the similarities really end there. Phillips projects as a slick-fielding shortstop who should be able to hit for a high average and steal bases. Peralta looks more like a power-hitting third baseman if he continues to fill out.
Both were rushed to the majors in 2003, and both were among the youngest position players in the majors. And both didn't fare too well. However, their age had more to do with that than their ability. Witness what they are doing in Buffalo this year:
Phillips 291 AB, .299/.354/.416, 17 2B, 5 HR, 23 BB, 35 SO
Peralta 338 AB, .334/.385/.500, 27 2B, 9 HR, 29 BB, 77 SO
While it's nice to see some improvements from Phillips, especially in the plate discipline, Peralta is having a breakout season. 36 extra base hits is very impressive, and even more impressive that 7 of his 9 home runs have come within the last three weeks.
So where do the two fit next year? Both look ready for another shot in the bigs, but there might not be room enough for the two of them. Shortstop will be vacant, but unless someone is dealt or non-tendered, the rest of the infield has been spoken for, as I've stated when the Indians signed Aaron Boone. Phillips probably has the advantage because of his defensive ability, but will the Indians ignore the power that Peralta could provide from that position? That's a question that might not be answered until late March of 2005.