Indianapolis Indians 2011 Season Recap: Top Prospects

Our top 10 overall prospects for the Indianapolis Indians factors in all of the individual rankings.  Along with the individual rankings, we also include the best pitcher, hitter, biggest surprise, and biggest disappointments of the year.  The rankings factor in all of the players at the level throughout the year, regardless of whether they’ve been promoted to the majors, and regardless of whether they’ve lost their prospect status.  As long as they had prospect eligibility entering the year, they qualify for the lists.  Playing time is also considered.  A player needs 120 at-bats, 40+ innings pitched, or 20 relief appearances. This prevented guys like Jeff Locke and Aaron Thompson from consideration, as they were called up too late in the season to get the required innings.

2011 Indianapolis Indians: Hitters
2011 Indianapolis Indians: Pitchers
2011 Indianapolis Indians: Top 10 Prospects

Alex Presley is the number one prospect out of Indianapolis this year.

Overall Top 10 Prospects

1. Alex Presley, OF
2. Chase d’Arnaud, SS
3. Justin Wilson, LHP
4. Rudy Owens, LHP
5. Josh Harrison, 3B
6. Gorkys Hernandez, CF
7. Jordy Mercer, SS
8. Matt Hague, 1B
9. Tony Watson, LHP
10. Eric Fryer, C

Tim Williams

1. Alex Presley
2. Justin Wilson
3. Chase d’Arnaud
4. Gorkys Hernandez
5. Rudy Owens
6. Josh Harrison
7. Eric Fryer
8. Jordy Mercer
9. Andrew Lambo
10. Tony Watson

Best Hitter: Alex Presley clearly had the best year at the plate in the time he was in the league, although if we’re looking at a guy who was there all year, it would have to be Matt Hague.

Best Pitcher: The pitching didn’t really stand out much this year.  The award would go to Jeff Locke if he had enough innings.  Instead, I’ll go with Brad Lincoln, who had a 4.19 ERA, but had a strong WHIP, great control numbers, and a good strikeout rate.  He might have had the advantage of playing at the level before, but he was clearly the best starter.  You could make a case for one of the relievers here.

Biggest Surprise: It was surprising that Alex Presley not only showed that last year wasn’t a fluke, but improved on his numbers.  Chris Leroux was also a big surprise with his turnaround out of the bullpen.  Overall I’d have to say the biggest surprise was Josh Harrison making the jump with ease, and putting up better numbers than what we saw out of him in AA.

Biggest Disappointment: Rudy Owens is the clear winner here, as he was expected to be in the rotation by mid-June.  Instead he had a poor season and ended up on the disabled list by the end of the year.

Matt Bandi

1. Alex Presley
2. Chase d’Arnaud
3. Rudy Owens
4. Gorkys Hernandez
5. Josh Harrison
6. Justin Wilson
7. Jordy Mercer
8. Matt Hague
9. Tony Watson
10. Daniel Moskos

Best Hitter - It was easy to write off Alex Presley as a fluke after his breakout 2010 season. Well, he just kept hitting this year, and made a believer out of me.

Best Pitcher - There is not much to choose from here. I hesitate to choose a reliever, but I will also go with Tony Watson, almost by default.

Biggest Surprise - I was pretty convinced that Presley would come back down to earth this year. He did not. The fact that he was able to keep producing at a high level, both in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, was one of the better developments in the organization in 2011.

Biggest Disappointment - This has to go to Rudy Owens. After back-to-back dominant seasons, he was hit hard in his Triple-A debut. Prospects can have poor seasons and still recover. And sometimes pitchers with underwhelming stuff can hit a wall in the upper levels. We’ll see whether Owens can rebound in 2012.

Kevin Creagh

1. Chase d’Arnaud
2. Justin Wilson
3. Alex Presley
4. Rudy Owens
5. Jordy Mercer
6. Josh Harrison
7. Matt Hague
8. Tony Watson
9. Gorkys Hernandez
10. Daniel Moskos

Best Hitter - I guess no one told Alex Presley it was time to turn back into a pumpkin, as he followed up his breakout 2010 with an equally great 2011 in AAA. He hit .333/.388/.485 (873 OPS) with 22 SB’s. His performance earned him a callup to Pittsburgh where he was the catalyst at the top of the order throughout the magical run in July.

Best Pitcher - If Brad Lincoln still had eligibility coming into 2011, I would have picked him. Instead, with the flameout of Owens and the down year for Wilson, I’ll go with Tony Watson. He showed in AAA that he wasn’t just a potential LOOGY and carried that into Pittsburgh as well.

Biggest Surprise - I guess I was surprised that Matt Hague had a respectable season and did not sniff a call up during the Lyle Overbay Chronicles in July. That told me something about how the Pirates see him long-term.

Biggest Disappointment - Rudy Owens was going to be in AAA until a mid-season callup. At least that was the prevailing opinion. His 2011 was pretty awful after his first 2 or 3 starts and his velocity was down all year.

John Dreker

1. Justin Wilson
2. Alex Presley
3. Rudy Owens
4. Chase d’Arnaud
5. Josh Harrison
6. Gorkys Hernandez
7. Jordy Mercer
8. Andrew Lambo
9. Matt Hague
10. Tony Watson

Best Hitter - Matt Hague had an impressive debut season in AAA with a .309 average and 52 extra base hits. It also helps his cause that he had over 120 more PA’s than anyone else.

Best Pitcher - Justin Wilson had the most wins on the team and the lowest ERA among the top 5 starters. He had the third most innings and pitched better when moved to the bullpen at the end of the season throwing a reported 99 mph.

Biggest Surprise - On a team full of disappointments Matt Hague improving on his very good AA numbers from last year was a surprise. I was expecting him to hit around .280 but he held a .300 average for most of the year and hit a career high 37 doubles, 3rd highest total in the league.

Biggest Disappointment - Rudy Owens barely beats out Andrew Lambo who never got it going his entire stay in AAA before being sent down. Owens had some impressive starts here and there but he didn’t display the pinpoint control he did in years past and he strikeout rate was way down. His 5.05 ERA was more than his last two season’s ERA’s added together.

Wilbur Miller

1. Chase d’Arnaud
2. Alex Presley
3. Gorkys Hernandez
4. Rudy Owens
5. Justin Wilson
6. Tony Watson
7. Josh Harrison
8. Matt Hague
9. Jordy Mercer
10. Jared Hughes

Best Hitter - Alex Presley continued his surprising breakout of 2010 and had a strong major league debut. Matt Hague was there longer, but Presley’s numbers were better.

Best Pitcher - The 2011 Indians’ staff was filled with disappointments. Hardly anybody lived up to expectations, much less exceeded them. Tony Watson didn’t throw a lot of innings for Indy, but he was the most effective pitcher.

Biggest Surprise - There were some players who turned things around after mediocre 2010 seasons and bad starts in 2011, like Chase d’Arnaud and Gorkys Hernandez, but they were well regarded to begin with. Hague stepped his game up from AA, but not dramatically. I have to go with Jared Hughes. He started the season as an organizational guy in AA, starting and relieving as needed, but a promotion to AAA and a full-time move to the bullpen helped him emerge as a candidate for the 40-man roster. His fastball picked up to the mid-90s and he went from a very hittable groundball pitcher to an extreme groundball pitcher who fanned over a batter an inning.

Biggest Disappointment - Rudy Owens opened the season as a near-certainty to get a mid-season callup and instead he just got hammered.

Nancy Zinni

1. Alex Presley
2. Josh Harrison
3. Matt Hague
4. Justin Wilson
5. Tony Watson
6. Chase d’Arnaud
7. Jared Hughes
8. Gorkys Hernandez
9. Jordy Mercer
10. Justin Thomas

Best Hitter - Alex Presley.

Best Pitcher - Tim Wood.

Biggest Surprise - Gorkys Hernandez. He started out slowly, got in trouble for lack of hustle, but then got his head together and finished strong. For the last month at least, he’s been doing a lot of clutch hitting.

Biggest Disappointment - Rudy Owens. He’s been the minor league pitcher of the year for the past two years, and this season, he was just flat.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Brian Bernard

    Am I wrong or did Pedro’s 125 AB’s somehow not get him included as a prospect / dissappointment??? Clearly He is Number 1 on both lists.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Alvarez didn’t have prospect eligibility coming in to the season.

      • Lee Young

        Brian……..I reserve the #1 MLB disappointment label for Pedro. :)

  • Matthew Spicer

    Initially, I was  going to do a top 10, but I had trouble fitting in just 10, so here are my top 15 Indianapolis prospects.

    1. Alex Presley2. Justin Wilson3. Chris Leroux4. Tony Watson5. Jared Hughes6. Andrew Lambo7. Rudy Owens8. Jordy Mercer9. Chase d’Arnaud10. Josh Harrison11. Eric Fryer12. Matt Hague13. Gorkys Hernandez14. Pedro Ciriaco15. Daniel Moskos

  • Lee Young

    I wonder if Rudy Owens came into camp a bit over confident. If I remember, they weren’t too happy with his overall conditioning. Perhaps he learns a lesson and has a great 2012? Let’s hope.

  • gonfalon

    Matt Hague’s biggest problems are seemingly his abysmal glove (15 errors as a 1B this year), and his age (old for the level).  I didn’t see any mention of his defense in the Indianapolis recaps; can anyone who’s seen him play the field comment on his defense?  In other words, is his glove really as bad as all the errors suggest?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      In the past his defense has been seen as strong. In fact, he was considered one of the best in the minors last year. From what I’ve heard, his defense has struggled this year. I’m not sure if that’s a one year slump, or something that has changed, because his defense wasn’t an issue the last two years.