Indians' Top Prospects: Nos. 84 & 85

Trey Haley, No. 85; Clayton Cook, 84

For each of the past 15 years, Indians Ink Magazine has ranked the top prospects in the Cleveland farm system. It began as a top 10 list and turned into a top 50 early this decade. This is our third year ranking the top 100 Tribe minor-leaguers. The rankings consider a player's potential, accomplishments, how he's moved in the system, and project it to what he could bring to the major-league team.

No. 85 -- Trey Haley

The Trey Haley File
Born:
June 21, 1990 in Nacogdoches, TX
Position: Starting pitcher
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-3/175
Acquired: Second-round draft pick in 2008 from San Augustine (TX) Central Heights HS.
Strengths: Fastball reaches 93-95 mph, with movement. Has a good curve that at 82 mph provides a good contrast in speeds. Tough competitor, considered smart and poised. Compared to Red Sox prospect Clay Buchholz.
Weaknesses: Inexperienced, must try not to do too much. Some opposing scouts think his impressive high-school numbers came against weaker competition, but Indians believe he's got huge upside.
2009 Projection: Extended spring training, then to Arizona League or Mahoning Valley.

No. 84 -- Clayton Cook

The Clayton Cook File
Born:
July 23, 1990 in Amarillo, TX
Position: Pitcher
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-3/195
Acquired: Ninth-round draft pick in 2008 from Amarillo (TX) HS.
Strengths: Good fastball and curve. Went 12-3 with 1.93 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 98 innings as prep senior.
Weaknesses: Inexperienced, must work on all aspects of game. Like all young pitchers, has to start developing some off-speed stuff that will make his fastball even more effective.
2009 Projection: Extended spring training, then to Arizona League or Mahoning Valley.

So why is Cook, picked in the ninth round last June, ranked higher than Haley, a second-round selection? Cook nudged ahead by starting his pro career with the Gulf Coast League Indians last summer while Haley took his time deciding whether or not to accept Cleveland's contract offer or go to college.

Haley signed in August and went 0-1 with a 34.29 ERA in three games. He pitched one scoreless inning in his pro debut for the Gulf Coast League Indians and then allowed four hits, six walks and eight runs over 1 1/3 innings in two games at Mahoning Valley.

Cook went 1-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 games, including six starts for the GCL Indians in 2008. In 25 innings, he gave up 20 hits and eight walks, striking out 26. Scouts were not only impressed with his fastball and curve, but in the youngster's poise. The right-hander didn't turn 18 until a month after being drafted.

The Indians' scouting department obviously believes strongly in Haley, who is listed on many draft reports by his given first name of Curtis. The organization gave him the largest signing bonus of any of its 2008 draft picks, a reported $1,250,000. Perhaps the time off last summer while making his decision to turn pro will benefit the right-hander as it gave him time to mature mentally and physically. He'll report to training camp this year at age 18 and with great expectations.

The Indians have been down this road before with highly regarded high school pitchers. The last one to truly make an impact in Cleveland was CC Sabathia, chosen No. 1 in 1998. The Tribe took three prep pitchers in the first round in 2001. None have been close to the majors and all are with other organizations. Dan Denham (Angels), Alan Horne (Yankees) and J.D. Martin (Nationals) still have potential, but are all at an age (26) when they should be producing in the big leagues.

Adam Miller, the hard-throwing right-hander taken out of high school in the first round in 2003, almost made the big-league roster in 2007. But he went back to Buffalo and sustained yet another injury. He's in the mix for a bullpen spot this year -- still tantalizingly loaded with potential at age 24.

Prep pitchers are the most difficult players for scouts to project as pros. Every team has long lists of high school pitchers who never made it. But when they do, often times the reward is huge. Sabathia, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy, John Smoltz, Dwight Gooden and David Cone are among recent Cy Young winners who were drafted out of high school.

On the other end of the spectrum are pitchers such as David Clyde, the No. 1 overall choice in 1973 by the Texas Rangers. He went directly to the big leagues at age 18, giving up only one hit and striking out eight over five innings to win his MLB debut right after signing.

After going 7-18 over three years with the Rangers and finally spending 2 1/2 years in the minors, he was traded to Cleveland before the 1978 season -- and kept struggling.

By 1979, at age 24, Clyde was done. He had only an 18-33 record and 4.63 ERA for his MLB career that once seemed so promising.

Sometimes, highly hyped high school hurlers don't make it at all. In 1991, the New York Yankees selected Brien Taylor No. 1 overall and gave him a $1.55 million signing bonus -- an unheard of sum for a draft pick at that time.

He became one of only two players picked No. 1 overall to never make it to the majors. Steve Chilcott, a catcher taken first by the New York Mets in 1966, was the other. The Mets that year passed on a guy named Reggie Jackson, who was taken at No. 2 by the Kansas City A's and became a great Hall of Fame slugger.

Taylor had incredible numbers at East Carteret High School in Beaufort, N.C. -- striking out 476 in 239 innings while going 29-6 with a 1.25 ERA.

The left-hander did OK over his first two years of pro ball, compiling a 19-15 mark in Class A and Double A before everything went bad. He got involved in a bar fight, hurt his shoulder, and missed the 1994 season after surgery. He went only 3-14 over the next three years in the low minors -- walking an astounding 149 in only 93 innings.

Taylor finished his career by compiling a 20.00 ERA for the Indians' Class A farm team at Columbus (Ga.) in 2000, allowing 11 hits and nine walks over just two innings in five games. His overall record in the minors was 22-30 with a 5.13 ERA. In 100 games, he struck out 425, but also walked 352 and uncorked 83 wild pitches. Over the final 35 games of his career, he had a 14.26 ERA.

Sometimes, it isn't a high draft pick out of high school who becomes a big star. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan was picked at age 18 in the 12th round by the New York Mets in 1965 -- and struck out 115 in 78 innings in his first season as a pro. A year later at age 19, he went 17-2 in Class A ball and got called up to the Mets.

Though he pitched in only three games in 1967 because of a sore arm, he was in the majors to stay the next year at 21 -- and didn't leave until age 46 in 1993, after 324 wins and a record 5,714 strikeouts.

The Indians drafted a future Hall of Famer at age 17 in the third round in 1972. He fanned 218 in 202 innings in his first full year as a pro in 1973, was in Cleveland's rotation at age 20 and pitched a no-hitter at age 22.

Of course, Dennis Eckersley found even better days and bigger fame after being traded away, lasting until age 43 as a light's-out relief pitcher.

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