Saturday, November 21, 2009

The curious case of shortstop Carlos Rivero

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians purchased the contracts of seven players to protect with their remaining slots of their 40-man roster. There were several surprises on the list, but none more-so than shortstop Carlos Rivero.

Rivero was, and is considered one of the top prospects in the Indians organization. Rivero came out of the gate at double A Akron struggling, and only put up moderately solid numbers because of a very strong second half. Rivero only batted .242, with seven homers and 58 RBI. He had 50 walks, struck out 73 times and had on OBP of .309. He was batting under .200 as late as June 25th, which gives you an indication of how strong his second half was.

Rivero had a solid season in the Arizona Fall League, which ended this past week. He batted .318, with two homers and 13 RBI. His OBP was .381, and his OPS was 850. Rivero certainly was showing some upside.

The question really isn't Rivero's talent at all. Rivero is either a top ten prospect in the Indians' organization, or he's skirting just on the outside of it. The 6'3", 210 pounder projects to be a decent fielder with some pop. The 21-year old was expected to return to Akron for another year of seasoning, and at best, would see the majors in 2012.

So why would the Indians protect a player that likely wouldn't stand a chance to get drafted? If anything, other than a couple of lukewarm second halves and the AFL, Rivero has been a disappointment to some degree. He's a young player at 21, and has played five years in the Tribe organization. Rostering Rivero can only mean that either the Indians see themselves desperate for future middle infielders (possible), or that Cleveland is afraid that a team may take a flier on Rivero as a cheap utility player (not as possible). Teams may salivate at his potential, but certainly not if he has to stay at the big league level all season.

Unless the Indians have some insider information about a team possibly taking Rivero, I'd have to believe that this slot could have been used to hold onto a player like C/1B Matt McBride, Reliever Steven Wright, or starters Yohan Pino, Chuck Lofgren and Josh Tomlin.

Rivero may turn into a ballplayer, but it's too early to worry about a team selecting him in the Rule V draft.

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