We leave the National League and its somewhat ample divisional disparities behind to investigate the American League, and its absolutely cavernous divisional disparities. While we will get to the strongest division soon, the American League East, we'll start with what is the weakest division by far in the majors for prospects that can help now and in the future. Frankly, it is just abysmal. This is of course primarily due to the two organizational-gutting trades pulled off by the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox in order to compete with the Boston Red Sox, but also because many of these teams have already promoted their best and brightest, while certain organizations have yet to produce anything substantial in the interim. For this reason, there is little to no chance that the AL Rookie of the Year comes out of the AL Central.
The AL Central also has the distinction of having the fewest prospects that will offer positive dollar values for 2008, with Aaron Laffey
topping out the list at a whopping $8 in a 5x5, and no one else offering over $2. Of course, things change, jobs are still up for grabs, and we're all waiting for the proverbial steroid buttock to drop, but from the looks of it, there won't be a whole lot of help coming up from the AL Central farms this year. The sole exception to this is the Cleveland Indians, and even they aren't getting much. I have to admit, after writing this specific article, I'm almost severely depressed by the the absolute dearth of major-league-ready talent in the AL Central, though that could very well be the negative 25 degree weather outside speaking. Nope, it's the AL Central.Aaron Laffey
, LHP, Cleveland Indians
I think a lot of people will laugh (no pun intended) when seeing Aaron Laffey
as the top prospect ready to contribute for 2008 on this list, and for good reason, as he projects as only a 3rd starter, at best, in his prime. They will stop laughing after noting he's the only AL Central prospect possibly worth owning this season. Such is the state of the 2008 AL Central prospects. The 6 foot, 180 pound 22-year-old has surpassed both Jeremy Sowers
and Cliff Lee
in Cleveland's future plans, and looks to be the Indian's number five starter, the primary reason for him topping this list. He's one of the only players listed who will see extended time in 2008, and should put up somewhat serviceable numbers in comparison to everyone else in the division.
Laffey is an extreme groundball pitcher with above-average command and two above-average pitches in his 85-89 mph sinking fastball and a 76-80 mph slider. His changeup, while improving, is still a below-average offering. He's very fast to the plate and is big on preparing for his match-ups. Though Laffey has an athletic build, he is not overpowering or even all that large, and has likely reached his ceiling already in terms of future projection. He also doesn't feature a ton of velocity and has trouble repeating his ¾ arm slot, which prevents his changeup from becoming a quality offering. Because of below-average velocity, Laffey will never be a dominant strikeout pitcher, as evidenced by his 7.0 dominance rate at Buffalo.