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Biggest Player Flops in Cleveland Indians History

We’ve all seen the type of player over the years, a player who starts to make the rise through the minor leagues, and quickly he’s being touted as the “next big thing” for a certain franchise.

Cleveland Indians fans over the years have known all about the word “potential.” They have seen player after player get drafted high, come through the organization, and yet never live up to the hype that was expected of him.

The Tribe has done a lot of good things when it comes to drafting. Their 2016 draft included the likes of Nolan Jones, Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale.

They also drafted some kid named Francisco Lindor, and way back when two players who likely will be in the Hall of Fame – C.C. Sabathia and Manny Ramirez.

But it’s not even close to an exact science, and today our staff takes a look at some of those players that came in with potential, but just never worked out for whatever reason.

Chris Coon

Andy Marte 3B

Coming into the 2006 season the Indians needed to build off of their success in 2005, despite missing the postseason by two games in the American League Wild Card.

The trade with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason heading into 2006 seemed like a solid deal on paper. The Red Sox received Coco Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske, in exchange for Guillermo Mota and prospects, Kelly Shoppach, Randy Newsom and Andy Marte.

This deal addressed a closer need for the Indians in Mota, while providing a potential future Super Star at third base in Marte, along with some much-needed depth in the minors in Shoppach and Newsom.

At the time, Marte was 22 but ranked by Baseball America as a Top-20 prospect and the Red Sox No. 1 player in their system.

Marte appeared to have a lot of intangibles organizations look for in a third baseman, as he was considered to be a potential Gold Glover and even drew comparisons to Miguel Cabrera for his approach at the plate.

Unfortunately for the Indians, things never panned out, as Marte in five seasons hit 20 home runs and 92 RBI while posting a career slash line of .224/.281/.369 and an OPS of .650 with the Tribe.

Marte was granted Free Agency in 2010 by the Indians and bounced around several Major League Baseball organizations until 2014, until he landed in the KBO League in South Korea from 2015-16.

Sadly, Marte passed away in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22, 2017. He was just 33 years old.

T.J. Zuppe

Jody Gerut

Foolishly, I had high hopes when the Indians acquired former Giants first-round pick Jacob Cruz in 1998. But after the left-handed hitter was dealt to the Rockies in 2001 for catcher Josh Bard and outfielder Jody Gerut, it later appeared like Cleveland had pulled off a mega heist.

Gerut, in particular, burst onto the scene in 2003, slashing .279/.336/.494 with 22 homers and 75 RBI in just 127 games. He finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year, had all of Cleveland suggesting the Sporting News’ top rookie honor was far more important and looked poised to become a vital part of the new franchise core after posting nearly 3.0 wins above replacement.

But after a much less thrilling second year — he was five percent below average in run-creation — Gerut’s 2004 campaign ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. One year later, with 2003 all but a distant memory, Cleveland traded him to the Cubs in a July deal for … [checks notes] … Jason Dubois.

Welp. That escalated quickly.

I was convinced Gerut had the makings of a star after his first year, but only one season ever came close to matching his 2003 campaign — a 3.4 WAR 2008 with the Padres. Gerut’s playing career eventually ended after parts of six years in the majors. To his credit, he managed to finish as a league average bat, but the promise of his rookie year was never realized.

Ahh, well. It’s better to have produced and lost than never have produced at all.

Or something like that.

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Casey Drotter

Cord Phelps

I'll use this opportunity to dust off an Indians take of mine which went frigid in a hurry. During the 2011 season, I remember telling someone "yeah, I'm excited to see Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall get called up, but I think this Cord Phelps kid could be really good." To put it politely, things didn't work out that way.

In my defense, that line of thinking at least makes sense when you look back at Phelps' minor league stats. His numbers improved while he made his way up through Cleveland's system, as he finished his first stint in Triple-A with a .317/.386/.506 slash line and above average numbers in both wOBA (.390) and wRC+ (142). At the time, it wasn't crazy to think Phelps had a bright big league future ahead of him.

Instead, his MLB stint was memorably forgettable. Phelps' 2011 season -- in which he had just eleven hits in 80 plate appearances -- sadly stands out as his longest year in the majors. He logged a combined 42 at-bats over the next two years with Cleveland before being DFA'd. By 2014, Phelps was out of the bigs, ending his career with only five extra base hits and a .155 batting average.

Consider this my elaborate way of explaining why my days of projecting minor leaguers took a hiatus after 2011.

Matt Loede

Mark Lewis

When the Indians drafted Mark Lewis in the first round with the second overall pick in 1988, many Tribe fans felt after a few years of seasoning in the minors he would be ready to come to the Major League team and make a big impact.

Instead, Lewis bounced around for 11 seasons, playing for seven teams, including a stint back to the Indians in 2001, where he played in six games before ending his Major League career.

Lewis played in 902 career Major League games, with his greatest success coming in 1995 when he appeared in 81 games as a backup for the Cincinnati Reds. He hit a robust .339 with three homers and 30 RBI.

He wasn’t much of a power hitter, but did hit 48 homers in his career. His best two seasons homerun wise coming in 1996 with Detroit (11 homers) and 1997 with San Francisco (10 homers).

With the hype that surrounded Lewis, he clearly didn’t work out like the Tribe felt he would.

Mark Warmuth

Andy Marte

For me it's Andy Marte.

The Indians traded a key piece of their 2005 squad that just missed the playoffs in Coco Crisp to obtain one of the games' best prospects in Andy Marte, a third baseman who ranked among the sports' top 100 prospects for four straight years.

Here are his ranks according to Baseball America--

2003 40th

2004 11th

2005 9th

2006 14th

At AAA Richmond in 2005, the season before being traded to the Indians, Marte hit .275 with 20 HR and 74 RBI (878 OPS). Marte began the '06 season at Buffalo before getting called up on July 28th, and hit .226 with 5 HR the rest of the season. He started 4 for 38, but batted .262 the balance of the season.

He opened the year with the big club in 2007, but was sent down on April 22nd after hitting .179 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. In my opinion, I don't think he got enough of a shot, but Eric Wedge prefered Casey Blake.

Overall with the Indians, Marte appeared in 277 games, hitting .224 with 20 HR becoming becoming a free agent.