Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.
Some have more upside. And others may have more power potential. But it would be hard to argue that any Cleveland Indians prospect is more deserving of a Major League call-up than outfielder Tim Fedroff.
Drafted out of the University of North Carolina in the 7th round of the 2008 Draft, the left-handed hitting Fedroff just completed his fifth season within the Indians organization. Since day one, there’s been one constant in regard to Fedroff and his minor league career: hitting.
Fedroff is a patient hitter with an excellent bat-to-ball ability. He’s basically a line drive machine at the plate, and he also possesses slightly above-average speed.
Fedroff’s weakness is power. Up until recently, it was essentially nonexistent. Even still, for someone with his hitting ability and minor league résumé, it’s surprising that he has not yet received a Major League call-up. The Rahway, New Jersey native has a career line of .296/.378/.393. If that’s not deserving of at least a look, then I’m not sure what is.
Fedroff made his Indians debut shortly after be drafted in 2008 with Single-A Mahoning Valley. Coming out of college, Fedroff was advertised as having an advanced bat, and he showed that in just 23 games with the Scrappers that year.
In those 23 games, Fedroff posted a .319/.382/.407 line with six doubles, one triple and 12 RBI. He built off that season in 2009 when he spent the entire year at Single-A Kinston and hit .278 while driving in 39 runs in 99 games. Fedroff then had another successful season in 2010 at Double-A Akron where he hit .274 with 19 doubles and five triples in 118 games.
Fedroff appeared to be doing all the right things to get himself noticed by the big league club, but there was one minor criticism: Fedroff’s courageous, almost reckless playing style.
To be fair, every manager wants a gamer, and that’s exactly what Fedroff is. He gives it his all on every play, and he’s absolutely relentless, whether that be in the batter’s box or on the field.
However, for every yin, there is a yang, and while Fedroff’s playing style is a blessing, it also seems to be his curse. Though he seemed to make strides during the 2011 season. Fedroff stayed healthy throughout the regular season and combined to hit .308.385/.408 between Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
It was the first time he had hit over .300 since his brief stint with Mahoning Valley in 2008. And while Fedroff did encounter a shoulder injury during part of the fall season in 2011, it was still impressive that he made it throughout the entire 2011 regular season without succumbing to the injury bug.
Fedroff just turned in the finest season of his young career. In fact, the season was so impressive that it could be argued that no Indians player in the minor leagues or Major Leagues had a better season in 2012.
Between Akron and Columbus, Fedroff posted a .316/.394/.485 line with 23 doubles, 10 triples, 14 stolen bases and 61 walks compared to just 78 strikeouts. But while all those numbers were good, no number stood out more than 12, which was the number of home runs that Fedroff hit.
At any previous point of his career, Fedroff hit no more than four home runs in a single season, so the sudden power surge was a pleasant surprise.
Most everyone seemed to believe that Fedroff was destined to be a potential September Major League call-up, but to the surprise of many, the call never came.
There is no concrete answer as to why Fedroff never joined the Indians in 2012, but context clues suggest that the fact that he is a left-handed hitter probably has something to do with it. The Indians lineup was filled with left-handed hitters, and they probably saw no reason to add another.
Though the numbers suggest that Fedroff may have been able to help despite the fact that he is left-handed. While he absolutely crushed right-handers this past year in Columbus (70-for-210, .333 average), he also was not too shabby against left-handers either (16-for-55, .291 average). To be fair, it is a much smaller sample size, but plain and simple, Fedroff can hit, and it would have been nice to see him hit at the Major League level in 2012.
It’s hard to really say what lies ahead for Fedroff. Unfortunately, he is eligible to be picked in December’s Rule 5 Draft, and there is no guarantee that he is going to be rostered before that point. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Indians are likely to add him to the 40-man roster, but it’s hard to gauge just how the organization feels about him.
This past season, the first outfielder they chose to promote was Ezequiel Carrera even though Fedroff had outperformed Carrera for the majority of the year. Carrera did have a decent year with the Tribe in 2012, but there is no reason to believe that Fedroff could not provide at least similar production.
The problem really lies in the fact that there are questions surrounding Fedroff’s ability to play center field in the Major Leagues. While it is not pretty always, Carrera has shown that he has the speed and range to play center, and the same cannot be said for Fedroff at this point.
The real key for Fedroff is his sudden development of average power. If the 2012 numbers prove to not be a fluke, then perhaps there is some hope that he could develop into a corner outfielder, at least in the storm term. Even right now, his skill set suggests that he could be a very good, possibly great, fourth outfielder.
But for now, his future remains in limbo. If he is indeed not rostered before the Rule 5 Draft, do not be surprised if a Major League team sneaks in and grabs themselves one helluva steal.
Previous Then & Now profiles:
- Nov. 2, 2012: T.J. McFarland
- Oct. 27, 2012: Chen-Hsiu Chen
- Oct. 16, 2012: Danny Salazar
- Oct. 10, 2012: Paolo Espino
- Oct. 5, 2012: Jared Goedert
- Sept. 24, 2012: Hector Rondon
- Sept. 17, 2012: Nick Weglarz