Now Batting For The Cleveland Indians…

Highly touted prospect Matt LaPorta was called up by the Indians on Friday.  He made his major league debut on Sunday, batting eighth and playing rightfield in Cleveland’s 3-1 loss to the Tigers.

It did not go exceptionally well.  LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Justin Verlander.  He stranded four runners, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh, and popped out to end the game.

LaPorta struggled after coming to the Indians organization in the C.C. Sabathia trade last season, but was off to an excellent start with AAA Columbus in 2009, hitting .333 with 5 homeruns, 14 RBI, and a 1.054 OPS in 21 games for the Clippers.  According to Baseball America, scouts graded his power at a 70 on a scale of 20-80.

As luck would have it, two of the E-migos with whom I correspond most often are Andrew of The Grand National Championships and Myth of the Next and Jacob of Vegas Watch and FanHouse.  They are fans of the Brewers and Indians, respectively, so naturally I asked their opinions on him.

Though both noted that LaPorta was the centerpiece of the Sabathia deal, they arrived at different conclusions about his longterm impact.  Jacob noted that he is a “good hit, no field” type of player who will probably see time at first base and leftfield and whose minor league success this year has probably caused expectations to be unreasonably high.  Andrew, on the other hand, pointed out that LaPorta is replacing the 2009 version of Travis Hafner and thinks he will soon prove that long-term, the Brewers were on the losing end of the Sabathia deal.  He figures LaPorta will “get out of bed and go .285/30/100.”

As always, it will be interesting to see who comes closer to the truth: is LaPorta overhyped, or will he make Tribe fans forget about Pronk?

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