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2012 Lake County Captains season review

2012 Lake County Captains season review
September 21, 2012
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The Lake County Captains had a great 2012 season that they topped off with a postseason run sending them to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs. Like all levels and teams, the Captains lost some formidable players to promotions to higher levels over the course of the season, but several players stepped up to fill the void and turn some heads.

The Captains ended the season with an overall record of 74-70 including a 2-2 postseason record. They went 31-38 through the first half of the season before a second-half turnaround in which they went 40-30.

Anyone following the first month of the Captains season will be the first to admit that the team made a huge turnaround by September. The month of April was rather dismal as the team went 8-16, which included a 10-game losing streak. Nothing seemed to click for the Captains during that stretch as the starting pitchers struggled, the bullpen stumbled and the offense failed to find a way to get hot. The lowest point occurred in the form of a 22-12 loss against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, where Bowling Green scored 11 runs in the ninth inning and the Captains left 12 men on base.

Despite the rough start, the Captains steered the ship to still waters and managed to craft a great second half. There were plenty of memorable moments, such as right fielder Jordan Smith’s walk-off home run in late August or Danny Jimenez’s seven-inning, two-hit shutout start, and those moments led to a champagne celebration in the locker room as the team clinched a playoff spot on the first day of September.

The Captains’ playoff run was merely an added bonus to their season, as the minor leagues are more about developing than winning. In this case, the Captains certainly won as their prospects shined and some of their under-the-radar players ignited some interest.

Here’s a look at how some of the 2012 Captains performed:

Cody Anderson, RHP, 4-7, 3.20 ERA: It was an impressive season for Anderson, especially in his first season as a starter. Anderson was a reliever in college, so the Indians organization limited his innings this year to preserve his arm. Anderson’s first half numbers were better than his second half, but he remained reliable all year. The 14th round 2011 draft pick was even named to the 2012 Midwest League All-Star Game. Anderson proved this year that he has all the necessities to be a successful starter and it will be interesting to watch him move forward as he pitches a full season with no inning limits.

Elvis Araujo, LHP, 7-10, 5.00 ERA: Araujo seemed to tail off as the season progressed. He started out well as he posted a 2.49 ERA in April and just didn’t receive any run support, but his June ERA skyrocketed to 8.71. The issue with Araujo seemed to be his mentality with runners on. Whenever he walked a batter or surrendered a couple of hits, he seemed to lose control and confidence, which is evident in his 9.31 ERA with runners on base. Araujo is still an interesting pitcher to watch though, as is any guy that towers on the mound at 6’7”.

Shawn Morimando, LHP, 7-6, 3.59 ERA: Morimando wasn’t dominant this year, but he certainly had a good season as he retained a relatively level ERA from May through September. One concern is his strikeout to walk ratio, which posted at 69-52, and he also allowed 11 home runs.

Danny Jimenez, LHP, 2-4, 4.96 ERA: Danny Jimenez was more tolerable to watch than Ubaldo Jimenez, especially since Danny joined the Captains in July after rehabbing a broken finger. Like the Cleveland Jimenez, consistency wasn’t Danny Jimenez’s forte, but he showed good command most of the time and will hopefully be more impactful next season without injury.

Mason Radeke, RHP, 7-6, 3.38 ERA: Radeke had a rollercoaster season as his ERA dipped and spiked constantly. April was good to him, May was not, June fantastic, July was rough and August was decent. Radeke could be underwhelming at times, yet impressive at others. It seems consistency was his Achilles this year, but the 117 team-leading strikeouts he recorded and 91 hits allowed through 109 innings is nothing to scoff at.

Nick Pasquale, RHP, 4-1, 3.58 ERA: Pasquale didn’t join the team until July, but his nine appearances were impressive. He went 28 innings before allowing a walk, which was the one and only walk he allowed during the regular season. He will probably return to Lake County to start the 2013 season, and it will be interesting to see if he remains a reliever or if shifted to a starting role since he pitched several innings in most of his appearances.

Enosil Tejeda, RHP, 5-1, 1.39 ERA: Tejeda became the Captains’ closer when Jeff Johnson was promoted to Carolina, and Tejeda certainly filled the void. Through 18 games, he converted eight saves and surrendered three runs. Most impressive was his dependability during the final stretch of the season, as he posted a 0.00 ERA and surrendered just five hits through his last 10 games.

Cody Penny, RHP, 4-3, 2.39 ERA: The very first moment I saw Cody Penny, I was impressed. In his debut appearance in August, he threw a lot of strikes and showed a notable amount of confidence and composure on the mound. The reliever yielded just four walks and struck out 16 through 17 innings of work. What is notable about his low amount of walks is the fact that he throws a knuckle-curve, which is tough to control. Penny became an important asset of the Captains’ bullpen as they turned to him during some big games to get the job done.

Manny Carmona, RHP, 0-1, 4.09 ERA: Manny Carmona was about as pleasant as watching Fausto Carmona pitch. Any time I saw Carmona warming up in the pen, I cringed. He pitched decently during the heart of the season, but things just seemed to unravel for him in August. He walked 10 and posted an 8.03 ERA that month, and his command and mental game seemed to completely unravel.

Alex Lavisky, C, .246, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 34 BB, 95 K, .314 OBP: Lavisky may have struggled at times this year, but his improvement was noticeable and he proved his power potential as he led the team in long balls. Lavisky’s issue seemed to be his plate approach as one could almost count on him to swing at pitches low and away in the dirt. He seemed to find more plate discipline around July, which is spoken for in his spike in average that month as he hit .158 in June and .270 through July. Defensively, Lavisky calls a good game and his pitchers seem to have faith in him. He moves well behind the dish and blocks pitches and it seems that his offensive output will be the deciding factor in his future success.

Jake Lowery, C, .248, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 24 BB, 29 K, .358 OBP: Clint Eastwood isn’t the only one that has trouble with the curve. Lowery had a tough year as he started the season in high-A Carolina, but was demoted to Lake County in July. I talked to Lowery to write a feature story on him, and he told me his issues in Carolina stemmed from pressing too much. Lake County seemed to be a much better match for him as he showed a sudden surge of power where he smacked five homers through the course of 10 games. Lowery also told me that in order to advance to the higher levels, he’s got to be able to hit the breaking ball, which is something he still seemed to struggle with by the season’s end.

Jerrud Sabourin, 1B, .297, 3 HR, 66 RBI, 51 BB, 77 K, .369 OBP: Sabourin seemed to have come out of nowhere as many didn’t know much about him, but one thing is for sure – he’s consistent. Sabourin hit over .280 all season and was one of the lineup’s go-to guys when in need of a hit. Sabourin was a straight-up hitter and a formidable defensive first baseman, but his lack of power may be seen as a concern, especially when he has Jesus Aguilar ahead of him in AA-Akron.

Jose Ramirez, 2B, .354, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 24 BB, 26 K, .403 OBP: No guy at Lake County was boring, but Jose Ramirez was by far the most fun to watch. By the end of the season, Ramirez didn’t have much more to prove as he showed he could do it all. The Ramirez-Lindor duo in the middle of the infield was a fantastic combination and Ramirez’s offensive skills were impressive beyond expectations. Ramirez struck out more than he walked, which can probably be explained with the sole fact that he wanted to get a hit more than any guy in the lineup. Ramirez is also a huge threat on the basepaths considering he’s incredibly fast, though he occasionally did not get good jumps. Jose Ramirez does it all on the diamond and he’s incredibly fun to watch as he’s a sparkplug kind of player whose only desire is to hit, run and dirty his jersey.

Francisco Lindor, SS, .257, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 61 BB, 78 K, .352 OBP: His numbers weren’t stunning, but anyone who actually watched Lindor play can tell you why he is still the organization’s highest prospect. Lindor is an all-around ballplayer who possesses all the intangibles that are born, not bred. He struggled offensively at times and it seems the grind of his first full season in pro ball may have gotten the best of him. That being said, Lindor still put together constructive at-bats and remained a game-changer all the way through the year, simply due to his heart and hustle. Defensively, Lindor is fundamentally sound with a few things to be fine-tuned, such as his timing when charging balls.

Leonardo Castillo, 3B, .216, 4 HR, 48 RBI, 19 BB, 88 K, .254 OBP: Castillo wasn’t exactly the most influential player on the field, but it’s safe to say that he was one of the most improved. He struggled both offensively and defensively at the start of the year as he led the team in errors, but by the end, he made some impressive plays at third and his at-bats were cleaner as his average through August hit .253.

Jordan Smith, RF, .316, 9 HR, 74 RBI, 35 BB, 52 K, .367 OBP: Without Jordan Smith, the Lake County Captains would not have reached the postseason. This seems like a lofty statement, but Smith was by far the difference-maker this season. He didn’t walk a lot, but he didn’t strike out much either. More importantly, he was dependable. He was the one guy you’d want at the plate in a pressing situation. Smith has such a simple approach at the plate and his ability to drive the ball back up the middle is insane. He doesn’t try to pull outside pitches and doesn’t swing for the fences every pitch. Smith jumped on the organization’s radar this year and if he develops more power, he may rise up in the prospect rankings.

Luigi Rodriguez, CF, .268, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 50 BB, 133 K, .338 OBP: Luigi Rodriguez is still an interesting player to watch as he is still young and still a threat at the plate. He struck out more than anyone this year, but his bits of power and speed are tough to ignore. Defensively, he takes some bad routes to balls but he’s quick and fearless. Rodriguez matured a lot this season and hopefully he can stay healthy and become more disciplined.

Bryson Myles, LF, .290, 3 HR, 59 RBI, 33 BB, 85 K, .355 OBP: Myles was also a fun player to follow as he showed promise in all aspects of the game. Defensively, he still seemed to be learning as he made some fundamental errors and had some trouble tracking down some balls, but he’s quick and a smart player which will aid in his development. At the plate, Myles’ head may have been his enemy though, as he seemed to press and overthink a lot as he’d wave at bad pitches or try to do too much. Myles is also a huge threat on the basepaths, not just because he is quick, but because he is the size of a linebacker which can be rather intimidating when he’s bearing down on an infielder attempting to retrieve a throw from the catcher. Myles finished the year strong as he became one of the key guys in the Captains’ playoff run and all odds seem to point to Carolina for him next year.

The 2012 Lake County Captains put together a memorable season and all of the players seemed to show some improvement in one way or another. Losing most of them to Carolina will hurt next year, but guys like 2012 first-round draft pick Tyler Naquin, All-Star catcher Charlie Valerio and All-Star starter Jacob Lee could climb aboard to pick up where the previous Captains left off.

Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.

User Comments

Norm
September 22, 2012 - 6:29 AM EDT
I agree with your assessment of the potential at LC, Tony. I think a bit more highly of Ramirez than you because of my slavish devotion to defensive potential but he would not be in my top five position player prospects at LC. By this time, you probably can guess what I will say on any player before I do. Ramirez mechanics are sound for his age but I won't believe the tools projection some have until I see him at AA.
Tony
September 21, 2012 - 11:41 PM EDT
Troy, gonna have to disagree on this. I am not sure how you can consider Ramirez a legit prospect, yet diss the others. I like Ramirez, but there are over a half dozen guys on that team with more ceiling and potential.

Norm, I agree on Naquin. No way he starts at Lake County next year. He will go to Carolina...or may even go all the way up to Akron to start.
Norm
September 21, 2012 - 7:31 PM EDT
I really like your year end comments on each player, Stephanie. Very nicely balanced IMO. I believe there is a little more prospect talent than some do but most low A players do not find the majors. As for Naquin, I think LC has seen the last of him. I would guess he starts in Carolina and finds his way to Akron by year end. Personally, most of these guys you mention are ready for the next step at Carolina.

If you are at LC again next year, you should have a great time with the bats coming out of Arizona. They will need to improve catching the ball and, hopefully, the pitching will develope but should be interesting.
troy
September 21, 2012 - 4:45 PM EDT
Ramirez, Lindor and Rodriquez are the only legit prospects on this list. The rest are career minor leaguers including Naquin who profiles as a career AAA player or a 4th outfielder on a non contending team.
Dick
September 21, 2012 - 11:59 AM EDT
looks like a bunch of career minor leaguers to me. who drafted these nobodies? i spend my life reading other cynics viewpoints on the web and i know better than the guys in the Tribe's front office.

So sorry but i could not help myself. just thought i would beat the has beens and never was's to the punch and post a denigating remark.

Actually I enjoyed following the Capains exploits this season on IPI and have my fingers crossed that these guys can keep it going on they move upwards and onwards.

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