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Around the Farm: April 21, 2014

Around the Farm: April 21, 2014
Jose Ramirez (Photo: Columbus Dispatch)
April 22, 2014
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Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Cleveland prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.

Jose Ramirez (2B, Columbus): 4-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB. Ramirez is on fire right now as he is hitting .400 over his last 10 games, and more surprising, he has three home runs in his last five games. The two homers is a career best as he had never hit more an one homer in a game prior to Monday night. He has also never hit more than three homers in a season, so his next homer will be a new personal best from him. That said, homers are not his game; his speed, athleticism and ability to make consistent contact is what makes him so intriguing. He has now struck out just 6 times in 63 at bats and has 5 stolen bases, and is hitting .333 overall with a .879 OPS. He is really putting some pressure on the Indians to consider calling him up to Cleveland sooner rather than later.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, Columbus): 2-for-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. Aguilar cranked his fifth home run of the season and just continues to rake at Huntington Park where he is hitting a blistering .471 with 5 HR, 11 RBI and 1.556 OPS in 10 games. On the flip side, he’s been rather ordinary in his six road games hitting .261 with 0 HR, 2 RBI and .651 OPS. His home and away splits are something I have already brought up once before this season, and are numbers worth continuing to monitor this season.

Ryan Merritt (SP, Carolina): 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 4 K. Merritt is in midseason form and is just pitching with a ton of confidence right now. This was his fourth outing of the season and his best yet, but his three previous outings were pretty darn good as well. So far this season he is 3-0 with a microscopic 0.37 ERA, and in 24.1 innings has allowed 14 hits (.165 BAA), 0 homers, 6 walks and has 18 strikeouts. He’s been the best pitcher in the Carolina League and is quickly establishing himself as one of the Indians better lower level starting pitching prospects.

  • Justin Sellers (SS, Columbus): 0-for-4, BB, 3 K, E. Sellers with his fourth error of the season and he is now down to .175 with the average in 12 games. With his versatility and limited bat, he’s kind of like a younger version of Elliot Johnson stuffed away at Triple-A.
  • Nyjer Morgan (CF, Columbus): 0-for-4. Morgan has not been the same since reporting to Columbus as he is just 1-for-14 at the plate (.071). It will be interesting to see how Morgan performs with Columbus as he is obviously disappointed to be there.
  • Carlos Moncrief (RF, Columbus): 2-for-3, R, 2B, K. Moncrief has his best game so far this season with his first multi-hit game of the year. This is a bat that the Indians need to get going because when he is on he’s as good an impact player as anyone in the system.
  • Travis Banwart (SP, Columbus): 6.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R/ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR. Banwart needed just 85 pitches to throw his 6.1 innings and put forth a solid effort that was much better than his previous outing on April 13th when he went 3.2 innings and allowed 5 runs.
  • Mark Lowe (RP, Columbus): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. A nice clean outing for Lowe who might be on the verge of turning things around. He has had two straight scoreless and dominant outings, and now has four saves on the season.
  • Tyler Naquin (CF, Akron): 0-for-4, 2 K. Naquin has really struggled in the early going, and most of those struggles stem from his approach as he is striking out way too much. He now has 22 strikeouts in 60 at bats which puts him at more than a strikeout in every three at bats.
  • Francisco Lindor (SS, Akron): 0-for-4, K. Lindor has had a tough go of it in the early going, though he continues to find other ways beyond the bat to help his team win. This is a prime example why the Indians were right to have him open the season at Double-A Akron as he needs time at what many consider the top minor league level.
  • Bryson Myles (LF, Akron): 1-for-4, R, K. Myles had one of three Akron hits on the night. He is 1-for-8 with 4 strikeouts in his last two games, so hopefully it is not a sign that his hot start is coming to a rather quick end.
  • Cody Anderson (SP, Akron): 5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Anderson has not had the crisp outings this season like he had last season, and he looks like he will stay at Double-A Akron for the duration of the season. As the organization’s top pitching prospect, the Indians will continue to be ultra conservative with him and hope he finds his way.
  • Tyler Sturdevant (RP, Columbus): 1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. This is Sturdevant’s third straight scoreless outing, which is a positive sign for a guy coming back from injury. He’s an older guy now at 27-years old, but still an interesting pen prospect for the Indians.
  • Erik Gonzalez (SS, Carolina): 2-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 3B, RBI, 2 K. Surprise, surprise. Gonzalez with another solid showing on the night and two more extra base hits added to his resume. After racking up 54 extra base hits last season, he’s on his pace for 62 this season.
  • James Roberts (3B, Carolina): 2-for-5, R. Roberts continues to find holes with two more singles on the night. He has 18 hits on the season – 17 of them singles – so it will be interesting to see how he does once his .421 BABIP drops down to a normal level.
  • Torsten Boss (RF, Carolina): 1-for-3, R, SB. Boss has been held hitless in seven of his last 10 games, but in this game he reached base and was able to manufacture a run with a stolen base.
  • Michael Peoples (SP, Carolina): 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K. Peoples started the first game of the doubleheader and only lasted 67 pitches (41 strikes) before he was removed from the game. He allowed 7 baserunners in his 3.0 innings, which is way too much traffic and he is fortunate he only gave up the two earned runs.
  • Carlos Melo (RP, Carolina): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Melo has not allowed an earned run over his last four outings, though he has allowed four unearned runs over that time period. He is still allowing way too many baserunners as he has allowed 8 hits and 8 walks in 6.2 innings this season.
  • Grant Sides (RP, Carolina): 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. Sides made just his third appearance of the season and put up two scoreless innings. He has now thrown 5.2 scoreless innings this season and allowed 3 hits, 2 walks and has 5 strikeouts.
  • Clint Frazier (CF, Lake County): 0-for-2, R, 3 BB. Frazier showed his other side of his offensive game as he had the patience to draw three walks. He has reached base in all four games with the Captains so far, though is still searching for his first homer.
  • Eric Haase (C, Lake County): 1-for-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, K. Haase ripped his fourth homer of the season and has really made the most of his 12 hits as 8 of them have gone for extra bases this season.
  • Claudio Bautista (2B, Lake County): 3-for-5. Bautista needed this one. He was really in a funk offensively, so hopefully this is the kick start that he needed to get the bat going.
  • Anthony Santander (DH, Lake County): 1-for-5, 3B, RBI, 2 K. Another game at DH for Santander who is still limited with a sore shoulder. The hit was his first in almost two weeks! He had gone hitless in his last nine games (0-for-33) and had not recorded a hit since April 8th.
  • Dace Kime (SP, Lake County): 4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K. Kime is really struggling at the outset of the season as he has now made four starts and is 0-3 with a 11.30 ERA, and in 14.1 innings has allowed 29 hits, 22 runs (18 ER), 2 homers, 6 walks and has 9 strikeouts. He is throwing strikes and limiting walks, but is just not fooling anyone at the plate right now as the league is hitting .408 off him.
  • Kenny Matthews (RP, Lake County): 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 0 BB, 5 K. Mathews actually pitched much better than his line suggests. This was his first time out in nine days so he was a little rusty, but the 5 strikeouts and  no walks is nice to see.
  • Ben Heller (RP, Lake County): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Heller has now strung together three good outings in a row where he has thrown 3.2 shutout innings and allowed 1 hit, 2 walks and has 5 strikeouts.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

April 22, 2014 - 10:16 PM EDT

Jhonny Peralta split time between 3B and SS at AAA, Tribe wasn't grooming him for a utility role, simply getting him time at multiple spots. Same with Brandon Phillips (2B and SS). Asdrubal also played 2B and SS in the minors. Getting time at multiple positions in the minors doesn't necessarily mean you are being groomed as a utility guy...
April 22, 2014 - 6:27 PM EDT
@Seth.. I think you're analysis is spot on..Sooner rather than later... and, we all know from watching the way Tito manages, everyone gets to play. Hermie's point about Jose being an everyday player & of getting enough at bats to continue his progress is true. Ramirez, when he arrives will be in there at least two to three days a week.. maybe more.. If Jose Ramirez could catch, I think he'd already be on the parent squad..


Do you think G would be the first (or close to the first after the fans) to go to Tito and tell him.. let's see what the kid can do?...


The Yankees need both a 2B and a SS.. or will very soon. Solarte can't do everything.. What would you like to receive in return from the Bombers for Droobs/Jose?

April 22, 2014 - 5:12 PM EDT
Ramirez has played 10 games at 2b and 6 as SS. That's "grooming as a utility infielder." I'm not sure how the Indians view this, but I would view it as Johnson has been keeping the seat warm for Ramirez while he recovers from his injury. He was already a september callup. Nothing he's done to show he doesn't belong in the big leagues, just needed to show he was healthy and make up for a late start to spring training. Seems that has been accomplished. And again, I think Johnson not playing shows more of the uselessness of Johnson than anything. Especially with Giambi back, they have a need for a pinch runner who isn't totally useless with the bat if he has to stay in the game, and it would be nice to have a non-Aviles and switch-hitter who can fill in for Kipnis.
April 22, 2014 - 4:54 PM EDT
Wow, we're quick to call for promotions and demotions around here! In the case of the LC pitching staff, let's not overlook the situation last year. M. Brown and DeJesus both struggled mightly. Sisco never found any consistency. Baker and Merritt both had tough outings especially in the 1st half before figuring it out in the 2nd half. Other than Brown being sent down due to injury, the rotation never changed and a lot was learned throughout the year.

Midwest is a tough league that takes time for these pitchers to adjust. The batters are free swingers trying to make a name and the defense isn't always that solid, as proven both this year and last year. I don't think Kime, Lugo, or Brown's performances are excusable, but it's only week 3. Let's talk promotion/demotion at the All-Star Break or start of short-season.

Really hoping each of these guys can figure it out and perform like Milbrath and Plutko have so far.
April 22, 2014 - 2:30 PM EDT

Just because there isn't a starting spot available, doesn't mean you need to retard the development of one of your better prospects by making him a utility infielder who maybe plays once or twice a week.

Disagree that Ramirez is being groomed to be a utility infielder (Donald wasn't being groomed for that either, Tribe wanted him to be a starter....just never happened).

Yes, Ramirez may be an upgrade over Johnson right now...but how much can he really do if he doesn't play? Johnson hardly plays....Ramirez would hardly play. Therefore the benefit of having him up is almost negligible currently.

Let's not forget that Johnson is essentially the backup to the backup....Mike Aviles is still the utility infielder and he's actually doing well in the role. If we didnt' have Aviles you could make a case for Ramirez on the big league club...but right now, his place is AAA. Best for him and best for the Tribe.

Big difference between Chiz and Ramirez...Chiz is a platoon starter. Ramirez really wouldn't have such a spot. "maybe" you could argue he should platoon with Chiz...but you could still make the case that Aviles is fine in that role.

IMO Ramirez is still being groomed to be a starter in the big leagues. Now will that be with Cleveland or another team...we shall see. His trade value won't go up by sitting him on the bench in the bigs....
April 22, 2014 - 1:40 PM EDT
Hermie, Ramirez isn't going to be starting in MLB anytime soon. You think he's going to take over 2b from Kipnis? Or SS from Asdrubal/Lindor? If there isn't an injury, the positions that Ramirez plays are blocked in Cleveland for the next 5 years at least. He's being groomed as the utility infielder, like Jason Donald, except hopefully actually talented. Ramirez played in Cleveland last September and was successful in his limited opportunities. Pretty sure they'd have given him a shot at the utility job if he hadn't been recovering from the injury. If he's up playing part time in Cleveland now or 2 months from now, what's the difference? Why does he need to be starting? The only way he starts in Cleveland anytime soon is if something happens to Kipnis. This argument was made about Chisenhall too. Keeping a guy in the minors who can help the big league team now in a part-time role because you want him to get consistent playing time is something you might do if you are not contending, but makes no sense if you are contending. Ramirez' speed and offensive tools are an upgrade over Johnson.
April 22, 2014 - 1:14 PM EDT
I dont' think anything he did in winter ball would have gotten him a utility job.

The Tribe IMO likes Ramirez too much to waste him as a utility guy when he's this young. He needs to be starting and he can't do that in the bigs right now, so why promote him? Sure could be a defensive replacement or pinch run....but we've already seen that Francona doesn't do that often.

Tribe also has a history of rushing prospects andnot having the best results...I'd rather give guys like Ramirez and Lindor the time they need (though the fan in me does at times want to see Lindor up now). I'd rather go the Kipnis route with Ramirez and wait til well into the summer to call him up than go the Phillips/Donald route and call him up too soon...
April 22, 2014 - 12:44 PM EDT
I guess it depends on how much development they think Ramirez needs. I'd figure if he hadn't injured himself in winter ball, he'd have been a prime candidate to take the utility job out of spring training.

Barring an injury or other unforeseen circumstance, it's not like Ramirez is going to have any near-term opportunity to play full-time in Cleveland, so one way or another he's going to need to perform without being in the lineup every day. They could use his speed and they could use a utility guy who isn't a total black hole on offense. Johnson isn't getting at bats because he doesn't bring much to the table other than being a body you throw into the field, if Ramirez were the other utility guy, they should be able to get him into games with greater frequency.
April 22, 2014 - 12:36 PM EDT
Hamrick, Kime and Lugo all had successful short season in MHV last year. There finding out as you climb the minor league ladder the harder it gets. The more learning and adjustments needed to be made in order to get the results you want. Let see where they are at by June.

April 22, 2014 - 11:24 AM EDT
As much as I think Johnson is a waste of a roster space....I'd keep him over Ramirez right now.

Ramirez just wouldn't get enough playing time, and IMO would only hurt him. I'd be pretty surprised if we saw him before June (barring an injury). Could move Cabrera or Kip to DH...but with Chiz hitting so well, just doesn't make sense. And for all Santana's struggles, still walking enough that you can't keep his presence out of the lineup.
April 22, 2014 - 11:16 AM EDT
Any concern that Lindor isn't fully recovered from the back injury? I know Francona kept saying he didn't have his "explosiveness", or something of the like in spring training, not really sure what he was referring to, bat or just how he was moving around.

About time to replace Johnson, the invisible 25th man, with Ramirez, who could hopefully be more visible. Wouldn't be a bad thing to rotate Kipnis and Asdrubal into the DH spot every now and then. Especially with Santana looking like he could use a good week off.
April 22, 2014 - 11:11 AM EDT
I understand that all the LC starters are on their first full season squad and are probably focusing on developing their secondary offerings, but still, the early results on that are weak. Kime was considered a reliever by many, so maybe that's where he will end up.
Didn't have much hope for M.Brown and Hamrick, but Lugo was one of my candidates to break out into the top5-10, so he's easily the biggest disappointment for me so far. BUT, it's still early, for all of them.

It's obvious that the focus in the upcoming draft should be SP, SP, SP. With 5 top100 picks, I expect 3 of them to be legit SP specs.
April 22, 2014 - 10:41 AM EDT
For LC pitching staff time for some demotion and promotion!!!
April 22, 2014 - 10:29 AM EDT
The incredibly hittable RH starter Dace Kime with another real stinkeroo. 4 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned. His ERA dropped to 11.25. For the season he's gone 14 1/3 innings, yielded a remarkable 29 hits. Batting avg against is .408.But there's more:
RH hitters are batting .446! against the righty; lefties a more mundane .294.
With the bases empty he retires almost no one: 27 situations with no one, he's retired 11, allowed 13 hits and walked 3

This guy was a third-rounder signed for an underslot $525,000. That makes him one heck of a better bargain than the recently retired 20-year-old Dillon Howard who received a bonus of $1.85M.
April 22, 2014 - 9:38 AM EDT
Still believe Ramirez is a prime trade candidate. 2B is obviously blocked and Lindor still is the SS of the future. Still plenty of ways to get Ramirez into the lineup but would not be surprised to hear some Samardzija rumors this summer that contain Jose Ramirez's name too...
April 22, 2014 - 9:31 AM EDT
"Of course we would need a team who was in need of a shortstop to give us something for Cabrera."

Or in need of a 2B.... ;)
April 22, 2014 - 9:21 AM EDT
It looks like that Ramirez and Aguilar are just about ready to make some sort of impact with the Indians sometime this summer. They could be the ones that help the Indians down the stretch to reach to October baseball.

Tonight is interesting pitching outings for Cleveland and Columbus. Salazar and Bauer scheduled to pitch tonight.
April 22, 2014 - 8:33 AM EDT
Carolina, as a team, now has a 2.62 ERA and an incredible 1.02 WHIP. Some of the lower ranked prospects are surprising and deserve a mid-season promotion if they keep this up.

On the other hand, Lake County is filled with disappointing higher ranked specs: Kime, Lugo, M.Brown, Hamrick, Paulino.

Jose Ramirez is incredible. He is crushing LHP and could start 2-3 times a week for the Indians at 2B and SS without losing any defense, but as long as ACab and Aviles are both healthy and on the Indians roster, keeping him in Columbus is the smart thing to do. It'll be Lindor/JRam for ACab/Aviles from 2015 on in Cleveland, maybe even late this season, if they can't contend.

If Aguilar continues to rake into and through May and Giambi keeps producing outs, then I expect a swap at DH.

Can't say enough good things about Roberto Perez. He had a hit in every game this season. He is the perfect ML backup C and the kind of overachiever you root for to make it.

April 22, 2014 - 8:33 AM EDT
Thanks Troy for the trip down memory lane . Brought back old memories.
April 22, 2014 - 7:35 AM EDT
Don't think the Indians EVER developed a high profile SS/2B combo in franchise history in the last 50 yrs that i can recall in Lindor and JRam. I remember Hank Peters thought he had a couple blue chippers in the late 60's in the system whom arrived together in 1970 (Jack Heidemann and Eddie Leon). Personally, I would let both chill in the minors this year to finish off there rough edges which Peters failed to do with the 20 year old Heidemann. Bring both up together next year as the Tigers did yrs ago with Trammel and Whitaker. I would move Kipnis to either LF or thirdbase.
April 22, 2014 - 3:36 AM EDT
love Ramirez. Glad to see him get hot. I think he could play shortstop and help the Indians this year. Of course we would need a team who was in need of a shortstop to give us something for Cabrera. As you said Jesus needs to pick up his production on the road. I think that Matt La Porta has a year with similar home and away splits a few years ago.
April 22, 2014 - 2:13 AM EDT
2 HR wow, Jose is a gamebreaker! 21 years old until September, his production is damn impressive. Is he getting any national love? How does he compare now and future to Altuve?

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