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Around the Farm: April 30, 2012

Around the Farm: April 30, 2012
May 1, 2012
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Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday's performances by Indians prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday's game.
ATF is abbreviated today because Lake County was postponed, and Carolina was suspended, and will be completed tomorrow as a de facto doubleheader. Tune in to tomorrow’s ATF for complete Carolina stats from both games, as well as a full slate of minor league games (hopefully).
Matt LaPorta: LF, Columbus: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI:
There comes a point when this is just ridiculous to even talk about, but I just can’t help myself. LaPorta is more than raking at this point. Tonight, the righty left fielder hit two home runs, and now has eight long balls on the year. His first home run of the night came in the bottom of the second inning with the Clippers down 1-0. LaPorta took former major league starter, Brandon Duckworth, deep into the Bleachers on the first pitch of the inning to tie the game at 1. He followed that up in the third inning with the game tied at 3-all by again taking the first pitch of the inning just over the left field wall. LaPorta has four homers in his last six games, and has multiple hit games in six of his last eight. Overall, LaPorta is now hitting .380 overall, with eight homers and 17 RBI. He’s hitting .400 vs. righties, and .353 against lefties, and has become much more selective at the plate over the last ten games, walking six times vs. eight strikeouts. His last ten game line is .447/.523/.868. He’s currently fourth in the league in batting average, fifth in the league in runs, second in the league in hits, third in the league in homers (yeah, Brad Eldred has 13), sixth in the league in OBP, second in slugging and OPS. So, to say that he’s figured out Triple-A is the understatement of the century. At this point of his career, there’s only one thing left for him to do, and that’s not hit home runs for Columbus. Am I a believer yet? No, but at this point, there’s really not much else for LaPorta to do. Bring him up, and let him seal his fate. The worst thing that could happen is he once again proves to be Andy Marte’s strange, younger brother.
  • Beau Mills: DH, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K: Mills seems to be competing a bit with Russ Canzler and LaPorta in an interesting Triple A battle of past top prospects and corner position players. Mills has a four-game hit streak in which he has gone 6-for-15, with four runs, two doubles, two homers and six RBI. He’s hit home runs in back-to-back games.  Overall, Mills is hitting .297 on the season, and is following his big 2011 season with what appears to be the start of another big season.
  • Russ Canzler: 1B, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 K: Canzler is hitting .289 on the season, and now has a four-game hit streak in which he’s gone 8-for-15 overall. Remember, this kid was the International League MVP last season, so keep a watch. It will be interesting to see how Mills, LaPorta and Mills continue to perform during this very informal competition.
  • Frank Herrman: RP, Columbus: L (1-1), 1 1/3, 6 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K: Herrmann can’t be high on the totem pole for a call-up, as his numbers with Columbus have been terrible. In two of his last four appearances, his given up five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. There are other, much better relievers on the Clippers’ staff.
  • Chun-Hsiu Chen: DH, Akron: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 K: Chen is hitting over .300 for the first time this season, and has been hitting the ball well over the past ten days. He has five multiple-hit games over his past ten, and has back-to-back two hit games, in which he’s gone 4-for-6.
  • Ryan Rohlinger: 2B, Akron: 3-for-4, 1 RBI: Rohlinger is just minor league depth at this point, but he does provide a veteran bat. He’s not hit much this year, but does have a modest four game hit streak. Prior to that, he was 1-for-his-last-26.
  • Thomas Neal: RF Akron: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB: Neal broke out of a mini 1-for-10 slump with a couple of hits tonight. Still, it’s hard to see this kid as a top prospect in any organization at this point. It’s early yet though, so give it time, but he’ll have to do better than .278, with two RBI.
  • Steven Wright: SP, Akron: 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K: Wright’s 1.45 ERA leads the Aeros, as he came out tonight and once again pitched a nice game with the new knuckleball of his. He had three walks, but you’ll have that with the floater.
  • Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: W (2-0), 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 4 K: This wasn’t a perfect appearance, and represented the third straight run he’s given up in three straight appearances. He’s scuffling a bit right now, and has begun to be left a bit behind in the bullpen-arms-race.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at

User Comments

May 1, 2012 - 3:27 PM EDT
Interestingly, all of the defensive metrics have Kotchman as negative this year. Which probably says more about the worth of defensive metrics. However, I can pretty much guarantee the number of runs saved does not equal the runs he's cost on the offensive side, especially when Acta does things like have Hannahan bunt in front of him. He's managed a -0.6 WAR in 17 games, which is impressive. It took Laporta almost 107 games to match that anti-production. Agree Laporta could be used in the outfield. If they hadn't signed Damon, he'd probably be up. They can't really sub Laporta for Cunningham though, since they'd have no one to sub for Brantley, except Choo on a very temp basis. I would think Lopez will be the odd man out for Damon, so I can see why they wouldn't call up Laporta, who would be largely redundant to Duncan. I'm actually sure injuries, or Kotchman continuing to hit .150, will clear things up soon, but it's fun to ponder the wonders of a knee-jerk Matt Laporta promotion, and a Kotchman-free lineup
May 1, 2012 - 1:47 PM EDT
...especially taking into account their staff...and it's propensity to force ground balls. I'd love to see an analysis of his fielding (Kotchman) in that metric sense thusfar...and how many runs it's saved for each starter...with regards to ground balls and off-center throws...

Personally, I wouldn't be looking at LaPorta as an infielder at this point anyways. I think I'd be more inclined to put him in left with Damon, cut Lopez, and use Duncan in the Lopez role.

Kotchman's a hole on offense, but I think if you platooned him (hate platoons, but it is what it is), he would be more effective.

The problem with Damon and LaPorta is that LaPorta is as left-handed as you can get as a right-hander...IE...he actually hits righties better historically (and this year)...oh...and the fact that I don't believe for a second that he's going to be an effective major leaguer for the long term...
May 1, 2012 - 1:30 PM EDT
A thing to keep in mind about LaPorta-Kotchman is the Indians know that there really was no difference between how the two would perform for the lineup. They would have different means of getting there (LaPorta more power, Kotchman more contact), but in the end both would probably net the same results offensively at first base, or close to it. The reason Kotchman was signed though was mostly for the defense, but something a lot of people are forgetting is how awful LaPorta was defensively last year. So even with LaPorta bombing away in Columbus and Kotchman bombing in Cleveland, there is still a distinct difference in the defense at first base. It is that defensive difference alone which they wanted to sign Kotchman (or Carlos Pena) and use the time they have to send LaPorta to the minors to get things right. Their last shot to do so since this is his final option year. Knowing that, I don't foresee them rushing to get LaPorta up here unless an injury occurs or they are absolutely certain he has turned a corner.
May 1, 2012 - 1:18 PM EDT
Curious how long they stay with Kotchman if he doesn't start hitting. I can't really blame them for grabbing Kotchman on his contract, but his struggles aren't exactly shocking either. And as we've seen in 2010, it's very possible he hits like this the whole year, in which case even the MLB version of Laporta is a signficant upgrade ... I still have some small hope for Matt. I thought he was never the same from the hip thing, and they rushed him back and he got into bad habits. His struggles last year seemed more mental and mechanical than anything. He was perfectly capable of putting up solid at bats against good MLB pitchers, it would just happen about once every 2 games. Further removed from the injury, with renewed confidence and determination, who knows, maybe it will click. Worst case, he's still as good with the bat as Kotchman. It would be nice to give Mills an everyday opportunity in AAA as well.
May 1, 2012 - 8:37 AM EDT
Gee, maybe we should just rename the ATF to "Around Matt LaPorta". Or better yet, have him sponsor it, "Around the Farm....brought to you by Matt LaPorta". Talk about a guy that is locked in right now. He is making it very difficult on the organization (a good thing) right now because at some point they are going to have to make a decision on him if he keeps this up another two weeks into May.

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