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Around the Farm: August 18, 2012

Around the Farm: August 18, 2012
August 19, 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.

Matt Lawson: 2B, Akron Aeros: 2-for-3, 1 2B:

So, whadya say about a 26-year-old that’s hitting .358 in his 45 games with the Aeros? Well, you probably say, what the heck is he doing in Double A. If you dive in deeper, you see that Lawson is just killing the baseball right now. This two hit game, which consisted of 50% of the Aeros hits on the day, was Lawson’s fifth in a row. During that stretch, Lawson is 11-for-20, with three runs, three doubles, four RBI, two walks, and without a K. His slash line is .550/.571/.588, and you just have to be impressed with what this kid is doing. Lawson was drafted by the Rangers, and included in a deal to Seattle for Cliff Lee. No, he isn’t taking over for Kipnis any time soon, but what a hot streak this kid is on right now. Just to put this season into perspective though, Lawson has never hit above .300 in a season, so this is way above the norm for Lawson. So above the norm, that he should be looked at for a quick promotion to Columbus to see if he can carry it on at a higher level. Why? So they can bump up the infield duo in Carolina, Tony Wolters and Ronny Rodriguez, so they can get an early jump on Double A, and taste some playoff baseball. But that’s for another ATF.

Elvis Araujo: SP, Lake County Captains: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R/1ER, 8 K:

Araujo has outstanding ability, but has been downright horrible for the better part of two months. From June 9th through August 12th, Araujo had the league’s worst ERA, to the tune of 7.69 over 12 starts. He did manage to showoff why wins don’t mean a thing by going 4-5 during that stretch. He gave up 64 hits in 52 2/3 innings, and gave up 52 runs (45 earned) and 33 walks, while striking out only 37. But, you don’t make the top of ATF for the bad. Araujo does have middle-to-top of the rotation stuff, if he can manage to find the consistency and stamina after essentially missing two seasons of baseball. He’s still young, just turning 21 this season, and still has games in which he dominates, as he did this game. So, is he a starter, or, perhaps a dominating, back-end-of-the-bullpen sort? Your guess is as good as mine.

Dillon Howard: SP, AZL Indians: W (1-6), 5 IP, 8 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 3 K:

Howard is finally pitching like a #2 pick, which should lend some credence to the rumors that Howard came into the 2012 season out of shape. It's likely that Howard has worked himself back into shape, and is finally starting to click on all cylinders. Chalk it up as a lesson learned going forward. Over his past two starts, he's gone 11 innings, giving up 12 hits and three earned runs, with five walks and five strikeouts. He's not exactly dominating, but he is pitching, and drawing a bevy of groundballs. In Saturday's ballgame, he gave up six groundballs vs. only one walk. Howard is becoming interesting, on a staff that is loaded with guns.

Felix Sterling: RP, AZL Indians: S (2), 4 IP, 3 BB, 6 K:

Speaking of gaining back your mojo, Felix Sterling is officially back, and probably better than ever. In his past four appearances since getting demoted, he's gone 15 innings, with nine hits, six runs (two earned), five walks and 23 strikeouts. I'm really starting to like this kid's resilience, as the 19-year-old shows no ill-effects of his struggles in Lake County. Boy, there sure are some arms on this team.

  • Tim Fedroff: CF, Columbus: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K: Fedroff has been mired in something something he’s really not familiar with…a slump. From August 3 through August 15th, Fedroff went 7-for-46, and for the first time this season, looked average. On Saturday, he hit homer #8 for Columbus, and along with his three homers in Akron, gives him 11 on the season. That’s six more than his previous season high. Perhaps Fedroff is trying to make himself more corner outfield ready.
  • Cord Phelps: 2B, Columbus: 0-for-4: Phelps has been torrid of late, and had three homers in as many games. That streak ended today.
  • Gregorio Petit: SS, Columbus: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 K: It’s hard to believe, but Gregorio Petit is not only one of the hottest hitters for the Clippers, but in the entire International League. No, he’s not a major league prospect, but he has been filling quite nicely. Since July third, the only Clipper hitting more than Petit is Zeke Carrera, and you know where he is. During that stretch, Petit is third in the IL in hitting at .344.
  • Eric Berger: SP, Columbus: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R/ER, 2 K, 1 HR: Berger through up one of his good outings, as the rubber band man continues to bounce between starting and relieving. Berger is a minor league glue guy, the type of pitcher that does everything you need in the system, and forgets the rough outings. He dominated today, but didn’t get enough offense.
  • Brett Brach: SP, Akron: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K: In three starts and four appearances from July 3 through August 5th, Brach was terrible, toting a 9.69 ERA, and giving up 25 hits and nine walks, while striking out only seven. In his last two outings, Brach has been much better, going 12 1/3, giving up 10 hits, three runs and two walks, while striking out nine.
  • Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K: This was a nice outing for Bryson, with the exception to the fact that he walked another couple of hitters, bringing his total to 40 on the year…in 55 2/3 innings. He has struck out 70 though, so there’s that.
  • Akron offense: 4-for-28, 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 DP, 9 K: Other than Lawson, this offense did absolutely nothing. Thomas Neal did get one of those hits, leading the MILLIONS…and MILLIONS of Neal fans to rejoice and shout to the skys, PROMOTE THEE TO COLUMBUS! Okay, that’s hyperbole, but what can you do. Neal’s having a great year.
  • Ronny Rodriguez: SS, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K: Rodriguez hit his 18th double, and had two of Carolina’s five hits. It will be interesting to see if Rodriguez gets a look at Double A Akron before the season ends. The Indians have Davis Stoneburner playing short in Akron, so it’s not like he has a major roadblock there with Juan Diaz promoted. Is it the right move? I’m on the fence, but it would be a move they’ve made in the past with promising players. Think of Jason Kipnis a couple of seasons ago to Columbus.
  • Delvi Cid: CF, Carolina: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K: Cid’s average is up to .292, and he’s really hitting the ball well. Since July 22nd, Cid’s hitting .329 in 21 games, and even has two home runs, and of course, nine stolen bases. He’s only walked three times during the stretch though, with 22 K’s, so let’s be realistic. The approach at the plate is very limited.
  • Kyle Blair: RP, Carolina: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R/3 ER, 3 K, 1 HR: The trials and tribulations of Kyle Blair continue. His season is more than a wash, and more than a bust. I have to imagine that the Indians are going to be evaluating whether or not Blair is a viable prospect. Right now, he just doesn’t look like one.
  • Jordan Cooper: RP, Carolina: 1 IP, 1 H: Cooper had made three straight starts, but is back in the pen, and for only an inning after getting blitzed by Fredonia on August 15th. Clearly, they wanted Cooper to get more work than the 2 2/3 innings, so it will be interesting to see when he makes his next appearance, and in what role.
  • Antwonie Hubbard: RP, Carolina: 1 IP: Hubbard made his first appearance with the Mudcats, after a solid season in Lake County, in which he went 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA. Nice start to Double A for the 24-year old. He’s still behind with regards to age, but could make a quick catch-up if he continues to pitch well.
  • Jordan Smith: RF, Lake County: 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB: Smith continues to roll out these multi-hit games, and he has some sneaky speed. How sneaky? Smith stole his eighth base, and has seven triples, which is one more than his six homers. At 6’4” and 205 pounds, you have to believe that his gap power may just develop into something more. If Smith ever becomes a 20-homer threat, he immediately becomes a factor for the Tribe going forward…and let’s face it…he is already.
  • Luigi Rodriguez: CF, Lake County: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 SB, 1 CS: Rodriguez clearly had stealing bases on the mind tonight, as he showcased both his blazing speed, and got caught once, just to let everyone know he’s still learning.
  • Cody Penny: RP, Lake County: W (2-0), 2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 3 K: Penny gave up an earned run in his first start, but has really been lights out from the start. He’s only made three appearances, but has struck out five, without a walk in 4 2/3 innings.
  • Enosil Tejeda: Closer, Lake County: S (5), 1 IP: Tejeda has four saves in the past six appearances, and hasn’t given up a run of any sort since his first game. In his last ten, he’s 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, with the four saves in 13 2/3 innings. He’s given up seven hits and three walks, while striking out 12.
  • Aaron Siliga: CF, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1K: Siliga rolled out his second straight two-hit game, and has his third in five games altogether.
  • Joe Wendle: 2B, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI: YAWN…another two-hits for Mr. Wendle, and this is just getting boring to talk about. It’s a great start for Wendle, but his career doesn’t really start until next year. I suspect that he has a chance to roll right up to Carolina, and join a slew of studs for the Mudcats, because of his age.
  • Joe Sever: DH, Mahoning Valley: 3-for-4, 1 K: Like Wendle, Sever is an advanced bat and at an advanced age at short season Mahoning. His real test will start next season, whether in Lake County or Carolina…or perhaps both.
  • Luis DeJesus: SP, Mahoning Valley: 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR: You know you are having a good season when a start like this raises his average a tenth of a run. His ERA is currently at 2.04, which is the first time the lanky righty passed the north side of two. He has given up six runs over the past two games.
  • Tyler Booth: CF, AZL Indians: 2-for-5, 2 K, 2 SB: Booth continued his torrid hitting of late, hitting in his ninth straight ballgame, including five multi-hit ballgames. Since August 8th, Booth is 15-for-34, and has really found his stroke. He's second in the league in hitting during that stretch, which is no laughing matter. He's the only player for the Indians to have multiple hits on Saturday.
  • Jorge Martinez: 3B, AZL Indians: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB: Well, Martinez has been slumping lately, and is likely the only player in the system that can be considered slumping with a .337 average.

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 jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

Tony
August 19, 2012 - 4:35 PM EDT
Great to see Lawson doing well, but as I went into deeper discussion about in Minor Happenings this week, he's just not a Major League option right now. He definitely deserves a callup to Triple-A, but in the minors it is always about not just how you are doing, but what is above you, and right now until Cord Phelps vacates 2B at Columbus, he is staying in Akron. Phelps is a higher priority prospect, on the 40-man roster, and just a better player. That said, I hope Lawson keeps performing. It's what he needs to do to get that chance and be able to continue his career. His upside is very limited defensively and offensively since he lacks power, but if he can continue to consistently hit, he could find himself as a possible option at Triple-A next season.
Jim
August 19, 2012 - 9:30 AM EDT
Hey Happy...I hear you...and I've heard you in all your different incarnations here on the site...and I don't disagree, and don't have to dig deeper to find that out. That information is readily available to anyone in the system, or that covers the system.

With that said, your description of him can cover a TON of players in every system, and about 10-20 guys a year in every system that have incredible stretches of ballgames like Lawson. I'm not trying to diminish what you are saying every day about Lawson, nor am I trying to diminish his numbers...we've all been saying it too...but he's not the ONLY guy that works hard...that "earns his position" everywhere he goes. I can list for you several in this system that likely fit into the same category of which you speak, and can find folks that believe...like you do...that THAT player should be somewhere else.

Is he a better prospect than Cord Phelps? Some will say yes, I'm sure, but at the end of the day, I don't think there's that much variance in their overall talent level. Phelps is as hard a worker as you come...is described by everyone I've ever talked to that he's a winner...so why bump Phelps for a guy that everyone describes the same way you just described, has a bit more power...is younger, and can probably play more positions in the bigs (albeit not a plus defender)?

Like Lawson, but don't buy that this 45-game stretch makes him better than a guy like Phelps...although they really are similar players in many ways...

Shadow...I said that he hasn't ever hit .300 in my piece...but will this season...his sixth...
happy
August 19, 2012 - 9:02 AM EDT
Jim,
Dig deeper on Lawson, if you do your homework and contact all the high school, college, texas ranger, seattle coaches you will find out he is one of the hardest workers out there. He is an overachiever, an excellent team player, and most important a winner, You will also findout that at every level he has moved up to, or team he has moved to, he has "earned" the second base position. The only reason he is not the second baseman for the three A club is because he hasn't had the shot at it yet. Don't believe me ask his prior coaches.
Shadow
August 19, 2012 - 8:54 AM EDT
Nice article on Lawson. I would point out that though he had never hit an actual .300 he is a career .290 hitter in 6 seasons of minor league ball.

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