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Around the Farm: August 5, 2012

Around the Farm: August 5, 2012
August 6, 2012
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Around the Farm was originated here at Indians Prospect Insider, and 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.

Roberto Hernandez: SP, Lake County Captains: L (1-1), 7 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R/ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 4 HR:

Talk about your mixed bag with Hernandez, but I’m not sure it’s on the good side at all. So, he went into the eighth inning, and that’s good. He struck out nine, with only one walk, and you have to believe that’s a good sign, especially considering his wild past. He only gave up six hits, and that’s not too bad. Here’s the thing, all four runs that he gave up were solo home runs. That’s definitively not a good thing. So, where are we at with Hernandez? Well, one more minor league start…at least.

T.J. McFarland: SP, Columbus Clippers: W (5-5), 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K:

The big lefty has been all over the place this season in Columbus, and today he was in the place in the scenario that is a good thing. He had given up at least four runs in four of the last five ball games (23 total), so this was a welcome change. It’s really hard to figure McFarland out. He’s built like a guy that should be able to steamroll hitters, but he doesn’t. He can bring some heat sometimes, but he lives in the low 90’s or slower, and the higher he’s gotten in the system, the more he’s struggled with hitters.  Then, he puts together a game like this. So, who is this guy? Is he a middle of the rotation, innings eater, or is he just another inconsistent starter that the Indians are so good at drafting and developing? Your guess is as good as mine.

Tony Wolters: SS, Carolina Mudcats: 3-for-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI:

Wolters has a four game hit streak, and over his last two ballgames, he’s 5-for-9. Wolters has had an interesting year that’s had its well-documented ups and downs. Here’s the thing. Those are the exact types of scenarios that showcase just how good a player can be going forward. Wolters isn’t a guy that’s going to hit 30 homers, and he’s not a kid who’s going to hit .350. He’s just the hardest working player on every team that he plays on, and has one of the best attitudes of any player in the system. What will be interesting is where he ultimately plays, because there are better prospects or players at his position. Of course, you can never have too many options.

  • Cord Phelps: 2B, Columbus: 2-for-3, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 BB: Phelps is playing some of his best baseball of the season. He’s the only player with multiple hits for Columbus, and now has a four game hit streak. He has hits in eight of the last ten games, and is hitting .333 during that stretch.
  • Columbus Offense: 5-for-33, 1 R, two doubles, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K’s: Their offense was putrid, but it got the job done. The one run was enough for T.J. McFarland and the Clippers staff.
  • Frank Herrmann: Closer, Columbus: S (7), 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K: Since Herrmann has moved into the closer role, he’s really been light’s out, minus one run, over the last 7 1/3 innings.
  • Chun-Hsiu Chen: DH, Akron: 3-for-4, 1 R: Chen has been out for nearly a month thanks to a thumb injury, but he hasn’t seemed worse-for-wear, going 5-for-12 since his return, with two runs, a double and an RBI.
  • Thomas Neal: RF/LF, Akron: 0-for-3, 1 R: Neal saw his four-game multi-hit streak end, but I had to mention him in this piece because he’s just exploded over the past couple of months. He’s now third in the league in hitting at .321, and sixth in the league in runs. This kid needs a shot. How about letting his play dictate where he is, and not the Tribe pencil pushers…
  • Nick Weglarz: LF, Akron: 2-for-2, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB: Weglarz rolled out two doubles in this game, then had another in game two, which was suspended. It’ll be finished next week, so that’s when we’ll talk about it here. Hopefully Weglarz can finish with a flourish.
  • Danny Salazar: SP, Akron: 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR: Salazar made his first start at the Double A level, and got touched up pretty good. He made 76 pitches though, so it appears as though he’s a few starts away from being able to pitch without a limited count.
  • Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: L (4-2), 1 1/3, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR: This is the dichotomy of Bryson. He’s been dominant in his previous three starts, looking like a plus arm, than he got lit up, as he always does after a few appearances, proving that the only thing consistent about his pitching is his inconsistency.
  • Carlos Moncrief: CF, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K: He has a six-game hit streak now, but is only hitting .216 over his last ten because all those games were one-hit affairs, except for Sunday.
  • Alex Monsalve: C, Carolina: 2-for-3, 1 R: Monsalve has slowly started to figure things out in the Carolina League. Over his last ten ballgames, he’s hitting .303, but only has one extra base hit…a double.  Cleveland isn’t hoping Monsalve is a slap-hitting catcher, so that power will have to start showing itself as he moves through the system.
  • Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Carolina: 1-for-5, 1 RBI: The big first baseman has been struggling of late, but his lone hit happened to be the game-winner on Sunday afternoon.
  • Jose Ramirez: 2B, Lake County: 2-for-4, 1 K: Ramirez has a six-game hit streak with four multi-hit games during that stretch, and six in his last ten games. His ten game line is .442/.467/.535, and he has his season average up to .347.
  • Jordan Smith: RF, Lake County: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI: This wasn’t Smith’s best game of his career by any stretch, but he hit his sixth home run, which is definitely something to take a notice of. If Smith adds power to his game, this kid becomes something special.
  • Jerrud Sabourin: 1B, Lake County: 2-for-4: While I’m not going to say it out loud, those of you that follow my ATF’s know exactly what I’m thinking of with regards to Sabourin. This is his third straight two-hit game, and his fourth in five games. He has six multi-hit games in his last eight.
  • Leonardo Castillo: DH, Lake County: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 3B: Castillo is only hitting .207 on the season, but is hitting .297 over his last ten.
  • Joseph Wendle: 2B, Mahoning Valley: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI: Mr. Wendle continues to rack things up in the New York/Penn league. He hit his third homer, and upped his average to .326 on the season.
  • Joe Sever: 3B, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 2 K: Sever has his average over .300 with his two-hit game, and is a bit of a surprise with the stick this year.
  • Robel Garcia: SS, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-3, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 PO: Garcia continues to rejuvenate his career with his second straight two-hit game. He has four in his last ten games, and is hitting .345 during that stretch.
  • Eric Haase: C, AZL Indians: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B: Haase had two hits, and the Indians had four hits. I’m not sure what’s more amazing, the fact that Haase had half the total team hits, or the fact that in this league, there were only three total runs in a game.
  • Dillon Howard: SP, AZL Indians: L (0-6): 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 6 K: What is this? Did Dillon Howard just roll out a good start?  It sure looks like it from this perspective. At the very least, Howard had his control, but was still hittable. Perhaps it’s a step in the right direction though.
  • Anderson Polanco: RP, AZL Indians: 2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 K: Polanco was absolutely dominant in perhaps his best outing in 2012.

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

August 7, 2012 - 9:41 AM EDT
Thanks Tony. I do appreciate your forthrightness and straighttalk when it comes to these issues. Keep up the good work.
August 6, 2012 - 4:38 PM EDT
Seth, while the Indians picked up Neal and had to like something about him, the level to which they liked him or truly valued him are hard to determine in such a low profile trade. Remember, this was a trade for Orlando Cabrera, which means the pickings were slim. It is quite possible the Indians went through 15-20 other names before settling on Neal.

Also, teams do not know about all the health issues a minor leaguer has. It is why sometimes the Indians get on me when I publish infirmary reports on the players and why sometimes they are so vague when they provide the info to me. They know other teams read this site, and they know that in turn it can drop the value of a player. Teams will do their due diligence by having a player complete a physical when they acquire the player, but before they acquire them they never truly know their health except for any already on-file health records they may ask for.

Now as to why Neal is in Double-A still is beyond me....although in all honesty it isn't that much of an issue. Triple-A is just a higher level, but I think in a lot ways the line between Double-A and Triple-A is blended in and there is not much difference between being in one of the other. Triple-A just has more minor league veterans. It's the only real difference.

Shadow, I never said stats don't matter, I just said they are not the be-all-end-all and that there were more important measures. You obviously always want the player to perform as in most cases it helps back up the thoughts of the potential a player has to translate and handle a higher level. But it always comes back to the tools and abilities of a player that ultimately determine how much they are valued. There are a lot of players that put up good Double-A and Triple-A numbers, but because of their skill set and tools, it does not translate well to the big leagues and they struggle. Teams know this model, and while it is not always right and some players prove it wrong, it unfortunately for some players like Lawson is why they never really get a fair shake. The bottom line when it comes to the minors is a player has to do something to standout because there are so many players, and of those 20 or so that stand out, maybe 5-7 get an opportunity eventually. It is impossible to give every player an opportunity, which is why teams prioritize their players.
August 6, 2012 - 4:06 PM EDT
But those same scouts must have liked someone like Neal enough to bother acquiring him. That's why it doesn't make sense. I could understand if it was a guy who'd always been in their system who wasn't ever viewed as much of a prospect, like Gallas. With Neal, they went out and acquired him and actually added him to the 40-man roster just last year. And now they have him stashed in AA behind a couple non-entities in Columbus, despite that fact that he's doing as well as could be expected performance-wise.

I don't think not trading Perez was a mistake. They can trade him next July if they need to. The injuries to CC Lee, Stowell and Sturdevant thinned the Indians internal bullpen options considerably. You trade Perez, and next year's bullpen could be very frightening.
August 6, 2012 - 3:21 PM EDT
Everyone needs to remember that I was told by Tony a month ago that numbers guys put up at the minor league level don't mean a thing when it comes to who gets promoted or not. It is what the scouts project they can do. Obviously, it is the scouts who are giving the wrong information to the front office because they aren't evaluating very well...since numbers don't make a difference!!! Maybe the Indians need to clean out their scouting people and get new ones instead of a new GM.
August 6, 2012 - 2:19 PM EDT
I will continue to point out Matt Lawson. Has everyone forgotten that he was traded for Cliff Lee and then Cleveland traded Aaron Laffey (who is still pitching in the majors) straight up for him from Seattle. In 3 AA seasons he has a .374OBP/ .437 Slugging% and is hitting .296. He has had some injury problems but he deserves a chance at least at AAA. He has just been buried and forgotten. He is as blue collar as they come if that is what the Indians are looking for.
CA & MS suck ballzzz
August 6, 2012 - 12:16 PM EDT
Please don't use logic when discussing Indians front office decisions. Just know that they are smarter than you and I. I'm so excited about the future of this organization and you should be too. Within 4-5 years they will be a .500 team, which will lead ti a 6 month window to trade 3 or 4 top prospects for an erratic 1 year wonder starting pitcher and then back it up with a few minor league free agents to push them over the top. Can't wait!!!
August 6, 2012 - 12:02 PM EDT
Antonetti makes 90% poor decisions. Some GM's get their head up their butt occasionally , Antonetti seems to have been born that way. 2 weeks ago he could have gotten Tommy Joseph or Hector Sanchez( 2 future all-star catchers) , Heath Hembree(98mph) and Gary Brown- their top RH outfield prospect for Chris Perez. Now he gets nothing and Perez will be gone anyway next year. Meanwhile the trade he DOES make- Steven Wright won his 10th game last nite in a stellar debut for the Portland Red Sox affiliate and Lars Anderson goes 0for7 w 4 punchouts in Columbus. The litany list of poor decisions is way too long for me. I can't take it any more.
August 6, 2012 - 11:41 AM EDT
Here's what I don't get about the Indians' decision making. They liked Neal enough to ask for him when they traded Cabrera last year. He had health issues, which they knew about. He gets healthy this year, performs as good as you could possibly hope, is a right handed outfielder, something they could really use even if it's as a 4th outfielder ... but they have soured on him and won't even promote him to AAA. Why? Because Aaron Cunningham and Rottino are in the way? The same Aaron Cunningham, who did less in 4 months in Cleveland with the bat than Carrera's done in 3 days?

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