Around the Farm: July 15, 2012
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.
Giovanni Soto: SP, Akron Aeros: W (6-6), 9 IP, NO HITTER, 1 R/0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K:
Soto has been one of my favorite and frustrating pitchers since the Indians acquired him in the Jhonny Peralta (thanks to the comment crew for the fix!) trade in 2010. When you watch Soto pitch in the bullpen, nothing screams ace as you watch him toss. He rarely touches 90 MPH, and his delivery looks odd, to say the least. Still, there’s something to the kid’s make-up that has always made his pitching the sum of a bunch of parts, as opposed to dependant on velocity. When he’s on, he’s deceptively hard to hit, as he proved during Sunday’s no-hitter. He’s fearless, and has the moxie of a ten-year veteran, as opposed to a 21-year-old minor leaguer, and he’s fearless with his pitches. When he’s hitting spots, he wins. When he doesn’t, and leaves his low-velocity pitches up, he gets beat-up, but he never seems to get down on himself. His ERA has never ended above 3.13 in a season, and while his ERA is 3.73 (4.09 prior to Sunday’s game), he’s a guy that could be ready to take off. There are rumblings that the Indians intend on moving the lefthander into the bullpen because of his similarities to Rafael Perez, but today’s start will likely give them pause. We’ll see, going forward, but at the very least, the Indians have an intriguing prospect either as a starter, or a reliever.
Carlos Moncrief: CF, Carolina Mudcats: 3-for-5, 2 R, 1 HR, Grand Slam, 1 K:
The enigma that is Carlos Moncrief continues to throw out games that just make you shake your head. When you think of the team lead in home runs, I’m sure the first guy you’d think of is Jesus Aguilar, but you’d be wrong. Moncrief’s 12th homer came on Sunday, tying him for the team lead with Jeremie Tice. His 44 RBI is second to Tice and Aguilar, and his .466 slugging is fourth on the team behind Tice, Aguilar and Greenwell, who’s only played in 20 ballgames. He’s also the first tribe-hand with 100 strikeouts, and while that can translate to a freakish .809 OPS in High-A, I can safely tell you that better pitching in Double A and Triple A will make him pay. Of course, Moncrief has more tools than perhaps anyone in the system not named Lindor, he’s just so raw. But when he throws out a game like this, it really makes you wonder if there won’t come a day in which it all clicks. If it does, the sky is the limit for this kid. Keep an eye on him, there’s more to this kid than meets the eye.
Luigi Rodriguez: CF, Lake County Captains: 4-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 CS:
Luigi Rodriguez can certainly fill out a stat box when he wants to, and tonight was one of those nights. Rodriguez came a triple away from the cycle, and belted his seventh homer of the season, which is four more than he’s ever hit before. Of course, he’s played 80 games so far this year, which is 17 more than his longest professional season. What’s scary is that if you’ve followed Rodriguez at all this season, you can distinctly sense some lulls in his game as his body likely is going through some stamina issues as his season continues to lengthen. Thing is, he keeps rebounding with freakish games like this. While Rodriguez isn’t as toolsy as Moncrief yet, he’s getting there, but does share the same free-swinging penchant, as he has 93 K’s on the season, against only 36 walks. Still, this high upside, top ten prospect will only get better as the approach improves, and it will improve.
- Jason Donald: SS, Columbus: 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 K: Donald followed up Saturday’s two-hit performance with another one, only this one came from the more familiar position of shortstop. He’s 4-for-8 over the past two games, with three runs and a double.
- Vinny Rottino: 1B, Columbus: 2-for-3, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB: Rottino continues to smoke the ball for the Clippers in his quest to get back to the majors, and now has a five game hit streak and is hitting a solid .315 this season in the IL.
- Matt LaPorta: DH, Columbus: 0-for-4, 1 K: LaPorta has been in a bit of a free-fall over the past week, as over the past six games he’s gone 2-for-24, with a double and an RBI. He’s walked once, and struck out eight times.
- Russ Canzler: 3B, Columbus: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI: Canzler is 11-or-37 over his past ten ballgames, with nine runs, five doubles, four homers and 10 RBI. He’s walked six times, while striking out only five times. Canzler and Rottino are having an interesting battle for potentially the next shot at the bigs. Both are quality Triple A bats.
- T.J. McFarland: SP, Columbus: L (3-3), 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R/ER, 3 K: McFarland seems to be struggling a bit as the year progresses into the summer months. This is the same trend that he followed in the 2010 season in Carolina and Akron. I’m not saying he’s following that path, but he’ll have to maintain his dominance for more than a half a season to be taken seriously as a prospect next season.
- Matt Langwell: RP, Columbus: 1 2/3 IP, 3 K: It doesn’t get any better than this for Langwell, who continues to vie for an early bullpen slot by simply pitching well. He’s not explosive, and not considered elite, but you have to take into account the fact that he’s been near-dominant at every level. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue at the next level.
- Eric Berger: RP, Columbus: 1 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 3 K: Berger continues to be one of my favorite minor league pitchers. The guy just has no conscience. He made his first appearance in the second half, and dominated. If you want a guy to start, close or anything in between, Berger has the mentality to do it. If his stuff matched his mentality, he’d be in the bigs right now.
- Tyler Holt: CF, Akron: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB: Holt led off the game with a single, then stole second and reached third with two outs. Thomas Neal would make it to first on an error, and Holt would score the first run of the game. Holt continues to create havoc at Double A.
- Thomas Neal: RF, Akron: 0-for-3, 1 R, 1 K: This is a case of the stat-line not quite telling the story. Neal got on in the first inning on an error, allowing a run to score. He then got hit by a pitch leading off the fourth. He advanced to third on a one-out single, then scored on a two-out single, giving the Aeros what ultimately turned out to be the game-winner for Giovanni Soto’s no-hitter.
- Tony Wolters: 2B, Carolina: 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K: So let’s give you some stats: 64 Games, .288 average, 37 runs, 18 doubles, four triples, three homers, 32 ribbies, 16 walks and 50 strikeouts. Aside from the walks and the strikeouts, not bad numbers. Wolters, who is hitting .254 of the season in 82 games, had 44 runs, 20 doubles, four triples, three homers, 39 RBI, 25 walks and 68 K’s on the year. He’d love to have the earlier numbers. Oh, wait, those are Wolters numbers if you take away April. You see, if you give Wolters a month buffer, which would make sense for a 19-year-old, he’s had an incredible season, and has made one writer take a step back and rethink his stance on his product placement for this prospect. Wolters, as a lead-off hitter, has impact, and I’ve been dead wrong on the kid all year long. This kid is the real deal, and developing a bit of pop as well.
- Bo Greenwell: RF, Carolina: 3-for-4, 1 R, 1 SB: Greenwell is just shredding the ball right now, and probably had dead right on a spot in Akron once this trade deadline business plays out. Greenwell is historically a strong start, so it will be curious to see how long he can make it last. As it stands, the Muddies outfielder is hitting a crisp .378 in his first 19 games of the season, with nine runs, six doubles and two RBI. His .966 OPS on the season so far is, well, large.
- Ronny Rodriguez: SS, Carolina: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI: Well, Rodriguez belted his 11th homer tonight, tying him for second with Aguilar. There are some guys in this system with sneaky power, and it’s hard to believe that Moncrief and Rodriguez have equaled the large first sacker in THAT power category.
- Alex Monsalve: C, Carolina: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB: Monsalve has mostly struggled since his promotion to Carolina, as today’s two hit affair doubled his entire hit output during his first five games. I have Monsalve higher than most in my prospect list though, and think that this high-upside 20-year old is improving his long swing leaps-and-bounds by the day.
- Francisco Lindor: SS, Lake County: 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 HR: Lindor smacked his fifth home run of the season, and continued a fantastic rookie campaign in the Tribe system. His OBP stands at .349, and while his OPS is a bit low at .719, he’s had an incredible first year. Remember, and I’ll say this 100 more times this year (if I get a chance), he’s not 19 until November. He’ll be in the bigs before he’s 21…let’s hope it’s with the Tribe.
- Jordan Smith: RF, Lake County: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI: Well, now this Smith kid has a five-game, multi-hit streak going in which he is an insane 13-for-24, with four runs, two homers and 10 RBI, with two walks and two strikeouts. If Smith is still with the Captains by August, I’ll be shocked. This kid’s bad is freakish, and every time I see his numbers, I can’t get Wade Boggs name out of my head. I know he’s a right-fielder now, but this kid’s approach is so much like Boggs, it’s scary. Of course, we are talking about a kid in Low A.
- Todd Hankins: 3B, Lake County: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI: So, Hankins is hitting .333 over the past ten games, with seven runs, two doubles, a homer, four RBI, three walks, 10 K’s and eight stolen bases. He was caught on Sunday, for his first during that eight stolen base stretch.
- Felix Sterling: RP, Lake County: S (1), 4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K: Uhhhh…okay…so…I don’t even know where to go with this. Sterling has been horrid. He had a nice two inning performance on July 2nd, and a nice one inning performance on June 17th, but past that, he’s been terrible. His May ERA was 8.17. His June ERA was 5.96, and his July ERA is 8.18…but today, he was freakishly good. This is the Sterling that throws strikes with velocity. The question is, can he continue?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.