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Around the Farm: July 23, 2014

Frazier's continued hot streak highlights the night on the farm

Around the Farm: July 23, 2014
Clint Frazier (Photo: IBI)
July 24, 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.

Note that the Arizona League game was suspended in the fourth inning due to lightning.

Clint Frazier (CF, Lake County): 3-for-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Clint Frazier (Photo; MiLB)During Frazier's struggles in the early part of the season, the similar issues Francisco Lindor went through during his time in Lake County in 2012 were brought up; that first full professional season can be a rough one for players and some immediate struggles are common. The problem right now with bringing up Lindor's 2012 season in comparison with Frazier's is now they look nothing alike:

Frazier (First half): .248/.329/.369 line, .699 OPS, .349 BABIP, 74:27 SO:BB in 55 games

Frazier (Second half): .322/.395/.557 line, .952 OPS, .400 BABIP, 33:12 SO:BB in 29 games

Lindor (First half): .285/.369/.410 line, .778 OPS, .330 BABIP, 42:26 SO:BB in 60 games

Lindor (Second half): .228/.335/.299 line, .633 OPS, .260 BABIP, 36:35 SO:BB in 62 games

Lindor's approach at the plate improved even as his results tanked, with the downturn in results either a result of the shortstop wearing down late in the season or a fluky BABIP (or more likely, a little of both). Frazier, on the other hand, is surging in the second half on the strength of a high (unsustainable) BABIP and his (much more sustainable) impressive power. The 19-year-old is far from having Lindor's incredible plate discipline, but while he has some work to do on that front, he seems to have a leg up on Lindor when it comes to performing in their first full professional season in Lake County.

  • Tyler Cloyd (SP, Columbus): ND, 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 WP. Though Cloyd's run of five consecutive quality starts came to an end, the right-hander kept his streak of starts with six or more innings alive at eight.
  • Francisco Lindor (SS, Columbus): 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 SO, 1 CS, 1 SAC. After getting his first Triple-A hit in his debut last night, Lindor racked up two more hits Wednesday, including his first one of the extra base variety. He also got his first caught stealing out of the way.
  • Tyler Holt (CF, Columbus): 2-for-5, 3 R, 1 2B. Holt has been the beneficiary of some luck regarding balls in play falling in for hits, but his outstanding approach -- he owns a 35:36 SO:BB in 51 games -- is supporting his .433 on-base percentage and .855 OPS.
  • Jesus Aguilar (1B, Columbus): 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 SF. Aguilar may not be hitting for as much power as he did during his red-hot start to the season, but the first baseman is maintaining a strong approach and getting results (.849 OPS, 16:12 SO:BB in 22 July games; .858 OPS, 76:46 SO:BB in 86 total Triple-A games).
  • Shawn Morimando (SP, Akron): L (1-1), 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 2 SO. Though Morimando is still not showing much strikeout stuff, his first three Double-A starts all went six innings and feature a 1.00 ERA and 9:3 SO:BB overall.
  • Giovanni Soto (RP, Akron): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO. Soto had a hiccup in his season surrounding his shoulder strain early in the year, but the left-hander is back to pitching well and has not allowed a run in his last 9.1 innings.
  • Jordan Smith (CF, Akron): 1-for-4, 1 PO. Smith's fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Additionally, the 24-year-old continued to log time in center field, making his eighth appearance there over his last 10 games.
  • Cole Sulser (SP, Carolina): ND, 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R (5 ER), 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 WP. With a 98:27 SO:BB in 97.0 High-A innings this season, Sulser is still waiting for his 5.29 ERA to come down to match his strong peripherals.
  • Jacob Lee (RP, Carolina): 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO. Lee does not have a long scoreless streak thanks to a couple unearned runs, but the right-hander has not allowed an earned run since June 10, a streak spanning 19.0 innings.
  • Yhoxian Medina (SS, Carolina): 3-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SO, 1 E. Now that Erik Gonzalez is back in Akron, the shortstop role seems to be Medina's again. The 24-year-old has continued hitting in celebration, raising his OPS to .723 on the season.
  • Alex Monsalve (DH, Carolina): 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 SO. Monsalve kept up his torrid July Wednesday, with a .914 OPS on the month to go with a .695 season mark in 71 games (after starting the month at .623).
  • LeVon Washington (LF, Carolina): 2-for-5, 1 R. There is still not much power in Washington's bat, as evidenced by his .102 isolated power, but the left fielder has managed to keep the BABIP gods at bay to date, sustaining his .385 mark and thus his .397 on-base percentage in 50 games.
  • Dace Kime (SP, Lake County): L (5-12), 4.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R (7 ER), 2 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 2 WP. Positive results continue to escape Kime, as the right-hander now owns a 5.26 ERA with 47 walks in 99.1 innings. The first full professional season can be a real wakeup call for some prospects, and though the season is not yet over, in the big picture, hopefully Kime will be better prepared to make a leap in 2015.
  • Anderson Polanco (RP, Lake County): 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO. As a whole this season, Polanco has struggled a bit with walks, allowing 11 free passes in 20.1 innings. Polanco has been better of late, however, with back-to-back four-inning, four-strikeout, no-walk outings.
  • Eric Haase (C, Lake County): 0-for-4, 1 SO, 2 E, 1 PB. Haase has been really special with the bat while repeating Low-A this season, putting up a .261/.331/.498 line in 66 games, but his issues with defense are still present and something the 21-year-old is working on.
  • Sean Brady (SP, Mahoning Valley): ND, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO. The strikeouts and walks are nothing to write home about for Brady this season (22:15 SO:BB in 40.2 innings), but while that is something to address in the future, to date, the left-hander has still managed a 2.21 ERA.
  • Taylor Murphy (LF, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI. The 18th round pick in this year's draft continues to hit, launching his third home run and raising his season line to .329/.427/.500 in 22 games.
  • Yonathan Mendoza (SS, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 E. Mendoza hit the first home run of his professional career Wednesday night, a second-inning shot out to right field. Such an outburst of power is obviously new for Mendoza, who typically relies on his advanced approach at the plate (10:14 SO:BB through 31 games).
  • Francisco Mejia (C, Mahoning Valley): 2-for-4, 1 R. After a slow start to the season, Mejia has picked his offense up lately, raising his line to .271/.331/.379 in 36 games. Though he could use a little more consistency in his approach and his power, seeing the catcher successfully handle both his offense at the plate and a pitching staff behind the plate above the Arizona League is a big step.

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User Comments

July 24, 2014 - 4:05 PM EDT
Thanks for clarifying on Soto. I hope he gets added to the 40, because he's as good as gone (Rule 5) if the Indians don't. He's 4/5 years younger than the likes of Hagadone or Barnes. I'd rather gamble on his upside and health than hope that the light comes on for one of them in their late 20s.

As for Frazier, my biggest concern following him this season is his hit tool, not the power. It was supposed to be at least good too, that's why he was a top 5 pick. He wasn't a power-only guy. Maybe it gets there with experience, we will see, but he's well behind his reports when it comes to his hit tool/contact ability.
July 24, 2014 - 3:46 PM EDT
Any scouting reports on what he is striking out on? Swinging at pitches out of the zone, or taking pitches that are called strikes but are actually out of the zone?
July 24, 2014 - 3:43 PM EDT
To cheer up people, Joey Votto struck out 144 times between Rookie and Midwest League and did not have a full season of less than 100 Ks in any minor league season.:-)
July 24, 2014 - 3:41 PM EDT
Isn't a significant difference in evaluating Frazier versus Snyder is that Snyder was a college bat that was supposed to be a little more refined?
July 24, 2014 - 11:28 AM EDT
July 24, 2014 - 11:27 AM EDT
Tyler Holt is an on-base machine!
July 24, 2014 - 10:43 AM EDT
If Frazier can develop a bit better eye now, in low A, that'll pay huge dividends when he starts to see ML quality breaking balls in AA and above. Leave him be- his OPS is obviously going to be great anyway, and the opportunity to get some low pressure game at bats is just what the doctor ordered. He sure is an exciting prospect.
July 24, 2014 - 10:05 AM EDT
I see no reason to send Frazier to Carolina this season other than if they are in the playoffs and Lake County is not. Lindor was never pushed up in his first pro season and spent all year in Lake County....and I envision the same for Frazier. Plus, as has been stated in the comments here, Frazier really needs to work on that plate discipline.
July 24, 2014 - 9:58 AM EDT
I think the Indians should send Frazier up to Carolina on August 19th if not sooner. He already has as many at bats as Lindor before he got to Carolina. Frazier is older then when Lindor was at Lake County. When do you see him coming up?
July 24, 2014 - 9:55 AM EDT
July 23, 2014 - 9:03 AM EDT
Plutko looks overwhelmed at High A, send him back to LC and give Kime a shot at Carolina.

You went from promoting Kime to calling him a bust in only one day... impressive. These guys are mostly at the level they should be at, moving them up and down over short-term fluctuations in performance makes no sense.
July 24, 2014 - 9:31 AM EDT
I think you'd be better served talking about walk and K rates than BABIP. If you know how much a guy strikes out and what his average is, you pretty much know what his BABIP is. It's not very meaningful for a guy like Frazier. If he didn't have a .350+ BABIP, then he's doing something wrong.

Frazier's walk rate is actually solid, 10.2%. His strikeout rate is high, around 28%, but that's nothing scary for a guy with power. If he were walking like 5% of the time, then it might be a concern, but he's showing decent plate discipline with that walk rate. Frazier's current K and BB rates are pretty much identical to what Stanton was running in A ball, for example. Of course, Stanton was hitting for twice as much power, but still, Frazier's a power hitting prospect, the strikeouts should come down as he develops. If the walk rate doesn't budge, it's still fine.
July 24, 2014 - 9:18 AM EDT
Yep, the obvious focus for Frazier will continue to be to develop that approach. All the cliches like being more patient for a pitch he can drive, staying within the zone with his swing, and so on. That's going to be the key to his success at High-A and Double-A the next few seasons. Right now with his approach he looks like a right-handed version of Brad Snyder.....he was pretty talented but never got over the discipline hump. Hopefully Frazier is able to do it. He has a lot of time and most importantly the willingness to do it.
Jim Piascik
July 24, 2014 - 9:14 AM EDT
The Midwest League average BABIP this year is in the .315-range. A little higher than the .295/.300-range the majors is at recently, but only by a bit.

But yeah, it isn't surprising to see someone like Frazier tearing it up like this, while someone like Hendrix (with the even higher BABIP and lower prospect pedigree) is probably more fluky. But Frazier's on-base still isn't that high, even with the BABIP help. That's really my concern/area for improvement going foward.
July 24, 2014 - 9:08 AM EDT
I think Soto is a possibility for the 40-man, but don't think it is a slam dunk. His value has deteriorated since the start of last season and the Indians stuffing him at Akron all year speaks loudly of where he is with them on the relief pitching totem pole. You never say never, but the Indians have expressed that, yes, he is a bullpen only arm right now - and I think in light of the recent injuries that's where he sticks whether with the Indians or another team since he doesn't have the size and strength to probably start.

As for the BABIP discussion....if I am not mistaken, isn't a neutral BABIP in the minors somewhere around .330-.340 (whereas in the big leagues it is around .300)? Frazier might have a BABIP a little on the high side....but it is not that high.....and I think it is only natural when a guy has a hot bat and is hitting well over .300 for an extended period of time that the BABIP will be above norms. His season BABIP going into the game last night was .361 and obviously jumped up a few point last night.....but a .360-.370 BABIP from a highly touted prospect does not concern me as much as it would from a guy who did not have that prospect pedigree coming into the season (as an example, Paul Hendrix and his .399 BABIP for the season).
Jim Piascik
July 24, 2014 - 8:58 AM EDT
Well, Lindor's actually a high-BABIP guy thanks to his very strong approach, line drive swing, and speed. He's put up a lot of .320-.330 BABIPs in his career, which is something that should continue going forward.

Frazier could run a high one as well given how hard he hits the ball (and presuming he maintains a line drive approach over selling out for fly balls/home runs). But that high BABIP is only really sustainable in that .330-range. So he's doing well now with it, but in terms of projecting his future, that will come down, necessitating improvements in his strikeout/walk rates.

But that's just Frazier's area of focus going forward. He's shown the power and put in some work in center; now the goal is to continue refining his defense and start to tighten up the approach.

As for Soto, I don't think he's going back to starting. Too many injuries in the past, too much missed time lately. Plus his pitch mix plays up really well right now to make him at least a very good LOOGY. Though being a starter obviously has more value, that ship has probably sailed.
July 24, 2014 - 8:32 AM EDT
You say Frazier's BABIP in the second half (.400) is unsustainable, and it certainly appears so, but even in the first half when he hit .248 his BABIP was .349. He struck out a lot, but when he made contact the ball fell in. Do you think it's because he hits the ball so hard that his BABIP is just naturally higher than a guy like Lindor, who I take it is more of a contact hitter?
July 24, 2014 - 8:25 AM EDT
If he can stay healthy, Soto is a darkhorse to win a bullpen spot with the Indians next season. He was crushed right before and after his injury in May and June, but his April and July stats are dominant. Even with the shoulder issue, LHB are only hitting .137 against him on the season.
He will be added to the 40 after the season, probably at the expense of one of the other relievers on it. At worst, he will open at Columbus and be the 1st LHRP to be called up if he keeps performing.
Question for Tony: is he a bullpen arm only now, or could he be moved back to starting ?

Good to see Frazier performing at a high level, but that BABIP combined with his approach and high K rate doesn't bode well for his hit tool. He barely hits over .200 if that BABIP were normal. So far so good, but he has to make better contact.

Dace Kime should be moved back to the bullpen

July 24, 2014 - 8:17 AM EDT
Plutko and Kime look like they are going to both be busts! Move Murphy up to Lake County

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