Around the Farm: July 5
Chen Lee: RP, Columbus: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 4 K:
Chen Lee has been virtually unhittable, as his 2 1/3 of one-hit ball magnified tonight. He left Akron with a 2-1 record and a 2.50 ERA in 23 games and 39 2/3 innings. He walked only 11 batters, and struck out 56. You don't get much more dominating then that, unless you look at his four games in Columbus. He's 1-0 in his 6 2/3 innings, while giving up only four hits and a walk, and striking out 12. This kid is on the fast track. While I don't see him making the big league move this season, as they would have to make room on the 40-man roster, I do believe he's the best reliever at Triple A as we speak. When you watch a pitcher like Lee, you like to see progression, and in his third year with the organization, he's making sure that the Indians brass is clearly seeing it.
Chun Chen: C, Akron: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B
Chen went on the DL in mid-June, but is back and belting the ball again. In his two games since his return, Chen is a smouldering 4-7, with two runs, a double, a homer and two RBI. It's easy to forget about this kid with so much talent on the Columbus line-up, but it's clear that his breakout 2010 performance has some staying power. As per all that talent on the Columbus roster? Mark my words, he'll be part of that by the end of July, if not sooner.
Matt Langwell: RP, Akron: 3 IP, 3 K, H (8):
How about three perfect innings from Langwell, who dropped his ERA to 2.31, and continued his return to prominence after a bit of struggle during the end of last season, and parts of this season. June really wasn't kind to Langwell, with three straight games in which he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 inning. Since then, he's gone 5 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and a run, while walking two, and striking out six.
Robert Nixon: SP, Mahoning Valley: 7 IP, 3 H, 4 K:
Boy, talk about a guy who deserves the win. Nixon went out and put on a display, giving up only three hits in his seven innings, but gets nothing out of it except a top slot at IPI. Nixon was the 46th pick of the draft, and you absolutely gotta love an outing like this from a slot that low. This was clearly his best start of his young career, but not by much. His second start was a five inning, three-hit game...also without a walk...and with 5 K's. This kid has something early on. He should be fun to watch.
- Ezequiel Carrera: CF, Columbus: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB (33): It's easy to lose Carrera in the shuffle with all of the recent talk of Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Cord Phelps and Luis Valbuena, but he's still making noise in Columbus. He's on a four game hitting streak, and you have to love the 33 stolen bases, and he's only been caught four times.
- Jason Donald: 3B, Columbus: 0-4, 1 BB: You have to wonder if the Chisenhall call-up didn't destroy Donald's focus, because he's been hitting the ball with water since. He's two for his last 19, and his average is down to .266 in Columbus. It's hard to see Donald make this club any time soon with Kipnis and Valbuena playing so well. His sure spot on the team post-injury surely is gone for good.
- Tim Fedroff: LF, Columbus: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 K: I'm certainly not used to seeing Fedroff in the Columbus line-up, and certainly not clear down in the seven-hole, but he's still doing what he does best....hit. In his ten games with the Clips, he's 9-30 overall, with three multi-hit games. I'm not sure where he fits on this club, but he certainly is playing with the kind of fire that gets you into the majors. I'm not sure when there will be a hole for him starting next season, but if he can find one, he'll blast through it.
- Scott Barnes: SP, Columbus: 5 2/3, 7 H, 4 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, L (7-3): Not the best outing for Barnes, but certainly not a garbage start either. He's young, and bound to throw one of these in the mix now and then. Still, he's the best lefty option on the club as far as upside goes, and could be a factor in the rotation as early as next year.
- Juan Diaz: SS, Akron: 2-5, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K: There wasn't a player on the Akron roster more important that Diaz last night, as he drove in two runs in a two-run victory. He's been hovering at the .250 range for awhile, so it would be nice to see the tall, lanky shortstop take the next step offensively.
- Beau Mills: 1B, Akron: 0-5: Oh-oh, Mills is two for his last 13, and his ten-game stat line is .179/.298/.231. Not the long-term numbers that you want to see out of a former #1, especially when it looked like he was finally figuring things out.
- Kelvin De La Cruz: SP, Akron: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, 1 K, W (5-6): DLC had a solid, if unspectacular outing. With that said, I like seeing performances like this. It's clear he didn't have his strike-out stuff, but it's equally clear that he worked his way through it.
- Cory Burns, Closer, Akron: 1 IP, 1 K, S (22): Burns continues to mow down Eastern League hitters. His 22 saves is tops in the organization, as well as tops in the EL...by five saves.
- Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Lake County: 1-2, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K: This kid is one of my top two or three favorite minor-league players right now. I love seeing a game like this in which we can see his power with the double, but also see him learning how to take pitches, with his two walks. Aguilar has 72 K's this season, with only 27 walks. If he gets more quality at-bats, he'll be someone to really watch.
- Carlos Moncrief: CF, Lake County: 2-5, 1 R: Prior to tonight's game, he went 0 for his last 12, so it was nice to see a multi-hit game from the struggling centerfielder.
- Giovanny Urshela: 3B, Lake County: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K: Urshela has really turned it on recently, and is 5-9 in his last two games. His ten game stat line is .333/.341/.548.
- Mike Rayl: SP, Lake County: 1 2/3, 3 H, 3 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 K: Wow, a surprisingly bad outing for Rayl, who hadn't given up a run in his previous three starts. How good has he pitched this year? In 10 starts and 46 2/3 innings, he's only walked five batters and struck out 56. Last night's game was a blip on the radar.
- Bryce Stowell: RP, Lake County: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, 1 K, L (0-1): A really ugly appearance for Stowell, who now has two bad outings out of his last three. His overall ERA at Lake County is a solid 2.31, but he is nowhere near the level he was at for much of last season.
- Tony Wolters: SS, Mahoning Valley: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K: Wolters is carrying a hot stick in short A, which is making everyone happy. He's currently batting .304, and making solid worthwhile noise as last year's third round pick. Remember, he just turned 19, so the sky's the limit for this kid.
- Jordan Smith: 3B, Mahoning Valley: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI: You have to love it when the 2011 ninth round pick rolls out a game with a double and a triple. Talk about talent on a team, and remember, the top picks from this draft still haven't signed.
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 email@example.com.