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Around the Farm: June 17, 2012

Around the Farm: June 17, 2012
June 18, 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.

Ronny Rodriguez: SS, Carolina Mudcats: 5-for-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI:

Rodriguez was hotter than a firecracker prior to this game. Now, you can enter one of the top prospects in the organization as officially volcano-like. Rodriguez rocked two of his five hits in a ten-run eighth inning. He hit his 14th double batting second in the inning, scoring Jesus Aguilar to begin the onslaught. He singled later in the inning, scoring Jeremie Tice. Rodriguez is on a three game hit streak in which he’s gone 8-for-12, with six runs scored. He’s gone 12 for his last 33 (.364), with nine runs, three doubles, two triples, a homer and six RBI over his last ten games. His average is up to .275, after hitting .203 in April. He still needs to improve his approach, having only eight walks against 44 strikeouts in his first 67 ballgames. He is looking better than last season, when he only had 13 walks and 83 strikeouts in 98 games, but he still needs to improve in this area. Of course, Rodriguez just turned 20 in April, so to say he has time to figure it out would be an understatement.

Zach McAllister: SP, Columbus Clippers: W (5-2), 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 K:

There will come a point in time at the major league level when McAllister will no doubt force them to make a move at the bottom of the rotation. With Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez rolling through a giant pool of inconsistency, it’s only a matter of time before Tomlin and/or Gomez begin to feel the pressure applied by McAllister. McAllister is our best minor league option, period, and he’s backed that up with only one bad start the entire season, and that was back on April 15th. He went 1-1 with a 3.96 ERA in the bigs, and since his return to Columbus, has gone 22 1/3 innings, giving up 20 hits, nine runs (8 earned) and eight walks, while striking out 17 batters. Overall, he’s 5-2, with a 2.98 ERA in ten starts over 57 1/3 innings pitched, giving up 50 hits and 25 runs (19 earned), while walking 19 and striking out 49 hitters. Combine that with his 2011 12-3 record with a 3.32 ERA, and you really have your case made for the bigs. I’d be shocked if another month goes by in Cleveland without McAllister involved, unless he becomes a trade chip, which is also a likely scenario.

Cord Phelps: 2B, Columbus Clippers: 2-for-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB:

Phelps is one of the streakiest hitters in the Cleveland Indians’ system. He hit .284 in April, before falling to .238 in May. He’s currently hitting .327 in June, with five doubles and two homers. His .284 doesn’t really translate just how hot he was during the first two weeks of the season. Phelps began to struggle that third week, and never really regained his footing until the beginning of June. It’s hard to say where Phelps stands in the system at this point. He’s not really a solid enough fielder to be a utility guy, and he has struggled defensively at nearly every other infield or outfield position that he’s played. Is he as good as a guy like Jose Lopez? That’s hard to back up, as Lopez has had an all-star caliber major league season under his belt, and is only a couple of years older than Phelps. So Phelps is just some insurance, should something happen to both Kipnis and Donald. Until then, he’s just minor league fill, or a throw in to slightly sweeten a trade.

  • Ezequiel Carrera: CF, Columbus: 1-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB: Carrera continued his hot hitting with his eighth double, and he now has a four game hit streak, and has hits in six of his last seven, and eight of his last ten ballgames.
  • Jason Donald: DH, Columbus: 2-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB: Donald found himself in a bit of a slump that dropped his average over 20 points, but has found his stroke over his last two, going 3-for-7, with four runs scored. Donald really has figured out Triple A. He just really needs to figure out how to translate it to the bigs.
  • Matt LaPorta: 1B, Columbus: 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB: I’m monstrously curious at what LaPorta does from here on out. He can’t be happy with being send down to Columbus, but he’s really made his own bed with how the Indians are treating him. For those screaming that he needs a real shot, remember, he had a full season plus to prove himself. He hasn’t, so get used to waiting.
  • Russ Canzler: LF, Columbus: 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB: Canzler is starting to make himself an interesting option going forward should the Indians need to make a move in left field, first base or DH in the months ahead. He’s not a long-term solution, but he could be a short-term guy, ahead of LaPorta. He’s now riding a five-game hit streak, and has hit in eight of nine ball games.
  • Matt Langwell: RP, Columbus: H (1), 2/3 IP, 1 H: This was Langwell’s fourth shutout performance in a row. He’ll never be an elite guy, but he really is a guy that knows how to get things done. With the Indians pen struggling, you never know what type of moves they make to get the front end going as well as their back end. Langwell could definitely be a part of that.
  • Scott Barnes: RP, Columbus: H (4), 1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 3 K: Barnes is likely a lock to return to Cleveland if their pen continues to struggle in front of Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez. He’s just plain better than Tony Sipp, and the only way you get more experience is to, well, get more experience. This was Barnes first appearance since his demotion, and he made 22 pitches, with 18 strikes.
  • Chris Ray: Closer, Columbus: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K: Ray is a forgotten member of the Clippers bullpen, and it may be with good reason, but he’s doing everything he possibly can to earn a trip to the bigs in some form. He’s now on seven straight shut-out performances, has only given up four hits over that stretch, and only given up two walks. He’s struck out seven batters during the same time period.
  • Nick Weglarz: DH, Akron: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K: Weglarz has an extra-base hit in three straight games, and in five of his last six, and in eight of his last ten. His average is up to .242, with eight homers and 26 ribbies. Remember, he missed a ton of time playing when he was DFA’ed and taken off the 40-man. Inspired play anyone?
  • Akron Aeros Offense: 3-for-30, 2 R, 3 H, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K: It was a horrible day for the Aeros offense. When you strike out 13 times, with only four walks and three hits, you aren’t going to be very successful.
  • Steven Wright: SP, Akron: L (5-4), 6 IP, 3 H, 4 R/3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K: Wright is again on the wrong side of a good pitching performance. This was his worst performance since May 11th when he gave up four earned runs, but over his past ten games, he’s gone 4-3 with a 1.83 ERA. It’s impressive when a knuckleballer only walks one batter while striking out seven, and Wright really has to be turning heads. It will be curious to see when he gets promoted, because you can really make a case that next to McAllister, nobody’s pitching better. Hell, you can make a case that Wright is pitching better. The only knock is that McAllister is doing it in the bigs, and in Triple A. Wright made 96 pitches, with 65 strikes.
  • Loek Van Mil: RP, Akron: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 K: Alright Mr. Van Mil, I’m even more interested. The giant righty has been nothing but awesome. He’s given up only three runs in 12 appearances over 18 innings, giving up only 11 hits and two walks, while striking out 15. What’s been most impressive is his control, which was questioned at the time of the “trade.”
  • Tyler Holt: CF, Carolina: 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: I’ve been hard on Holt for his struggles in recent weeks as he’s been treading water in High A baseball. He had his first multi-hit game in a couple of weeks, and is still hitting under .150 over his past ten. Holt is better than High A, and if he wants to be something different than Trevor Crowe or Tim Fedroff, he needs to start showing it.
  • Giovanny Urshella: 3B, Carolina: 3-for-6, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K: Urshella is on fire, and has back-to-back three-hit ball games in which he’s gone 6-for-10, with three runs, two doubles a homer and three RBI. He’s also riding a seven-game hit streak in which he’s gone 11-for-27.
  • Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Carolina: 3-for-5, 3 runs, 1 2B, 1 RBI: Aguilar had two of his three hits in a ten-run eighth inning. He led off the inning with his 17th double. Later in the inning, he singled, scoring Giovanny Urshela. Aguilar’s average jumped up seven points in the game, getting him back to .295.
  • Carlos Moncrief: RF, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI: While there are players that are better than Moncrief, I still maintain that the best tools belong to Moncrief. He has it all..power, speed and a natural raw ability. The problem going forward with Moncrief is his age, and his approach. Moncrief isn’t old by any stretch, but he’s 23 in High A, so he’s right on the edge. Combine that with 75 strike outs over 59 games, against only 29 walks, and you have a guy that’s going to have over 150 K’s, and that may be an understatement. Last season, Moncrief rolled out 158 K’s, so there’s just no improvement there. The talent is tantalizing though.
  • Jake Lowery: C, Carolina: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB:  To say that Lowery is in a slump would be the understatement of the century. He hasn’t had a hit in five games, going 0-for-13, and was only 2-for-23 in his previous eight games.
  • Tyler Sturdevant: RP, Carolina W (1-0), 1 IP, 1 K: Sturdevant has been near perfect in his five games back, with two hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. I still maintain that he’s one of the top arms in the system’s bullpen, and he shouldn’t be forgotten. If he maintains his solid play, he’ll be in Columbus by mid-July.
  • Jerrud Sabourin: 1B, Lake County: 1-for-2, 2 BB: Sabourin only had a hit today. Of course, he’s 11-for-24, with four runs, four doubles and nine RBI in his last six ballgames. He’s an overachiever on a team full of talent.
  • Alex Monsalve: DH, Lake County: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB: These are the types of games you want to see out of the big right-handed slugger for the Captains. He has tantalizing power, and as a catcher, it just makes him that much more valuable. He doesn’t strike out much (only 32 times in 61 games), and has 21 walks on the season, so he does appear to be making progress off of his 96 strikeout, 31 walk performance last season. He also matched his home run total from last season already, in nearly 60 less ballgames. He only needs eight more doubles to match his total from last season as well. This kid is a comer, so keep your eye on him.
  • Shawn Morimando: SP, Lake County: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR: It wasn’t a perfect start by Morimando, but it wasn’t bad, by any stretch. He’s still trying to find his way, but if this is his floor, he’ll be advancing soon.
  • Felix Sterling: RP (SP?), Lake County: 1 IP: Okay, so Sterling has been getting shelled as a starter after dominating early in the season. He’s gotten lit up like a Christmas tree. Now, Sterling finds himself in the pen. I can’t fathom that it’s a full-time gig. Instead, it’s likely that the Indians are pulling the Kyle Blair treatment on him, getting his legs right, before unleashing him back as either a starter, or as a piggy-back option.

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
June 19, 2012 - 11:18 AM EDT
I'm aware of no injury for Wolters.....he seems fine. As for Chen I am not sure, but will hopefully find out sometime today on that.
Frank
June 18, 2012 - 10:22 AM EDT
Does anyone know the condition of Chen? He left the game earlier yesterday and the press release said it was due to an injury. I was wondering if there is any serious problem against him...
DetDawg
June 18, 2012 - 9:28 AM EDT
By the way, Wolters was replaced in the 4th inning of yesterday's game. Do you know if it was due to injury?
DetDawg
June 18, 2012 - 9:05 AM EDT
You're right about LaPorta making his own bed. It was obvious after his failure last season that he needed to work on his approach at the plate. He showed no urgency, however, as instead of playing winter ball, he went to Haiti. While that was a very Christian and humanistic thing to do, it showed the Indians that addressing his baseball issues was not primary on his mind. I think the Indians responded in kind. LaPorta has yet to dig himself out of the hole he created.

That said, it was nice to see LaPorta work a couple of walks yesterday.

Nice to see Barnes' 1st performance since being demoted. 18 strikes out of 22 pitches is what I call strike throwing.

Hard to make out what kind of pitcher Morimando is. His results are pretty good, but his peripheral stats don't suggest long-term success.

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