Around the Farm: June 23, 2012--Did Chen hit a homer?
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.
Chun-Hsiu Chen: 1B, Akron Aeros: 3-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI:
I’ve spent the better part of the season discussing Chen’s lack of power, so with a homer tonight, it’s time to celebrate exactly what he has done this season. Chen blasted only his second homer of the year, and first since early May. While his lack of home-run power has been a massive concern going forward, Chen has managed to belt a league-leading 21 doubles and a triple, and has a solid .413 slugging percentage. No, it’s not perfect, but there is something to celebrate, especially after Chen struggled through much of the 2011 Eastern League season with injury. Chen is establishing himself at first base, so it’s a bit understandable why the home run power may have disappeared. It may be a temporary issue moving forward, as the position becomes familiar, as does his approach at the plate. While he’s on pace to strike out over 100 times again this season, his walk total should be his best as well. If he can find that home run swing, he could become a legit prospect at first base in the future…if he isn’t already.
Ronnie Rodriguez: 2B, Carolina Mudcats: 2-for-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB:
It’s really fun to watch a guy figure things out the way that Rodriguez has since May 1st. I know I’ve mentioned his .203 average 100 times, but the guy is hitting .280 right now, and is just pasting the ball. He had the 5-for-5 game prior to the break, and you always worry about what’s going to happen with three days off. Will he cool down? Well, he’s played three games since the break ended, and he’s had two, two-hit ball games, and is 9-for-15 in his last four. He has a six-game run-scoring streak in which he’s scored an incredible 10 runs, and his 41 runs overall is now tenth in the league, and second on the team. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but if he continues to hit the ball the way he is, this slick fielder will find himself in Akron before the season ends. Next to Aguilar, he may be the most coveted prospect on the team right now.
Matt LaPorta: 1B, Columbus Clippers: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB:
LaPorta is starting to become my Chuck Norris of minor league baseball. You know, “If at first you don’t succeed (at Triple A), you’re not Matt LaPorta,” or “When the Triple A boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his dugout for Matt LaPorta.” This guy owns Triple A, and I’m either sick of it, or actually starting to root for the guy. Seriously, is the Aaron Cunningham/Shelley Duncan/Johnny Damon experiment really enough to keep LaPorta in Columbus? Seriously, if you had to pick between Cunningham, Duncan and Damon, or Jason Michaels and David Dellucci, who would you pick? So LaPorta is a no-brainer at this point. He currently has 16 homers and 37 RBI on the year, and is just done at this level. DO SOMETHING WITH HIM BECAUSE I’M SICK OF HAVING TO USE UP A TOP ATF SLOT ON HIM NIGHT-AFTER-NIGHT-AFTER NIGHT! Oh, by the way, his eighth inning, two-run blast broke up a shutout and tied the game. The Clippers would go on to win the game in the ninth.
- Trevor Crowe: RF, Columbus: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 K: Crowe has been swinging a hot bat of late, and I’ve been rooting for him to perform well so that he could do something about Cunningham with regards to the Indians. He’s 6-for-17, with four runs and a double in his last four games. I’d love to see him stay healthy and stick with the Tribe as their fourth outfielder. He hasn’t been able to do either in his career.
- Tim Fedroff: RF, Columbus: 1-for-4: Fedroff has a modest five-game hit streak, but a not so modest .360 batting average in Columbus this season. Boy, he’s really lacing the ball in 2012, hitting .316 overall, with 12 doubles, five triples and four homers. He has 37 walks against only 41 K’s. Might he be the fourth outfielder?
- Zach McAllister: SP, Columbus: 6 IP, 9 H, 2 R/ER, 3K: McAllister continued his stellar campaign, and while he did give up nine hits, he continued hitting the strike zone, with 62 strikes out of 86 pitches. He may be with the big league Indians by the end of the week.
- Scott Barnes: RP, Columbus: 2/3 IP, 1 BB, 2K: Barnes is still trying to figure out the relief pitching game, and I do believe he’ll replace Tony Sipp at some point if Sipp continues to struggle. He just needs some seasoning in the role.
- Cody Allen: RP, Columbus: 1 1/3 IP, 1 K: Allen is simply outstanding right now, and this is his sixth straight shutout performance. How close to perfect has he been? He’s given up only one hit, and one walk during that stretch of eight innings, while striking out nine.
- Adam Abraham: 3B, Akron: 3-4, 1 R, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K: Well, Akron has become an interesting place, and these guys owe it all to Jeremie Tice. I’ll get to him in a second. Abraham finds himself back at third base for the first time this season, but it’s been his primary position after they moved him from catcher after 2009. With Tice playing some outfield, DH and 1B, Abraham will have to find some time at third, and well, it seems to suit him rather well. Okay, he had two errors that helped Akron lose the game, but hey, it suited him offensively anyways. Abraham is a doubles machine when he’s on, and with three tonight, is tied for ninth in the Eastern League with 17 doubles. It’s second on the team to Chen’s 21. Not bad for a guy that’s only hitting .232. It just shows you how many doubles this guy can hit.
- Jeremie Tice: LF, Akron: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI: Tice belted his first home run in his second Double A game, a three-run, sixth inning blast that was long past the time the game was decided. Still, Tice has played right and left field now, so it’s clear they want him to learn the outfield ropes. If he does it while continuing to hit the way he has, he literally launches his way into the tops of the prospect list. The key for Tice, as always, is health.
- Bryan Price: RP, Akron: 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R: Price continues to pitch well with 2+ more innings without giving up an earned run. His ERA over his past ten games is a stellar 1.06, and he’s lowered his overall ERA to 2.06. He won’t be a major league factor this year, but with this added consistency, you’d have to think that the 25-year old will be mentioned in Cleveland next year.
- Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K: As long as Bryson continues to put this many runners on the basepaths in ballgames in Double A, he won’t find his way to Cleveland. He has 23 walks and 23 hits in 32 1/3 innings pitched. That’s just not very good, even though he has a 2.51 ERA.
- Giovanny Urshela: 3B, Carolina: Game 1: 2-for-4, 2 R: Urshela is the hottest player in the Indians system right now, and has four multi-hit games in a row. During that incredible stretch, he’s gone 10-for-18, with six runs, three doubles, a homer and five RBI. He also has a nine game hitting streak heading into game two.
- Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Carolina: Game 1: 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 K: I didn’t make it up to Five County for the game tonight, but Aguilar got plunked in the fifth inning. He stayed in the game after getting hit, but came out in the top of the sixth for defensive replacement Justin Toole. I’m not sure what the issue was, or if it’s serious or a precaution, but Aguilar didn’t play in game two.
- Bo Greenwell: DH, Carolina: Game 1: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI: It sure is good to see Bo Greenwell playing baseball again. When this guy gets the bat going, he can really hit the ball, which is exactly what he’s been doing since returning from his near year-long absence. He has a hit in all four games he’s played in, and is now 6-for-15, with a .400/.438/.533 line. Welcome back Bo…
- Giovanny Urshela: 3B, Carolina: Game 2: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B: Urshella broke his four-game multi-hit streak, but picked up his ten game hit streak with his double in game two. He would eventually come around to score the game winner.
- Carlos Moncrief: RF, Carolina: Game 2: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K: Moncrief has been playing well of late, going 6-for-15, with four runs, four doubles, a homer and four RBI over his last four games. Yeah, he had four strikeouts too. That’s a whole bunch of fours.
- Grant Sides: Closer?, Carolina: Game 2: S (1), 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K: Sides was really, really good for Lake County. In 18 games, the power-throwing reliever pitched in 18 games, giving up 19 hits, four earned runs and 11 walks in 34 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 37 batters. I don’t think he’s the closer in Carolina, as they generally don’t give that to a real prospect in the system, but he closed tonight because Flores pitched an inning and a third in the first game.
- Lake County Offense: 4-for-30, 1 BB, 7 K: Things aren’t going to go well when you don’t manage an extra base hit and only one walk.
- Elvis Araujo: SP, Lake County: 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K: Araujo is not pitching well. I’m wondering if there’s a velocity issue, because Araujo has given up 16 runs in his last three appearances over 9 2/3 innings. Like I said…not good.
- Antwonie Hubbard: RP, Lake County: 1 IP, 1 K: Hubbard pitched in his second game of the season, and had a perfect inning, making up for his two walks in his first game back.
- Marcus Bradley: CF, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-5, 1 R, SB: Bradley was the 49th rounder in 2010, so it was good to see him roll out two hits on Saturday Night. He’s got plus speed, but is most certainly a project.
- Joe Wendle: DH, Mahoning Valley: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, SB (1): Wendle had his first professional double and stolen base on Saturday night.
- Mitch Nilsson: 1B, Mahoning Valley: 1-for-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI: Nilsson is former major leaguer Dave Nilsson’s nephew, and there seems to be a bit of potential there, as he rolled out a .358 average in the Arizona League last season.
- Jacob Lee: SP/RP, Mahoning Valley: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 4 K: Lee did give up a run on back-to-back doubles in the seventh inning on Saturday night, but boy did he come out blazing. Lee struck out his first professional hitter, then made it two of three to end his first inning. He then struck out his final two batters in the sixth, to go six-up, and six down, with four K’s. Yeah, it’s his first game, but boy, he just might be one to watch.
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.
The Indians are desperate for BP depth. They're not getting much produciton beyond Pestano and Perez. Cody Allen is needed desperately. If he continues at this pace, I can see him in Cleveland in a month.
And Barnes has the potential to help, but he has to find the strike zone.