Around the Farm: June 25, 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.
Thomas Neal: RF, Akron Aeros: 3-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB:
I find myself rooting for Neal to continue to perform at this high level, because the state of the Indians outfield would nearly force the Tribe to do something with him. As the summer has heated up, Neal has regained some of that power-hitting stroke that had disappeared over the past couple of seasons, but it appears to be back in full force. The 24-year-old hasn’t turned into Hank Aaron or anything like that, but he has hit four homers over his last two weeks of baseball, which happen to be his only four homers of the season. His overall average is up to .289, with 11 doubles, a triple and 23 RBI. The power stroke has re-emerged as the Aeros have begun placing him in a more prominent role in the offense. Last night he was the lead-off hitter, and he’s been placed in the top of the line-up for most of the recent stretch of baseball. The Indians need a right-handed bat to emerge, and while Neal is nowhere near the Tribe outfield, a long summer-stretch of play like this could put him squarely in the cross-hairs.
Alex Monsalve: C, Lake County: 2-for-5, 2 RBI:
Monsalve his playing his most inspired baseball of the season, hitting .343 over his past ten ballgames. There’s a lot to like about this kid, especially his learning curve. Last season, Monsalve struck out 96 times in 117 ballgames. That’s not an alarming amount of strikeouts, but not all that good either. So far this season, Monsalve has 32 K’s in 64 ballgames. Yeah, I know, that’s a massive improvement. Even better? He has 21 walks on the season, against 31 over the entire 2011 season. That, folks, is what we call improvement. He’s maintained his average (.264 last year, to .258 this season), and improved his power (five homers, 21 doubles and 44 RBI over the entire 2011 season compared to five homers, 15 doubles and 28 RBI so far in 2012). He has an obscene amount of home run potential, and he just turned 22. I have to tell you that past Lindor, this is the guy I’m most excited about. It’s a ways away, but Monsalve is on the verge of breaking out. Seriously, imagine a power-hitting, professional bat from the catcher position. Oh yeah, he’s a righty to boot.
Luis DeJesus: SP, Mahoning Valley: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 8 K, 1 HR:
These are the types of outings that can open up eyes. Dejesus made his 2012 debut in Lake County and scuffled a bit out of the bullpen. The Indians moved him to the starter role at Mahoning, and, well, hello Luis DeJesus. He’s made two starts, and been outstanding in both. He’s gone 11 innings, giving up only six hits, a run and a walk, with ten strikeouts. Now, DeJesus isn’t a top prospect, but he has shown flashes of brilliance, and could be one of those kids that emerges as the year progresses. Remember, we are just talking about short season here, but any start like this one isn’t something to scoff at.
- Trevor Crowe: RF, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, SB: Crowe is starting to find his groove and regain his footing from an injury-riddled start to his 2012 season. You have to believe that the Indians want Crowe to claim the fourth outfielder slot since they are keeping a 28-year-old after all the injuries. He has a current five game hitting streak in which he’s gone7-for-21, with five runs, a double, a homer and a walk.
- Russ Canzler: DH, Columbus: 2-for-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI: Canzler now has the average up to .274 with his fifth multi-hit game in his last ten, and his four homer during the same stretch. He has six of his nine homers since June 14th.
- Jared Goedert: 3B, Columbus: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI: Goedert has drifted into the background a bit, but he’s still playing solid baseball for the Clippers. He’s 12-for-40 in his last ten ball games, with four runs, four doubles and four RBI. It’s interesting how his mammoth games can take away from his solid, un-mammoth stretches, but Goedert is a nice little ballplayer.
- Corey Kluber: SP, Columbus: W (7-6), 7 H, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR: Kluber’s numbers continue to be solid-to-spectacular this season, and really has an interesting arm as he clearly can make bats miss the baseball. His ERA is 3.55 in 83 2/3 IP, with 36 walks and 93 K’s. At some point, you have to give the kid a chance against major league pitching either as a starter or a reliever to see if it translates. He may get his chance this year.
- Frank Herrmann: RP, Columbus: S (1), 1 2/3 IP, 2 K: Herrmann has struggled with consistency all season with his 4.19 ERA, but he throws strikes (38 in 34 1/3) without a bunch of walks (9), but does give up the longball (five homers). He does have a tendency to give up big innings every three or four ballgames.
- Juan Diaz: SS, Akron: 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K: Diaz really hasn’t had a solid year this year, which is ironic because he’s the one guy on the team that has made it to the bigs for a cup of coffee. I know, I know…it was supposed to be for a game or two, but c’mon…Juan Diaz? He’s hitting .239 on the season, and has okay power numbers with 11 doubles and five homers, but again, nothing special.
- Adam Abraham: 1B, Akron: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB: Abraham followed up his back-to-back three-hit games with his sixth home run on the season. He has a .364/.436/.606 line over the last ten ballgames.
- Jeremie Tice: LF, Akron: 1-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 K: Tice is hitting a robust .353 in his debut week for the Aeros, and it’s clear the Indians see him as a potential major leaguer, as he’s played all his games in the outfield after spending much of his High A time at first and DH. While Monday Night’s ballgame is nothing to get excited about, he did continue his RBI streak, and his hit streak to four games (in his first four Double A games). He now has seven RBI overall for the Aeros, and 54 RBI on the season. He’s played in 56 games. There’s no math in the world that doesn’t keep that from being impressive.
- Jordan Henry: CF, Akron: 3-for-4, 2 R: Henry has really scuffled since returning from his injury, but I can’t express enough how much talent Henry has as a lead-off guy. The problem is simply that the system seems to be full of Henry-esque, prototype lead-off guys.
- T.J. House: SP, Akron: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 2 BB, 1 K: House had an uncharacteristic rough start on Monday night, and it’s his second bad outing over his last three. While I’m not all that concerned on the outside looking in, I do wonder about stamina and velocity. He’s in the best shape of his professional life, but it does take time for the body to figure all that out. I wasn’t at the game last night, so if anyone was, shoot me an e-mail on his measurable velocity.
- Bryce Stowell: RP, Akron: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R/ER, 2 K, HR: Stowell is still a top bullpen arm in the system, but some of the luster is rubbing off, as the fireballer has given up runs in his last three ballgames, and four of his last five. Injuries have robbed this kid, or he’d likely be in Cleveland by now.
- Carolina Mudcats’ offense: 2-for-24, 1 BB, 8 K’s: The Mudcats’ bats are really struggling to find the baseball, as they’ve been now shutout in back-to-back nights. The Keys pitchers were spectacular last night, facing the minimum 24 batters before a massive Carolina storm wiped out the ninth.
- Michael Goodnight: SP, Carolina: L (2-8), 7 IP, 9 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 K: You can’t pitch much better than the lanky righty pitched last night, but he unfortunately gave up the one and only run of the game, and in a shortened game at that. Goodnight has been a rubber band this season, looking really good at times, and really bad at others. He does have the ability to make bats miss (7 K’s last night, 9 K’s on May 28th), so if he could find that consistency and pound the strike zone, he could become an interesting starting prospect.
- Grant Sides: RP, Carolina: 1 IP: I may be in the minority on this one, I may not, but I believe Sides is one of the elite bullpen guys in the system, along with the Cody Allens and the Shawn Armstrongs. He’s been electric in his Single A season this year, at both Lake County, and so far in Carolina. He has a ways to go, but seems to be a quick-mover like his predecessors.
- Jose Ramirez: 2B, Lake County: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: Ramirez hit .325 in the Arizona League, which was the best average in the Tribe system in 2011. He’s a bit of a sleeper in the system, as he doesn’t turn 20 until September, but has nice speed, and a professional bat. He’s just another middle infielder prospect to keep an eye on going forward.
- Francisco Lindor: SS, Lake County: 1-for-5, 3 R, 1 BB, SB: Lindor’s 17 stolen bases is 11th in the league, and really showcases the 18-year-old’s multi-faceted ball game. His OBP is an impressive .364, and you can really see that this kid projects into a power hitting, base stealing star. As he learns that consistency, I really think you are going to see something special. He’s a bit of experience away from being a major leaguer. He may spend the season at Lake County, but after that, it may be a scenario where he spends next year bouncing from Carolina-to-Columbus.
- Luigi Rodriguez: CF, Lake County: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K: Rodriguez is still batting .285. I start with that blanket statement because it’s easy to focus on his inconsistencies because he’s a top prospect. At the end of the day, he’s a 19-year-old kid that’s having a mighty good season. Of course, he HAS struck out 72 times in 64 games, with only 23 walks. That’s a concern, and has to level out as he moves forward.
- Jordan Smith: RF, Lake County: 2-for-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI: Smith broke out of a three-game hitless streak with back-to-back two-hit ballgames. It’s easy to overlook Smith with guys like Lindor and Rodriguez on this team, but he maintains the top average on the team, and probably the most professional approach as well. I still maintain that he’ll be the first guy to Carolina based on that fact alone. If he had any power, he’d already be there (three homers on the season, and in his career).
- Leonardo Castillo: 1B, Lake County: 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 2B: Castillo has really struggled this season, but is picking things up over his last three ballgames. He’s 5-for-12, with two runs, and a double.
- Todd Hankins: 3B, Lake County: 2-for-4, 1 BB, 2 K, SB: Hankins stole his 14th base on the season, and is liquid speed on the basepaths. He is really rolling at the plate, with a ten game line of .361/.521/.528. If he can maintain a plus OBP, he can really be a factor at any level.
- Cody Anderson: SP, Lake County: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K: Anderson didn’t stay long in this one, and was dominant in his short stint. I’m not sure if they were watching pitch count, or if there was something else going on, but another good outing from the all-star, and dropped his ERA under 3 (2.99).
- Mason Radeke: RP, Lake County: W (5-1), 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K: This wasn’t Radeke’s best outing of the season, but he gets the win in support of Anderson.
- Rob Nixon: RP, Lake County: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 2 K: If Nixon could maintain consistency, he’s be talked about a bit more, but has hiccups every two or three games.
- Tyler Naquin: CF, Mahoning Valley: 1-for-4, 3 K: Well, Naquin has had three professional games, and has a three-hit game and now, a three-K game. Welcome to the bigs Tyler! The Tribe is taking it’s time with Naquin, but it will be interesting to see what he does with consistent playing time over the next couple months.
- Charlie Valerio: C, Mahoning Valley: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: Valerio has been the most consistent bat in the lineup so far this season for the Scrappers, and has a current three-game hit streak in which he’s gone 5-for-11, with a run, a double and an RBI.
- Scott People: RP, Mahoning Valley: 1 IP: Peoples really struggled in his first two ballgames, but got his first taste of good pitching in Monday Night’s ballgame, after being drafted three weeks ago.
- Dorssys Paulino: SS, AZL Indians: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 3B: Paulino has hits in four of his first five rookie games, and should be one to watch going forward. There’s a bunch of potential in this Indians big free agent signing, and remember, he’s only 17-years old. He doesn’t turn 18 until November.
- Anthony Santander: LF, AZL Indians: 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K: Santander has three two-hit ballgames in his first five professional ballgames. Yeah, just another 17-year-old to watch going forward.
- Martin Cervenka: C, AZL Indians: 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K: Cervenka, a free agent from the Czech Republic (?!?), has back-to-back two hit ball games.
- Luis Morel: SP, AZL Indians: 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, BB, 6 K: Morel had a nice start in his second appearance in the rookie league. Morel was suspended for 50 games in 2010 for a positive drug test, but is climbing his way back through the system.
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.
I'd add Sturdevant to the guys like Allen and Armstrong, and maybe Sides. He likely doesn't have their upside, but he still might make Cleveland this year.
A few weeks ago, I was expecting Lindor to be promoted. Then he went into a slump, and his plate discipline went from below average to poor. He's since rebounded, albeit slowly. But, I'm encouraged by his improved BB-rate and, lately, his baserunning. Nevertheless, I can see why he may need the entire season at Lake County. Let him continue to work on his plate discipline and overall game and by next year, as you indicated, he should be able to hit the ground running,