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Around the Farm: June 28, 2014

Around the Farm: June 28, 2014
Ben Heller (Photo: IBI)
June 29, 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.

Ben Heller (RP, Lake County): 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. This guy is quickly becoming a favorite of mine – not because he’s becoming some great prospect or anything but because I can’t wait to see what he does next. He’s definitely put himself on the prospect periphery, but considering he is almost 23 years old and in Low-A you take the performance with a grain of salt. Even still, 58 strikeouts in 34.2 innings and a .149 BAA are impressive and something worth following to see what happens as he move up the minor league ladder.  If this translates to High-A Carolina and even Double-A Akron, then the Indians may have something. Just send him to Carolina already.

  • Jose Ramirez (DH, Columbus): 2-for-5, 2 R, 2B. Ramirez returned from his two week DL stint as a hitter only to get him back into the mix and responded with a multi-hit night. Just another day at the office for Ramirez who continues to sizzle against Triple-A pitching.
  • Giovanny Urshela (3B, Columbus): 2-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI. Urshela just continues to impress. He’s really done a nice job of making the transition from Double-A to Triple-A, something that a lot of players have trouble with. He is now hitting .270 with 7 HR, 36 RBI and .802 OPS in 51 games at Columbus.
  • Roberto Perez (C, Columbus): 2-for-3, RBI, BB. Perez has been out of his mind with the bat this season and is hitting .315 with a .965 OPS in 46 games. He is nowhere near this capable with the bat, but sometimes a guy just has one of those years and he appears to be having one of them. Good for him.
  • Audy Ciriaco (2B, Columbus): 2-for-2, R, 2B, 3 BB. Ciriaco reached base in all five plate appearances and continued his torrid stretch of play over the past two weeks. He is hitting .382 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and 1.223 OPS in his last 10 games.
  • Tyler Cloyd (SP, Columbus): 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Cloyd continues to pitch well after a clunker of a start to his season. In his five June starts he went 4-1 with a 3.56 ERA and averaged over six innings per start.
  • Ronny Rodriguez (2B, Akron): 2-for-5. Rodriguez has really recovered nicely since a brutal start to his season and has progressively gotten more consistent and productive with the bat as the season has worn on. If the Indians are buyers in July, then Ronny Rod could be a piece they are selling due to their abundance of middle infielders.
  • Erik Gonzalez (SS, Akron): 0-for-5, 2 K. Gonzalez is now 0-for-9 in the two games he has played at the Double-A level since filling in for the injured Francisco Lindor.
  • Jordan Smith (RF, Akron): 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI. Every extended hot streak has to start somewhere and right now Smith is on a little mini-hot streak having recorded multi-hit games in three of his last four games. Could this be the stretch of good play that helps salvage what has been an otherwise lost season for him?
  • Ollie Linton (CF, Akron): 3-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Okay, I know, Linton is not a prospect, but the guy had a hell of a game reaching base in all four plate appearances and raking in the nine-hole. Not a bad night for a guy filling in for the injured Tyler Naquin in center field.
  • Duke von Schamann (SP, Akron): 5.0 IP, 13 H, 5 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR. When you don’t get much swing and miss and rely on your defense and a bit of luck for hitters to hit the ball at defenders, you end up with games like this one. He’s pitched well this season, but I am not as high on him as most.
  • Toru Murata (RP, Akron): 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. Murata has been a nice organizational solider and has sort of filled the upper level long relief/swing starter role solidly since Paolo Espino andBrett Brach left the organization….but this outing was U-G-L-Y.
  • Jeremy Lucas (DH, Carolina): 2-for-4, 2 RBI, BB, K. Lucas continues to be one of the most consistent hitters and run producers on the Carolina roster this season. He’s still kind of an iffy prospect, but there is no denying he has a nice plan when he steps into the batter’s box and has a little thump in his bat.
  • James Roberts (2B, Carolina): 2-for-3, R, 2B, BB. This is the second straight multi-hit game from Roberts and his second straight game with an extra base hit – which is nice to see.
  • Alex Monsalve (C, Carolina): 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, K. I jumped off the Monsalve bandwagon a long time ago, but it is still nice to see him put it together at times like he did on this night. He is so big and strong that you just always wonder what could be if he stayed healthy and found any sort of consistency with his play.
  • D.J. Brown (SP, Carolina): 4.1 IP, 11 H, 8 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K. That is about as ugly a pitching line as a starting pitcher can have. As always, it is about getting your work in, so Brown was in this game longer than he would have been had he been in Cleveland where wins and losses are all that matters.
  • Michael Peoples (RP, Carolina): 3.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 2 K. Peoples has had a solid season though has had a little bit of inconsistency with his outings which has caused his performance to spike a little from outing to outing. He’s an interesting arm because of his size and ability to get some swing and miss.
  • Claudio Bautista (2B, Lake County): 2-for-3, 2 R, HR, RBI. Bautista is one of my favorite prospects in the lower levels. Not because he is a highly rated guy or has massive potential, but because of how intriguing he is as an offensive player. A .160 isolated power is nice from a middle infielder.
  • Clint Frazier (CF, Lake County): 2-for-4, RBI, K. It has been a bit of a grind so far this season for Frazier in his first full season, but expectations aside he has performed well for an 19-year old in full season ball for the first time. He’s had a solid June hitting .259 with a .751 OPS.
  • Dorssys Paulino (LF, Lake County): 2-for-3, BB. That is two multi-hit games in a row from Paulino, but he has a long way to go to resurrect his prospect value which has all but vanished over the past 15 months.
  • Jordan Milbrath (SP, Lake County): 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. A so-so outing from Milbrath. He did not struggle with his command in this one like he has in several of his most recent outings, so that is a positive to take away from this game.
  • Justin Brantley (RP, Lake County): 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. This was the fifth outing for Brantley since joining the Captains about three weeks ago. He has been used for multiple innings in each outing and in 10.2 innings has allowed 1 run on 6 hits, 2 walks and has 8 strikeouts.
  • Bradley Zimmer (CF, Mahoning Valley): 2-for-4, RBI, BB. Zimmer’s first multi-hit game of his pro career and hopefully the first of many more to come. He really had a nice game reaching base in three of his five plate appearances, so maybe he is starting to settle in. Of note, while he has received priority in center field, Greg Allen has been playing right field.
  • Francisco Mejia (C, Mahoning Valley): 2-for-4, RBI, E. Mejia continues to hold his own with the bat in the early going hitting .259 with a .670 OPS and 8-12 walk to strikeout ratio in 15 games. This guy has big star potential, so it will be interesting what he shows these next two months in Mahoning Valley.
  • Austin Fisher (SS, Mahoning Valley): 3-for-4, R, RBI. Fisher needed this game as he was just 5-for-28 in his pro debut leading up to this night. This was his first multi-hit game as a pro and he now has a modest 4-game hitting streak going.
  • Julian Merryweather (SP, Mahoning Valley): 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Merryweather allowed his first two runs of his pro career. In three appearances he has now pitched 9.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, 3 walks and has 3 strikeouts.
  • Anthony Vizcaya (RP, Mahoning Valley): 1.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R (6 ER), 2 BB, 2 K. Yikes, this is the second straight bad outing for Vizcaya and over his last two outings he has now totaled 4.2 innings and allowed 13 runs (11 earned), 11 hits, 6 walks and has 6 strikeouts.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

June 29, 2014 - 6:50 PM EDT
I learned something from so call talent experts on this site

Good year + Bad year = mirage

Bad year + Good year = mediocre.
June 29, 2014 - 6:34 PM EDT
Seth: You might as well save your breath. Every poster, I'm sure, read through the recap above, yet for some of them -- ahem, Hiram -- even though the recap is littered with "not because he is a highly rated guy or has massive potential," "he's still kind of an iffy prospect," "he is nowhere near this capable with the bat," "long way to go to resurrect his prospect value which has all but vanished," they view this organization as close to being "very special."
Such rosy descriptions belong to organizations like the Cardinals, not for one that has acclaimed prospects peter out in low-A or is trumpeted for providing the big-league club with a so-so reliever this year.
Really ... Mirabelli, Atkins ... how do they stay employed?
June 29, 2014 - 4:31 PM EDT
Walter, how is it "front-running" to look at where their system stands, and its successes and failures? Salazar last year looked great and seemed to take a big step forward. Before he had been labelled as more of a likely bullpen guy because of durability questions and inconsistent secondary stuff. Then he came into camp out of shape and has had shoulder and other arm problems and couldn't throw his breaking pitches, so it is leaning towards those questions being answered in the negative. Anderson pitching with lower velocity and poor command, is just a bad sign for the pitcher who looked next closest to the majors after Salazar, Bauer and House. Even if he finishes strong, at best his timetable has been pushed back. If you're just looking at everything through rose-colored glasses, I don't know, what's the point of even looking, or at least discussing what you're looking at?

Bauer and Salazar could still step up in the second half and Cleveland could make a run, but I don't understand how anyone could say the Indians farm system has done a good job of replenishing the talent they lost or that it looks the least bit dependable. The Indians front office bet on that talent this year, and so far it's clearly been a losing bet.
June 29, 2014 - 3:29 PM EDT
R Rod doing much better lately, but you also have to keep in mind that he is repeating at Akron after being there all season last year.

Overall, his performance is about the same as last season, though he has been on a good run in June. However, though he is hitting much better this month, his walk and walk/strikeout rate remain pretty bad, and even slightly deteriorated further this month.

This gets me thinking that he has to be up there with a hacking mindset to be effective, but this will be very exploitable when he gets to the majors.
June 29, 2014 - 3:22 PM EDT
lol....Last year when Salazar had a good year, everyone thought he is the next ace for the Indians. Last year Anderson had a breakout year and most people thought that Anderson will be this years Salazar.

During the off season Tony warned us that our expectations were to high and that both pitchers were not finished in there development.

Now since both are having bad years, we are labeling them as a mirage.

Now I know why Indians cant draw Fans. Too many front runners.

Lol...I guess last night game that Tomlin pitched was a mirage. It looked real to me.

June 29, 2014 - 2:28 PM EDT
Obviously the A's are the exception, mostly because they hit on all fronts, minor league prospects, trades and free agents. I don't know that you can discount player development for someone like Chavez. He was in the A's minor league system since 2012. If we're talking about the ability of the farm system to replace guys internally, Chavez is just as much a part of that as Sonny Gray. If we're talking about development, versus drafting, if anything guys like Chavez and Pomeranz show that it may not be as much the raw talent, but the ability of the organization to harness the talent it acquires.

Anyway, this conversation started with Hiram saying how pleased he is with the farm system and that it's becoming dependable, deep and helpful and will help them keep contending... except objectively it has not been any of that, and the rotation next year looks like it will need major external upgrades. Sure you can hope a Colon pan out, or guys who are years away like Lugo, but let's start with Salazar, Bauer and Carrasco, none of whom have yet panned out, before we speculate about whether some guy in AA who's striking out less than 6 per 9 can be a successful major leaguer.

I still see a team that does not do a good job at development, especially pitching development, and needs to luck out on the free agent market to contend. Thought this might have changed with Salazar and Anderson looking good coming up the system last year, but looks like both may have been a mirage. And I still like Bauer, but you can't pretend he's been good so far this year, he's been a below average starter.
June 29, 2014 - 2:01 PM EDT
as for the indian farm system farm systems that are loaded end up being trade bait the key is having a major league prospect manning every position and several pitchers both starters and relivers to draw from and have them spread out among the farm clubs i would guess the indians farm seems to have that. the trouble with the indians is they arent due to inconsistency a very sexi 90 win team. that is partly because they have a fairly young pitching staff and with yourth comes inconsistency but usually with youth comes maturity and if the youth is talented also sexi looking records more consistency follow. I would however guess that about now 2014 the indians farm system is somewhere between 6th and 9th best in the major leagues that isnt bad at all.
June 29, 2014 - 1:57 PM EDT
@Seth - I agree that what the A's have done this year is remarkable but it's also the exception rather than the rule. Most teams can't stand to lose 600 innings to injuries and ineffectiveness and still be competitive. The fact that the A's are is a testament to Billy Beane and their scouting department not something every team should be compared to.

Furthermore, while Sonny Gray is indeed having a nice year your inclusion of Jesse Chavez is a little off point. Chavez is no prospect, he's 30 years old and this is his seventh season in the majors on his fifth team. Last year while he was pitching out of the A's pen was the first time in his career he had an ERA below 4 and previously his ERA was only under 5.88 once. Chavez really shouldn't be used as an example of great player development.
June 29, 2014 - 1:45 PM EDT
Walter I agree. Need a turnaround now. Being so inconsistent along with LA and NY looking much better the wildcard will be tough to get.

Would like to see Aguilar up now.

Most all the better prospects are below AAA.
June 29, 2014 - 12:32 PM EDT
I think the injuries of Naquin and Wendle is going to hurt what trade chips the Indians could use before the trade deadline. I believe Urshela, Moncrief, Ramirez and Aguilar might become the main prospects the Indians could use to trade before the deadline.

Personally I think this is not the Indians year regarding all aspects of there game. Especially being ranked last in defense. Very frustrating team to follow this year. Could they turn things around in second half? Yes they can, but my gut feeling is no. I hope I'm wrong.

If there is no trades at the deadline the Indians should give some opportunities from there prospects.
I believe that Aguilar, Ramirez, CC Lee can help this team. Others that can help includes Moncrief, Price, and Sturdevant.
June 29, 2014 - 12:31 PM EDT
Jay, if you have a "dependable" farm system, then you can take veteran players who have left via free agency (e.g. Ubaldo, Kazmir), and deal with injury/ineffectiveness (Masterson). The A's last year had Colon, Griffin, and Parker throw almost 600 innings. They lost all 3 to free agency and injury ... and have been even better this year, with Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez stepping in, and of course the outside acquisition Kazmir (and Pomeranz before he punched a table) But simply contrast what Gray and Chavez have done with what Salazar and Bauer have done. If Salazar and Bauer were pitching like Gray and Chavez, the Indians would likely be in first place too. Instead, they're floundering, because their farm system could NOT dependably replace Kazmir and Ubaldo
June 29, 2014 - 12:05 PM EDT
My best guess is Ben Heller to Carolina very soon. I think he needs to work a little more on the offspeed stuff w Steve Karsay and he could be in Columbus next year. Special prospect, IMO
June 29, 2014 - 12:02 PM EDT
I don't agree with the thought that the Indians farm system hasn't been dependable this year. Injuries/ineffectiveness in the rotation have been replaced by Bauer and Tomlin. Who have provided quality outings at a very low cost. Ragging on Bauer because he has a 4.53 FIP as a 23-year old doesn't make much sense. Most young starters don't come up and dominate right from the start. Bauer's numbers this year actually compare pretty favorably to Sabathia's numbers as a 23-year old and they look pretty sparkling next to Cliff Lee's early career numbers.

As far as the ineffectiveness of the relievers brought up to Cleveland all I can say is that when you choose Mark Lowe over guys like CC Lee and Kyle Crockett the results will be suspect.
June 29, 2014 - 11:54 AM EDT
We're more than halfway through the minor league season and I think it's safe to say Urshela is the breakout prospect of the entire system. He's always been a semi-prospect because of his glove but then again, so was Kyle Bellows not too long ago. Of course, Urshela is a lot younger than Bellows so there was always hope he would grow as a hitter...and boy has he. He had a very mediocre year in Akron last year, so to think that he'd develop his on-base ability AND power a year later at a HIGHER level is amazing. Of course, Huntington is a notorious hitter's park, but Urshela was doing this at the beginning of the year in a very cold Akron as well. Again, I don't want to get too excited over a half season of power numbers, but the guy flashes the leather too. I think I can get excited over a future left side of the infield of Lindor and Ursehla, especially after watching the big league club accumulate error after error this season. It may be time to start considering moving Lonnie Baseball's bat to 1B or the outfield long-term if Urshela keeps this up.

On a related note, Roberto Perez is another guy whose bat has seemingly caught up with his defense. I never really thought of this guy as a prospect per se but he's got to have the inside track on backup catcher in Cleveland next season.
June 29, 2014 - 11:14 AM EDT
Bauer's 2-4 with a 4.39 ERA and 4.53 FIP. Salazar was 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA and 4.68 FIP. House 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA and 4.90 FIP. Carrasco, as a starter was 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA and 3.70 FIP. Bauer, and Salazar, still have potential to positively impact the team, but the Indians farm system has been the opposite of dependable this year in filling their positions of need. Even the relievers have not been good, Blake Wood, CC Lee, Hagadone.
June 29, 2014 - 9:59 AM EDT
Seems to me that Bauer has done a nice job this year. Also before the season Tomlin may not have been on the radar as a legit ml starter, but I'm beginning to see him as a Paul Byrd type, which really helps a team. I also don't remember a lot of people crying to keep Kazmir but he was signed much earlier in the off season than Ubaldo. By the way, I give the FO a ton of credit for NOT signing Masterson and Ubaldo.
June 29, 2014 - 9:36 AM EDT
Not one person said that? Hmm, I think you have a short memory. Might want to go re-read some articles from this spring.

How is the farm system getting to the point that it's dependable? It's just an odd thing to say in a year that's really exposed their lack of high-end talent. What looked at the start of the year like a promising, young, cost-controlled starting rotation, has devolved into Kluber and a bunch of #5 starters, which is partly because of Masterson, but also largely because of the failure of their pitching prospects to step up (Salazar, Carrasco, Bauer)
June 29, 2014 - 9:18 AM EDT

one guy would rather go 81-81 and keep Pomeranz... Just too ignorant to comment on any further.


I never said they were there. What I said was they are about a year away from being there with a nice draft and with further development.

What irritates me with ppl like you is that you always 2nd guess in hindsight. Yeah, Kazmir would look good but not one person mentioned at the time they would give him 11 M a year. Also, in terms of Salazar, the Indians handled that situation wrong again. He should've never been given a starting job considering how little he pitched, Tito got caught red handed once again with playing favorites and giving away jobs to folks who really didn't deserve them after he said it was a competition.

Yes, the Indians are behind in terms of starting pitching but it's coming and we should see more with not only Salazar who will be good, Anderson(ups and downs in AA but you get that with prospects) but with guys like Colon, Morimando, Baker, Lugo and others. Some of you guys are so hyper critical, unfair that you pay attention to what you don't have as opposed to paying attention to what you do have and the progress the farm is making.

Look at the drafting the past 3-4 years and see all the guys who are considered good-to very good prospects, see the International guys that are progressing. No one is saying the Indians farm is juggernaut but it's getting to a point where it's starting to become very dependable, deep and helpful to the big club
June 29, 2014 - 8:52 AM EDT
I really don't see that at all Hiram. With the decline of Salazar and Cody Anderson, they don't have much of anything as far as upper level pitching is concerned. If anything this year shows how they are so much behind teams like Oakland and Atl. Oakland lost 40% of its starting rotation in spring training and is still the best team in the AL. Cleveland passed on Kazmir, and Harang, because they had Salazar, and look where that got them.
June 29, 2014 - 8:08 AM EDT
I think teams have finally figured out it makes no sense to give up top prospects to the Indians for short term rentals. Like Santana for Blake, Choo for Perez, Cabrera for Broussard, McAlister for Kearns, Gomes for Rogers, etc.

From now on we'll have to hit on the draft picks.

Imagine how good this team would have been had we gotten a little more out of the Martinez and Lee deals. It looks like one every-other-year starter (Masterson) and one middle reliever (Carrasco) is pretty much it unless Price finally puts it all together.

It was nice to win 92 last year but in retrospect I'd rather have Pomeranz right now and have gone 81-81, or whatever we would have done without Ubaldo.

Never trade prospects. The one time it kind of paid off was the Archer deal where we got Mark DeRosa (sp?). We ended up trading him for Chris Perez, who had a nice run as our closer for a few years.
June 29, 2014 - 6:45 AM EDT
It appears that the Indians not only have a ton of cutting they need to do but they need to be pushing guys up into the system too. It seems like the Indians are always a little slow in pushing guys up who have demonstrated they need to be challenged more.

One another note. I can't emphasize enough how pleased I am with the way the system is going. I think it's about a year away from being very special and really a force in helping the Indians. I think the goal is to be like a team like STL, ATL where you are consistently shedding veterans who are expensive to bring up talented, cheaper rookies and not miss a beat in terms of overall performance. I think this team needs more quality draft to really put it over the top in terms of quality prospects in the farm. II believe that Antonetti deserves credit for having a good team at the major league level and then quietly building up the system in the minors.

If the Indians do make a move for a starter and I think they will I suspect that it won't be a major name but a innings eater who has a couple years on deal. I think the Indians will deal from a position of strength and not giving away any of the top prospects. Someone like Ronny Rodriguez for example can be a target.

The bottom line is this. The Indians are starter away from being a really good team and I think overall they are positioning themselves to be a contender each and every year with what the farm is doing too

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