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Around the Farm: May 13, 2012

Around the Farm: May 13, 2012
May 14, 2012
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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.
 
Elvis Araujo: SP, Lake County: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR:
 
I’ve had a lot of fun watching Lake County’s starting rotation this year, and I particularly look forward to the weekly back-to-back starts of Elvis Araujo and Felix Sterling. Both are kids that are high up the prospect watch-list, but still have a long, long way to go. That said, both are having outstanding seasons, and you do get the impression that both are going to be handcuffed to each other over the next three seasons as they progress through the system. Sunday’s start marks Araujo’s sixth straight solid outing, and his seventh plus start in eight total for the season. Hell, his eighth start wasn’t all that bad either. Overall, he’s 0-4, but don’t let that fool you. His ERA sits at 2.54 in 39 innings pitched. He has given up 39 hits this year, but only walked 14 while striking out 35. He’s a guy that the Indians have on a tight pitch count right now thanks to Tommy John surgery in 2009 that cost him nearly two years of progression. When they unleash him either later this season, or next season it will be interesting to see how he handles that. Both Sterling and Aroujo are smoothly handling their first major test. He’s only 20 years old, so the Indians have nothing but time with this kid. There is no reason to think that Araujo won’t continue to trend up as one of the best left-handers in the system.
 
Francisco Jimenez, SP, Carolina Mudcats: W (4-1), 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R/0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K:
 
Here are some words I never thought I’d utter this season. Francisco Jimenez just may be the best starting pitcher for the Carolina Mudcats right now. No, he’s certainly not the most talented pitcher on the Muddies, but this kid has done everything that management has asked off him, and more. In his last three starts, Jimenez has gone 16 2/3 innings, given up only 10 hits and one earned run, while walking seven and striking out 14. He’s 2-0 over that span. This guy has one of those arms that will translate in the pen, as well as the rotation, and will provide the next two levels with a Paulo Espino-like presence. He definitely doesn’t project into the majors going forward, but is just another one of those interesting stories that should provide fans with an interesting watch going forward. This kid is clearly an underdog, and one that has gone from a struggling reliever, to a successful starter in just over a year’s time.
 
Tim Fedroff: CF, Akron Aeros: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K:
 
As a fan of the minor leagues, a kid like Tim Fedroff is fun to watch. This guy understands how to play the game of baseball, and when he’s clicking, which is often in the minors, he just shreds the baseball. He’s in one of those streaks right now, and Eastern league pitching is just a joke to him right now. He’s hitting .410 over his last ten games, with a .429 OBP and a .487 slugging percentage. He’s currently riding an eight-game hit streak, with five runs and three doubles during the stretch, and he’s hitting .342 overall this season. I do not see Fedroff as a future major league option, but what makes this kid great is that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks with regards to his future with the Indians. He just keeps hammering the baseball. With names like Copeland and Huffman ahead of him in Columbus, it’s mind-numbing to watch Fedroff continue to earn his way to Columbus, but not get there. This will all shake itself out in the next few weeks, I’m sure, but he’s earned another shot at Triple A, where he hit .272 last season in a 62-game stint with the Clippers. That’s where he needs to be, since it’s clear that he owns the Double A level.
 
  • Andy LaRoche: 3B, Columbus: 2-for-4, 1 R: It always interests me when former major leaguers find themselves stuck in the minors later in their careers. The 28-year-old LaRoche is one of those players, having played parts of five seasons in the majors. He was picked up to add some support should Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall struggle or get hurt. With Chiz out, LaRoche has found some regular time at third, and has started to play well. He’s hitting .238 overall, but has hit .300 (12-for-36) over the past ten games, with four multi-hit games. He is what he is at this point, but it’s always good to have solid veterans waiting in the wings.
  • Chad Huffman: LF, Columbus: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K: While Huffman doesn’t have as much major league experience, he’s another player in the mold of Andy LaRoche, who’s never going to be counted on as a regular starter in the bigs, but could fill in a role should injuries or lackluster play overwhelm a team. He’s had three multi-hit games in his past ten, and is hitting .284, overall, with nine doubles and three homers, in 24 games so far this year. He’s a right-handed hitter, but only hitting .167 against lefties. Seriously, where do the Indians get these guys.
  • Beau Mills: 1B, Columbus: 0-for-1, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: If you have followed my Around the Farms over the years, you’d know that these are the types of games that I absolutely love. Mills got on base thanks to a walk and a hit-by-pitch, and had a sac fly on top of it. Mills has been struggling at the plate recently, but I love a guy who scraps his way on base.
  • Russ Canzler: DH, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K: Canzler is a full-bore, minor league lifer. He does fit into the LaRoche/Huffman theme, but without the major league credentials. He gets a de facto pass, thanks to his fantastic 2011 season with the Durham Bulls. He’s now hit home runs in back-to-back games. Of course, they are his only home runs on the season, so there’s that.
  • Kevin Slowey: SP, Columbus: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R/3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K: Kevin Slowey, it’s time to go-ey. In all seriousness, Slowey is another one of those guys with major league experience (39-29, 4.66 ERA) that the Indians have picked up to hopefully fill in when needed. Of course, you see how well he’s doing in the minors when he’s playing second fiddle to Zach McAllister, who was called up in front of Slowey twice. If something else happens in the rotation, would Slowey even be the guy after McAllister? I doubt it. He’s 2-3, with a 5.79 ERA, and has given up 23 earned runs in the last 27 1/3 innings. Just horrible.
  • Cody Allen: RP, Columbus: L (1-1), 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 1 K, 1 HR: Allen is officially struggling in Columbus, but at some point, you had to figure that Allen had to come back to earth after skyrocketing through the system. With the Clippers, he’s given up runs in three of his five appearances, including three of the last four. His ERA is currently sitting at 4.32. While I don’t feel like this has hurt his chances of making an appearance with the Indians later in the season, I would be willing to bet it’s something that the Indians’ brass will take a look at going forward, mainly to see HOW he rebounds, not if.
  • Jared Goedert: LF, Akron: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K: Ask, and you shall receive. There’s been a call for some power from Goedert, and he hits a home run, just for you. Okay, that’s ridiculous, but Goedert clearly still can put up power numbers. I don’t think it would be his primary purpose in a major league stint some day, but it will be there.
  • Chun-Hsiu Chen: 1B, Akron: 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 K: Chen is hitting .302 on the season, and has himself a modest four-game hit streak in which he’s gone 7-for-16, with four runs, three doubles and an RBI. It would be nice to see Chen hit with any sort of power, since he’s actually a right-handed hitter who shreds left-handed pitching. He’s currently hitting .324 on the season against lefties, and could provide an option next season, should the Indians need a right-handed bat from within.
  • Adam Abraham: DH, Akron: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K: Abraham had slid into a bit of a slump after a hot streak got the average near .300 a week ago. Abraham regained his “double-machine” status today, with his fifth double in his last ten games. He had gone 0-for-10 in his last three heading into Sunday’s game, but had scored nine runs in his last ten games. He’s such a work-horse, and when he’s on, extremely productive.
  • T.J. House: SP, Akron: L (1-1), 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 K: House struggled today for the first time this season, but you can still look at this start with the positive at hand. When he struggled in previous years, you could always point to missing the strike zone. Today, House threw 91 pitches, 61 of which were strikes. He only walked two, and struck out seven. Now, it should be interesting to see what happens in his next start.
  • Loek Van Mil: RP, Akron: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 2 K: Van Mil will always intrigue me, because the kid is 20’ tall, and can throw 200 MPH. Okay, I realize that I’m trying to create a “tall tale” here, but sometimes that’s what baseball is all about. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the gun is hitting for Van Mil, as it’s been reported he can throw in the neighborhood of 100, but often holds back because of his lack of control. He didn’t have any walks today, and seemed hittable, so I’m curious to see if this was one of those games.
  • Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 K: Bryson is certainly in the same bracket in the system as Kyle Landis and Bryan Price, a quality reliever who is just under the elite level in the system. He can hit the gun in the mid-90’s, but his stuff gets hittable the higher in the system that he moves. He’s given up runs in six of his ten games with Akron, but he’s yet to pitch in a situation of an inning or less. His ERA is a more-than-palpable 2.84, and still will provide the Indians with an option in the bullpen as early as September.
  • Tony Wolters: 2B, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B: Wolters continues to show the Indians’ management that he’s starting to figure out Carolina League pitching, which is a HUGE step in this kid’s development going forward. He’s got a four-game hit streak, and has hit in eight of his last ten games, which includes three multi-hit games. He’s gone 11-for-38 (.289) in his last ten games, with five runs and three doubles during that stretch. He’s still striking out too much, but again, this kid’s learning curve is extremely high. Remember, he doesn’t turn 20 until June 9th.
  • Carlos Moncrief: RF, Carolina: 1-for-3, 1 2B, SB (2): Moncrief is a bundle of raw talent, that’s still looking to put it all together. He’s got an aggressive approach at the plate that can work at as a negative when things aren’t going his way. When they are, look out. He’s currently hitting .241 on the season, but has a line of .324/.425/.618 over his past ten games, with three doubles, two triples, a homer, five RBI and five walks. In typical Moncrief fashion, he’s struck out 13 times. He absolutely annihilates left-handed pitching, and his hitting .381 against lefties this season, vs. only .207 against righties.
  • Shawn Armstrong: RP, Carolina: H (3), 2 1/3 IP, 4 K: These are the types of tests I love to see from a plus arm like Armstrong (no pun intended there…or was there?). He gave up his first run of the season in his last outing on May 10th, and you always wonder how a young guy will rebound from that. Well, I’d say he passed his test, throwing 28 total pitches, 19 of which were strikes, while striking out four. He just dominated. I think you can officially put Armstrong into the C.C. Lee/Cody Allen category of elite relievers up and down the system at this point.
  • Jose Flores: Closer, Carolina: S (6), 1 IP: I absolutely hammered both Jimenez and Flores last season in Kinston, because they were absolutely hittable, and, quite honestly, bad. Boy, what a difference a season makes. Flores has given up two earned runs all season, and has been a buzz-saw in the closer role. Overall, he has six saves and a 1.08 ERA this season. While he’s not an elite guy, you certainly can put him in the same category right now as a guy like Cory Burns and Preston Guilmet, as guys with interesting arms that flourish in a certain role. Flores does have more heat than Burns and Guilmet before him, but at the same time, has a painfully inconsistent delivery.
  • Jordan Smith: RF, Lake County: 2-for-4, 2 R: Don’t look now, but here comes Jordan Smith. This kid is one of those professional hitters that you know, sooner-or-later, is going to hit the ball, and hit the ball well. He’s found it in Low A Lake County. Remember, he hit .300 last year in short season Mahoning Valley after a bit of a slump at the end of the season. He started off slow this year, but is really starting to pick things up. Over his last ten games, his line is a torrid .333/.386/.513. It gets even better when you look at his last five games, four of which are multi-hit games. He’s gone 8-for-19, with five runs, two doubles, two RBI, two walks and one strikeout. He’s got hits in nine of his last ten games.
  • Bryson Myles: CF, Lake County: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, SB (11), CS (5):  Myles continues to impress on a daily basis, and while he can go on stretches like his last six games when he went 0-for-19, he always rebounds with a stretch of solid play. He clearly still has a lot to learn, as he’s still not played a full season of professional baseball, but he’s ready for the next step at Carolina. He’s a fantastic fielder and shows an advanced bat at the plate, even during his struggles. If he can stay healthy, don’t be surprised to see Myles in Carolina in June, before some of the more heralded prospects behind him.
  • Jerrud Sabourin: 1B, Lake County: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, SB (2): Sabourin is a guy that you don’t think much about, but who’s name keeps showing up in the box scores. He’s roster fill for sure, but someone worth watching going forward, only because the numbers show a guy that perhaps goes beyond the numbers. Maybe he’s another Adam Abraham…which doesn’t do anything for the Indians in the future, but does provide a fun darkhorse for minor league-niks like myself.
  • Rob Nixon: RP, Lake County: W (1-0), 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K: Nixon was a 46th rounder out of Adelphi in 2011, and had a nice start to his professional career in Mahoning last season, going 7-3 as a starter. The Indians moved him to the pen in 2012 at Lake County, and he’s shown some decent stuff. While he gave up three runs in his second outing with the club this year, he’s only given up one other in his other six, and is slowly building a name for himself.

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

Jim
May 14, 2012 - 8:03 PM EDT
Det--always appreciate the kind words, and look forward to the debate...

I told you Tony...my wife was on a spa day...so had some extra time...I have no doubt you have ten more items about Wolters...they don't call you the hardest working writer with regards to Cleveland Indians' baseball for nothing...

Norm--thanks for the complements. I love talking about Indians baseball at all levels, but doing ATF night in and night out does give you an interesting look at these kids...I compare it to checking out box scores as a kid prior to the internet. My favorite day of the week was when the Sporting News came with a week's worth of box scores...and doing the day-by-day would give you a clear picture of the type of player they were. Sitting here at High A gives me a unique picture, as I really get to see these kids take that final leap into the top tier of the system, and their numbers really do give a good indicator of where they are going, or aren't going.

Your point on Myles is an interesting one, and one I happen to agree with, although I wonder if Smith isn't the right guy. What I worry about with Smith, and I do agree that his offense is a lot more professional than Myles, he lacks pop as a corner outfielder. Of course, so does Myles, but he projects as a plus power guy as a centerfielder (of course...ten home runs would put him there at that position), but I doubt he'll end up in center. I could see a guy like Smith, or even Casas going up first, because that is a typical Indians move. Let them develop in Lake County, while the older guys, or more polished, lower ceiling guys hold down the spots just above them.

I really believe Myles would be the guy if Levon Washington was still around. LC just wouldn't have the space for all those guys. With Washington likely out for the foreseeable future (four months?), there's no pressure as of now. The draft, and a Washington return could change that, so I think you'll see multiple outfielders move up to Carolina at some point, like Aguilar last season...
Norm
May 14, 2012 - 3:20 PM EDT
Jim, I would like to add my sentiments. I believe this was your best work of the young season. Very good appraisal of all prospects and organizational talent. I enjoyed your insights.

Just a thought for you to consider. I am not as convinced as you that Myles will be the first OF up to Carolina. Setting defense aside and the ceiling issue out of the equation, Jordan Smith appears to be closer to HI A at the plate. I have not seen as much as I would like of the two this year but Smith looks well ahead in pitch recognition, plate discipline and, most importantly, swing mechanics. While not as pure, he reminds me somewhat of Chisenhall. I am not saying your opinion is wrong but the Indians have been known to promote based on those factors.

I am not sure why the Indians are delaying Holt. Not that I think his ceiling is that high because it isn't, but nothing in the Akron OF but organizational depth at this point. Not without some talent but not ML material either. These former AAAers have been the heart of Akron's offense this year. They are not the unmitigated disaster that the IF and catching is offensively but none are answers to the Indians OF problems either.

But I babble, again I say "good stuff, Jim".
Tony
May 14, 2012 - 9:20 AM EDT
Damn Jim, you weren't kidding when you said you got on a roll yesterday with ATF. Pretty much a mini paragraph for every guy lol. Nice writeup as always. I agree on Wolters....very encouraging to see on him. Have some insight I will share on him this week.
DetDawg
May 14, 2012 - 8:47 AM EDT
Jim,

Just wanted to say I enjoy your write-ups. Very good writing embedded in all the detail.

Wolters is certainly rebounding from a terrible start. If I were to speculate, he was a week from being demoted. Since then, he's raised his average almost 100 points. His numbers show good patience at the plate, but his power is lacking. My guess is that that will come in the next month or so as he becomes more acclimated in advanced-A and comfortable at the plate.

Really excited about Armstrong. Would like to see if he's got a starter's skills. We have a dearth of quality SPs and it seems as though Armstrong might have the prerequisites. Most likely won't happen until next season, if at all.

Looks like Myles might be ready to start another hot streak. The 2 BBs he had the previous game suggested he might be on the cusp of another hitting jag. Hope that his baserunning doesn't cause him to get some kind of leg injury.

Agree with you about House. Even with the loss, his peripherals are encouraging.

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