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Around the Farm: May 30, 2012: The Candlelight Vigil Edition

Around the Farm: May 30, 2012: The Candlelight Vigil Edition
May 31, 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.

Tony and I were lounging around at the IPI home offices at Lexington and E 66th street on Wednesday Night when we noticed a strange glow in the lobby. No, there weren’t any rivers burning down the street. Instead, the very talented IPI staff began congregating, with candles in hand. That’s right IPI Readers, the ATF’s most talked about player of 2012, Matt LaPorta, was being honored with his very own staff-candlelight vigil.  Yes, I’m aware that speculation can be frowned upon by the haughtier “writers” in Cleveland “fandom,” but the writing is certainly on the wall. Matt LaPorta’s days are numbered in Columbus. The call may not be made on Thursday or even Friday, but it’s certainly just around the corner. So while many of you can’t join us in the plush Indians’ Prospect Insider Tower, feel free to grab a candle of your own as we pay tribute to Matt LaPorta as the countdown begins.  Of course, what you do with that candle is up to you. On with Around the Farm…

Matt LaPorta: LF, Cleveland Indians (Columbus Clippers, sorry, Freudian slip): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K:

Just the thought of Matt LaPorta getting called up to the Indians under the guise of a rebuilt swing or a re-made psyche makes me a bit queasy. I don’t think that it’s any secret that I’ve never been a big fan of LaPorta’s play since the trade for CC Sabathia went down about 20 years ago. No, I don’t want the guy to fail. In fact, I want just the opposite. I want the guy to become the right-handed power hitter that the Indians sorely need. I want LaPorta to actually give some balance to that CC Sabathia deal (you go, Michael Brantley). I want Matt LaPorta to live up to at least SOME of the hype that he brought with him from the Brewers. He just hasn’t, and there lies the problem with one Matt LaPorta. Overall, he’s hitting .309 with Columbus (sixth in the IL), and has 14 homers (2nd in the IL) and 31 RBI (eighth). His OBP is seventh in the league at .402, and his slugging percentage is second in the league at .617. He’s fourth in total bases (100), and second in OPS (1.019). In other words, he’s done everything that he needs to do to make himself look like a commodity that the Indians need. How that will translate to the Indians is still an unknown. He’s only hitting .253 in May, after hitting .380 in April. He’s only hitting .264 on the road, vs. .360 at home. He has 12 homers at home, vs. two homers on the road. So take what you will from LaPorta’s season at Columbus. Does he deserve a call up now that Travis Hafner is on the DL, or does he need more ‘seasoning?’ I feel like it’s time for LaPorta to sink or swim. He’s not going to go away without at least one more chance, so here is that golden opportunity. A month from now, he’ll either be an incredible story, or an incredible bust…again. Of course, let’s wait and see if he gets called up first, because after the Juan Diaz move, a big part of me expects Nick Weglarz to make his debut first. Alright, enough with the jokes, and lets go ahead and commence the candlelight vigil.

Adam Abraham: 1B, Akron Aeros: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K:

Abraham isn’t a top talent in the system, and isn’t a guy that’s pigeon-holed for anything other than minor league fill. He’s never going to lead a major league team on his shoulders, and he’s never going to be mentioned with Francisco Lindor (well, other than right there). Still, Abraham provides the Indians with an incredible model of behavior for many of the younger products. There aren’t many players who get as much out of their talent as Abraham does. He broke out of a May slump with Wednesday Night’s three-hit, three RBI performance. This kid just doesn’t go away, even though some folks would prefer bigger names to get the headline press. Personally, this guy is the poster-child for the right way for minor league ballplayers to play daily. I’m sure this isn’t the last we see Abraham at the top of the list here at ATF, and I’m equally sure that his time at Akron won’t represent his highest level achieved either.

Joseph Colon: SP, Lake County: L (5-5), 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R/0 ER, 2 K:

Colon deserved better than this, but was outdueled by Thomas Collier, who pitched a 4-hit, complete-game shutout against him. Colon may be the best pitcher in the system in May, as he completed the month going 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA. He pitched in 41 1/3 innings, giving up only 28 hits and 9 runs (6 earned). He walked only five, while striking out 21. It’s actually funny, because the least heralded starter in the Captains rotation has become their best starter. His overall ERA is an impressive 2.66, which is second on the Captains behind Cody Anderson’s 2.40, and now 13th overall in the league. He’s tops in the league in innings pitched, and eighth in WHIP. Overall, Colon has developed quite nicely at this level, but still has a lot to prove as he goes against more advanced bats.

  • Jason Donald: SS, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 3B: Donald continues to hit the baseball in Columbus, which really makes you wonder why he’s stuck down at Triple A, while a guy like Juan Diaz not only gets the call, but sticks around for a bit of time. I understand that timing is everything, but isn’t Donald the guy you want to make it as a utility player? Diaz is a non-entity in this organization, so it’s a smack in the face to Donald, no matter which way you look at it.
  • David Huff: SP, Columbus: 8 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR: Huff has clearly re-emerged as a potential starter for the big league Indians, and while I don’t think the Indians are diving in the riches of major league talent in Columbus, their starting pitching sure does seem to have some depth. Huff has been outstanding in May, going 3-0 in five appearances. He’s gone 30 1/3 innings, giving up 24 hits and seven runs, while walking only three batters and striking out 24. His ERA is a stout 2.08 during the month. Oh, by the way, his only bad appearance was his only appearance in April, so he’s been that good all year long. McAllister deserves the next nod, but you have to believe that Huff will be up before too long as well. It sure would be interesting to see what happens with regards to Ubaldo when you have two or three guys really doing well in Columbus.
  • Cody Allen: RP, Columbus: 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K: The Indians did the right thing today when they called up Scotty Barnes to take the place of Jairo Asencio in the Indians bullpen. While Allen didn’t deserve to make the move to the Tribe based on his struggles at the Triple A level thusfar, he is the “next big thing” with regards to relief options, and maintains his status as an elite bullpen arm. With that said, tonight’s solid outing fits in his pattern of good vs. bad at the Triple A level. He’s ping-ponged between shutout performances and giving-up-run performances since his late-April call-up. The only exception to that back-and-forth were back-to-back outings in which he gave up runs on May 10 and the 13th. He does have a 3.68 ERA, but has given up runs in five of his ten games.
  • Hector Ambriz: RP, Columbus: L (0-1), 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R/ER: Yo Asencio…er…Wheeler…er…Ray…er…Accardo…er…sorry, but I keep getting these guys confused. Before you tell me about how special Ambriz arm is, just remember that this guy has never done anything with it. He’s had a couple of nice season in the minors, but for the most part, this guy is a 4.00+ ERA waiting to happen. 92+ arms aren’t that special if you stink.
  • Jared Goedert: RF, Columbus: 0-for-4, 1 K: ….and the mighty Goedert has struck out. Okay, I’m not ready to say his big numbers are over, but Goedert has gone 1-for-16 in his last four games, and his average has dropped from the high .300’s, to .233 after his call-up to Columbus. With rumored moves to be made, Goedert may have locked his position in behind Matt LaPorta, although that likely would be the scenario no matter what Goedert is doing.
  • Kyle Bellows: 3B, Akron: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K: Bellows continues his productive streak at Akron, and is hitting .324 over his last ten games. The right-hander is killing left-handed pitching to the tune of a .367 average, but is only hitting .204 vs. righties. That’ll need to improve before he’s taken seriously. Of course, rumor has it the Indians need some right-handed bats.
  • Chun-Hsiu Chen: DH, Akron: 1-for-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K: Chen upped his hit streak to four games, and has hits in eight of his last ten. He’s hitting .286 over that stretch, with seven runs, three doubles and a triple. It would be really nice if he could add some home run power to that, as his over-the-fence power has disappeared, making him just another prospect at this point. Of course, he is hitting .316 overall.
  • Giovanni Soto: SP, Akron: 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R/4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR: Soto just can’t seem to find his consistent groove. He got lit up on May 14th with four runs in 4 1/3 innings at Erie, before coming back with two outstanding efforts in his follow up games. Tonight, he again gave up four runs, but in 5 2/3 innings. The kid has an advanced make-up, but it’s easy to forget that he’s only 21-years old, and still learning to pitch.
  • Bryan Price: RP, Akron: W (2-1), 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K: Price has had a solid season up until now. His april numbers were more stout, as he’s given up six of his eight total runs in May, but overall, Price continues to be a steady bullpen arm. He’s not elite, but there’s no doubt there’s a place for him in the sixth-eighth inning at the big league level in the near future.
  • Kyle Landis: RP, Akron: 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K: Landis struck out the side in the ninth inning of Wednesday Night’s game for his second straight outstanding effort. He ran through a rough patch in mid-May in which he gave up six runs over a three-game stretch. If you take away those three games, he’s only given up one run in 12 games. Like Price, not quite elite, but will have an opportunity, should he continue to pitch well.
  • Tyler Holt: CF, Carolina: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K: Holt continues to perform day-after-day, with another double, walk and run, to lead the team. He’s just treading water until his time comes, which should be soon.
  • Tony Wolters: SS, Carolina: 1-for-3, 1 R, 2 K: Wolters is hitting .234 for the season, which probably made many of you smile. It should. He’s hitting 100 points higher than last month. He’s hit in 10 of his last 11 games, and 12 of his last 14.
  • Giovanny Urshela: 3B, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 2 RBI: Urshela is still rebounding from a month off, and is slowly starting to return to form. This was his ninth game back, so give him some time to regain his timing, as he’s only hitting .216 over his last ten.
  • Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI: Aguilar is now leading the team in average, and is tied for tenth in the league at .313. He’s fourth in the league with 32 runs, eight in the league with 13 doubles, seventh in the league with 82 total bases, ninth in the league in OBP, sixth in the league in slugging, and eighth in the league in OPS. In other words, Aguilar is having an outstanding season. If he can add the long ball to the equation, it could be another break-out year for the big first baseman.
  • Francisco Jimenez: SP, Carolina: W (5-2), 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K: Jimenez rebounded from his worst start of the season with an outstanding effort that more resembles the pitcher that has emerged over the past season. He’s got a 3.65 ERA, but has walked 27 batters, with 27 K’s. Clearly that’s where he needs the work.
  • Jordan Cooper: RP, Carolina: S (1), 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K: Not sure if this is a move for Cooper to the closer role, but he performed well in his first opportunity.
  • Grant Sides: RP, Lake County: 3 IP, 1 H, 4 K: Sides was near perfect in his three innings of work, dropping his overall ERA to 1.07. In May, he’s only given up one run in nine games and 17 2/3 innings pitched. He’s walked five, and struck out 18 batters. It’s clear that Sides may be an elite arm, but still has a lot to prove, but could be moved up quickly.
  • Lake County Captains offense: 4-for-31, 2 2B, 1 BB, 7 K’s: The vaunted Captain’s offense was demoralized by Thomas Collier, who only faced four more than the minimum.
  • Josh Barfield: LF, Bowie Baysox: 2-for-5, 1 R: Who is this kid playing outfield for Bowie? The now-29-year-old Barfield is toiling at Double A Bowie in the outfield, and has played in 11 games so far in the Baltimore system. He was released in April after playing in four games, then recently re-signed and moved to Double A. Wow, has this kid fallen.

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 1, 2012 - 8:47 AM EDT
I think Aguilar is having a very good year. I noted so in today's ATF....but every night it seems he is hitting one off the wall. He certainly isn't a warning track power kind of guy, it is simply that some of his balls are being smoked on a line. Those unfamiliar with Five County Stadium probably don't realize there is like a 20 foot wall that goes from foul pole to foul pole (except for one tiny section near the right field line if my memory serves me correctly). I like the doubles, the higher average, the improved approach, and just everything else he is showing. He is definitely showing he can do more than just hit home runs.
Norm
June 1, 2012 - 4:44 AM EDT
Not much debate here Jim. I agree with your LaPorta analysis. I think he is better than what we have now but it would surprise me if he became a valuable replacement. But the economic benefit of keeping him in the minors if he becomes good enough for LF/1B substitution next year is the biggest reason I would keep him there a little longer other than the points you made.

Not much debate on Aguilar either. Best 1B prospect the organization has had in a while IMO which includes LaPorta. My comment was more directed at the "experts" who said he could do nothing but hit for power. Between that and my facetious opening, it does not read particularly well.
Jim
May 31, 2012 - 7:01 PM EDT
Shy...I don't want to speak for Tony, but the thing I love the most about covering the minors is exactly what you speak of...the stories are just amazing. Just talking to these guys on a weekly basis is amazing, and as a hobby for me, a lot of fun. Look at Carolina...you have such a mix...top prospects in Wolters, Rodriguez and Aguilar, but they are pure kids, and as friendly and down-to-earth as anyone. Then you have guys like Tice and Toole, pros, pros, who are a bit older, and with a bit more urgency. Then you have the home town guy in Galas...

I was high on Barfield as well...and believe me, if I could play a few seasons in minor league ball right now, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Barfield...boy...mixed emotions...great post...
Jim
May 31, 2012 - 6:58 PM EDT
Norm--

What I believe, and what I want are two different things. I would prefer they delay his promotion forever, or do it now and get it over with. I don't think he'll figure it out...it's very tough to teach an old dog new tricks, and he's not really showcasing much difference in his current approach, as opposed to his previous approach at Triple A. I'm fine if they wait until mid June...or later...but with players dropping like flies, the writing is on the wall for a LaPorta call-up. He's 27, and it's time to prove your worth. I really don't think a month is going to be the turning point for LaPorta's career, to be honest. If you feel different, more power to you. Like I've said from the start, not a fan, and don't think he's the answer to anything...other than a part-time sort...and not sure he'd be effective.

As per Aguilar...I'm as big a fan of the big power hitter as the next guy. Watching him last season in Lake County and Kinston, I never felt he was a power only guy...while he struck out a ton, he still showed the ability to hit the ball to all fields, and would showcase gap power at times...

As per this year, no, I don't think he has "forgotten to hit homers," as you're simplifying it a bit. I know what they are working on with him, since I talk with these guys on a weekly basis. He is extremely receptive to coaching, and while home runs aren't a priority right now, they aren't mutually exclusive.

As always...good to debate with you Norm...glad to see you around...
Norm
May 31, 2012 - 6:11 PM EDT
I know you and Tony feel it will be sooner but I believe there are good reasons to delay his promotion until later in June, mid month or later.

Do you really think Aguilar has forgotten how to hit dingers? Looks to me he is actually doing what the organization is coaching him to do to be a more complete player. I would guess it will take some time to improve his K rate but he should be killing the "power only" critics.
Tony
May 31, 2012 - 3:22 PM EDT
Thanks shy. Yeah, I remember back when the Indians acquired Barfield how excited I was. I felt they had maybe filled their second base void for a long time, but he barely held the position for half a season before Asdrubal came up and took it from him. What a disappointment he was. His days as a ML player are all but over, but good to see him still playing and in the game.
shy
May 31, 2012 - 11:47 AM EDT
I saw Josh Barfield's name in the Akron/Bowie box and had mixed feelings. On the one hand you have the can't miss- prodigal son of Jesse- heir apparent to Robbie Alomar , now with some grey in his beard riding the bus and playing anonymously in some small town hoping against all odds to outmaneuver the inexorable march of time and get one last shot at the show. And on the other hand you have the nice young man with the great smile playing the game he loves for fun without being attached to the financial outcome. I don't know whether to laugh or cry so I guess I'll do a little of both. Good job as alway guys- Shy

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