Around the Farm: September 1, 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.
Matt Packer: SP, Columbus Clippers: W (1-4), 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 9 K, 1 HR:
Packer’s only mistake on the night came to some no-name minor leaguer, who hit his first Triple A homer on the season. That minor leaguers name was Joey Votto (yeah, that one). Other than that, Packer put together his first outstanding Triple A start on the season in his last one. Heading into Saturday Night’s ballgame, Packer was 0-4, with a 6.85 ERA in five starts, and just hadn’t looked very good. This was a direct contrast to his play in his rehab assignment, heading up through the system. During that eight game run, he made 9 starts, going 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA from the rookie league to Akron, skipping Lake County. Perhaps Packer felt a sense of urgency with September call-ups looming, but I have to believe that if there’s a time for Packer to get a shot in Cleveland, it will come in 2013. If he can put together some consistent innings in the spring and the beginning of next season, who knows what will happen.
Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Akron: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB:
Aguilar had the game winner, a one-out single in the 12th inning that drove in Tyler Holt to give the Clippers a 2-1 lead. Aguilar also managed three walks without a K, again showing a better sense of select-ability at the plate that he has in prior seasons. Over his last ten games, he’s struck out 11 times, which is a lot, but he’s also walked 10 times. Aguilar has multi-hit games in four of his last five, and during that five game stretch, has a .438/.500/.500/1.000 slash line. The power still hasn’t showcased itself, but it feels like he’s doing the same thing he did in High A Carolina this year. He’s in that feeling out process, learning the league and the pitchers, getting on base any way he can. This kid has really showcased himself as a comer this year, and will either be knocking on the door of the top five here at IPI, or bashing his way through it. Really looking forward to see what he does with Akron in the playoffs.
Danny Salazar: SP, Akron Aeros: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 K:
If you haven’t taken notice of this kid, it’s time to start. He’s been absolutely outstanding in all facets of his game this year. He’s the ONE guy that I can say safely that the Indians organization has handled correctly. Salazar was on a restricted pitch count all season long in Carolina, pitching three innings, and late in his High A career this season, four. They may have fallen into that count on accident, as he tried to pitch more than three innings in his first outing, and got hurt. Once he returned, it was by the book, and boy has it paid off. They took the bubble wrap off him on August 11th, and he’s been absolutely dominating at Double A. He’s made five starts, going 4-0, with a 0.92 ERA. He’s pitched in 29 1/3 innings, giving up only 20 hits and three earned runs, while walking only seven, and striking out 22. His WHIP is 0.92, and he’s holding runners to a .190 average. While he’s been overlooked a bit this season as an upper level guy that can make a difference, he’s really starting to showcase himself as a top of the rotation sort. If this season wasn’t an aberration, than he really could be the best pitcher in the upper three levels. I know that’s boastful, and a stretch, but if you’re looking at a guy that may be a lock to make an impact in Cleveland over the next year, is there anyone above him at this point?
- Gregorio Petit: 3B, Columbus: 2-for-5, 1 2B: Petit is closing out his Indians career in grand fashion. His two hit performance last night was his third straight, and it was his fourth straight game with a hit. During the stretch, he’s hitting a solid .368.
- Vinny Rottino: C, Columbus: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: Rottino’s been clubbing the ball over his last eight ballgames, hitting .355, with three doubles and a homer. The long-time minor leaguer showed off a bit of his versatility last night by playing catcher, the first time he’s done that with the Indians organization this year, and the fourth time overall this season. He’s had season in which Catcher was his primary positions, showing his willingness to get to the bigs.
- Jared Goedert: 1B, Columbus: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B: Goedert has really been struggling at the plate for the Clippers recently. Since July 29th, his slash line is .173/.243/.316/.559, lending credence to the Thomas Neal call-up. Goedert played his ninth game at first base in last night’s game, perhaps showing a bit of the Indians hand should they call him up after Monday’s final game. I think it’s possible, but definitely not coming at his best stretch of baseball during 2012. He was one of the hottest Indians’ hitters all season.
- Matt Pagnozzi: DH, Columbus: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K: Over the past four games, Pagnozzi has been leading the Clippers in hitting, if you can believe that. I know it’s a four game stretch, but I think any time Pags is leading your team, you take notice, which means he’s playing very, very well (he is), or your team isn’t (they are). Pags DH-ed last night for the first time this year, in what I’m sure was probably something quirky the Clippers did to allow Rottino to catch. Not sure if there’s any significance beyond that.
- Dan Wheeler: RP, Columbus: 1 IP, 1 K: If you didn’t see Wheeler’s name at the front of this, you may be wondering why he wasn’t called up at some point. He’s been outstanding in Columbus. Since June 21, he’s 3-2 with a 1.67 ERA. He’s thrown 27 innings, giving up only 21 hits and eight walks, while striking out 15. He’s also peppered in four saves while he was at it. But c’mon, it’s Dan Wheeler, right?
- Adam Abraham: 3B, Akron: 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K: Abraham is closing out his 2012 regular season with some of his best offensive baseball of the season. Of course, if you follow the kid, you know he has stretches like this. Over his past four games, he’s hitting .333, with three runs, two RBI and three walks, against only one K. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Abraham heading into 2013, as he’s clearly a dutiful, hard working member of the organization. Will that get him a bump to Columbus, or will he remain in Akron? A lot will depend on what happens to guys like Russ Canzler, Matt LaPorta, Vinny Rottino, Gregorio Petit and Lars Anderson. I could see a scenario in which Abraham starts the year off at third in Columbus, which is likely.
- Matt Lawson: 2B, Akron: 2-for-5, 1 2B, 2 RBI: The Lawson-airies will be ecstatic to see their boy in ATF once again. Lawson roped a double in the 12th inning after Aguilar’s single, to plate two more runs. Lawson is closing out a fantastic season for the Aeros, in which he hit .330, with 17 doubles and a homer, while driving in 23. He had a .406 OBP, and an .870 OPS. I doubt that he’ll find himself in Cleveland during the call-up period, which will make some IPI followers furious, and who knows, perhaps they are right. Other than a period of injury, he really has a fantastic year, and while older than Neal, had a season comparable in many ways. You have to believe that Phelps gets the first look though, if they even decide to call up a second baseman. It all depends on whether or not they believe Kipnis needs rest, which he may.
- Nick Weglarz: LF, Akron: 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K: Weglarz just hasn’t been able to put together the type of stretch of baseball to make the front office take notice. He has had a solid year, don’t get me wrong, but he likely looks a lot like the guys they have playing outfield and DH-ing in Columbus already. I really don’t see a scenario in which Wegz is back here in 2013, unless there are a lot of players leaving, and they need him to fill a spot in Columbus. Just don’t see it.
- Trey Haley: RP, Akron: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K: Haley rebounded from a bit of a rough outing with this solid appearance. Overall, 2012 has to be considered a victory for Haley, although he did start the year on the DL, and he DID spend some other time on the DL during the season, it was a consistent year from the standpoint that he seemed to have a bit of control. Now, he just needs to stay healthy.
- Bryce Stowell: RP, Akron: W (2-1), 2 IP, 2 K: While Stowell continues to have games in which he implodes, he’s been peppering the past ten or so with some outstanding appearances as well. He’s only had three games in which he’s given up runs during that stretch, but boy, it’s been a bunch of runs for a guy that many consider (ed) to be one of the top relief options in the system.
- Rob Bryson: RP, Akron: S (2), 1 IP, 2 K: This was the role that many thought Bryson would find himself in once the trade for Sabathia went through. Unfortunately, injury and a propensity to walk batters has kept him from making that step thusfar. This was a window though, as to what the Indians expected from Bryson after that trade. What a letdown.
- Alex Monsalve: DH/C, Carolina: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B: Monsalve was one of only two players on the team with more than one hit (Justin Toole went 2-for-4 as well), driving in a ninth inning run with a double. It was already too late though for the Muddies, as they were down 5-0 heading into the inning. Monsalve is just getting warmed up to the league. 2013 will be his development year.
- Rob Nixon: RP, Carolina: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K: Nixon’s rise at High A has really been meteoric after his rough start. Since August 8th, Nixon has made eight appearances without giving up a run. Over those 18 2/3 innings, he’s given up only 13 hits and three walks, while striking out 19. Could this be the emergence of another big-time reliever in the system? Look for Nixon to start back in Carolina briefly, before the Indians fast-track him…if he continues to dominate.
- Jake Ramirez: DH, Lake County: 2-for-6, 2 R, 1 SB: Well, now JRam is hitting over .350 on the season, and has been playing okay over the past seven game stretch. He’s only hitting .500 over that stretch, going 15-for-30, with a double, triple, homer and seven RBI, to go with his eight runs scored. Seriously, I don’t think there’s hyperbole out there that doesn’t comfortably describe this kid’s system. The only thing holding him back right now is a perception that he ISN’T a top prospect. The numbers, so far, prove otherwise…and that goes back to 2011 as well. If he continues to play like this in Carolina next year, he’s top ten…period, if he isn’t already.
- Francisco Lindor: SS, Lake County: 2-for-6: I know everyone wanted Lindor to hit .320, belt 20 homers, and in other words, be the Indians’ version of Mike Trout, skyrocketing through the system. Well, he didn’t do that, but don’t take away from this season a feeling that Lindor is overrated. He isn’t. What he IS, is 18 years old. I have a feeling the progression is going to be quick as he matures, and next year in Carolina will be a big one…a pitching-first league…and a stadium that keeps balls in play.
- Jerrud Sabourin: LF, Lake County: 1-for-1, 1 R: Sabourin’s average is below .300, but he continues to roll out big hits. He had a lead-off single in the 13th inning, and eventually came around with the game-winning run!
- Jake Lowery: C, Lake County: 3-for-5, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K: I think Lowery is what he is…a power-hitting Catcher that’s always going to hit in that mid-.200 range or a little better, but with power. How much power will dictate his ascension. If he can start bringing out the whipping stick, I don’t think ANYONE cares what his average is. Next year, he’ll battle Five County stadium again though. Will he win this time, or will it stop him in his minor league tracks?
- Mason Radeke: SP, Lake County: 5 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R/0 ER, 5 K: Radeke had his second solid start in a row, and has made a bit of a name for himself this season as a starter, starting the year off in the bullpen. His overall ERA in 2012 is a solid 3.28, and perhaps he can fill in this system as a quality, middle to bottom-of-the-rotation type of guy going forward. He’s not dominant, but can clearly pitch at this level. No doubt he’ll start the 2013 season in Carolina. The question is, where? Will it be the bullpen or the rotation?
- Lake County Bullpen: 7 2/3 IP, 7 H, 6 K: Louis Head gave up a sac fly, scoring an unearned run that was tallied to Mason Radeke, but other than that, the pen was lights out. Head, Manuel Carmona, Francisco Velera (W) and Enosil Tejeda (S) slammed the door on the Lugnuts.
- Tyler Naquin: CF, Mahoning Valley: 0-2, 1 BB: Who’s this guy? The Indians 2012 first rounder made his return after missing a month of baseball. Now, the question is, where does he start 2013? Before the injury, I’d have bet on Carolina. Now, I have to believe it’s Lake County.
- Joe Wendle: 2B, Mahoning Valley: Over Wendle’s last seven ballgames, he’s only hitting .407, scoring seven runs, with a double, a homer and five RBI. His slash line is an impressive .407/.448/.556/1.004. Not bad for a kid that nobody outside the system really knows about. Not sure how he translates at other levels, but we’ll find out in 2013 if he’s for real, or just dominating younger players.
- Hunter Jones: RF, Mahoning Valley: Jones has put together two nice games in a row, going 5-for-8, with three runs, and an RBI for the Scrappers.
- Robbie Aviles: SP, Mahoning Valley: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 K: Aviles made his first start since August 4th, and really made it count. He’s struggled at times this season, but has finished the season strong. Over his last six outings, all relief except for Saturday Night, Aviles has a 1.76 ERA over 15 1/3 innings, giving up 15 hits, three earned runs and three walks. He’s only struck out nine, which is a drawback, but good to see the 20-year-old former seventh round pick finish with a strong stretch of baseball.
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.