Around the Farm: September 16--The Columbus rises, and Kinston falls edition
the player was playing in yesterday's game.
Paolo Espino: SP, Columbus: W (1-0), 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
Has there been a better pitcher in the Indians' organization over the past two months? Really, has their been a better pitcher in the Indians' organization over the past season, than one Paolo Espino? The quick answer is no, not really. Espino capped off his best season as a professional with a seven inning, four-hit gem. It wasn't completely easy for Espino last night. He gave up a first inning, two-out triple, then promptly struck out major league vet, Delwyn Young. He gave up a third inning, lead-off single to Freddy Galvis, but Jared Head gunned Galvis down at second when he tried to leg out a double. He then quickly got the next two batters out on a pop fly to center, and a ground out to Mills at first. He gave up a two-out double to major league veteran Scott Podsednik in the sixth inning, then god Kevin Frandsen to pop out weakly to second sacker, Argenis Reyes, to end the inning. By the time Brandon Moss hit his lead-off homer in the seventh for the first Lehigh Valley run, Columbus had already plated three of their own. Espino put an exclamation point on his performance by going 1-2-3 after the home run, and added a nice touch by striking out Tagg Bozied to end his night. Espino capped off a season in which he went 9-1 overall, with a 2.77 ERA. He made 11 starts, and pitched out of the pen 34 times. While there are other numbers from pitchers in the Tribe system that will jump out a little more, and while there are certainly players with more major league "readiness," there isn't any other player that has performed as impressively as Espino has in whatever role they've asked him too. Keep in mind, last night's performance was his first since a four-inning stint on September 5th to close out the season. Yeah, he hadn't made an appearance since the playoffs started. Not a bad insurance policy at all.
- Jared Goedert: 3B, Columbus: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI: Goedert returned from the abyss this year, and while he scuffled a bit in the Governor's Cup playoffs, he hit a big homer in last night's game. His third inning blast gave the Clippers their third run of the game, and they never looked back.
- Beau Mills: 1B, Columbus: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 BB: Beau Mills is officially a solid prospect again. He tore up the Midwest League with Akron, and hasn't looked back since being promoted to Columbus. He didn't score or drive in a run last night, but showed his gap power with a double, and his solid eye with two walks. He'll make his debut in the majors at some point in 2012.
- Chad Huffman: RF, Columbus: Huffman has been the most consistent Clippers' bat in the playoffs, with hits in all but one game. The scrappy right-fielder singled with one-out in the second inning, and scored from first on a single to give the Clippers their first run.
- Juan Diaz: SS, Columbus: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K: Diaz continues to be an intriguing ballplayer, and he showed off those skills when he was called up to the Columbus for the playoffs. Last night, his second inning single drove in the Clippers first run, and he later came home on a Paul Phillips double.
- Paul Phillips: C, Columbus: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K: Phillips' double in the second inning scored Juan Diaz, and it proved to be the game-winning run. Not a bad end of the season for the 34-year old journeyman. He's not knocking on any major league door at this point, but proves time and time again that having a veteran presence behind the plate with a young staff is important.
- Argeniz Reyes: 2B, Columbus: 3-4, 1 R: Reyes has done one thing since being signed by the Indians late in the 2011 season, and that's hit the baseball. In the last month of the season, Reyes hit .313 for the Clippers after being signed as a free agent acquisition when the Clippers infield was decimated by August call-ups. After hitting .313 in the regular season, he followed that up with a .360 average in the playoffs. After going 0-for-4 in the first round series opener against Durham, Reyes went 9-for-21 (.429), with four runs scored and three doubles over the final seven games against the Bulls and Lehigh Valley. I can't imagine he isn't rewarded with a minor league contract for 2012, with a chance to make the bigs.
- Chen Lee: RP, Columbus: S (1), 2 IP, 4 K: Lee hasn't been perfect by any stretch of the imagination over the past couple months of the season, but he has proven time and time again that he has one of the best arms in the system. After the Indians called up Zack Hagadone, Josh Judy and Zach Putnam, Lee became one of the most important pen-arms. He showed off that arm last night, pitching two perfect innings, and striking out four of the six batters he faced. How good was he? He threw 28 pitches during the two innings (4 1/2 pitches per batter), and threw 23 strikes. The Tribe's bullpen should be impressive in the coming years, with more arms coming from the lower system as well.
- Tyler Holt: CF, Kinston: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K: Holt ended the season like he started it, as the K-Tribe's sparkplug. Holt scored one of Kinston's three runs with a double, and hit .364 for the series. Get ready Akron, you're getting one of the most tenacious players in the system next year, but I have a feeling he won't be there for very long.
- Jordan Casas: LF, Kinston: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K: When Jordan Casas hit his second inning homer in the bottom of the first, it looked as though the Kinston Indians were well on their way to taking the Mills' cup series to a game five on Saturday night. By the time he singled home his second run and the K-Tribe's third run of the game, it was already over. Casas proved to be a valuable addition to the playoff roster, hitting .313.
- Jesus Aguilar: 1B, Kinston: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K: The Good? Aguilar showed off his massive power throughout the playoffs, hitting homers in four straight ball games, including the first three of the championship series. He also added a double to the extra-base hit list, and scored five runs, and drove in eight RBI in the eight playoff games that Kinston played. The Bad? Aguilar hit .194 for the series (6-for-31), although I'd take that if it meant that all six of his hits were of the extra-base variety. The ugly? Aguilar struck out an impressive 14 times in the playoffs, while walking a grand total of once. I don't care how many homers the kid hits, if he doesn't figure out how to take a pitch, he'll never leave the minors. Still, the promise is exceptional.
- Alex Monsalve: C, Kinston: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K: Monsalve made his K-Tribe debut in game three of their first round playoff match-up against Myrtle Beach, and hit a single. He made his first start, and second appearance in last night's game four slaughter, and drove in a run. This kid has a lot of promise coming up the organization, and will get a big look playing for the High A Carolina Mudcats next season.
- Francisco Jimenez: SP, Kinston: L (0-1), 2 1/3, 4 H, 5 R/3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K: This is no knock on Jimenez, or maybe it is, but you do have to wonder where all the pitching has gone when this is the guy you throw out there with your playoff lives on the string. Jimenez has been very good as a starter since making that move, but I'm not sure anyone is confusing this kid as a big time starter in any organization. With Kinston up 2-0, the wheels absolutely came off, with a little help from Jimenez's friends. With Kinston up 2-0, Jimenez committed the cardinal sin of walking the first batter of the third. After a double put runners on second and third, with nobody out, Frederick would score their first run on a fielder's choice, in which the runner was safe at first. The next run was unearned, thanks to a wonderful fielding error by Adam Abraham. I could draw this out, but why. A sac bunt, and a double would end Jimenez's night, and the K-Tribe's chances at the title.
- Cody Allen: RP, Kinston: Allen had been light's out in his short tenure with Kinston, but not last night. With three runs already home, Allen promptly gave up a walk. A two-out single would plate two more runs, and an error by Holt would advance the runners. Another error by Abraham allowed another runner to score. A wild pitch by Allen, and another run scored. After a walk and another single, another run scored. Then came the three run homer. When it was all said and done, Jimenez gave up five runs (3 earned), and Allen gave up six runs (0 earned). Blame it on the defense for sure, but there were also big mistakes by the pitchers as well.
- Kinston Bullpen (post Allen): 6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K: It was too late, but Nick Sarianides, Chris Jones and Toru Murata locked everything down after the 11-run third inning.
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.