Around the Farm: September 6, 2014
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.
Francisco Lindor (Columbus, SS) – 0-4, 1 K – The stat line isn’t so much the story here as what happens next. The wait begins to see if Lindor gets a September call-up to the Indians or not. More than likely he will not, due to a combination things. First off, Jose Ramirez has settled in well and appears to have shortstop on lockdown for the remainder of the season. Secondly, the Indians do not need to roster Lindor this offseason as he is not Rule 5 eligible so they may wish to wait to roster him until next season. Third, even though it is just a few days they want to control his arbitration clock. Finally, the Indians may not want to have a repeat of his acclimation struggles at the Triple-A level in the middle of a major league playoff race. Nothing has been said officially on the matter, but I would expect Terry Francona to address it sometime on Sunday. There is also the issue of if he will play winter ball and, if so, where. In any case, as Tony has mentioned a few times, even if he is not rostered he should stil workout and spend time with the big league team the last three weeks of the season just to learn and get acclimated to the atmosphere.
- Giovanny Urshela (Columbus, 3B) – 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – Urshela, aka the infield prospect not named Francisco Lindor, finishes up his 2014 season with a hit and a run. While the winter ball issue also applies to Giovanny, Saturday’s boxscore includes the basis of an even more interesting issue: does Gio playing third base when in the same lineup as Lindor tell us anything about Lonnie Chisenhall’s future, or lack thereof, with the Indians.
- Matt Carson (Columbus, LF) – 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K – Carson was one of two Clippers to get an extra base hit on the day. He's been a nice organizational depth guy the last two years, but he may seek out other playing opportunities with another team this offseason - especially when you consider the amount of depth the Indians have in the outfield right now.
- Carlos Moncrief (Columbus, RF) - 0-3, 2 K. Moncrief finishes off a tough playoff series in which he went hitless in al four games (0-for-9) with 6 strikeouts. Ouch. With the pickup of J.B. Schuck, I think it is safe to say that Moncrief's season is over and that he will not get a call up to Cleveland.
- Russell Branyan (Columbus, DH) - 1-4, K. On the positive side, Branyan recorded his first hit of the playoffs in this game. Unfortunately, he hit just .083 (1-for-12) with 5 strikeouts. This is the unfortunate reality of why it is tough for minor league teams to win and why records don't matter come playoff time because the loss of Jesus Aguilar really hurt.
- Luke Carlin (Columbus, C) – 1-2, 2B, RBI, SF - Carlin had the other two-bagger as well as an RBI on a sac fly to close out a solid playoffs at the plate. A big part of why the Clippers season is now over can be illustrated by the fact that both Clipper RBI on the day came on sac flies (the other came off the bat of 1BAudy Ciriaco).
- Nick Maronde (Columbus, SP) – ND, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (both earned), 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP – Rebuilding Maronde back into a starting role continues to be a work in progress. May we see a rare case of a Triple-A player with major league experience playing in Instructional League? We already know he is going to the Arizona Fall League...
- Ollie Linton (Akron, CF) – 0-3, 2 BB, 1 K, Picked Off 1 time – Linton’s good eye at the plate allows him to finish his season on a solid note.
- Alex Lavisky (Akron, C) – 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI – Lavisky has by far the best night at the plate in the RubberDucks’ season-ending 5-1 loss to the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants).
- Erik Gonzalez (Akron, SS) - 1-4, K. While it appears unlikely the Indians will another middle infielder from the minors to the Major League active roster, if they do add a shortstop from the minors don't be surprised if Gonzalez gets the call and not Lindor. Gonzalez is already on the 40-man.
- Shawn Morimando (Akron, SP) – L (0-1 in the playoffs, 2-6 with Akron in the regular season), 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (both earned), 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR allowed – While Morimando’s debut stint in Double-A can best be described as uneven, I am excited to see what he can do in a full season at this level next year with this experience under his belt.
- Grant Sides (Akron, RP) – 2 IP, perfect, 1 K – While Sides’ Double-A debut season was short, it was stellar (3 perfect innings in two outings – one regular season, the other in the playoffs). Another pitcher I am excited to see at Canal Park next season.
- Trey Haley (Akron, RP) – 0.1 IP, 2 R (both earned), 2 BB – He just didn’t have any control on the night and put the game out of the Rubberduck offense’s reach.
- Clint Frazier (Lake County, CF) – 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – Frazier has followed up an uneven full-season debut season with a stellar playoff run. Hopefully, he can keep it up and this is a sign of things to come.
- Bradley Zimmer (Lake County, RF) – 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – Zimmer has been a similar story to Frazier in the playoffs, but his progression is even more impressive as it is coming after a shorter acclimation as Zimmer began his professional season in Mahoning Valley and his season overall in college.
- Paul Hendrix (Lake County, 3B) – 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 Sac Fly – An all-around solid night at the plate for another Captain excelling in the playoffs.
- Luis Lugo (Lake County, SP) – W (1-0 in the playoffs, 10-9 in the regular season), 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R (unearned), 1 BB, 9 K, 2 WP – Lugo follows up two dominant outings to finish the regular season with another one in his first playoff start. A tremendous outing and a prime example of what Tony talked about in Minor Happenings on Friday and why he is so special.
- Robbie Aviles (Lake County, RP) – 2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K – Robbie Aviles continues to have a lot of success in the bullpen while the Indians monitor his workload the rest of the season.
- Justin Brantley (Lake County, RP) – 1 IP, perfect, 2 K – Brantley came within one batter of striking out the side in order. Not bad, especially in one of the biggest games of the season.
I hope the Marlins would not be stupid to trade him to Detroit like they did with Cabrera and Sanchez for nothing.
Sure, his bat would be an asset, but Santana is no slouch when it comes to offense, and Brantley and Gomes have become strong offensive performers in their own right, even in the HR department, as both are pushing 20 HRs themselves. Who's to say that Aguilar and/or Chisenhall couldn't join them in the 20 HR club, or even Walters? They need at-bats, which is why I wouldn't look to trade Chisenhall or Santana. Kipnis, yes, though I agree his value is quite low- he'd be lucky to bring back a few decent to solid prospects, mostly because he's signed long term and because someone thinks he's an offensive difference maker (I'm not convinced of that; think Chisenhall is a better bet going forward than Kipnis is).
It really depends on how much the Marlins would want for Stanton, but based on all of the factors mentioned, it probably would take a minimum of four prospects, and quite possibly 5-6, to get him and maybe a Minor Leaguer with him. That's a very high price to pay for a guy you have two full years (I think) and who has played in less than 125 games in two of his four full ML seasons (not counting 2010 because he wasn't called up until June, so he could only play in about 100-110 games max that season). Thus, 2/4 seasons, he's been under 125 games, about 1/4 of the season (between 40-50 games)- that's certainly something to be mindful of when considering the high price you'd have to pay to get him.
I'd inquire and see what the price is, but I'd probably look elsewhere and continue building from within, allowing Chisenhall, Aguilar, and Walters to provide extra pop in the lineup, while also working to extend the young pitching we do have so that window is longer than three years (even if that means trading Bourn and Kipnis to do it; Swisher probably can't be traded, but if he could, he would be another option to free up more money to resign our young starting pitching to longer-term deals. Ranurn and Murphy would also be ones I'd look to trade this offseason as well).
The untouchables should be Brantley, Santana and Gomes based on their superior offensive production and their average or better than average D at their current positions.
Chis needs to try the field or to share DH duties with Aguilar.
Aviles is a blot on the roster and Kipnis is right down there with him. I like Murphy but his contributions should be rather easily replaceable, and I feel the same about Bourn. Swish fell off the damn cliff from the production point of view but is untradeable.
C Gomes (back up R. Perez)
DH Chis / Aguilar
RF Ramsey / Chis
2 more bench players: Walters (?) plus Shuck / Moncrief (?)
One thing that would help the offense alot is not to strike out so darn much. Bourn has a 3.13 K:BB this year, Kip increased to 2.04 and Gomes is at 4.73. The big winners for decline are Aviles 2.73 in 2013 to 4.09 this year and Swisher....1.79 in 2013 to 3.08 this year. The three best ratios on the team are Carlos and Smooth (each at 1.13) and Murphy (1.59).
All that is a long-winded way of saying we have some flexibility to get better in the middle of the order and on defense without worrying about overspending for SP in FA. Actually, with our farm system's depth, trades are probably the best way to go. I can also see parting with some major league hitters if the deal is right. To me, the only untouchable everyday players are Brantley and Gomes. Id love to be a fly on the wall in CA's office and hear what we could get for Santana, Kipnis, and Chisenhall, because I think any one of those guys could get us some serious talent in return.
Call me crazy, but I would go this far: Chis+Kip+EGonz or Aguilar+Frazier or Naquin or Mejia+ any 2 of the pitching combinations above. 5or6 to 1, the system can absorb that kind of loss.
That's probably more than needed, but two good seasons of Stanton hitting cleanup, plus a low 1st coming back when he leaves for FA, are worth that much to me. If you believe in Your SP an BP, then you need to make a push for a difference making bat in his prime to get you over the hump. Window of opportunity is NOW. If he can have these numbers despite lack of protection and hitting in that Stadium, imagine what he could do sandwiched between Brantley/Santana. Stanton would be the Indians version of Abreu and Miggy.
As for Stanton, it really depends on how long we'd have him under his current contract and the price we'd have to pay. If I have to pay a high price for him, I want him a minimum of three full seasons, if not four plus. If we only have him one or two seasons, I wouldn't be willing to give up a sizable chunk of the farm for him, because it will probably take a minimum of three premium prospects, and probably four to five overall prospects for Stanton and maybe a Minor Leaguer in return. I like the Cuddyer idea; I'd also gauge Victor Martinez and his willingness to come back here and how likely we could make it happen (may be next to impossible with Swisher still here, and while I think you can find a taker for Bourn, Swisher will be harder to trade, certainly in the offseason).
Gonzalez is a fine prospect, but Lindor is still at least two to three notches better than Gonzalez as a prospect. Defense alone puts him one to two notches ahead - his defense rates in the Vizquel/Smith caliber, and the Indians haven't had a defensive SS of that caliber since Omar in his prime probably about 15 years ago. The other notch or even two comes from the age difference: Lindor is in his age 20 season and doesn't turn 21 until November, plus is adapting well to AAA; Gonzalez is in his age 22 season, has already turned 23 last month, and is handling AA, though he cooled off after a hot start.
As I said, Gonzalez is a fine prospect, but not in Lindor's category when it comes to the total package and the ceiling - Lindor is still the heir apparent at SS, while Gonzalez could be a super-sub, possibly a 3B prospect if Urshela falters, maybe an OF possibility if others falter, or trade bait, perhaps even in a deal for Stanton if the Indians want to go that route.
I'm all in with Tony's Chiz to RF suggestion. Gio should be fine at 3B but I doubt he'll ever hit as good as Chisenhall. Tony should put a bug in Tito's ear: "Hey Tito, there's been some talk about how Chisenhall might be a good fit in right field...any comments?"
If you keep Chisenhall around and have him split time in RF/3B, it allows the team to ease Urshela into the big leagues and protect themselves a little in the case he really struggles offensively. There is no question he can play defense. He'll be a top 5 defender at the position.
I note that J Ram seems to be making the adjustment very well after a bumpy start. Consistent playing time has sure helped him.
Is it not fun to have multiple players challenging for playing time. We need to add a bat or develop a bat to move to the next level and be better able to challenge Detroit. Frankly, I do not see how Detroit ever loses - but they sure do when they do not play us.
I agree with Tony, use the prospect depth and make a push for Stanton. Offer anything but Lindor, Urshela, JRam and keep the rotation. Start the offer with Chis+Kipnis, add Aguilar, as they need a 1B, include Frazier or Naquin or Mejia or EGonz and/or any minors pitcher they want. The Indians have the pieces to overwhelm the Marlins with an offer. I'd like them to do something bold, but this time for a real talent. A bat like Stanton is what this offense is missing. A 3-6 of Brantley, Stanton, Santana and Gomes would be as good as any in baseball.
If it were me, I wouldn't roster Lindor or Urshela. If they were to bring up another SS it should be Gonzalez. I'm a Lindor fan, but I'm not convinced he is a better overall prospect than Gonzalez. I think I like Gonzalez better because of his higher offensive potential IMO. Defensively it just doesn't get much better than Lindor, but Gonzalez isn't to far off. IMO, the presence of Gonzalez makes Lindor expendable in the right situation.