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Fishing for Mudcats: "Fishing Season's Over..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "Fishing Season's Over..."
September 15, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

Throughout the week, we took a look at my top 12 Carolina Mudcats for the 2012 season. The rankings were based on several components, but were rooted in performance over the entire season. Giovanny Urshela made it to the top of my list, and I’ll admit, even I was a bit surprised.

With that said, I definitively don’t believe that Gio Urshela was the best player on the team with regards to prospect status, but when you delve deeper into Urshela’s numbers, you quickly realize that some of the difference between the top two (Urshela and Ronny Rodriguez) was simply missed ballgames.

No, I’m not saying that Urshela would have hit five more homers in the 12-game difference that Rodriguez had over Urshela, to tie him with 19 homers. I also don’t think that he would have driven in seven more runs to tie him in RBI. What I am saying is that when Urshela’s injury occurred in the early part of the season, he was just starting to heat up. When he returned from his injury, it took him several weeks to regain the stamina, strength and stability to return to form.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

On the pitching front, it really was a mixed bag. With regards to starters, there really weren’t ANY clear cut stars on this roster. The only one that was close was Danny Salazar, and he only made it through the fifth inning once because of a pitch count. Past Salazar, and there really wasn’t another starter worth mentioning with regards to pitcher or player of the year. Only four starters had 19 or more starts (Rayl, Goodnight, Jimenez and Roberts), and their combined ERA this year was 5.42. Salazar’s ERA was 2.68 in 16 starts. There’s wasn’t another starter even close.

On the relief side of things, there were a few other pitchers worth mentioning. Jordan Cooper was solid, both as a reliever, and a starter. Grant Sides showed elite potential as well. None were better than Shawn Armstrong, was elite in every way, with the exception of walks. While I generally give weight to the starters whenever possible, if you look at the numbers between a guy like Salazar (starter) and a guy like Armstrong (reliever), and they are relatively similar…thanks to the bubble-wrap around Salazar.

Again…I’m getting way ahead of myself.

So let’s get to it…here are the top players in Carolina, starting with the players of the week:

2012 Mudcats Awards:

The Archives:

Hitter of the Week Awards:

Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Hitter of Week 4: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 6: Ronny Rodriguez
Hitter of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 8: Tony Wolters
Hitter of Week 9: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 10: Tyler Cannon
Hitter of the First Half: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 12: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 13: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 14: Tony Wolters
Hitter of Week 15: Bo Greenwell
Hitter of Week 16: Carlos Moncrief
Hitter of Week 17: Delvi Cid
Hitter of Week #18: Tony Wolters
Hitter of Week #19: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week #20: Tyler Cannon
Hitter of Week #21: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week #22: Giovanny Urshela

Pitcher of the Week Awards:

Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 5: Dale Dickerson
Pitcher of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Pitcher of Week 7: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 8: Kyle Petter
Pitcher of Week 9: Kyle Blair
Pitcher of Week 10: Tyler Sturdevant
Pitcher of the First Half: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 12: Grant Sides
Pitcher of Week 13: Michael Goodnight
Pitcher of Week 14: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week 15: Matt Packer
Pitcher of Week 16: Danny Salazar
Pitcher of Week 17: Michael Goodnight
Pitcher of Week #18: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week #18: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week #20: Rob Nixon
Pitcher of Week #21: Rob Nixon
Pitcher of Week #22: Jordan Cooper

Player of the Week Awards:

Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Player of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Player of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Player of Week 8: Tony Wolters
Player of Week 9: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 10: Tyler Cannon
MVP of the First Half: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 12: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 13: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 14: Mike Rayl
Player of Week 15: Mike Greenwell
Player of Week 16: Carlos Moncrief
Player of Week 17: Delvi Cid
Player of Week 18: Mike Rayl
Player of Week #19: Giovanny Urshela
Player of Week 20: Rob Nixon
Player of Week #21: Jordan Cooper
Player of Week #22: Giovanny Urshela

Offensive Player of the Year:

3B: Giovanny Urshela:

You really can go round-and-round about why Ronny Rodriguez should be the offensive player of the year, and if you catch me on the right day, I’d agree with you. Rodriguez had a breakout season. Believe me, I’ve sat in front of the stats all season long, but at the end of the day, I just like Urshela’s overall game and production better. While I think that Rodriguez is closer to a finished product than Urshela, I’m beginning to believe that Urshela may not be too far behind. I know that the organization may not agree with me, nor anyone else for that matter, but the growth that I saw this year from beginning to end leads me to believe that there is more there than meets the eye with regards to the Mudcats third baseman.

With that said, you have to look at the numbers between Urshela and Rodriguez to see just how close they were across the board.





















Ronny Rodriguez




















Giovanny Urshela




















It’s an interesting look at a couple of players that have more similar than different…especially with regards to their slashlines. Both clearly need to learn how to get on base a bit more, but past that, both are virtually identical. Urshela has ten more doubles, but Rodriguez has eight more triples and homers. Rodriguez has more runs, but he also has 12 more games, and hit at the top of the order many more times than Urshela. Rodriguez has more speed, but was caught just as many times as he stole.

Then there is the defense. Urshela had ten errors at the hot corner, while Rodriguez has 33 at short. Urshela’s Fielding Percentage was .964, while Rodriguez rolled out a .943 playing short and second. He was a much better second baseman than a shortstop, but played predominantly at short. Not that any of that matters…to be honest. I think both are outstanding defensively…while Urshela may be a bit more polished. Both will be fantastic with the glove at the next level…and who knows where Rodriguez will be as he heads up the system. While I see him in the middle infield next season, he could be moved to a corner position in the infield or the outfield going forward. Of course, that’s not for this piece, but something I’ll delve into down the road.

So why Urshela?

At the end of April, Urshela was taking off offensively. In his five games leading up to his injury, he was on a tear. He had gone 9-for-21, with three runs, a double, a homer and four RBI.  When he came off the DL, to say that he struggled is the understatement of the century. In his first 19 games, he had a slash-line of .234/.208/.442. It wasn’t pretty.

From that point on, though, Urshela was outstanding. He hit .304 over his last 75 games, scoring 37 runs, while belting 24 doubles and 13 homers. What’s frustrating for me is that he was heading down this path a month earlier. While I wouldn’t give a guy an edge for games not played, I have no problem giving Urshela the edge here, based upon the fact that RRod and Gio’s numbers are so similar as it stands. Over that same stretch, by the way, Rodriguez hit .271, with nine doubles and 15 homers. In other words…Urshela’s numbers are every bit as good as Rodriguez.

Advantage Urshela…

The only question that remains is just how high Urshela’s number moves up in IPI’s rankings going forward. RRod is clearly a top five player…so where does that leave Urshela? It should be interesting.

Pitcher of the Year:

SP: Danny Salazar:

It really came down to Salazar and Shawn Armstrong…a starter vs. a reliever. The bottom line here is that Salazar, while a starter, had numbers that more closely resembled a reliever….which left their numbers extremely comparable. As a matter of fact, you could make a case, once you look at the numbers, that Armstrong was far more superior than Salazar.

At the end of the day, Armstrong may be a more important player to the system than Salazar, but I am not one of them. While the Indians seem to have a bevy of good, young relievers, their starting pitching leaves a bunch to be desired.

Is that why I ultimately chose Salazar over Armstrong?


But I always value starters over relievers, and this is no exception. I believe Danny Salazar is an incredible talent. The Indians handled him correctly, and he’s coming in after Tommy John surgery and pitching better than before.

Salazar is the real deal. This kid has massive upside, and is wicked on the hill. He presents the Indians only real stud-like option in Akron and Columbus, and his stuff translates. He has velocity and movement and ability.

Here are the numbers:





















Shawn Armstrong




















Danny Salazar





















It’s not even apples and oranges…but I prefer Danny Salazar.

Armstrong is really good though. He’ll be an interesting watch next year as well. As a matter of fact, don’t be surprised to see both move in a similar fashion next season. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Player of the Year:

3B: Giovanny Urshela

So here’s my bold prediction:

Gio Urshela is a sure-thing for the majors. I’m not as big an optimist as I make myself out to be, and I was down on Urshela over the years because of his swing. What I saw this year was nothing like the swing I saw two years ago. He would revert back to that swing on occasion, but found it back quickly.

Now, he’s locked that swing in…and it should just get better.

As I’ve said from the start, his glove is major league ready right now. I know…Lonnie Chisenhall is stuck at third…right?

I don’t buy it. I see a scenario that has a more offensive minded Urshela playing third in Cleveland, with Chisenhall moving to first base in his place in a Thome-like move. The irony here is that Urshela’s emergence likely blocks any potential move with regards to Rodriguez moving to third…or does it?

How much do the Indians value Urshela?

That’s a good question.

I’m just one guy…but one guy that’s watched Urshela blossom. Trust me when I say this: he’s not the same guy that left Ohio last year. He’s much, much better. I saw him on a daily basis, and while I’m not a paid evaluator of talent, I have seen hundreds of prospects over the years, and Urshela stands out.

I’m a sucker for a kid that listens, and he does.

While Rodriguez is more natural, and a hard worker in his own right, Urshela is downright turning into a white collar player, with blue collar mentalities.

He’s a mover folks…and the 2012, Fishing for Mudcats player of the year.

2013 Mudcats:

Just my predictions:

C: Alex Monsalve/Alex Lavisky—Monsalve has a chance to make a Gio-like move here in Carolina. Will he? I think so. Lavisky made a move as well. Here’s the thing…Jake Lowery will be coming on up as well. Will we see one of these guys move to first base? I have a feeling Lowery’s days as a catcher are over.

1B: Jerrud Sabourin/Jake Lowery?—Sabourin is a rising player. He’s running into a buzzsaw called the Carolina League. Can the Sabour-tooth tigers carry him to Akron? I think Lowery may have a DH/1B role in his future.

2B: Jose Ramirez: There will be a backup here, but c’mon…the guy we want to see is Ramirez. He hit .325 last season, and he hit .354 this year. Will he continues this in the toughest pitching league in the country? If he does, his blip on the radar turns into a comet. Joe Wendle may find himself here as well, but might he find himself at third?

3B: Joe Wendle: Just a feeling…although Leonardo Castillo may be the guy. As odd as this sounds, I could see Adam Abraham demoted here as well…after a nice year at Akron. Just doubt he’s a major league option.

SS: Lindor: Okay, so Lindor will be up, and Lindor will be sensational. I will be watching Lake County closely though. I’m telling you this very simple: if Dorssys Paulino kills the ball for the Captains, and if Lindor plays well here, I see a mid-year move. It’s not likely…but possible.

OF: Bryson Myles/Tyler Naquin/Jordan Smith/Luigi Rodriguez/Levon Washington????—Myles is going to explode next year. Tyler Naquin is too. Jordan Smith already has, and I think LRod is going to find the Carolina League difficult. As per Washtime? If he works hard, he could throw a wrench into all this. Granted, it would be a good wrench.

SP: Michael Goodnight/Jordan Cooper/Cody Anderson/Elvis Araujo/Shawn Morimando/Daniel Jimenez---more names could go here…but take your pick on who you like, and who you don’t. There are some other intriguing names that could go here as well, but going to hold off.

RP: Not going to go there yet. Enosil Tejeda will make it up here, as will Cody Penny and Josh Nervis. Past that…is anyone’s guess.

Have a great winter folks, and while I’ll be around talking about a slew of these guys in fall and winter ball, the boats out of the water, and the fishing poles are tied up…

See you April 5, 2013

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

User Comments

September 17, 2012 - 10:37 AM EDT
Yes, the starting pitchers mostly underwhelmed this season at Carolina. A few bright spots with Salazar who moved on to Akron and Rayl actually was solid. But yeah, when it comes to talent, Carolina certainly shined on the field and in the lineup with lots of potential and toolsy guys.
September 15, 2012 - 10:24 PM EDT
The starting pitching here looks awful! The position players intriguing.

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