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Fishing for Mudcats: "How to generate momentum..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "How to generate momentum..."
July 11, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

Preface: Stats used for this article were from July 3rd through July 9th.

Carolina made friends with Big Mo heading into this week, having put together their best offensive effort of the season to close out June, and backed it up with an outstanding showing from their starting rotation. The Muddies had grabbed a solid share of second place in the second half of the Southern Division, and were only a game back of first.

The Muddies must have pissed off Big Mo, because he left to go see the Independence Day fireworks, and never came back.

You can lay part of the blame squarely on the shoulder of Jesus Aguilar. No, I’m not becoming suddenly critical of the Muddies best player, but he only played the first four games of the week before heading off to Kansas City to play in the Futures game on Sunday Night. Justin Toole and Tyler Cannon tried to replace his bat, and managed to go 1-10, with four strikeouts. This team has offensive firepower, but it has really struggled to put it all together from week-to-week. Their streaks tend to be more player-oriented, and less team-oriented. That’s the nature of the beast with regards to minor league baseball.

Offensive Totals for July 3-July 9

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

AVG

222

21

53

10

1

5

20

17

42

.239

The Muddies hit nearly 70 points their .306 average from last week, and were down in all areas. They scored an impressive 42 runs compared to 20, and had 24 doubles, compared to 10. While last week did have eight ballgames and 40 more at bats, their power numbers and overall offense this week was WAY down, and equates to more than just a game worth of offense. The Mudcats aren’t a .300 average team (who is), but they aren’t a .240 team either. Some of their fringe guys really do have to start stepping up.

The team’s pitching staff was the real flaw of the week, as there just weren’t enough solid performances to carry the team. In fairness, the relievers did carry a heavy burden this week with scheduled short starts from Danny Salazar and Matt Packer. While they were in Piggy Back situations, it still dips heavy into the bullpen, which can cost the team their best relievers for long stretches. This was a different sort of week though, as the team headed toward a rare two-day break.

Player

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Bullpen

23.6

29

18

16

13

17

2

6.08

Starters

37.3

38

24

22

14

22

1

5.30

Totals

61

67

42

38

27

39

3

5.61

The bullpen gave up three more runs in five less innings, but did manage to drop their walk total from last week, and nearly maintain their strikeout level. The big difference was the starting rotation. While they did get some nice starts, their bad starts were really bad. Their rotation gave up 12 more earned run. There was no major difference between their walk and strikeout totals. They were just more hittable this week.

The Muddies did drop some ground to Myrtle Beach, but maintained second place by a good margin. For this team to have any shot at the second half title and a playoff appearance, they have got to gain consistency. With Tyler Holt and Jeremie Tice gone, and with Jesus Aguilar likely to follow suit, it could be a challenge to see that happen.

Now let’s get fishing…if we’re lucky…we might be able to catch Big Mo before he gets away for good…

Where We Stand After Week #14:

Second Half Record: 11-8 (3-4 this week, 43-46 Overall), 2nd Place in the Southern Division second half, 2 games behind Myrtle Beach

Week #14 Games:

June
 
3 vs. Potomac, W 5-3 (WP: G. Sides; LP: A. Carr; SV: J. Flores)
4 vs. Salem, L 3-12 (WP: B. Workman; LP: W. Roberts; SV: M. Gleason)
5 vs. Salem, W 4-3 (WP: S. Armstrong; LP: M. Celestino; SV: J. Flores)
6 vs. Salem, L 2-16 (WP: M. Rivera; LP: F. Jimenez)
7 @ Potomac, L 3-4 (WP: D. Storen; LP: J. Reichenbach; SV: J. Barthmaier)
8 @ Potomac, W 3-2 (WP: M. Rayl; LP: M. Grace; SV: J. Flores)
9 @ Potomac, L 1-2 (WP: N. Karns; LP: W. Roberts; SV: N. Holland)

Week #14 Transaction:

No listed roster moves for the week of July 3rd through July 9th.
07/08/2012 LHP Matt Packer assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Akron Aeros.
07/07/2012 Carolina Mudcats released RHP Dale Dickerson.
07/06/2012 C Jake Lowery assigned to Lake County Captains from Carolina Mudcats.
07/06/2012 C Alex Monsalve assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.
07/05/2012 C Dwight Childs assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Columbus Clippers.
07/05/2012 CF Tyler Holt assigned to Akron Aeros from Carolina Mudcats.

The Offense:

Player

Pos

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

AVG

Alex Monsalve

C

8

1

1

0

0

1

1

0

1

0.125

Anthony Gallas

DH/LF/RF

26

0

5

1

0

0

2

2

5

0.192

Bo Greenwell

DH/RF

17

2

4

2

0

1

2

3

3

0.235

Carlos Moncrief

RF/CF

23

2

5

0

0

1

2

2

11

0.217

Delvi Cid

LF/PR

12

3

4

1

1

0

1

1

2

0.333

Dwight Childs

C

6

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

 

0.167

Giovanny Urshela

3B

26

1

5

1

0

1

4

1

3

0.192

Jake Lowery

C

3

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

0.333

Jesus Aguilar

1B

12

2

2

1

0

0

0

4

2

0.167

Justin Toole

2B/1B

13

1

3

0

0

0

1

0

3

0.231

Ronny Rodriguez

SS/2B

23

1

7

0

0

0

1

0

3

0.304

Tony Wolters

2B/SS

23

3

8

3

0

1

3

2

2

0.348

Tyler Cannon

C/DH/1B

22

3

6

0

0

0

1

1

4

0.273

Tyler Holt

CF

8

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

2

0.125

 Totals

 

222

21

53

10

1

5

20

17

42

0.239

The Good…

Tony Wolters continues to rebound from what can kindly be called an adverse season to date. His initial jump from Mahoning Valley to Carolina was clearly a stretch, but the Indians were banking on Wolters outstanding make-up to overcome the big jump. While some ‘not-to-be-mentioned-writers’ were calling for Wolters to be moved down to Lake County, the Indians held firm and watched Wolters begin to pick things up in May. While he struggled a bit in the middle of June, Wolters is now playing the best baseball of the year, and likely, the best baseball of his career. While Wolters is never going to be a big power guy, he certainly is a top-of-the-lineup sort of bat, who can get on base and score a bunch of runs. He tied for the lead with three runs this week, led the team in doubles, and was second in RBI. He topped the team in average by a bunch.

His up the middle counterpart, Ronny Rodriguez, continued his parallel renaissance, with a workman like week. Rodriguez is on a similar trajectory as Wolters, but does showcase a lot more power. Of course, he also has a less professional approach that he’s still struggling with at times. He did only strike out three times in seven games this week, and while he didn’t walk at all, I think the Indians would be happy with three strikeout weeks every time. The interest for me with regards to Rodriguez is just how much power he has. I’ve seen him rope a couple of doubles off the wall in the power-alleys of Five County that would have been home runs in any other park. Those 20-foot-high walls are killer.

Tyler Cannon didn’t break any records, or do anything that massive this week, but he does need to be mentioned in the good column. Cannon spent over a month playing catcher, a position he has never played regularly, in college or professional. He is an extremely versatile player, even moreso than a guy like Justin Toole, and has a lot more pop with the bat as well. While he’s listed as a third baseman or a shortstop, he literally can play any position on the diamond. The fact that the 24-year-old is hitting .262 this season while playing the most demanding position in baseball says a lot about who he is. It will be interesting to see if the Indians have anything long-term planned for him, or if he’s just turned himself into a minor-league value guy, that you keep around to fill in holes all around the minors. You know, like Justin Toole on steroids. Not sure his upside past that role, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if the Indians did give him a position to play.

…the Bad and the Ugly…

This is what you get with a guy like Giovanny Urshela. Last week I was praising him as the second coming of third baseman. His glove is most exquisite, with a potential power bat that would make him the answer to all of our prayers! Well, not so much. I’m not saying my opinion on Urshela’s ability is any different, but I sometimes need a stark reminder of the types of players we are dealing with. Urshela is a minor league player with holes, and those don’t get fixed overnight. You’ll often see progress leap frog, but players at this level are constantly shifting as things take, or don’t. With repetition, players can improve and get rid of bad habits. Urshela still has that long swing and rough approach, and while he can adjust at times, he always falls back to the old swing. There will be a lot more rubber-banding before Urshela gainst the consistency to be an effective upper-level minor leaguer, let alone a major leaguer.

Carlos Moncrief has moved over to centerfield with Tyler Holt gone, where he played for much of last season at Lake County. I can’t imagine that moving to the toughest outfield position did much for his offense, as he’s really struggled all season. Let’s put his week into perspective. Anthony Gallas struck out a bunch, five times in his seven ballgames. Gallas finished in second on the team for the week to Carlos Moncrief…by six. That’s right, Moncrief struck out an impressive 11 times, while walking twice. He also has a rather impressive 97 K’s, and should become the first member of the Indians system to pass the 100 threshold this year sometime around Friday. He has all the tools in the world, but striking out 180 times isn’t going to get him very far in an organization that prides itself in improving that approach.

In the land of ‘what have you done for me lately,’ Anthony Gallas has gone from the good, to the bad and the ugly. I already mentioned Gallas and his five K’s, and it’s really the only dent he put in the stat column this past week. The Muddies really needed his bat with Aguilar gone, but Gallas only produced two hits in his absence, both singles. Gallas can play, but to ever get noticed, he’s going to need to continue to produce that offense at a high level. He’s an overachiever, and likely not valued much as a future major leaguer. There a reason for that, and if he wants to ever change that perception, he’ll need to really step up his game over the next season.

The Pitching:

Player

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Cole Cook

2

3

0

0

0

1

0

0.00

Dale Dickerson

3.333

3

3

3

1

0

0

8.10

Danny Salazar

3.667

2

1

1

2

5

1

2.45

Francisco Jimenez (L, 7-6)

4.667

8

7

6

2

4

0

11.57

Grant Sides (W, 1-0)

4

4

1

1

1

6

0

2.25

J.D. Reichenbach (L, 3-3)

3

4

3

3

3

2

1

9.00

Jordan Cooper

3.333

4

2

0

1

3

0

0.00

Jose Flores (S, 13)

2.333

1

0

0

1

2

0

0.00

Kyle Blair

2

7

7

7

3

2

1

31.50

Matt Packer

3

0

0

0

0

3

0

0.00

Michael Goodnight

5

6

3

3

3

3

0

5.40

Mike Rayl (W, 5-7)

13

7

2

1

5

6

0

0.69

Shawn Armstrong (W, 1-3)

3.667

3

2

2

3

1

0

4.91

Will Roberts (L, 3-6)

8

15

11

11

2

1

0

12.38

The Good…

It doesn’t get much better than what Mike Rayl was able to do this week in his two starts. What was a crime was that he didn’t get two wins for those starts. On Independence Day eve, Rayl went six strong, giving up only four hits and two runs (one earned), while striking out three. He did walk three batters, which is never good, but should have gotten the win. He followed that up with his best start of the season on July 8th. He went seven innings, giving up three hits and two walks, while striking out three. Rayl has now gone three straight quality starts, going 20 innings total, giving up 12 hits and three earned runs, while walking seven and striking out ten. He’s only gotten one win, which goes to show you how much weight you should put into that stat-line. Rayl is turning into an innings-eater, and if he can continue to locate, can be an important lefty in this system.

What am I going to do with you, Jose Flores. Whenever I watch you pitch, the scout-side of me comes out and I start picking apart your delivery. No, I don’t do this to Preston Guilmet, who looks like he’s wound up like a top, and I didn’t do it to Cory Burns, who’s hand nearly scraped off the ground. You still have heat, and you’ve pitched out of your mind this year, minus a stretch here and there where you’ve struggled. Overall, Flores has been a solid closer for the Muddies. It’s hard to follow a guy like Burns or a guy like Guilmet, as they both dominated the Carolina League during their time here. Flores has more velocity than both, but he’s not as good. Of course, he may prove me wrong yet.

Grant Sides is the best pitcher in Carolina right now…at least as far as upside goes. He made three appearances this week, two dominating, and one not so much, but it was his first blemish on a near perfect start to High A ball. The irony is that Sides blemish turned into a win, as the Muddies scored, and Flores saved it. Sides has a golden arm, that just seems to be getting better after a 2010 Tommy John surgery. Yeah, I think he’s better than Armstrong, but not by much.

Matt Packer made a triumphant return to Carolina in a short start, going three strong in his first start. Danny Salazar continued his outstanding season of short starts as well. Packer isn’t long for Carolina, as the Indians are just putting him through rehab starts on his way to Akron, and then ultimately, Columbus. I’m not sure he’ll get there this year, but he’ll certainly start the 2013 season at the highest level. Salazar is still rebounding from losing the 2010 season, but doing a spectacular job of it in his short starts. The Indians moved his pitch count up last week, and upped his innings to four. It will be interesting to see if they unleash him soon, or if they keep a wraps on his innings for the rest of the year. There really isn’t any reason to move him up too quickly, as his ceiling is low this year. Look for the leash to come off Salazar next year, as he moves from Akron to…well…we’ll leave my thoughts on that until next year…;)

Jordan Cooper has been solid for his past four outings, all in the long-relief/piggy-back role. He’s gone 14 1/3 innings, giving up 15 hits and four runs (two earned), with three walks and 12 K’s. He’s struck out 27 over his last ten ballgames, and walked only three batters, so Cooper is clearly progressing nicely. Cooper still has plenty of upside as a 23-year old, front-end reliever.

…the Bad and the Ugly…

Kyle Blair just has a long way to go. He had a pocket of solid pitching this year, but just hasn’t been very good overall. He gave up seven runs in two innings of work, and has just fallen off the radar. I wouldn’t be surprised for the Indians to pull the plug on Blair this season, get him to Arizona, and start working on his mechanics and mentality. He’s turned into a long-term project at best.

Will Roberts has some ups, but has struggled in Carolina. He got jacked for 12 hits and nine runs in his first four inning sting, then gave up two more runs in a much better four inning stint later in the week. Roberts is a better pitcher than this though, and needs to start showing it…either as a starter, or as a reliever.

Shawn Armstrong has really been scuffling, and he gave up two runs in a 1 2/3 inning appearance to start the week off. He bounced back with a one-hit, two-inning performance later, and will be fine. Not everyone can adjust as cleanly as Cody Allen, but that’s why he’s in Columbus waiting for a call-up, while Armstrong is in Carolina, dominating, but still working on repetition.

I feel like J.D. Reichenbach needs to really step up his game, or he’ll end up getting released. He filled a role last season as a glue guy, a guy like Eric Berger that can go from level to level, and start or relieve depending on need. This season, he hasn’t filled any role, as he’s mostly gotten knocked around. With a lot of big arms below, he better start pitching well, or he’ll follow Dale Dickerson right out the door.

Week #14 Awards:

Hitter of Week 14: Tony Wolters (it wasn’t even close, although I have to give props to Cannon)
Pitcher of Week 14: Mike Rayl (Again, not close, but I will grudgingly admit that Flores had a good week)
Player of Week 14: Mike Rayl (best two-game stretch of starts for a guy pitching with unlimited innings for the Muddies this season)

The Archives:

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
 
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
 
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

Here Comes Week #15:

July
 
12 @ Frederick, 7:00 PM 
13 @ Frederick, 7:00 PM 
14 @ Frederick, 6:00 PM 
15 @ Frederick, 6:00 PM 
16 vs. Winston-Salem, 7:15 PM

The View Astern:

Congratulation to Tyler Holt, who was finally bumped up to Akron, where he should have been a long time ago. Holt was one of the best hitters in the Carolina League to start the season off, but has been struggling as late. He started off hot in Akron, so it’s likely that some of the struggle was based on his standing in the system, but it’s odd how things work in the minors sometimes. Often, a system will judge a guy long before they move, and that judgment stays rigid based on projection, and not on actual play. Don’t get me wrong, Holt can play at Double, but it’s funny that they moved him up at the basement of his season, when his ceiling was more than a month ago.

…time to break anchor, and head for shore until next week…

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.

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