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Fishing for Mudcats: "It's still the road that never ends..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "It's still the road that never ends..."
April 18, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

The Indians clearly enjoy playing at new Five County Stadium a lot better than they do playing just about anywhere else. When they left the friendly confines of home last week, they looked like an offensive juggernaut compared to past teams here in the Carolina League. This league has long been known as pitching dominant, but after the slugging seen here in the first six-game homestand, I firmly believed that things were about to change.

Then they went and they traveled about the state of North Carolina. My how things changed, yet stayed crazily the same.

Only two members of the Muddies hit over .300 this past week, and the team as a whole hit only .211. They struck out 57 times, while walking only 22 times. They scored 22 runs…barely over three a game, with 13 doubles, and 3 home runs out of their 41 total hits.  All-in-all, not a good week compared to their opening home stand.

The pitching was a different animal altogether, and borderline dominant. The starters really came through, giving up only 19 hits in nearly 29 innings pitched. While they gave up 15 runs, only eight of them were earned, as the defense really faltered behind them.  They struck out 22 batters, but walked only eight, while giving up one homer.

On the outside looking in, the bullpen looks pretty bad with regards to numbers, but it was really only a couple of horrific numbers that brought the final stats into the red. Three relievers made it through the week with a 0.00 ERA, while one other had a 1.80 ERA in three appearances. Three other relievers, tallying only 5 1/3 innings, got absolutely shelled. The overall ERA was 4.64 in 21 1/3 innings. They gave up 20 hits and 11 earned runs, while striking out 16, and walking an unbelievable 21. You aren’t going to be too successful in the bullpen with 21 walks in 21 innings.

So once again, the starters shine, the offense stinks…and the bullpen…well…apparently they like taking long…long walks into the abyss.

Now let’s get fishing…before I take a long walk, off a short pier…

Where We Stand After Week #2:

Overall Record: 5-6 (2-4 this week),3rd Place in the Southern Division, a half game behind Myrtle Beach and Salem.

Week #2 Games:

April 2012

11 vs. Wilmington, W 5-3 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: C. Boruff; SV: J. Flores)
13 @ Winston-Salem, L 0-1 (WP: J. Bachanov; LP: M. Rayl; SV: L. Hunt)
14 @ Winston-Salem, W 7-3 (WP: M. Goodnight; LP: S. Arroyo)
15 @ Winston-Salem, L 5-6 (WP: J. Collop; LP: J. Cooper; SV: L. Hunt)
16 @ Wilmington, L 2-9 (WP: L. Perez; LP: D. Salazar; SV: S. Marimon)
17 @ Wilmington, L 3-5 (WP: C. Boruff; LP: D. Dickerson)

This Week’s Transactions:

04/13/2012 Activated OF Jordan Casas from the 7-Day disabled list.
04/13/2012 Justin Toole assigned to Columbus Clippers from Carolina Mudcats.
04/12/2012 RHP Shawn Armstrong assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.
04/12/2012 Cody Allen assigned to Akron Aeros from Carolina Mudcats.
04/12/2012 RHP Jordan Cooper assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.
 

The Offense:

Player

Pos

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

AVG

Tyler Holt

CF

19

2

5

1

0

0

1

3

5

0.263

Tony Wolters

2B

24

2

3

0

0

0

0

2

8

0.125

Giovanny Urshela

3B

20

2

4

0

0

0

0

0

3

0.200

1- Justin Toole

PR-3B

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.000

Jesus Aguilar

DH ,1B

15

2

5

1

0

0

0

4

4

0.333

Jeremie Tice

1B,DH

22

5

6

3

0

1

5

4

4

0.273

Jake Lowery

C

23

3

7

2

0

0

2

2

10

0.304

Carlos Moncrief

RF

21

2

2

1

0

1

4

3

9

0.095

Ronny Rodriguez

SS

20

3

5

2

0

1

4

1

5

0.250

Delvi Cid

LF, CF

12

0

2

1

0

0

2

2

3

0.167

a- Jordan Casas

PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.000

Anthony Gallas

LF

10

0

2

2

0

0

1

1

2

0.200

Tyler Cannon

3B

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0.000

Dwight Childs

C

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0.000

Totals


194

22

41

13

0

3

19

22

57

0.211

The Good…

It certainly is encouragingthat Jesus Aguilar led the team in hitting with a .333 average.  While defense is an issue at first base for the massive first baseman, he’s a projectable average to above-average at the position. Let’s face facts though folks, Aguilar isn’t in this organization to play defense. This kid has the potential to be the type of right-handed offensive player that can be a long-term solution in the middle of the Indians offense. He hit bombs last year, but struggled with pitch selection and patience. This year, there is a definitive improvement, as he showed off this week. Aguilar went 5-for-15 overall, with two runs and a double. The irony is that he didn’t drive in any runs. My hope is that his new selectivity doesn’t come at the expense of his power. Of course, this is the Carolina League, so perhaps there is a little more to it than that.

There is a lot to like about Jake Lowery, both as a person, and as a player.  As Tony and the rest of the draft crew at IPI have mentioned more than once, Lowery played at a band-box at James Madison, so many folks felt that his power (24 homers was second in the country in Division I, and he led the country in runs and RBI) was due to that. If you’ve seen him hit, it’s clear that there is more to it than just where he played. Past that, he’s everything you want in a catcher. He’s clearly a ‘clubhouse presence’ sort of player, and will have good relationships with his pitchers. I think the sky’s the limit for this Mudcat slugger. He led the team in hits this week, with seven.

Jeremie Tice has been bantered about by his manager, Edwin Martinez, as being one of the most powerful hitters in the clubhouse, and he’s proving him right.  Tice led the team with five RBI this week, and also managed to score five runs as well.  Of his six total hits, three were doubles, and one was a massive home run. Tice is a Carolina League veteran, and he brings an interesting skill set to the team this season.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

Tony Wolters continues to struggle at the plate with the Mudcats.  He did improve his hitting this week, but it was from .095 last week, to .125 to this week. I’m not worried about Wolters make-up, as I think he will ultimately develop a game that translates to this level and above. What I do worry about is his psyche, should he continue to struggle over a long period of time. 

Urshella, Moncrief and Rodriguez just have to more with their chances. They were enticing at Mahoning Valley, but would drop off the face of the offensive planet at times. It was hope they’d gain more consistency this season in Carolina, but so far, it’s back to the future for the trio. They bookend good games with poor performances at the plate, and until they learn what it takes to maintain a consistent bat, they may be destined for a slow rise to the top, if they ever get there.

The Pitchers:

The Starters:

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

G

Clayton Cook

6.667

3

4

2

2

6

0

2.70

2

Mike Rayl (L, 0-2)

7

2

1

1

1

5

0

1.29


Michael Goodnight (W, 1-0)

5

6

3

2

2

1

1

3.60


T.J. House

6

4

4

0

1

8

0

0.00


Danny Salazar (L, 0-2)

4

4

3

3

2

2

0

6.75


Totals

28.667

19

15

8

8

22

1

2.51


The Bullpen:

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

G

Dale Dickerson

3.667

3

3

2

6

4

0

4.91

3

Francisco Jimenez (W, 1-0)

5

4

1

1

5

1

0

1.80

3

Jose Flores (S, 1)

2.667

1

0

0

2

2

0

0.00

2

J.D. Reichenbach

2.333

1

0

0

0

1

0

0.00

2

Shawn Armstrong

4.667

3

0

0

4

6

0

0.00

2

Jordan Cooper (BS, 1)(L, 0-1)

1.667

4

2

2

1

1

0

10.80

1

Brett Brach

1.333

4

6

6

3

1

0

40.51

1

Totals

21.333

20

12

11

21

16

0

4.64


 

The Good…

T.J. House is a different guy.  No seriously, take a look at him, he really is. After committing to a workout program over the winter, House dropped 30 pounds and really focused on having a big 2012. So far, so good. With the added regimen, House has come out in his first two starts like a man planning to make up for two years of treading water in the Carolina League. He dominated during last week’s start, and probably should have been my pitcher of the week, if not for the dominating performance by reliever Cody Allen, who was called up by to the Akron Aeros. So House just came out and did it again in his second start. House came out and went six innings, giving up four hits and four unearned runs, while  striking out eight, and walking only one. On the season, he has 17 Ks and only two walks, and really appears ready to make the move.

Clayton Cook is another guy who seems ready to take the next step in the Indians organization after his first two starts. This past week, Cook’s first start was solid, and started on spectacular, as he entered the fifth inning with a no-hitter. The inning fell apart, but he still managed to get out of the game with more than respectable numbers. His second start is a bit concerning, however, as he was pulled out of the game after one inning. I wasn’t at the game, and haven’t had any comment with anyone with the organization, but there had to be a reason why he was yanked so early. He was clearly struggling, but not to the point that he needed to leave because of performance or pitch count. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I’ll just leave it at that. As soon as IPI can get you the information on Cook, we will.

Mike Rayl went 5-5 with a 2.83 ERA last season at Lake County, and looked every bit the part of a future major league, left-handed starter.  He struggled a bit when he was called up to Kinston last year, then struggled again in his only start last week, his first of the season. Then came this week’s scintillating performance, that had the lanky lefty go a team-leading seven innings, giving up only two hits, an earned run and a walk, while striking out five. He would get the hard-luck loss, but clearly figured things out for the first time since his 2011 early season run. He followed that up with an awesome outing to start off next week, but I’m going to save that for next week’s edition.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

Brett Brach really smelled up the joint as the piggy-back with Danny Salazar. The veteran starter got absolutely shelled in his inning and a third of work, giving up six runs and three walks. Nine men reached base in a four-out period. You aren’t going to win many games doing that.

Week #2 Awards:

Hitter of the Week: Jesus Aguilar
Pitcher of the Week: T.J. House
Player of the Week: T.J. House
 
The Archives:
 
Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
 
Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
 
Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House

Here Comes Week #2:

18 @ Wilmington
19 vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:15 PM 
20 vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:15 PM 
21 vs. Myrtle Beach, 6:15 PM 
22 vs. Myrtle Beach, 2:00 PM 
23 vs. Lynchburg, 7:15 PM 
24 vs. Lynchburg, 7:15 PM

 Looking astern:

 Cody Allen’s time with the Muddies was brief, but explosive. In two games and four innings, Allen gave up one hit, while striking out eight batters. His pitching simply overpowered the Carolina League, and it was clear from the second that he took the mound that his time in Carolina would be short.  Now, the big righty is busy dominating in the Double-A Eastern league, with two equally dominating innings there. There’s a bunch of thinking that Allen could make a run at the Tribe this year, should he continue his wicked…wicked ways. Congrats Cody, and may your stay in the Indians minor league system be short.

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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