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Fishing for Mudcats: "It's too late now, I'm afraid..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "It's too late now, I'm afraid..."
June 6, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

Preface: Stats used for this article were from Tuesday, May 29th, through Monday, June 4th
 
Anything is better than an Oh-fer, right?
 
The Mudcats took themselves completely out of the first half title by getting swept last week, and dropping seven games behind first place Winston-Salem. The Mudcats won their first three this week, but dropped three of their next four, keeping Carolina treading water in last place, and actually dropping them back another game overall. With three weeks left in the first half, only a miracle would bring the Muddies back into play. Instead, it’s time to focus on the second half, and hope that they get an infusion of offense to help compete against the pitching heavy Carolina League.
 
The offense continues to struggle overall. There always seems to be a player that stands out, but there rarely is more than two or three hot players at a time. On top of that, this team seems to be only hot or cold. If you aren’t hitting around .300, you seem to be hitting .250 or below. That’s not a recipe for success.
 
This week, the Muddies hit .253 as a team. That’s not spectacular by any stretch, but they did manage to plate 37 runners, hit 15 doubles, two triples and four homers. They only walked 16 times in seven games, and struck out 50 times. You have to think that Tribe brass isn’t all that happy with the approach in Carolina, as this system is preaching patience right now. This team has some young guys though, so perhaps they can be a bit patient.
 
The pitching staff seemed to move forward a bit, as the starters pitched much better, and the relievers had some good output as well. Overall, the pitching staff went 56 1/3 IP, giving up 56 hits, 25 runs (23 earned) and 19 walks. They struck out 46, and gave up four homers. The innings were actually more proportionate, as the rotation actually managed to pitch more innings than the bullpen.
 
The pen got in 22 1/3 IP this week, which is a bit inflated because of Kyle Blair’s piggy-back situation with Danny Salazar. He’s actually a starter, even though he’s coming in after the third. They gave up 21 hits, nine runs (eight earned), seven walks and 18 K’s. They only gave up one home run.
 
The rotation looked pretty solid, going 34 innings, and rolling out a decent 3.97 ERA. They gave up 35 hits and 15 earned runs, while walking 12, and striking out 28 batters. There were some really good starts this week, tempered with some really bad ones. If they could just get a week where it all came together, or perhaps, get some added help from that deep, but young, Lake County rotation, they could really make a second half move.
 
Let’s get fishing…

Where We Stand After Week #8:

Overall Record: 26-30 (4-3 this week), 4th Place in the Southern Division, 8 games behind Winston-Salem.

Week #9 Games:

May
 
29 vs. Wilmington, W 11-3 (WP: K. Blair; LP: T. Sample)
30 vs. Wilmington, W 5-3 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: J. Adam; SV: J. Cooper)
 31 vs. Wilmington, W 7-2 (WP: D. Dickerson; LP: S. Garrido)
 June
1 @ Winston-Salem, L 7-8 (WP: C. Bassitt; LP: S. Armstrong)
2 @ Winston-Salem, L 0-3 (WP: J. Petricka; LP: M. Goodnight; SV: N. McCully)
3 @ Winston-Salem, W 7-4 (WP: K. Blair; LP: M. Heidenreich; SV: J. Flores)
4 @ Wilmington, L 0-2 (WP: C. White; LP: F. Jimenez)

This Week’s Transactions:

06/04/2012 Tyler Sturdevant assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Akron Aeros.
06/02/2012 Dwight Childs assigned to Akron Aeros from Carolina Mudcats.
05/30/2012 Carolina Mudcats placed RHP Trey Haley on the 7-Day disabled list.

The Offense

The Good…

The cream of the crop on offense this week was Jesus Aguilar, who continues to showcase a much more advanced bat in Carolina. Aguilar had four multi-hit games out of seven, and hit in five overall. He went 10-for-25, scoring five runs, with three doubles, a triple and three RBI. He did walk only once, and struck out five times, but his OBP is solid, and his average sat at .311 at week’s end. I can’t see Aguilar staying in Carolina past the all-star break, he’s just playing too well.

Jeremie Tice is the most consistent offensive threat on the team. He’s just in the zone right now, and is really making a case to get moved up to Akron, perhaps as an outfielder. The Muddies have been experimenting with Tice in left field, which is likely a move to strengthen the upper levels outfield depth. He does have injury issues though, so keep an eye on Tice moving forward, who was hit by a pitch and had to come out of the game on Monday night. Overall this week, he went 6-for-18 (.33), with three runs, two doubles, a homer and five RBI. He walked once, and struck out five times. He’s hitting .306 overall.

Ronny Rodriguez has found his bat, and while he’s not destroying Carolina League pitching, he’s certainly figuring it out. His overall average is at .250 right now, and he pulled in a .292 average this week (7-for-24), with four runs, a double, a homer, and a team-tying five RBI. He didn’t walk once, and struck out five times. He may be playing better than Wolters right now.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

I hate putting Wolters back up here, but he really didn’t have a good week at the plate, after taking weekly honors last week. He hit only .172 in seven games, going 5-for-29, with five runs, a triple and four RBI. He struck out five times. Yeah, it’s an up-and-down season for the youngster, but when it all evens out, I think you’ll see more pluses than minuses.
 
Jake Lowery is another guy that just can’t get it going. He only played in five games this week, and went 5-for-17, with three runs, two doubles, five RBI, two walks and seven RBI. He’s been striking out at an alarming rate, and has been hitting under .250 for some time now. Carolina has seen a bunch of college guy’s careers stall out over the years, so I hope that Lowery can regain his mojo. He’s starting to look ordinary, but it’s still relatively early in the season.
 
Anthony Gallas actually got a hit this week…well…two of them. He’s the ultimate underdog, but it’s starting to look like he could be on the chopping block. With a bunch of prospects in Lake County, and a bucketful of draft-picks, he could find himself out of a job soon.

The Pitchers:

The Good…

I’ve got to give Kyle Blair props, he just doesn’t give up. He’s been getting shelled of late, and was sitting at the top of the Bad and the Ugly over the past two weeks. I thought he was done. He didn’t share the same view, and proved it this week. He went 2-0 in 9 2/3 innings, giving up only eight hits and three earned runs. He did walk five, and only strike out four, but he still looked much, much better. I don’t think he’s going to translate much higher than Carolina, but you do have to like his grit.
 
Mike Rayl was the hard-luck starter this week, and had the best overall numbers. He wen’t seven innings in his lone start, giving up only four hits and a run, while walking one, and striking out eight. Rayl has starts like this every so often that shows you what he can do when he’s throwing strikes. The problem is when he’s not. Rayl is a lefty, and if he continues to develop, he could certainly be in a big league rotation in a few years.
 
Jose Flores is another guy that just doesn’t go away. He had looked terrible over the past week, but once again dominated in two appearances, one in which brought him his eighth save. He went two innings in two appearances, giving up a hit, while striking out two. I still don’t like his delivery.
 

Francisco Jimenez is another guy that bounced back this week, going 10 1/3 innings (most on the team), giving up 13 hits and three earned runs (2.61 ERA). He walked three batters, and struck out five.

Danny Salazar has looked downright dominating at times. While he scuffled a bit in his second start, he dominated in his first. The Indians have him going in shortened outings (3 innings or 35 pitches, whichever comes first), and he’s excelled. In his first start, he went three innings, giving up only a hit, while striking out five. He gave up three hits and two earned runs in his second outing, but struck out five in 2 1/3 innings pitched.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

The only player that I can really mention in this category is Will Roberts. He went 5 1/3 in his start, giving up six hits and seven runs (six earned). He walked four, and struck out three, while giving up a homer. He just hasn’t pitched well in Carolina, and really needs to step it up to show he belongs.

Week #9 Awards:

Hitter of Week 9: Jesus Aguilar
Pitcher of Week 9: Kyle Blair
Player of Week 9: Jesus Aguilar

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
 
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
 
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

Here Comes Week #10:

June 2012
 
5 @ Wilmington, L 2-5
6 @ Wilmington, 7:05 PM 
7 @ Wilmington, 7:05 PM 
8 vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:15 PM 
9 vs. Myrtle Beach, 5:15 PM 
9 vs. Myrtle Beach, TBD 
10 vs. Myrtle Beach, 2:00 PM 
11 @ Lynchburg, 7:05 PM

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.

User Comments

Ricky
June 7, 2012 - 7:01 PM EDT
I went and looked at stats, why is Tice not playing double a?
Jim
June 7, 2012 - 6:03 AM EDT
I don't see Chen ever moving back to catcher full time at this point. If Aguilar were to move to Akron, it would suggest that Chen was going to move as well, up to Columbus to play first and DH. That may be the only reason Aguilar isn't in Akron right now. While Chen spent his entire 2011 season in Akron, he's still learning a new position. Now, will Chen find himself behind the plate a few times more? Sure, but I do think those opportunities will dwindle, not increase.
Bill
June 7, 2012 - 12:50 AM EDT
If Aguilar were to be promoted to Akron, could that me more time back behind the plate for Chen?

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