Fishing for Mudcats: Morimando emerges
...but the boat is sinking
From the Bait Shop:
It’s awesome when a plan comes together.
Well, it’s almost always awesome when a plan comes together.
The Carolina Mudcats have been that enigmatic team that has been able to hit the ball, but haven’t been able to hit the ball when it counts. Combine that with a struggling pitching staff, and you have a team that has the worst record in the Carolina League.
So, what do I mean that it’s “almost always awesome when a plan comes together?
This week, the Muddies failed to hit.
Oh sure, the Mudcats are still first in batting average by eight points over Winston-Salem. Oh sure, they still dominate the top five in league hitting, with three players at the top of the list, and a fourth who just needs to qualify with at bats. This week, though, the team couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, or I suppose the better term for the Muddies here in Fishing with the Muddies is the port or starboard side of a ship.
The team hit .244 on the week, and generated only 16 extra base hits. They did hit four homers, which is good for the Mudcats, but c’mon…four dingers in seven total games? It’s not hard to figure out why this team is struggling. They do hit doubles, and are leading the league with 125, but this week they only mustered up 10, which is low-average at best. They just don’t have the power bats to drive home runs, and while they lead the league with the least amount of strike outs, they also are third from the bottom in walks. It’s just not a good mix, and this week, scraped the bottom.
The pitching wasn’t any better. The starters, for the most part, got beat up and came in with a 5.71 ERA and a 1-4 record. The relievers had some nice outings, but overall were dragged down by the normal sludge, and the overall ERA came in at 5.25 on the week. Overall, the pitching is last in the league now, with a 4.35.
Injuries haven’t helped, as three regular starters are on the DL, and several other players that could factor into winning ballgames.
It’s not a pretty side, with the only positive coming in the fact that next Monday is the end of the first half of the season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though there is any help coming any time soon, unless the new draft picks move quickly.
Let’s get fishing….before I get out of the boat…
Where we stand after Week #9:
|2013 Carolina League Current Standings|
|Carolina League Northern|
|Potomac Nationals (WSH)||36||24||0.6||-||-||22-11||14-13||W2|
|Frederick Keys (BAL)||32||28||0.533||4||6||15-13||17-15||L2|
|Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL)||31||28||0.525||4.5||6||18-13||13-15||L1|
|Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC)||31||31||0.5||6||4||16-13||15-18||L2|
|Carolina League Southern|
|Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX)||32||28||0.533||-||-||18-10||14-18||W2|
|Winston-Salem Dash (CWS)||33||29||0.532||-||-||19-13||14-16||W3|
|Salem Red Sox (BOS)||27||33||0.45||5||5||14-14||13-19||W1|
|Carolina Mudcats (CLE)||20||41||0.328||12.5||E||13-20||007-21||L5|
Week #9 Games:
|June 2013 (all times local unless noted)|
|2 @ Winston-Salem, L 6-15 (WP: C. Beck; LP: J. Lee)|
|3 @ Wilmington, W 5-1 (WP: S. Morimando; LP: J. Lamb)|
|4 @ Wilmington, L 1-3 (WP: C. Fassold; LP: J. Reichenbach)|
|5 @ Wilmington, L 4-6 (WP: S. Selman; LP: N. Pasquale; SV: S. Alexander)|
|6 @ Wilmington, L 4-6 (WP: M. Culver; LP: C. Anderson)|
|7 vs. Myrtle Beach, L 1-10 (WP: J. Van Meter; LP: M. Radeke; SV: P. Schwendel)|
|8 vs. Myrtle Beach, L 4-8 (WP: R. Harvey; LP: G. Sides)|
This Week’s Transactions:
|Carolina League Transactions|
|6/17/2013||RHP Cody Anderson assigned to Carolina League All-Stars.|
|6/17/2013||OF Tyler Naquin assigned to Carolina League All-Stars.|
|6/17/2013||SS Francisco Lindor assigned to Carolina League All-Stars.|
|6/17/2013||1B Jerrud Sabourin assigned to Carolina League All-Stars.|
|6/5/2013||Mason Radeke assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.|
|6/5/2013||Justin Toole assigned to Akron Aeros from Carolina Mudcats.|
|6/3/2013||Carolina Mudcats placed RHP Jacob Lee on the 7-day disabled list. Right forearm strain.|
Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Naquin:
The truth of the matter is that there were only three or perhaps four guys to really look at with regards to this week’s OPotW, and while Naquin didn’t lead the team in many categories, he was the one guy who was at the top of most of them.
The irony here is that Naquin DID lead the team in strikeouts, which should be a concern going forward, but he also had a nice combination of both power and speed, that allowed him to take the award in week 9.
Naquin tied for second with four runs, four RBI and three walks. He also had a double, and led the team in homers, with two. He also far-and-away led the team in slugging, thanks to those homers, and therefore led the team with an .851 OPS. He did hit .276 on the week, and in the Carolina League, which only sports three guys hitting over .300 at the time of this writing, that isn’t too shabby.
At the end of the day, Naquin is a pretty solid player, but with pretty big flaws. He hits around .300, and plays a phenomenal outfield. He has almost special speed, and a cannon of an arm. What are his flaws? As I mentioned before, he’s likely to strike out well over 100 times this season, and he’s also likely to hit well under .250 against lefties. He does beat up righties pretty well, but big league pitchers on both sides of the rubber will really make him look silly.
He’s currently second in the league in average and fourth in the league in OPS. He’s even sixth in the league with a .467 slugging…so you can’t ignore the plusses, but the minuses may be too big to overcome a serious major league move any time soon.
That said, if he’s in Carolina by July 1st, I’d be surprised, and if he’s in Carolina by August 1st, then the Indians aren’t doing their job right. I just don't know if he's ultimately going to be able to make that last transition as a star.
The best of the rest:
Tony Wolters nearly came out on top this week, as he really put the wood to the ball in leading the team with a .348 average. The problem is that he only managed one run, one double and one RBI. That’s not a one-week killer, but Wolters has been known as a doubles machine in the past, and if he’s just a slap-hitting catcher, his value drops considerably. Of course, he could always turn into Jason Kendall, who is his likely comparable.
Jordan Smith has been hovering right at .300 since the end of April, and is really back on track as far as one of the Indians most intriguing offensive players going forward. Like Naquin, he has his flaws, which really is his home run potential from a corner outfield spot. He’s not a top defender, but he does have a nice arm, and really could be a guy that could become a doubles producer going forward. He led the team with three doubles last week, but still struggles with that home run power. He also struck out six times, against only one walk.
Joe Wendle is another guy that I just love, and while he didn’t dominate this week, he still showcases a nice, professional bat. He walked five times and stole a base, against only one strikeout. He also had two doubles and a triple, and remains an interesting player coming of the DL a few weeks ago. He can hit at this level, but needs to maintain that skill in Akron to continue to be “interesting.”
In the Mud:
This week, I’m really going to focus on two guys, and they are Francisco Lindor and Jerrud Sabourin. Both are in the top five in the league in hitting, but are now just riding their hot first month-and-a-half of the season. They both have their big game on occasion, but overall, they’ve been scuffling at the plate.
The biggest concern, if you want to call it that at this stage of the 19-year-old’s career is Lindor, who is right in that 200-250 at bat window in which he began to struggle last year. He currently has 226 at bats. A season is a long and winding road, and he really has to show that he knows how to navigate it before he can be considered a top five prospect in all of the bigs. Again, he’s 19, so there’s time, and this by no means is the end of the road for the kid. I actually chuckled writing it. Some will say his first two years are a pattern, and they may be, but as he gains strength, which should happen as the year progresses, you’ll see Lindor take off.
With Sabourin, the only thing I really worry about is when or if he turns back into a “pumpkin.” He’s been one of the best stories of the 2012-2013 season, but you just never know if he will continue to progress or hit that wall. I hope it’s the former.
Pitcher of the Week: Shawn Morimando
The story of the Carolina Mudcats pitching staff this year has been a tale of two starters. Cody Anderson has been dominating, and while Morimando hadn’t been as Anderson overall, he hasn’t been far behind.
The only real difference between the two starters has been with regards to command, as Anderson leads Morimando in strikeouts (62-43), and has less walks as well (17-29).
Over their last five starts, you really could make the case that Morimando has been the better pitcher. The lefty is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA over 30 1/3 innings pitched, with 26 Ks, and only eight walks. Anderson has been nearly as good, going 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA over 26 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 34 against only eight walks.
In other words, he’s been extremely good. How good? Morimando had his 23 2/3 innings scoreless streak snapped on Saturday Night.
Morimando isn’t an overpowering pitcher, and Indians’ fans are certainly familiar with left-handed finesse pitchers, which may put him behind the eight ball over his next couple of seasons. With that said, he’s a lefty, which makes him interesting, either as a starter, or potentially as a reliever.
The best of the rest:
Michael Peoples made his second start in Carolina after being promoted from Lake County, and was outstanding. The lanky righty went 6 1/3 innings, giving up only four hits and a run, on two walks and four K’s. Peoples has been really good in the low minors, going 1-1 with a 2.28 out of the pen in 16 games in Mahoning Valley last year, and rolling out the 2.64 ERA in Lake County. He’s moved to the starter role, but clearly has caught the eye of Indians’ management. This stint could really be what cements him as a potential big leaguer, or a life-long minor leaguer.
Francisco Jimenez, Jeff Johnson and Francisco Valera all managed to come through the week with a 0.00 ERA in multiple inning stints with the Muddies. The most intriguing of the three is Jeff Johnson, but none are big time prospects going forward. The guy that I really like is Rob Nixon. I really think he has something to offer going forward. He’s not electric, or anything like that, but he bounces back, and he’s been awesome over the last month. Since May 12th, he’s only given up an earned run over the last 13 innings.
In the Mud:
I liked Michael Goodnight in the relief role. The reality is that he may not be suited for much of anything at this point. His ERA is at 6.11, and his promise is few and far between.
Jacob Lee is 0-5 with a 6.10 ERA and has been really bad over the last couple of weeks. He went on the DL, so perhaps there’s something to all the struggle other than ability.
Mason Radeke made his debut, and got tattooed. Cody Anderson had his first rough outing of the year. Fabio Martinez is the worst pitcher on the entire staff, and shouldn’t be a professional, and Grant Sides continues to really struggle this year, after looking like a potential break out reliever last year.
Next Week’s Fishing Expedition:
|June 2013 (all times local unless noted)|
|9 vs. Myrtle Beach, 2:00 PM|
|10 vs. Potomac, 7:15 PM|
|11 vs. Potomac, 7:15 PM|
|12 vs. Potomac, 7:15 PM|
|13 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM|
|14 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM|
|15 @ Myrtle Beach, 6:05 PM|
|15 @ Myrtle Beach, TBD|
The View Astern:
What’s the catch-22 about this team? Four players made the Carolina League All-Star roster. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, center fielder Tyler Naquin, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin and starting pitcher Cody Anderson were all named to the team. You could really make a case that there are others on this team that could have made a case, such as Shawn Morimando, Jeff Johnson and Joey Wendle. There are some good players on this team, but they just aren’t a good team. Anderson and Lindor were Midwest League all-starts last year.
The Muddies own the D.L. Starting pitcher Jacob Lee, Elvis Araujo and Joseph Colon lead the way. Owen Dew, Bryson Myles, Anthony Gallas and Todd Hankins are also on the shelf. It’s tough to win when you are missing that many legitimate contributers.
Next week’s Fishing for Mudcats will be the last of the first half, even though there will be two games left off of next week’s edition. They won’t appear here, but they could affect the final first half batters and pitchers of the week. I’ll pick them next Sunday, but Sunday and Monday’s game could alter it, so make sure you check out the following week’s FFM to see if there were any changes.
Will there be any all-star call-ups to Akron? They may not move up for Carolina’s all-star break, but they may move up for Akron’s, which is on July 10th. There could be an exodus, especially as some of these new draftees sign with the Indians.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.