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Fishing For Mudcats: "We'll split up the week, okay?..."

Fishing For Mudcats: "We'll split up the week, okay?..."
April 25, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

Baseball teams often have a hard time trying to find themselves. The Kinston Indians depending on staunch pitching over the past two seasons, headlined by Alex White and Nick Hagadone two years ago, and Drew Pomeranz last year. This Mudcats' team has struggled to find their voice, sometimes depending on the pen, sometimes the starters, and then there's that offense, which really woke up this past week.

What happens when your offense pounds the ball, your starters dominate, but your bullpen crashes, and your defense struggles? I’d like to tell you stories of grandeur and wonder about how a team can overcome its deficiencies and sweep into first place, but that isn’t going to be the case this week.

The offense in Carolina must have figured something out on their way east from Kinston. I’m not sure if they found a special tree on the way, but the lumber sure has exploded since the K-Tribe became the Mudcats. The team went 58-for-203 (.286), scoring 32 runs, while driving in 30. They hit thirteen doubles, two triples and three homers, while walking 21 times, with 51 strikeouts. Five starters batted over .300 this week, while two others were at or over .273. They are third or better in nearly every major offensive stat in the league.

The starting pitching is nearly as impressive. In 16 2/3 innings pitched, the starters gave up 26 hits and seven earned runs, while striking out 19, and walking only ten batters. Their 2.36 ERA was phenomenal, and nearly every starter had a solid week or outing. Unfortunately, there was only one starter to garner a win, and he grabbed two on the week, but more on that in a bit.

Where this team has fallen by the wayside is with regards to their bullpen. Early in the season, it was believed that Clayton Ehlert and Cody Allen would provide the backend of this team in the coming couple of months. Allen has since been called up to Akron, while Ehlert retired during the first week of the season. What’s left is a rag-tag group of relievers left over from last season’s K-Tribe, extended spring, Mahoning Valley and Lake County. It’s not working out, as the pen has managed to give up 34 hits and 20 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings, while walking 23 batters, and striking out 26. They’ve given up five homers as well. That 6.59 ERA just isn’t getting it done.

When you add the back-end pitching to ten errors, you have an issue that cost a solid, if not spectacular team wins down the road. This past week, it led the Muddies to an even split, which just isn’t going to be good enough going forward. The Mudcats need to fix their leaking bullpen, or it’s going to be a long season in Five County Stadium.

Where We Stand After Week #3:

Overall Record: 8-9 (3-3 this week),3rd Place in the Southern Division, a game behind Myrtle Beach and Winston-Salem.

Week #3 Games:

April 2012

18  @ Wilmington, W 1-0 (WP: M. Rayl; LP: J. Adam; SV: J. Flores)
19 vs. Myrtle Beach, L 6-7 (WP: R. Henry; LP: J. Cooper)
20 vs. Myrtle Beach, L 5-7 (WP: B. Rowen; LP: D. Dickerson; SV: B. Henry)
21 vs. Myrtle Beach, W 7-2 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: W. Font)
22  vs. Myrtle Beach, Postponed: Wet Grounds 
23  vs. Lynchburg, W 5-4 (WP: M. Rayl; LP: C. Martin; SV: J. Flores)
24  vs. Lynchburg, L 8-14 (WP: G. Schlosser; LP: K. Petter)

This Week’s Transactions:



Carolina Mudcats

Kyle Petter

Kyle Petter assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.


Status Change

Carolina Mudcats

Clayton Cook

Carolina Mudcats placed RHP Clayton Cook on the 7-day DL.



Carolina Mudcats

Justin Toole

2B Justin Toole assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Columbus Clippers.


Status Change

Carolina Mudcats

Danny Salazar

Carolina Mudcats placed RHP Danny Salazar on the 7-Day disabled list. right arm stiffness



Carolina Mudcats

Toru Murata

Toru Murata assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Columbus Clippers.

The Offense:

The Good…

There are a bunch of good prospects in the Indians system, but it’s time to take notice of one Jake Lowery. This kid is absolutely raking right now for the Muddies, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s ever come in contact with the kid. As I mentioned in last week’s “The Good…” Lowery is everything you want in a catcher as far as personal make-up goes, and he’s proving that is bat is as legit as advertised. Lowery played in five games this past week, and went 8-for-19, with a run, three doubles and two RBI. He had two hits in four of the five games. You’d like to see a bit more run production with regards to power, but his contact will likely ensure a power boost as he advances. While he’s still developing behind the plate, everything about this kid screams that he’s going to develop good rapport with his staff. I really expect this kid to be a future Tribe catcher down the road.

Jeremie Tice is an old-school High-A player for the Indians, who spent some time injured last year, which really cost him any chance of advancement. Tice is the primary DH for Carolina, and he really has a nice bat. He’s likely a first baseman once Jesus Aguilar moves on, but for now, he’ll ply his trade as the DH. He hit in four of his five games, scored five runs, and added a double, a homer and two RBI to his tally. I’m not sure what kind of upside Tice has, but he’s certainly good depth to any organization.

The havoc is back, as Tyler Holt is just shredding the Carolina League right now. There’s nothing better than watching a kid start to really figure things out, and Tyler Holt is that guy in Carolina. He had a nice offensive season last year, but the Indians tinkered with his stance and approach, and he’s exploding in 2012. This past week, Holt went 8-for-25 (.320), with a team-leading eight runs (third in the Carolina League, with 15 runs scored), and walked three times, with only four K’s. This is a dramatic improvement from last season. I wasn’t sold on Holt after last season, but after watching him early in 2012, it’s clear this kid has a solid uptick, and should continue to make an impact in Carolina for the short time he’s likely to be here.

Jesus Aguilar just continues to hit the baseball.  There isn’t anyone on this team that NEEDS to play well more than Aguilar in this system. This massive right-hand hitter represents the lone homegrown product that may be ready in the next couple of seasons that can blast the ball from the right side. What’s most impressive this season is that he continues to make contact with the baseball. This past week, he hit .318 (7-for-22), with three runs, two doubles and four RBI. He did only walk once, and strike out six times, which resembles his walk and K totals from last season, but this is a vast improvement from a kid who had over 120 K’s last year, with only 46 walks. He still needs work, but he’s clearly a quick learner.

I want to throw out a quick mention to one Delvi Cid, who I would love to see explode this season. In case you forgot about Cid, he’s the kid who stole 71 bases two years ago at Lake County, before injuries really took him out of the season last year in Kinston. After the lost season, Cid returned to High A looking to make a statement. So far, so good. Cid is currently third in the league in stolen bases, with six. While his overall average is only .256, he hit .333 this week, with two stolen bases. With his speed, he could make the major league club at some point. Keep an eye on Cid. I could actually see him getting a call up ahead of some others because he does have that one trait you just can’t teach.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

The future is bright for Tony Wolters, but he’s really still trying to find his offense as a Mudcat. He has split his time at second and short with Carolina, and is struggling a bit defensively as well. Overall, the kid’s makeup screams major leaguer, but that’s a long way off. Remember, Wolters is all of 19-years old, and still learning. When he figures it out, I have a feeling it will happen quickly.

Giovanny Urshela has a fantastic glove at third base, but unfortunately for the smooth fielder, he hasn’t been able to find his bat much. This past week, he went 5-for-23 in six games, with two runs, two doubles and four RBI. After hitting .290 at Mahoning Valley, he hasn’t hit above .238 since then, and is only hitting .211 now. He needs to start making more contact soon, as the glove can only take you so far.

The Pitchers:

The Good…

The best pitcher, by far, this past week was one Mike Rayl. Rayl made two starts this week, and was dominant in both. Overall, Rayl went 11 2/3 IP, giving up only seven hits and an earned run, while walking only three, and striking out nine. His ERA for the week was a fantastic 0.77. Rayl burst on the scene last year in Lake County, going 5-5, with a 2.83 ERA, while walking 13, and striking out an impressive 84 batters in 82 2/3 innings. While he may remind folks of the Aaron Laffey/Jeremy Sowers experiment, he does give the Indians a tall lefty with some promise, something they don’t have a bunch of.

T.J. House wasn’t as good as he was last week, when he was named the minor league player of the week for the Tribe organization, but he was pretty darned good. As I mentioned in ATF, my hope is that this start was House’s basement. Last season, this would have registered as one of his best starts, but this season should be something different for the re-energized House.

I’ve spent a bunch of space in this column bashing on Jose Flores over the past couple of seasons, so this is a little bit different for me. Flores is the one relief pitcher on this team that is doing something, and he’s apparently been installed as the closer for the time being. This past week, Flores made three appearances for four total innings, giving up three hits and a walk, while striking out four batters. His ERA was a perfect 0.00. No, I don’t think he’s suddenly a top prospect, but it’s good to see a middle-of-the-road reliever step up.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

When Kyle Petter was called up from Lake County, I was excited. He had been lights out with the Captains, and the Muddies needed a bit of that. So, in his first two appearances, he promptly blew a save, then took a loss. He went 3 1/3 total innings, giving up five earned runs and six walks, while striking out three. His near 14 ERA just isn’t going to cut it.

Jordan Cooper was another call-up from the LC, and another disappointing start. He made three appearances, and got torched in two of them. His only “good” appearances was a one-off out. Overall, he went five innings, giving up nine hits and seven earned runs, while giving up four…yes…four home runs. Ouch.

You could really take a dart to the bullpen and hit bad and ugly this week, so I’ll just leave it there.

Week #3 Awards:

Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery

The Archives:

Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery

Here Comes Week #4:

25 vs. Lynchburg, 7:15 PM


26 vs. Lynchburg, 11:00 AM


27 @ Salem, 7:05 PM


28 @ Salem, 6:05 PM


29 @ Salem, 4:05 PM


30 @ Lynchburg, 6:05 PM


May 2012

1 @ Lynchburg, 6:05 PM


Looking astern:

Well, this isn’t so much looking astern, as it is checking out the bow. Today it was announced that RP/SP Toru Murata is heading to Carolina from Columbus, in what must be a major setback for the righty. I don’t think the Indians think highly of him, but he has had moments of brilliance. They just need to figure out if they plan to use him out of the pen, or as a starter, and keep him there. It was also announced that Trey Haley would be joining the club from extended. It couldn’t be at a better time, for a team hungry for relievers.

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

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