Minor Happenings: Crowe Flies To Buffalo
"Minor Happenings" covers the important developments and news in the Indians farm system. While most of the information in this report is from my own research and through interviews I have conducted with organizational personnel, some information in this report is collected and summarized from the various news outlets that cover each team.
As mentioned the other day in a piece on Mahoning Valley third baseman Jeremie Tice, Minor Happenings this week is posting late because of my trip down to Florida. I am spending two weeks in the Sunshine State where I will get to see the Indians rookie level team the GCL Indians in action a few times. I'll be at the old Winter Haven complex today (Saturday) to see the GCL team in action and talk to some coaches and players, and also possibly get an update on some of the rehabbing Indians down here. I'll also see them a few more times over the course of the coming week.
On my way home to Ohio, I will also be staying in Myrtle Beach for a few days to see advanced Single-A Kinston in action, as well as maybe catch Team USA and Team Canada play an exhibition game in Durham, NC on Monday August 4th.
In addition to the Tice piece mentioned above, be sure to check the piece on Buffalo left-hander David Huff and Lake County right-hander Rob Bryson which posted earlier in the week. I have a ton of other articles on the likes of Dallas Cawiezell, Joey Mahalic, Stephen Head, Ryan Edell, Mike Pontius, Brian Juhl and Nick Weglarz about set to post, but it just depends on how much I am able to get to them while I am on this trip. The Weglarz one will certainly post the week leading up to the start of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. So, be on the lookout for them.
Indians Minor League Player Of The Week
(for games from July 17th to July 23rd)
Michael Aubrey (First Baseman - Buffalo)
.346 (9-for-26), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 1 K
Buffalo first baseman Michael Aubrey has started to get hot, and his timing could not be any better. With the Indians now in evaluation mode the rest of the season, players on the 40-man roster like Aubrey will get plenty of time in Cleveland the last two months of the season to prove themselves. Aubrey is out of options next year, and with 40-man roster spots being so valuable after this season he could see a lot of playing time in Cleveland once the trade deadline passes and someone like Casey Blake is traded to free up time at first base.
Aubrey is currently in the midst of a nine game hitting streak, hitting .405 (15-for-37) during the streak. Since July 6th, Aubrey has raised his average 31 points from .265 to .296, and more than doubled his Buffalo RBI total from eight to 20. In 42 games at Buffalo, Aubrey is hitting .296 with 3 HR, 20 RBI and a .749 OPS. In 76 combined games at Buffalo, Akron and Cleveland, Aubrey is hitting .281 (84-for-299) with 7 HR, and 38 RBI, but most importantly he has been healthy this season missing very little time due to injury.
Jordan Brown (1B - Buffalo): .346 AVG, 4 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 6 K
Beau Mills (1B - Kinston): .346 AVG, 5 R, 0 2B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K
Steven Wright (RHP - Akron): 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 11 IP, 3 R, 13 H, 1 BB, 6 K
Alexander Perez (RHP - GCL Indians): 1-1, 2.70 ERA, 10 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 6 BB, 12K
7/10 to 7/16: Niuman Romero (3B - Kinston)
7/3 to 7/9: Nick Weglarz (OF - Kinston)
6/26 to 7/2: Stephen Head (1B/OF - Akron)
6/19 to 6/25: Trevor Crowe (OF - Akron)
6/12 to 6/18: Chris Gimenez (C - Akron)
6/5 to 6/11: Jim Deters (RHP - Kinston)
5/29 to 6/4: Steven Wright (RHP - Kinston)
5/22 to 5/28: Chris Archer (RHP - Lake County)
5/15 to 5/21: David Huff (LHP - Akron)
5/8 to 5/14: Steven Wright (RHP - Kinston)
5/1 to 5/7: Jeremy Sowers (LHP - Buffalo)
4/24 to 4/30: Jose Constanza (OF - Akron)
4/17 to 4/23: Hector Rondon (RHP - Kinston)
4/10 to 4/16: Wes Hodges (3B - Akron)
4/3 to 4/9: Kelvin De La Cruz (LHP - Lake County)
This week Indians Farm Director Ross Atkins chimed in with some of his thoughts on four of his players going to Beijing, China to play in the Olympic games. Outfielder/first baseman Matt LaPorta and right-handed reliever Jeff Stevens will represent Team USA, and outfielder Nick Weglarz and right-handed reliever T.J. Burton will represent Canada.
On the benefits of playing in the Olympics: "I'll be quite frank, it is close. There is a huge benefit for them to be a part of our organization on a daily basis and amongst our coordinators and staff members and playing every day minus the travel to Beijing and different areas they have to go to and prepare to play in the Olympics. But, the positives are that when the lights come on and they are playing for a Gold Medal potentially, we can't create that level of intensity or competition in the minor leagues. There are pluses and minuses, and when it is all said and done you just think about the experience for the individual and realize that it is once in a lifetime."
On where they go when they return: "I think they will still get in a little bit, especially if Akron makes the playoffs or if Buffalo has a miracle. Certainly they will participate in the playoffs for our minor league teams."
On Matt LaPorta's busy month: "It is unbelievable really what he has gone through. You think about 15 hour bus rides already and the significance of minor league travel and what it takes to put on a uniform every single day with no days off. Then you add in a trade which is extremely involved and what that means for your family and what that means to you as an individual. Then you go to a Futures Game and your family goes to see you there, then you come back to the team you were traded to and you just met those guys five days before you left. He also had personal issues he had to take care of back home. He has really been on a whirlwind tour of the United States of America in the last two to three weeks, and now he is going on a whirlwind tour of the world."
On Jeff Stevens use in the Olympics: "Absolutely. We have much more say than you would think. We are extremely involved in that, and we have already spoken to [manager] Davey Johnson and [pitching coach] Marcel Lachemann about their usage. We have it down to the at bats and the innings. Stevens is going to be their closer and will see essentially anywhere from about eight to twelve innings depending on their success, but we know exactly how he is going to be used. There are parameters in place that he can't be of use, but those guys are pros and been around the block. They understand the big picture and would never put a player in a harmful situation."
On Ryan Morris and Ryan Miller: "The offense has cooled off as we have had three relatively key injuries [at Lake County] that have hurt the offense. They are still performing at similar levels, but they are just not getting the run support. They are doing well with their pitch development and things they can control like the groundballs they are getting, their velocities creeping up, and their durability staying the same and all the other things we are looking for from a development standpoint."
Coaches Corner: Jon Nunnally
I was able to catch up with Kinston hitting coach Jon Nunnally recently and ask about a few of his hitters. Nunnally enjoyed some of his best days as a player in Kinston in the early 90s, and wanted to come back to Kinston and coach. While Nunnally is always open to moving up the system in the coaching ranks, Kinston is his home and he loves doing what he is doing there right now getting his hands dirty and doing specific instruction with hitters.
On Nick Weglarz: "We are just working on making sure he stays on top of the ball. He has a very good approach at the plate, but it is just a matter of him staying on top of the baseball. Sometimes he works under it which gets him in trouble, which gets a lot of people in trouble. He gets away with some things because he is really strong. It is just a matter of him picking the pitch out that he wants to hit and to not go out of the zone because he wants to hit."
On John Drennen: "He has been in this league for two and a half years, and he did a lot of damage on the inside of the plate last year. That's where he hit all of his home runs as they went anywhere from right-center to down the right field line. This year they are just not pitching him in there like that, so when they go inside it is inside for a ball and middle away for strikes. The main thing for him to understand is you get your singles and doubles to the middle or left-center field. Doing that is going to open it up and make them come back to you on the inside part of the plate and that is when the homers will come back. But other than that, stay on the left side of the diamond. At the beginning of the season he was doing that going center-left-center-left, and then all of a sudden other guys are hitting homers and he did not have any, so him being young that is what he tried to do. I said 'look, take what they give you'."
On Jared Goedert: "He is a consistent player and has a very consistent swing. He is going to be a really solid player. He is not one of those guys you should overlook as the guy can hit. He has been our most consistent hitter and you can put him anywhere in the lineup. Right now we are hitting him fourth even though he is not a four-hole hitter, but yet we still know he is not going to do anything to try to create, and that is what I love about the guy. You can hit him in the two-hole down. His defense at third base has been really solid, and he has looked really good at second base too. He reads his book before the game, comes and gets his work in, goes back and reads his book. There is no more you can say. You can put him right now in Double-A or Triple-A and you will get the same kid because he has that good of a swing and he is going to work hard to try to do things to help your team. He has a serious opportunity to be a pretty good big league player."
On Beau Mills: "He is getting more consistent as the year goes on. Right now he is working middle away, which is working out pretty good for him. He is one of those guys you'll be watching a lot in the future. I don't know when the opportunity is going to come for him in Double-A."
On Carlos Rivero: "He is looking pretty good. He is young, he is strong, and the power is going to come in time as he learns what he needs to do. This level is one of those separators. You play so many teams over and over and over again, and you have to learn how to make adjustments. That's what the games is all about, at bat to at bat, pitch to pitch, and day to day you have to make adjustments. That's what I like about his approach, and in time I think he will do all that."
Huff's Arm Injury Is Behind Him
Left-hander David Huff is 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 20 combined starts at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo. Those numbers are excellent on their own, but considering Huff only made 11 starts and pitched 59.2 innings at advanced Single-A Kinston last year before missing the last three-plus months of the season with a UCL sprain of his left pitching elbow, those numbers are exceptional.
"It was off of one pitch," said Huff last weekend when asked how the injury came about. "It was a freakish thing. Everything was going good and I was only a little focused on the mechanics and was just going from start to start. I found out after I got inured that I was drifting a little bit. It happened on a curveball, and my arm was late getting out and I had to really speed it up to get it through and I just ended up hurting it on that pitch."
For a prized lefty coming out of college, and a top draft pick, the injury was certainly scary for Huff.
"Yeah, because when I went to the doctors to get it checked out they were saying that if I would have kept going and tried to battle through it then I probably would have ended up having Tommy John surgery and I was like 'ok, let's shut it down'," said Huff.
Huff's resurgence came in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) late last year where he came back and pitched well. In seven games in the AFL, Huff went 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA and posted 15 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched. The numbers may look bad, but the ERA is ballooned by two bad outings, where overall he was outstanding and scouts raved about him in his five other appearances.
"Yeah, I felt like I pitched well," said Huff about his AFL experience. "As far as the outings when I gave up a few runs, I think just that day I was missing a couple spots and with the Double-A and Triple-A hitters you can definitely tell that when you miss spots that you can get hit a ton. That is just part of the learning process."
Toregas Recalls Tragedy
Akron catcher Wyatt Toregas has been having a lot of fun the last month at Akron. After struggling for the first two months of he season at Triple-A Buffalo hitting .219 with 2 HR, 25 RBI and a .610 OPS in 50 games, Toregas has been having a party in Double-A Akron the last five to six weeks as he recently saw an 11-game hit streak end and is hitting .337 with 10 HR, 29 RBI and a 1.184 OPS in 27 games. The former Virginia Tech Hokie has averaged one home run every 8.9 at bats since joining Akron.
While things have been the best they ever have for Toregas right now, a little over a year ago when news broke on April 16, 2007 that a single gunman stormed one of the main classroom buildings at Virginia Tech's Norris Hall and shot and injured several people, it hit Toregas hard.
Toregas played three seasons at Virginia Tech from 2002-2004 before being drafted by the Indians in the 24th round of the 2004 Draft. While he was almost three years removed from his time at Virginia Tech, he still thinks fondly of the place as home.
Toregas still was very connected with a couple dozen friends who still went to school there or worked in the athletic department at the school. One of the most frightening experiences for him was when he received some odd text messages from friends who were still locked down in their classrooms while the gunman was shooting.
"I actually knew it was going on before it even hit the news," said Toregas in a recent interview at Canal Park. "I was getting text messages from in the classroom. There was a player that I played with who was in his math class in McBride which is actually the building that I guess is right next store to Norris Hall where it happened. He said it was locked down and there was shooting and he could hear gun shots."
Toregas lived all three of his years in West Ambler Hall where the shootings started earlier that morning before the gunman moved on to Norris Hall.
"It was a tough day because all throughout the day you keep seeing the casualty rate keep going up," said Toregas. "Then the story gets more opened up and you find out what is going on and you can't believe that would ever happen. It is the most peaceful place ever. It is really an unbelievable place to go, and the unity there is unbelievable for the football games and stuff like that. It was sad to see something like that happen to a place where I feel so at home. That was probably the best time of my life as far as friends and baseball and just being able to do whatever you want, and to see that was just sad."
Crowe Flies To Buffalo
When outfielder Trevor Crowe was activated from the disabled list last Friday after missing two weeks with a strained left intercostal muscle, it was only a matter of time before he was heading to Buffalo. Prior to his injury Crowe was on the cusp of a callup to Buffalo, but the injury came just before those plans could be put in motion. His callup was put on hold until he came back and showed he was healthy, and that all came to a head with Crowe being moved to Buffalo on Thursday.
Now at Buffalo, Crowe leaves behind an amazing six week stint in Akron which helped insert his name back into the Indians top prospect rankings. Overall at Akron, Crowe hit .323 (64-for-198) with 16 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs and 28 RBI in 49 games. He also scored 45 runs and stole 13 bases while posting an on-base percentage of .404 and an .888 OPS. In June, Crowe hit .400 (42-for-105) with 10 doubles, 4 home runs and 24 RBI in 25 June games. Since June 1st, Crowe is batting .393 (55-for-140) with 13 doubles, 4 home runs and 26RBI in 34 games, and finished his last game on Thursday 4-for-4 at the plate.
To make room on the Buffalo roster for Crowe the Indians released outfielder Jason Tyner. Tyner hit .235 (56-for-238) with one home run and 14 RBI in 76 games with Buffalo. Replacing Crowe on the Akron roster is outfielder Jose Constanza. Constanza had missed 23 games with a left shoulder strain, and prior to landing on the disabled list he was hitting .293 with no home runs and 27 RBI at Akron while leading the club with 15 stolen bases.
Stevens Beijing Bound
Buffalo right-handed reliever Jeff Stevens is a cool customer. It is his ability to remain calm in dicey situations or pitching in pressure situations late in a game which have him lined up to be a late-inning bullpen option for the Indians possibly as soon as the end of this season. After a breakthrough 2006 campaign where he went 6-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 49 combined appearances at Kinston and Akron, Stevens has had just as good a season this year going 5-3 with six saves and a 3.35 ERA in 33 combined appearances at Akron and Buffalo.
In the next few days, Stevens road to Cleveland will take a slight detour when he leaves the organization for about a month to go to California and then join up with the rest of his Team USA teammates for exhibition games in Durham, NC next weekend from August 1st to the 4th. Stevens was the closer for the United States Olympic qualifying team last fall, and is set to be their closer in the Olympic Games in Beijing which get under way on August 8th. Stevens closed out the all-important clinching game against Cuba in the qualifier last winter and overall threw seven shutout innings. There is a very good chance that once his trip to the Olympics ends around August 22nd or August 24th that he will not be sent back to Buffalo, but instead will be sent to Cleveland and make his major league debut.
Blair Makes An Impression
Mahoning Valley outfielder Ryan Blair is quickly settling into the majors. The 21st round pick out of Cal State Sacramento in this year's June Draft is only hitting .270 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and a .686 OPS in 31 games, but he has stood out as one of the top players on the Scrappers roster. One of Blair's strengths in the early going has been his ability to go to the plate with a good plan which will serve him well as plays more games down the road. His versatility as a hitter and outfielder allows him to play really any of the three outfield positions, and his 6'2" 185 pound frame is projectable and should fill out to where his power develops down the road.
"I really like Ryan," said Mahoning Valley Scrappers manager Travis Fryman in a recent interview at Eastwood Field. "He has made a great first impression here. We really feel like he might become a sleeper pick for us, and we just see some real bright spots with him. That's a pick up we are very excited about and we think we stole something there. He has been compared to Matt Brown as there are some similarities there. I think he is a better player than even he thinks he is able to become. You can see he has a great frame and is real thin, he is going to get stronger in our organization with our strength and conditioning program. He is learning how to swing the bat more aggressively as when he got here he thinks more like a singles guy and goes the other way, but he has a lot of power and great instincts on the bases."
Rondon And Smith Lead Kinston
Last Thursday, Kinston right-hander Hector Rondon was sensational going six innings without allowing an earned run on just two hits, no walks and six strikeouts. It was arguably Rondon's finest performance of the season as he had excellent command and had no-hit stuff, and he set down the first nine batters of the game before giving up a hit in the fourth inning. Rondon is on a roll having now won eight of his last ten starts and is now 8-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 20 starts for Kinston. His 110 strikeouts are second in the Carolina League.
For Kinston right-hander Carlton Smith, life was good in May when he went 3-1 with a 1.04 ERA in five starts. But when the calendar flipped to June, Smith struggled and went 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA in six starts for the month. Of late, however, Smith seems to be coming out of his funk and is starting to once again put up some quality outings. Last Friday, Smith went seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits, two walks, and had five strikeouts. On the season he is now 8-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 starts.
Prospect Radio And Video
I have mentioned this a few times recently, but it looks like I'll have a weekly radio show on-line talking prospects. The time and day it will be on is still being worked out, but it likely will be on Thursday nights to coincide with Minor Happenings and be on from 9pm to 10pm or 10pm to 11pm (Eastern Standard Time). We'll have a dedicated call-in number, so as we get used to all of this (I have nil radio experience) we'll open the lines and it will be a pleasure to finally talk to some of the fans that read all these reports. More on this as it develops, but this is very exciting and should be a lot of fun.
Also, I have recently started updating and uploading more videos of Indians prospects. Here are some recent additions:
Ryan Edell (LHP)
Dustin Realini (1B)
Jeff Hehr (3B)
Ronald Rivas (SS)
Karexon Sanchez (INF)
Josh Rodriguez (SS/2B)
Steven Wright (RHP)
Kelvin De La Cruz (LHP)
Dallas Cawiezell (RHP)
Ryan Morris (LHP)
Mike Pontius (RHP)
Vinnie Pestano (RHP)
Stephen Head (1B/OF)
Wes Hodges (3B)
Wyatt Toregas (C)
Reid Santos (LHP)
Erik Stiller (RHP)
Matt LaPorta (1B/OF)
Ryan Miller (LHP)
Buffalo Notes (47-59, 5th place, 18.0 GB): Right-hander Brendan Donnelly continued his minor league rehab assignment by moving up from Kinston to Buffalo on Monday. Donnelly is 37-years old and is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. The Indians have until August 6th to promote him to the major league roster or he can request his release and become a free agent. To make room for Donnelly, right-hander J.D. Martin was re-assigned to Akron. In one appearance at Buffalo, Donnelly has thrown one shutout inning and allowed a hit and no walks while striking out one. ... Left-handed veteran starter John Halama threw his second consecutive nine inning complete game on Tuesday night. In his last two starts he has gone 18 innings and allowed two earned runs on 17 hits, no walks, and stuck out seven. On the year he is 7-2 with a 4.15 ERA in nine Buffalo starts. ... Last Friday, infielder Jorge Velandia was activated after he was outrighted to the minors by the Indians. To make room for Velandia, infielder Chris De La Cruz was put on the disabled list. ... Buffalo scored 26 runs in their first two games to start the second half, and the two-game showing was their best offensive output in over two years.
Akron Notes (63-42, 1st place, 3.5 GU): First baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta missed some time early last week to attend the funeral of his grandfather. He missed two games and returned to the lineup on Saturday, and in 11 games at Akron is hitting .214 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and a .537 OPS. It has been a crazy three weeks for Laporta who was traded on July 7th, made his Akron debut on July 9th, played in the Futures Game on July 13th, was named to the USA Men's Baseball Olympic team on July 16th, attended his grandfather's funeral July 17th, and is expected to leave for the Olympics on July 27th or 28th. ... Last Thursday, left-hander Tony Sipp continued his progression up the system on his rehab assignment and was moved up from Kinston to Akron a week ago Thursday (7/17). He has been rudely received by the rest of the league, however, as in three appearances his stat line is as follows: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB and 3 K. ... Left-hander Ryan Edell put together five consecutive solid outings allowing just one earned run in each start before his Wednesday night start where he tossed six innings and allowed three runs. On the year, Edell is 5-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 20 starts. ... Outfielder Bronson Sardinha's 11-game hitting streak came to an end last night. The streak was his second-longest streak of the season after a 12-gamer from May 28th to June 10th. On the season, Sardinha is hitting .302 with 6 HR, 44 RBI and an .808 OPS in 76 combined games at Akron, Buffalo and Tacoma. ... On Monday, right-hander Frank Herrmann was activated and outfielder Ryan Goleski was re-assigned to Kinston to fill a need for an outfielder since Jason Denham went on the disabled list. Goleski was hitting .241 with 8 HR, 24 RBI and a .739 OPS in 74 games at Akron. ... Akron is 18-5 in one run games.
Kinston Notes (19-13, 2nd place, 1.5 GB, 54-47 overall): ABC's Good Morning America Weekend will be at Grainger Stadium for a feature to be shot on Wednesday, July 30th. With correspondent John Berman they will be gathering footage and interviews before, after and during the K-Tribe's game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The story chronicling a day and night in the life of Grainger Stadium will be shown on a future Good Morning America Weekend Broadcast. ... Infielder Niuman Romero missed three games last weekend because he was serving a three-game suspension after an altercation with a player earlier in the month. Romero's 21-game hitting streak came to an end on Tuesday night, and was the longest in the Carolina League this season. On the year Romero is hitting .309 with 6 HR, 32 RBI and an .824 OPS. ... First baseman Beau Mills 15-game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday, but his 25-game home hitting streak is still alive and well (5/25- present). On the season, Mills is hitting .281 with 15 HR, 66 RBI, and an .847 OPS. ... Left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz has been promoted from Lake County to Kinston and in his first start went 5.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits, two walks and struck out six. ... De La Cruz replaced right-hander Josh Tomlin in the rotation. The versatile Tomlin will pitch out of the bullpen again and is 8-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 25 appearances (9 starts) on the season. ... On Wednesday, outfielder John Drennen connected for his first home run of the season and is now hitting .242 with 1 HR, 24 RBI and a .626 OPS.
Lake County Notes (12-21, 6th place, 12.0 GB, 53-50): In left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz's last start for Lake County last Friday he notched win number eight by going six innings and allowing no earned runs on three hits, one walk and struck out a season high eight batters. De La Cruz was promoted to Kinston on Monday, and finished the year 8-4 with a 1.69 ERA in 18 starts at Lake County. ... With De La Cruz moving on to Kinston, the void left in the rotation with his departure was filled by right-hander Joanniel Montero. Montero could just be a temporary fill-in for now, but he started on Wednesday and went 3.2 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, two walks and had one strikeout. On the season, Montero is 1-4 with a 5.03 ERA in 17 appearances (four starts). ... Last Saturday, starter Ryan Morris took the loss in his shortest outing of the year going only two innings and allowing five runs on four hits, three walks and striking out two. On the season Morris is now 7-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 19 starts. ... On Monday, right-hander Joey Mahalic went a strong 6.1 innings allowing two runs on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. At one point Mahalic had set down thirteen in a row. On the season he is now 6-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts). ... The Indians activated right-hander Dallas Cawiezell from the disabled list last Saturday. On the season he is now 2-7 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 appearances. ... Outfielder Lucas Montero now has 47 stolen bases on the year, good for second in the South Atlantic League. On the season he is hitting .266 with 8 HR, 36 RBI and a .772 OPS. ... On Tuesday catcher Richard Martinez was promoted to Kinston and first baseman Chris Nash was added to the Lake County roster from the disabled list.
Mahoning Valley Notes (15-21, 5th place, 9.0 GB): Amazingly, it is already the midpoint of the season for the short-season league teams. Now that they have reached the midpoint, Scrapper manager Travis Fryman is starting to have one-on-one interviews with his players to go over what they want them to work on for the remainder of the season. ... On Sunday, left-hander Eric Berger put forth another very good effort going five shutout innings and allowed two hits, two walks, and had four strikeouts. In four starts for the Scrappers, Berger is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. ... Outfielder Juan Valdes is hitting .248 with 2 HR, 22 RBI and a .762 OPS. He also has 25 walks which is 1st in the NY-Penn League, and his 22 RBI are 5th in the league. ... Infielder Isaias Velasquez is hitting .300 with 1 HR, 12 RBI, 5 stolen bases and a .764 OPS on the season. His 39 hits are 4th in the league. Velasquez was also suspended for three games by the NY-Penn League for his part in an on-field incident July 10th at second base. He served the first two games of his suspension on Thursday and Friday. ... Third baseman Jeremie Tice is hitting .291 with 2 HR, 11 RBI and an .829 OPS. His 18 walks are 6th in the league, and his .402 on-base percentage is 10th in the league. ... 2008 first round draft pick Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting .248 with 1 HR, 15 RBI, 5 stolen bases, and a .668 OPS in 31 games. ... First baseman Brock Simpson is hitting .317 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and a .792 OPS.
GCL Indians (14-15, 4th place, 2.0 GB) and DSL Indians (28-19, 5th place, 3.5 GB): First baseman Todd Martin has been activated and is on a rehab assignment in Winter Haven. Martin has been out of action since early May battling hamstring problems. In four games with the GCL Indians, Martin is 5-for-11 (all singles). ... Catcher Matt McBride is still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery and has been playing regularly at catcher the last two weeks (6 games, 42 innings). In 17 games, McBride is hitting .380 with 2 HR, 9 RBI, and a 1.163 OPS. ... Infielder Jason Smit returned to the lineup on Thursday after he missed almost two weeks of action from an unknown ailment (likely his recurring shoulder issue). In 11 games, Smit is hitting .269 with 0 HR, 5 RBI, and a .729 OPS. ... Left-hander T.J. McFarland is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in six starts. ... In nine appearances out of the bullpen right-hander Marty Popham is 1-0 with a 0.61 ERA and in 14.2 innings has allowed nine hits, three walks and has 14 strikeouts. ...In the DSL, third baseman Kelvin Diaz is hitting .325 with 5 HR, 41 RBI, and a .925 OPS in 44 games. ... In ten starts, just turned 17-years old left-hander Elvis Araujo is 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA.
Photos courtesy of Ken Carr, the Lake County Captains, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Kinston Indians, Akron Aeros, Buffalo Bisons and Cleveland Indians.