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Random Thought Monday

October 13, 2008
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Matt McBride's transition to the outfield in the Hawaii Winter League (HWL) is reportedly going well, which is not a suprise given his athleticism. No word yet on if this is a permanent thing or not and if this is just an experiment, but if McBride can play outfield it would help provide some versatility for him and give his ailing shoulder a much needed break from catching. Plus, with Carlos Santana, Chris Gimenez, and Wyatt Toregas all blocking him as a starter in Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron, it give him an opportunity to play elsewhere. To date in 12 games in the HWL, McBride is hitting .273 (12-for-44) with 1 HR, 9 RBI and an .843 OPS.

On the flip side, Adam Davis is still trying to make the transition from infielder to catcher in the HWL. Davis was switched midseason from second base to catcher way back in May, and he adapted well to the position. The problem is that even if he is progressing defensively and has the tools to be a versatile super utility type, he just does not have the bat. In 94 combined games at Single-A Lake County and Kinston, Davis only hit .199 with 7 HR,. 33 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and a .610 OPS, and so far in the HWL in eight games is hitting .143 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, and a .595 OPS. At age 24, Davis is a longshot to remain in the organization after spring training.

The Indians have three lefties getting work out in the HWL in Heath Taylor, Matt Meyer, and Shawn Nottingham. Taylor is out there to get more innings after he missed a good chunk of the season with an elbow injury, and Nottingham is there to get additional innings as well since he spent the first three months of the season in the bullpen in Akron before going to Kinston and being moved back to a starter, so he needs innings. Taylor has impressed in three outings so far in the HWL (0-0, 2.35 ERA, 7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 5 K) while Meyer (1-1, 9.53 ERA, 5.2 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 6 K) and Nottingham (0-0, 5.14 ERA, 7. IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 8 K) have moreorless struggled. The one key thing to note is Taylor and Nottingham are mostly there to get innings, so good numbers should be expected. Meyer on the other hand is there to continue to work on things and become more consistent with his delivery and command. So, a lot of times when adjustments are being made or a player is focusing on throwing their second and/or third pitch a high percentage of the time, they struggle (see Neil Wagner last year in the HWL when he threw almost all offspeed stuff) and the stats don't tell the whole story.

The Arizona Fall League is not even a week old, but there have been some bright spots so far. Third baseman Wes Hodges is off to a hot start as in three games he is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with 2 HR, 6 RBI, and a 1.231 OPS. This is a nice start for Hodges who looked worn down at the end of the regular season and appears re-energized. Shortstop Josh Rodriguez (.200, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .585 OPS) and left-hander Chuck Lofgren (0-0, 47.25 ERA, 1.1 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 0 K) continue to struggle while right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K) continues to roll and move up the prospect rankings. We'll have a deeper look into the AFL tomorrow or later this week.

By the way, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers will be announcing a new logo and team colors in the next two months, and then in the spring their new uniforms will be unveiled.

Also, I hope to have a posting of a Rule 5 FAQ later this week and will hope to post the Indians eligibles list sometime in the next week as this is the project I am working on now. In addition to that, work has already started on the next prospect rankings, and you should start to see a daily countdown from #100 to #1 with detailed and updated scouting reports begin at the end of November or early December. And yes, there will be another book this year for those wondering.

Oh, and be sure to check out the right panel for all sorts of new links and reference material I have added in the last week! Lots more to come including all the 2008 transactions and a spearate listing of the released players from the season. Going forward, I will be updating these two lists as they happen.

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