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The K-Tribe Chronicle

The K-Tribe Chronicle
June 29, 2011
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(Photo: Kinston Indians)
From the Reservation:

The Kinston Indians entered the second half rolling through the Carolina League like a buzz-saw.  They came from the absolute oblivion after the first month of the season to nearly steal the first half title.

Still, it seemed at times as though manager Aaron Holbert was winning games thanks to some sort of voodoo thanks to an offense that was just plain horrible.  There wasn't one player, on paper or otherwise, that was worthy of mention as having a break-out season, or even a good one.  Yes folks, it really was that bad.

The pitching staff was good, but let's not confuse this with a dominating staff.  The starters, led by Drew Pomeranz were near the top of the league in most major categories, but there really wasn't any dominance.  Even Pomeranz, who's statistics ARE dominant, only made it to the seventh inning once, and only had two wins in 12 starts.

The bullpen perhaps has the best closer in the league, but while Preston Guilmet is having a special season, he likely won't EVER be a closer in the bigs.  While that may be a bit too strong a statement, because you never know what the deal is with regards to health in the future, Guilmet is one of those finesse closers that locates.  In other words...NOT A POWER ARM.

I know, I just spent the majority of this intro slamming a team that nearly took the first division.  Thing is, you just never really know what to expect from a team like this after an all-star break.  So...of course...they came out and won their first four games of the second half, and five of their first six.

No, they still aren't hitting the ball much, but the pitching staff DID come out dominant.  I have a feeling this is going to be one wild ride in the second half, and if this team figures out the offense...well...

Let's not get ahead of let's get driving...

Where We Stand after week 11:

Overall Record: 43-32 Overall, 5-1 Second Half (5-1 the past week, first place in the Carolina League Southern division, 1/2 game ahead of Winston-Salem)

Week #11 Games:

23 @ Salem, W 5-2 (WP: K. Landis; LP: M. Herold; SV: P. Guilmet)
24 @ Salem, W 4-2 (WP: C. Jones; LP: K. Volz)
25 @ Salem, W 2-1 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: C. Hernandez; SV: P. Guilmet)
26 vs. Potomac, W 5-4 (WP: K. Landis; LP: C. Selik; SV: R. Bryson)
27 vs. Potomac, L 2-5 (WP: H. Nelo; LP: P. Guilmet; SV: R. Wort)
28 vs. Potomac, W 4-3 (WP: Flores; LP: Clegg)

This Week's Transactions:

06/24/2011 Tyler Sturdevant assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.

The Offense:

I'd like to sit here and tell you that the K-Tribe's offense made a miraculous turnaround and came out slugging in the second-half, but that's not the case.  Still, there were signs of improvement from a select few, and we did have a few players actually bat over .300 for the week.

What this team does do well is come up with opportune hits, which is key this year as the Carolina League is a pitching-dominant league.  Add that to what appears to be a few hitters that are starting to really wake up, and we could have the spark of something special.

Three UP...

1. Adam Abraham continues to find his way at High A, and he may have finally found the groove. Abraham really bounced back-and-forth during the first half, struggling with consistency.  While he would throw in big games, there was never really a streak of ballgames that allowed him to step out from a shroud of pathetic offense.  Perhaps things are changing in the second half.  Abraham went 8-26, for a .308 average.  His overall average remains at .247, but that number really does seem misleading, because he has had a lot of HUGE hits throughout the season.  He scored three runs this week, with two doubles and a homer, and led the team with six RBI in as many games.  A big week for the third basemen, and perhaps a break-out week.

2. I still think that Tyler Cannon has a bat that will be successful wherever he plays. He absolutely lit up the Midwest League with Lake County this year before being called up to Kinston to help the struggling offense here.  Of course, he entered the Bermuda Triangle of offense, and it seemed like he couldn't hit water in an ocean in his first few weeks.  Well, that's all changed.  Cannon has been the best K-Tribe hitter over the past couple of weeks.  His ten day stat line is an impressive .389/.452/.778 for a massive 1.230 OPS.  During the first week of the second half, he hit a bit more modest .304, with two runs, two doubles, a triple, homer and three RBI.  He only walked twice, but only struck out four times.  I'm telling you, this kid has a major league bat.

3. Shortstop Casey Frawley really is similar to Adam Abraham in many ways. Call him a poor-man's Abraham.  Like Abraham, he spent the first half with several big hits, but wasn't able to string anything together.  He has decent power, and a decent glove, but he had yet to stand-out.  While he didn't explode this week, he was consistent.  He went 6-20 for a .300 average, which was his first .300 week of the season.  He scored three runs, with a double and two RBI on the week.

and Three Down...

3. I can't believe I actually said he was a player to watch in the second half. Seriously, this guy is like Lucy to my Charlie Brown.  I feel like Michael Corleone.  "He keeps pulling me back in!"  Thank you Abner, for the quick second-half reminder that I'm absolutely insane.  Abreu went 3-18, which is .167 for those of you counting at home.  He did score two whole runs, with a triple and two RBI.  He even walked four times, and considering he has 15 total for the year, that's saying something.  He only struck out four times as well, and considering his has 77 on the season, that's saying something.  The fact that those numbers are some of his best of the year really tells you just how bad Abreu has played this season.  Boy, the talent is there though (see what I mean).

2. Justin Toole has been the one consistent offensive "weapon" that the K-Tribe could count on in the first half. This week, no such luck.  Toole went 1-15.  His only hit was a double, and he had one RBI and two walks.  Toole must have stolen Abreu's K's, with seven on the week.  Toole isn't a .300 hitter by an stretch, so he's actually evening out a bit.  He's currently hitting .267, which nearly matches his .266 average in 2009.

1. Tyler Holt is flat out playing badly.  While he had moments in April that really set him apart from the other draft picks in 2010, he just hasn't played very well since.  In the second half, "not playing well" offensively just doesn't do it justice.  The K-Tribe's lead-off man went 0-18, with six walks and seven K's.  Notice I didn't mention any runs, and when your leadoff guy isn't scoring runs, that's an issue.  It didn't hurt them this week, but if it continues, I can't fathom that this team can continue to win games at the clip they currently are.  Holt really could be a straw that stirs the drink.  Lately, Holt's just made me want to drink.

This team can't keep winning with an offense as anemic as this one...can they?  Wait, did I say that last week?

The Pitching:

We're going to call this the week of the reliever, because the relief corp. absolutely dominated the Carolina league hitters.

To be fair to the starters, they pitched pretty well, but just couldn't get a win based mostly on the lack of offense.  How bad was it for the starters?  The team went 5-1, and the starters didn't record a single win.  Now, that's not necessarily surprising, but the starters had a combined 2.91 ERA, and should have gotten a few wins there.

Still, the relief corp really came through.  There was only one bad outing, and it was a two-inning performance by Preston Guilmet. Even with Guilmet's three earned runs in that appearance, the bullpen recorded a 1.44 ERA.  You take away those three runs (which gave the team their only loss this week), and the ERA drops to an incredible 0.36 ERA, with only one earned run on the week.

Yeah, they were that good, and so was the staff.  Overall, the staff had a 1.96 ERA for the week.  That, my friends, is dominating.

Six Up...

1. Francisco Jimenez has struggled for most of the season.  In the second half, he's been absolute perfection.  He made two appearances, and went three innings in each game.  In those six total innings, he gave up only three hits, while striking out seven.

2. Chris Jones continues to regain his 2010 mojo after really struggling in the first month of the season.  Jones went 4 2/3 innings in two appearances this week, giving up only four hits total.  He gave up one earned run, while striking out seven batters.

3. I really likely should have Jose Flores in the #1 slot this week.  Like Jimenez, he really struggled in the first half.  In the second though, Flores has been perfect. He made three appearances, and went one inning in each game.  His only other stat line, aside from a win, were two K's.  Like I said...perfect.

4. Kyle Landis isn't Adam Miller, but his story continues to be a good one after missing all of 2010.  He started the second half off like he was shot out of a cannon.  He made two appearances to the tune of 3 2/3 inning, giving up only one hit and one walk, while striking out four.  He won two of Kinston's five games this week.

5. Rob Bryson is back, and pitching extremely well. Bryson has an explosive arm, and he's been making the most of his time back in Kinston.  He went four total innings in two appearances, which was nice to see.  It's clear that he's healthy going forward.  He gave up only three hits, while striking out four with a save.  While Guilmet is the teams closer, Bryson may have the most electric arm...well...except for that guy Pomeranz.

6.  Steven Wright really may be the best story in the organization (well, aside from Landis and Adam Miller).  While he wasn't the best starter on the team this week, he still makes my top six because, well, I wanted him there.  He went eight innings in his first start with the team, giving up nine hits and three earned runs.  He gave up a homer and three walks as well, but that knuckleball of his struck out seven batters.  Chalk up the Carolina League as a success so far in his quest to get to the majors after the re-invention.

Week #11 Awards:

Offensive player of the week: Adam Abraham

Pitcher of the week: Francisco Jimenez
Player of the week: Adam Abraham

Weekly Awards

Week 1: 3B-Adam Abraham
Week 2: CF-Tyler Holt
Week 3: SP/RP-Toru Murata
Week 4: SP-Clayton Cook
Week 5: SP-Giovanni Soto
Week 6: RP-Adam Miller
Week 7: RP-Tyler Sturdevant
Week 8: NA
Week 9: NA
Week 10: NA
First Half: SP-Giovanni Soto
Week 11: Adam Abraham

Here comes week #12:

June 2011

29 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
30 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM

July 2011

1 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
2 vs. Frederick, 6:30 PM
3 vs. Frederick, 1:30 PM
4 vs. Frederick, 6:30 PM

The Rearviewmirror:

Tyler Sturdevant really is a sleeper in this organization as far as relievers go.  In my several trips to Kinston this year, every time Sturdevant took to the mound, the Tribe scouts really took an interest in documenting his progress.  On opening day, I had a chance to talk to a scout filming him pitching, and he talked about how much the organization liked his arm, and that his "stuff was really starting to come together."

Good luck in Akron Tyler...

Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his latest book the 2011 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is available for purchase for $20.95 to customers in the US (shipping and handling extra).

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