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The K-Tribe Chronicle: Winning with smoke and mirrors

The K-Tribe Chronicle: Winning with smoke and mirrors
May 30, 2011
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(Photo: Kinston Indians)
From the Reservation:

The Kinston Indians are winning ballgames.  Sometimes, you just can't question the how, or the why baseball teams win, and this seems to be that kind of instance.

The Kinston offense, while finally starting to score runs, is still clearly one of the worst in the league.  The Kinston pitching, while better than their offensively challenged counterparts, aren't exactly blowing the league up with anything overpowering or dominating.

Their most talented starter, Drew Pomeranz, didn't make a start this past week, resting his arm.  Their most talented reliever, Adam Miller, not only gave up his first runs since his first game back, but then was promoted to Akron.  Their closer, Preston Guilmet, who hadn't given up any runs heading into this week's games, gave up his first runs of the season.

Still, the K-Tribe managed to overcome weak overall numbers to win five of six this week, and 10 of their past 12.  How are they doing it?

It's smoke and mirrors ladies and gentlemen.  Aaron Holbert clearly knows voodoo.  Of course, there are those clutch hits...

...but let's get driving, before I actually start talking baseball...

Where We Stand after week 7:

Overall Record: 24-24 (5-1 the past week, tied for second place in the Carolina League Southern with Salem, 5 1/2 games back of Myrtle Beach)

Week #7 Games:

23 @ Potomac, W 5-3 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: C. Selik; SV: P. Guilmet)
24 @ Potomac, W 4-3 (WP: C. Cook; LP: D. Rosenbaum; SV: T. Sturdevant)
25 @ Potomac, W 13-7 (WP: G. Soto; LP: M. Clegg)
26 vs. Winston-Salem, W 9-8 (WP: B. Brach; LP: J. Serafin; SV: P. Guilmet)
27 vs. Winston-Salem, L 1-6 (WP: T. Doyle; LP: T. House)
28 vs. Winston-Salem, W 5-2 (WP: T. Sturdevant; LP: J. Collop; SV: P. Guilmet)

This Week's Transactions:

05/27/2011 Kyle Landis assigned to Kinston Indians from Akron Aeros.
05/27/2011 Adam Miller assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
05/26/2011 RHP Travis Turek retired.

The Offense:

There has been absolutely no improvement in the offense whatsoever in that overall, big picture view.  They are still last place in all the major categories, and truly will remain there for a bit of time, even if some of these guys manage to go off over the next few weeks.  Yes, that's how far behind they truly are.

However, there are glimmers of hope.  Casey Frawley came up with several big hits early in the week, and while he dived back into an oh-fer during the end of the week, the clutch hitting was noticed.

Jeremie Tice returned, and showed that he clearly knows how to hit the ball.  While he also tapered off as the week progressed, I'm sure that some of it has to do with the fact that he missed over a month of baseball.

Bo Greenwell started hitting the ball again, and while he really is a singles-hitter kind of guy, it's hard not to believe that when he plays well, this team plays well.

Even Abner Abreu hit a home run.  That's all I'm going to say about him, for now.

Still, overall, the team hit barely over .220 for the week, but they had games in which they scored 13 and nine runs.  Yeah, I know, it makes no sense.  So what's my suggestion?  Close your eyes, and enjoy the ride.  Hopefully, someone will come from somewhere, and start hitting something.  At least that way, it will start looking like they are doing it on purpose.

Three UP...

1. Whatever cold streak that Bo Greenwell had found himself in, he's out of it. Greenwell has always been the type of hitter that does whatever it takes to get on base.  He can spray the ball all over the field, and while he has no power to speak of, on occasion he can go long.  He's a smart hitter, and when he's focused (which he's been for most of his career), he gets on base as much as anyone in the organization.  This week, Greenwell hit in five-out-of-six games, going 8-25 for a .320 average. His overall average is sitting at .277, but when Greenwell gets hot, he tends to go crazy.  He had five runs, two doubles, a homer, four RBI, three walks, and three K's for the week.

2. You get the impression that Adam Abraham is still feeling his way around High A baseball. He shows glimpses of star quality on the offensive side of the ball, and really has games in which you think, "he's got good power, and can flat out hit the ball."  The problem so far has been consistency.  This week, he was much more consistent.  Abraham had hits in four of the five games that he played, and showcased good power.  He hit .263 for the week, but of his five hits, two were homers, and two were doubles.  He does strike out too much, but in that Jim Thome, "I walk as much as I strike out" sort of way.  Still, Abraham seems to be heading in the right direction.

3. Justin Toole is Mr. Consistency in this lineup. He's not really doing any one thing impressively, but he's been hitting the ball as well as anyone on the team, and is currently leading the K-Tribe with a .298 average.  This week, Toole went 5-17 (.294), with four runs, a double, two RBI and three walks.  He didn't strike out once this week, which shows his growing patience at the plate, and he can play all the positions in the infield and outfield.  If there's an anchor on the offense, it's Justin Toole.

and Three Down...

3. Tyler Holt is my favorite player on this team, but he's mired in a slump. Holt saw his on-base streak snapped this week, but the truth of the matter is that Holt hasn't been doing much OTHER than getting on base once or twice a game.  This week, Holt went 4-24, with five runs, an RBI, four walks, and six RBI.  I believe he has a high ceiling in this organization, so how he powers out of this slump could prove his worth to Tribe management.  The system is deep with major league ready outfielders above Kinston, so Holt needs to pick up the numbers and effectiveness, or he could get lost in the shuffle.

2. Tyler Cannon continues to be the K-Tribe version of a black hole for offense. He hasn't done a thing since being called up.  This week's version of nothing was a 1-14 week, with three RBI, a walk, and seven K's.  His one hit was a triple, so there's that...I suppose.  It's still early in Cannon's career, but if he keeps hitting around .100 (.128 for the K-Tribe overall), they may force his retirement.

1. I know many of you are going to be surprised, but Abner Abreu is back in the top spot of futility.  I don't even have the patience or the desire to discuss his pathetic bat, so I'll just leave you with the numbers.  Abreu stunk up the joint to the tune of 3-21 (.143), with a homer, three RBI, a walk and eight K's.  Abreu doesn't lead the league with most walks, but he is fifth.  Well done Abner, good to see you really reaching your promise.  I'll be honest, if he DOESN'T get cut if he keeps this up, I'll be surprised.

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:

There are standouts on this staff, but you really can't put your finger on many players in the rotation and the bullpen that are surefire major leaguers.  Of course, you have Drew Pomeranz in the rotation, but the rest of the starters on the staff are fringe prospects.

In the bullpen, the only player with an electric arm is Tyler Sturdevant.  There are other solid relievers, but each has questions about what they'll do past High A.

These week, three up is going to the relievers.  Aaron Holbert generally doesn't give three appearances in a week to anyone in the pen.  This week, because of promotions and retirement, three made the hat-trick, and all did well.

Three Up...

1. Tyler Sturdevant was a man on a mission this week.  Last week, the K-Tribe reliever got lit up in his second appearance of the week, and the curiosity was how he would rebound.  I would say he passed with flying colors.  While Sturdevant isn't the prototypical size of an overpowering reliever, he certainly has the stuff.  This week, he made three appearances to the tune of 6 1/3 innings.  He gave up only two hits, without giving up a run or a walk.  He also had eight strikeouts to put icing on the cake.  He had a perfect four-inning outing for a win in support of Toru Murata.  Sturdevant WILL pitch for the Indians, it's just a matter of when.

2. While there were several players that I could have put here, Jose Flores is getting the slot out of the pen.  Flores made three appearances and went 5 2/3 innings altogether.  He only gave up four hits and an earned run, while striking out four.  I'm not sure where Flores fits in the system yet, but he's growing on me.

3. Preston Guilmet didn't have the best numbers of the week, but that's exactly why he's here.  I know, you're probably scratching your head, as Guilmet's overall ERA this week was 6.00, which isn't exactly sparkling.  Those runs were the first he's given up all season.  Guilmet isn't overpower, so he will have rough outings on occasion as he goes through the system.  What was really interesting is how smooth he looked during, and after the bad outing.  Guilmet collected three more saves this week, giving up three hits, two runs, a walk and two homers, while striking out five.  His last outing gets him to #3 this week, as he gave up a hit, while striking out a batter.  The reason?  His cool demeanor after giving up two solo shots on the 26th.  Guilmet certainly has ice in his veins.

...and three down...

3. T.J. House made his weekly bad outing.  I'm beyond seeing his live arm as a starter at this point.  He got the only loss of the week for Kinston, going five innings and giving up seven hits, six earned runs, two walks and two homers, while striking out five.  The K-Tribe management has had far less patience with other players in the past, so it may be time for House to enter the bullpen.  Perhaps focusing on a couple of pitches can revive his career.

2. Giovanni Soto is a solid starter for the baby Indians, but this week wasn't his time to shine. Soto did get the win in his only appearance, but that was due to the offensive production behind him (no...really!).  Sota went 5 2/3, giving up 11 hits, five earned runs and two walks, while striking out two.  Soto has spoiled us this season with his consistency, but I have a feeling he's going to have starts like this on occasion as he develops.  I'll be watching closely to see how he rebounds.

1. Francisco Jimenez continues to struggle with Kinston.  This week, he made two appearances, and got lit up in both.  He did get a win, but that's really the only good number across his stat line.  He pitched in three innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs and three walks, while striking out five.  A 12.00 ERA for the week won't get it done, nor will his 7.27 overall ERA.

Week #7 Awards:

Offensive player of the week: Bo Greenwell

Pitcher of the week: Tyler Sturdevant
Player of the week: Tyler Sturdevant

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

Here comes week #8:

May 2011

30 vs. Wilmington, 4:30 PM
31 vs. Wilmington, 6:30 PM

June 2011

1 vs. Wilmington, 11:00 AM
2 vs. Wilmington, 6:30 PM
3 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM
4 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM
5 @ Winston-Salem, 2:00 PM

The Rearviewmirror:

Adam Miller, I never thought that you would show in Kinston again.  First, I thought you were too good.  Then, I thought you were too hurt.  Now, I get the same impression that I did back in 2005.

For those that don't know it yet, Adam Miller was promoted to Akron this week, which is a big deal considering many thought he would never pitch again after his 200 odd surgeries on his finger.  Miller returned with a bit of the blazing arm that many remember.  No, he never hit 100, but he certainly could roll out the mid-90's heat, which was more than enough to take care of High A.

Back in 2004 and 2005, Miller played for a short time in Kinston, and I never thought he'd be back.  Fast forwards six years, and I'm getting the same impression.  Miller's arm out of the pen seems to be more than good.  As he continues to build strength and regain the consistency, it's distinctly possible that Miller not only will be a major league contributer someday, but an above-average one at that.

While I'll never say never, and don't take offense to this Adam, but I hope I never see you in Kinston again.


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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