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The Monday Drive with the K-Tribe: The Swan Song of Kinston

The Monday Drive with the K-Tribe:  The Swan Song of Kinston
April 11, 2011
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(Photo: Kinston Indians)

I'd like to tell you that the first three games of the season gave some sort of tell as to what kind of year that the Kinston Indians would put together in 2011. Unfortunately, this weekend's play during the first pseudo-week of baseball more resembled the thunderstorms that visited North Carolina on Friday and Saturday than any sort of consistency.

Friday Night's home opener saw the emergence of what looks like the beginning of a long and splendid career to the Indians 2010 first round pick, Drew Pomeranz. He was busy dominating, and the offense was busy putting to rest all of the worries that this season's club would be as offensively challenged as last year's club. This is an offense that went 6 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Sure, the pen blew the lead, but the K-Tribe not only came back to win it in the tenth inning, but they did it after giving up the go-ahead run in the top-half of the inning.

Saturday Night's game was about as different as night and day...for the most part. T.J. McFarland, who is back with the K-Tribe after dominating the league for most of the first four months, gave up a two-run jack in the first inning. While McFarland would settle and dominate in much the same way that Pomeranz did the night before, the team would completely fail on the offensive front. While the team batted .500 the night before with RISP, the Indians would only go 2 for 13 in the same situation on Saturday. When the rains finally came in the eighth inning, Kinston had a runner on first with one out, down 3-2. They wouldn't get their chance to win, as the game was called.

Sunday afternoon, Kinston would again get outstanding starting pitching for the first five innings, as Clayton Cook debuted in the Carolina League. Kinston would ultimately lose the game 4-2. Kinston would go 1 for 8 with RISP, once again missing several opportunities to win the game in support of outstanding pitching.

Hmmm...actually there does seem to be a bit of an early pattern, doesn't it. They have outstanding starting pitching, and their offense struggles to score runs. Okay, okay...we're only three games into the season, but sometimes patterns are hard to ignore.

But hey, that Drew Pomeranz can pitch, can't he?

Before Tiger Woods finally figures out how to close a tournament again, let's get driving...

Where We Stand in Week 1ish:

Overall Record: 1-2(1-2 the past week, last place in the Carolina League southern league, 1-game back)


Week 1 Games:
8 vs. Winston-Salem Dash, W 7-6 (WP: T. Turek; LP: B. Kloess)
9 vs. Winston-Salem Dash, L 2-3 (WP: T. Thompson; LP: T. McFarland; SV: S. Rodriguez)
10 vs. Winston-Salem Dash, L 2-4 (WP: R. Kussmaul; LP: C. Cook; SV: T. Corley)


This Week's Transactions:

04/04/2011 Casey Frawley assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Kyle Bellows assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Brett Brach assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Chase Burnette assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Austin Adams assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Donnie Webb assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Chun-Hsiu Chen assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Matthew Langwell assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Roberto Perez assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Clayton Cook assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Greg Folgia assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Joseph Gardner assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Cory Burns assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Juan Diaz assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Delvi Cid assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Jose Flores assigned to Kinston Indians from Columbus Clippers.
04/04/2011 Ron Rivas assigned to Kinston Indians from Akron Aeros.
04/04/2011 Karexon Sanchez assigned to Akron Aeros from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Adam Abraham assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Carlos Moncrief assigned to Lake County Captains from Kinston Indians.
04/04/2011 Drew Pomeranz assigned to Kinston Indians from Cleveland Indians.
04/04/2011 Tyler Holt assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Preston Guilmet assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
04/04/2011 Giovanni Soto assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.


Week 1 Offense:

Kinston is a mixed bag with regards their early season offense. They are leading the league in hitting, batting .277 on the season so far. With that said, they are the only team in the entire league without a home run. Boy, no matter how many faces change, it sure does smell like 2010 all over again. Still, they are second in the league in on base percentage at .357 as a team, which is certainly outstanding. They are also second in the league with five stolen bases so far, so at least they are looking to manufacture runs. It really is too early to tell how good this offense is going to be, although it does appear early on that they are going to struggle in the power department.

Bo Greenwell, once again, appears to be their offensive leader. He's hitting .455 early on, with two walks, two steals, and he hasn't struck out yet. Adam Abraham has started the season off with a hot bat as well, hitting .375 in the early going. His one-out double started the rally that ultimately led to their walk-off win. The real fire of the team may come from the tall, lanky outfielder, Abner Abreu. Abreu struggled through most of 2010, but seems to be breaking out early in 2011. Abreu is hitting .364 in the early going, with two doubles and two walks. While he still strikes out far too much, he is a notorious slow starter. This could be a prognosis of things to come.

The one early disappointment has been Tyler Holt, who has struggled to a .143 batting average leading off. It's still early yet, and he's likely to rebound as he figures out the speed of professional baseball.

Week 1 Pitching:

The starters clearly continue to be the strength of this team, with or without Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz led the charge, going 5 1/3, striking out nine batters, didn't walk a soul, gave up only two hits, and just plain dominated. T.J. McFarland followed suit, really settling down after early struggles. McFarland went six innings, striking out seven without giving up a walk, while giving up five hits. Clayton Cook came on and went 5 1/3, giving up two runs on six hits, while striking out three and walking two.

The Bullpen struggled mightily. Brett Brach gave 1 2/3 innings of one-hit baseball, and closer Preston Guilmet followed suit with a one-inning, one-hit performance. Past that, Chris Jones, Travis Turek, Tyler Sturdevant and Marty Popham were busy getting the stuffing kicked out of them. If the pen doesn't improve, and soon, it could be a long season.

Week 1 Awards:

Offensive player of the week: Bo Greenwell
Pitcher of the week: Drew Pomeranz

Player of the week: Drew Pomeranz

Here comes week 2:

April

11 vs. Wilmington, 6:30 PM
12 vs. Wilmington, 6:30 PM
13 vs. Wilmington, 11:00 AM
15 @ Winston-Salem Dash, 7:00 PM
16 @ Winston-Salem Dash, 7:00 PM
17 @ Winston-Salem Dash, 2:00 PM


The Rearviewmirror:It's the beginning of the end of our relationship with Kinston, and we've seen our last home opener in Kinston. I've been attending games there for 12 seasons, and I've enjoyed every one. Kinston is a little pocket of Indians fans in the middle of North Carolina. It will be bittersweet saying goodbye to a city that's treated the K-Tribe so well, for so long. Besides, I don't think I'll ever get used to following the "Carolina Mudcats."

It's a beautiful day for baseball...everybody...

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).

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 jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

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