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The Sunday Drive into the K-Tribe's second half

June 27, 2010
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And so the second half turns for the Kinston Indians. In the first half of the season, Kinston proved to be a temporary home for several of the parent clubs top prospects. Heading to Akron early on was a virtual All-Star team of minor league prospects that including Kelvin De La Cruz, Nick Hagadone, Bryce Stowell, Alex White, Jordan Henry and Jason Kipnis. All have found a varied degree of success in Akron, but left the cupboard a bit bare in Kinston.

The K-Tribe's offense was always a bit suspect. With Kipnis and Henry moving on up, and with Abner Abreu leaving his bat somewhere in the snow, I'm not sure the offense can manage to reach the low numbers of the club in the first half. Lake County's Bo Greenwell has been called up to help, but I'm not sure it's going to be enough, and there really aren't many explosive bats waiting in the wings. Greenwell hit .310 with four home runs and 36 RBIs in 66 games for the Captains.

I'm sure Kinston manager Aaron Holbert is counting the days for catcher Chun-Hsui Chen to make the move up. Chen, who will play for the world team in the Futures game, is batting .318 with six dingers and 36 RBI, and would improve a lackluster position. Still, he's not up yet.

The Baby Tribe's pitching will remain its strength, but again, not likely as strong as the first half. Joe Gardner and T.J. McFarland are legit prospects, but lack either enough plus pitches or polish to reach the levels of the Hagadone, De La Cruz and White. I'm not sure where Marty Popham, T.J. House and Joey Mahalic fit into the equation down the road, but are solid long A pitchers, but lack the consistency and polish to dominate. Austin Adams has joined the club, and manager Aaron Holbert has decided to hand-cuff Adams to Popham. Both shared a similar piggyback at Lake County early in the first-half. Adams, 23, went 2-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 13 appearances, including eight starts. He used his four-pitch mix, which includes a low- to mid-90s fastball, to strike out 61 and walk 21 in 53 1/3 innings.

So with a Sunday full of heat, thunderstorms, and a trip to Kinston to catch the series opener against Potomac, let's get driving.

Where We Stand in Week 12, with a clean slate:

Overall Record: 37-36 (2-2 this past week)
Second Half Record 1-2 (four-way tie for first, or last, depending on how you look at it)

Week 12 Games:

20 @ Salem, W 4-1 (WP: J. Gardner; LP: S. Pimentel; SV: C. Burns)
24 vs. Lynchburg, W 2-1 (WP: J. Mahalic; LP: J. Hotchkiss; SV: C. Burns)
25 vs. Lynchburg, L 1-9 (WP: J. Avery; LP: T. House)
26 vs. Lynchburg, L 3-5 (WP: Serrano; LP: Gardner; SV: Joseph, D)

This Week's Transactions:

06/25/2010 LF Bo Greenwell assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
06/25/2010 RHP Austin Adams assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
06/25/2010 CF Trent Baker assigned to Lake County Captains from Kinston Indians.
06/23/2010 1B Nate Recknagel assigned to AZL Indians from Kinston Indians.

Week 12 Offense:

The offense didn't start the second half with a bang at all, hitting .238 for the week, with two homers and 10 runs scored. Not only did they lack power, but they also lacked to ability to manufacture runs, which is what they need to do to be successful. It was only a four-game sample, but it will be interesting to watch the Indians develop over the next few weeks.

There's really only two batters worth mentioning this week. First up is my weekly whipping boy, Ron Rivas. Normally, he graces the Sunday Drive with mentions of his prodigious amounts of errors. This week, Rivas not only went error-free, but was far and away the best offensive player. Perhaps this is the player that Indians management and Aaron Holbert are hoping for, and why he hasn't been benched. Rivas went 5 for 13 for the week, with two runs, a double, a homer and four RBI. His .385 average was tops on the club for the week. Rivas has been tantalizingly close during the season to having a break-out week, so maybe this is a break-out week for the Baby Tribe's shortstop.

Abner Abreu continued to improve offensively, batting over .300 for the second straight week. Abreu went five for 16 for the week, for a .313 average. Even more impressive and promising are the power numbers. Abreu had two doubles and a home run included in those five hits. He also stole a base. Abreu is the key to this offense. If he can find his bat, this team immediately becomes a legit second-half threat. Of course, that will be the day he gets the call-up to Akron.

Bo Greenwell did make his debut this week, but it will have to be tempered thanks to a horrid trip from Eastlake, OH to Kinston. He managed to go two for eight in his two games, but he should be an interesting watch as the season continues. Greenwell, the son of former Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell, is a player that has been on the radar because of his pedigree. It's unknown if he's a legit prospect at this point, as this is the first season that he's put up any kind of potential numbers. Is he the real deal, or just another player to fill a roster. It should be fun to watch.

Yes, there's a lot of unknowns in this line-up, and Aaron Holbert hitting coach Rouglas Odar will have to put the puzzle together for things to work out.

Week 12 Bullpen:

The bullpen had a good, if not spectacular week in their eight games and 14 1/3 total innings. They gave up 13 hits, five runs, six walks and 16 K's. There were two saves and three holds, without a decision.

Burns returned to form this week in two appearances and 2 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up only two hits, while striking out three. He recorded two more saves, giving him 11 total saves in Kinston, for the year. He currently leads the Carolina League, which is more impressive considering the fact that he didn't join the K-Tribe until nearly June. Overall, Burns has 23 saves in 23 chances at both Lake County and Kinston.

Chris Jones continues his fantastic year during his two games, and 4 2/3 innings pitched. He gave up three hits and a run, while walking two and striking out five. His 2.00 ERA for the week actually raised his overall ERA to 0.91. Matt Langwell only gave up a walk, while striking out one in his only inning of work. Travis Turek continued to impress and gain consistency. He went 1 2/3 of one-hit ball, while striking out one. This is his third straight week of solid pitching, and perhaps the roller coaster ride is over.

Week 12 Starters:

There was definately some struggle with regards to the K-Tribe starters this week, aside from Joe Gardner's Sunday performance before this week's all star break. Overall, the starters pitched in 21 2/3 innings, giving up 19 hits, only five walks, 10 earned runs and 25 strikeouts. They went 2-2 for the week.

Joe Gardner went 1-1 for the week. He pitched in two games and went 12 innings, giving up six hits and five earned runs, while walking only two and striking out 15. In his Sunday start, he went six innings, giving up only two hits and a walk, while striking out nine in getting the win. Obviously, his post-break start was quite different. Still, Gardner showcased that top-end potential in his last start of the quarter. I don't see Gardner moving up this year, as the Indians was his development.

Joey Mahalic had his second solid start in a row. He went 5 1/3 innings pitched, giving up four hits, an earned run and three walks, while striking out six. He did get the win. T.J. House struggled again in his only start. He gave up nine hits and four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He didn't walk a batter, which is a bit of an improvement, but got the loss in this topsy-turvy start.

Marty Popham didn't get a start this week, as he moves back to the Austin Adams piggy-back.

Week 12 Awards:

Offensive player of the week: Ron Rivas
Relief pitcher of the week: Cory Burns
Staring pitcher of the week: Joey Mahalic

Player of the week: Ron Rivas

Here comes week 13:

27 vs. Potomac, 5:00 PM
28 vs. Potomac, 7:00 PM
29 vs. Potomac, 7:00 PM
30 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM


1 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
2 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
3 vs. Frederick, 7:00 PM

The Rearviewmirror: See you later Jordan Henry. His fantastic play in centerfield and plate discipline will be missed. In his first full-season, Henry was leading the Carolina League in OBP, and was the straw that stirred the drink for Kinston. Good luck, Jordan, in your rise through the system

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

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