Three Up, Three Down
This week's installment of Three Up, Three Down was pushed to Friday to allow for Mahoning Valley to get a few more games in. The Scrappers have raced out to a 6-1 start to their season, and we'll talk a little bit about two of the players that are fueling that start. Additionally, we'll touch on my favorite Indians minor leaguer, a bump in the road for a top prospect, and starting pitching issues with the K-Tribe and C-Bus.
- After struggling at Kinston and Lake County this year, John Allman has hit in six of the first seven games for Mahoning Valley and been on base in all seven. Allman was signed as an UDFA out of Kansas in 2008 and hit .315 in 27 games last year in the Gulf Coast League. The 24-year old OF/DH was a walk-on for the Jayhawks, but managed to play his way to a 2nd team All-Big 12 selection his junior year. Allman is a "grinder" in every sense of the word...he works hard, plays good defense and does everything he can to maximize his talent. The odds are against him making it to the bigs as a UDFA, but all he can do is continue to hit and take advantage of the opportunities he is given.
- The Indians 9th round pick in 2008, Clayton Cook has started two games for the Scrappers this year, and has been impressive. Cook has allowed just one ER in 10 2/3 IP, and has struck out 12 and walked 4. Cook was selected out of Amarillo High School in Texas, and doesn't turn 19 until next month. His fastball sits in the low 90's, but he will likely add velocity as he matures and fills out his 6'3" frame. Cook had a 2.52 ERA last year in the Gulf Coast league, and struck out 26 in his 25 innings there. If he can continue to pitch this well in Mahoning Valley, look for him in Lake County before the end of 2009.
- Saving my favorite for last, Nick Weglarz has been red hot for Akron lately. He has hit in 17 of his last 21 games, including 10 of his last 11. During those last 11 games, he has gone 15-36 (.416) with 4 HR, 17 RBI and 10 walks. He has homered in 3 straight games, and now has 11 on the season. Wegz has put together two very productive months after an April that we'd all like to forget, and his season OPS is up to .898 with no signs of slowing down. To give you an idea of just how bad his April was, his OPS in April was lower than his OBP in either May or June. His walk rate is at a fantastic 17.2%, and his batting average w/RISP is .377 on the season. I could go on all day about the big Canadian's performance this season, but I don't want him to take out a restraining order before the Aeros come to Bowie next week to take on the Baysox. Be sure and tune into or set your DVR's for the Future's Game in St. Louis on July 12 at 2pm to see both Weglarz and Carlos Santana playing for the World Team.
- Kinston left-hander Ryan Morris has struggled of late, giving up 14 ER in his last 19 2/3 innings. Morris has dropped three straight decisions, and is 3-8 on the year with an ERA of 5.59. A soft-tossing lefty that needs to be able to spot his pitches to be successful, Morris has walked 43 batters in 67 2/3 innings this season. Morris is still just 21 playing in high-A Kinston, so some struggles are almost expected. Morris will likely remain in Kinston for all of 2009 so he can work on better locating his secondary pitches.
- Carlos Santana has been in a bit of a funk lately, hitting just .188 with a HR in his past 10 games. He is hitting .227 in June, but his OPS for the month is a robust .866, so he is still producing. Tabbed as a top prospect and hitting in the middle of the Akron order has pitchers focusing more on Santana this year than in the past, and he is being pitched very carefully on a nightly basis. To his credit, Santana has remained patient, with 50 walks against just 35 strikeouts keeping his OBP over .400 for the season. Santana will be fine long-term, and will join his Akron teammate Nick Weglarz on the World Team for the Futures Game in St. Louis.
- Aquired as part of the C.C. Sabathia trade last year, Zach Jackson has struggled mightily in his last four starts. The Zach Attack has allowed 17 ER in 21 IP, and has dropped four straight decisions to run his record to 3-6 on the year. With Jeremy Sowers and David Huff up with the Indians, the continued struggles of Jackson leaves Chuck Lofgren as really the only "prospect" in the AAA rotation this year.
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