Three Up, Three Down
Three Up, Three Down looks at three guys in the Indians minor league system that are currently hot, and also three guys who are not. This is by no means an exhaustive list of either guys who are going well or guys who are struggling, just the six guys I picked to look at this week.
- The roller coaster ride that has been Chuck Lofgren's career has been well documented, by Tony and others. After a downright awful Arizona Fall League campaign, there was talk of moving Lofgren to the bullpen, and people started to question whether or not the 2006 Carolina League Pitcher of the Year still had it. Lofgren is erasing all doubts, as he is riding a terrific hot streak right now. His season line stands at 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 29 K's to just 14 walks in his 40 innings of work so far. Chuck's one loss came last week, and it was in a start where he gave up just one unearned run in six innings to go along with 8 K's, 4 hits and 2 walks. Chuck leads the Eastern League in ERA, and his WHIP of .90 (yes, 0.90) is a close 2nd. Not to kick a dead horse, but Lofgren's final line in the AFL was 0-3 with a 32.14 ERA and 5.29 WHIP. His turnaround is one of the best stories in minor league baseball, and lets hope it continues. I got to see Chuck pitch firsthand earlier this year against Bowie, and he took a no-hitter into the 5th inning.
- Carlos Santana is in the midst of solidifying his status as one of the top two or three catching prospects in all of baseball. After last year's breakout season split between the California and Carolina Leagues, some were suggesting that Santana's numbers were an aberration. After a merely mortal start, Santana has really come on in the past couple of weeks to stand at .306/7/29 on the season, with an OPS of .989. The comparisons to Victor Martinez are almost too easy at this point, but the switch-hitting converted catcher wearing #41 is putting up stats that make it too obvious to ignore.
- Its all Aeros, all the time here on the inaugural 3 Up. A record of 31-11 will have that effect. I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the recent hot hitting of Aeros OF Nick Weglarz. Wegz was hitting .085 at one point this April, and even shaved his head to try and shake the early season slump that he was mired in for a month. His season line now stands at .250/4/30, and his OPS is up to .780. Not the numbers we were hoping for out of the big Canadian, but much more in line with what was expected than his month of April. His 30 RBI rank 6th in the Eastern League, and for the 20 games so far in the month of May, Wegz is hitting an eye-popping .391/3/24 with a 1.128(!) OPS, showing why he is seen as one of the top OF in the Indians organization.
- Carlos Rivero was seen by many as the next Jhonny Peralta coming up through the system, especially after a strong finish to his 2008 season in Kinston. The 21-year old is struggling so far in his first taste of AA, hitting just .205 with 1 HR in 151 AB's. His May OPS is just .532. Rivero's prospect standing has always been a little more about projection than production, and he is young for the Eastern League, but you have to hope he can put up some better numbers as the weather warms up. The Indians system does not have much to speak of in the middle infield, so Rivero is an important guy to keep an eye on.
- Staying in the middle infield, Cord Phelps has cooled off after a hot start. Phelps hit over .300 in April, but has slumped to .234 in May. The K-Tribe 2B has also seen a .171 point drop in his slugging percentage, from .444 to just .273 this month. Phelps doesn't have a lot of power, which is fairly typical of players who are drafted out of Stanford (hence the term "Stanford Swing.") If the rain holds out, I'll get a chance to see Phelps in action tonight against the Potomac Nationals, and will have a full writeup tomorrow.
- Some (myself included) expected Jon Meloan to be a primary option out of Columbus if the Indians bullpen struggled this year. While the big league bullpen has been a disaster, Meloan has had his share of difficulty as well, posting a 6.66 ERA (creepy) in 25 2/3 innings of work. He is still striking out nearly a batter per inning with 24 on the season, but those 24 K's are accompanied by a .313 BA against. Meloan actually started for the Clippers this past Saturday, and gave up 2 ER in his 3 innings of work. In his last 3 appearances, Meloan has given up 6 ER in 5 innings, striking out 3. The struggles of the hard throwing righty combined with the injury to Adam Miller and trade of Jeff Stevens have turned what was once thought to be depth in the AAA bullpen into a serious deficiency.
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