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Weekend Update: Chisenhall To 3B, Diaz Out

March 8, 2009
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As always, time for another weekend rundown of the news and notes in the Indians minor league system.

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The Indians have officially moved 2008 1st round pick Lonnie Chisenhall to third base. After his good showing at shortstop last year at Mahoning Valley where his manager Travis Fryman raved about how he played there, and also Indians Scouting Director John Mirabelli's postseason comments in September that sort of piggybacked what Fryman said, it seemed like there was a good chance that Chisenhall might stick at shortstop for at least one more year in 2009.

But, the move was inevitable, and the Indians want to get a head start on the switch and certainly have done so as between Instructional League and spring training he will have had over six months to be coached on the transition before his first game in 2009. As for what level he plays at this year, he likely will open the season in Single-A Lake County based on some of Farm Director Ross Atkins' previous comments about him taking a traditional path through the minors, though with his advanced bat he may in fact end up skipping Lake County and going right to Kinston.

This would make a lot of sense since another top third base prospect, Abner Abreu, was expected to be the regular third baseman at Lake County this year prior to the news of Chisenhall's position change. It is possible that Abreu could also be in line for a position change, although nothing is official on that front. Still, while Abreu played all of the 2008 season at third base for the Gulf Coast League rookie level team, he split time at third base, shortstop and second base for the Dominican Summer League in 2007. Plus, there is also some talk he could eventually move to the outfield. Hopefully when I get out to Goodyear here in two weeks I can better answer some of the potential position changes looming with Abreu and other players.

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In another bit of news, third baseman Kelvin Diaz - who is from the Dominican Republic - will not be in spring training this year, nor will he make his stateside debut anytime this season. The ongoing saga with his visa apparently is something the Indians now feel will never be resolved, which is unfortunate because they were very high on him. As to what the specific reason is why he is having visa problems, it still points back to his birth records as he was born in a home and not in a hospital. Yes folks, he does exist, but it looks like it is time to close the door on his Indians career unless an unexpected miracle happens. Had he been granted a visa like he should have been a few years ago and continued to develop and perform, he would likely be entering camp this spring getting ready to play in advanced Single-A Kinston or Double-A Akron at third base this year.

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Nothing really to report from minor league camp which officially started up on Thursday other than the players who have been there since early camp started on February 25th got to enjoy a day off yesterday, which will be their last day off until camp breaks in four weeks. It is hard to believe that over the course of these next four weeks that these guys are going to be working out, playing 14 official spring games, rosters for the four full season teams will be announced, and about 15-25 players will be released and no longer a part of the organization. Like I said, I arrive in Goodyear on March 26th and will be taking in the final ten days of camp and will report everything I see and hear while I am down there, as well as what comes filtered into me before I go.

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A big thanks this week to right-handed pitcher Steven Wright for taking the time to come on our radio show Smoke Signals this past Thursday. Wright was on for about 35 minutes and was an excellent interview as we talked about everything from him moving to Goodyear to take advantage of the new facility in the offseason, his potential move to the bullpen, the ups and downs he has gone through so far in his two year playing career, and more. One of the more interesting topics we discussed was him pitching in the Cape Cod League in 2005 after his sophomore season at Hawaii and how he won the award as the top pitcher there and some of his teammates were the likes of Evan Longoria, Justin Masterson, Tim Lincecum and others. To listen to the podcast of the show or download it, click here.

This coming Thursday (3/12) we will be previewing the Indians major league bullpen. Chris Kline was slated to be our guest on the show, but there are some things that need to be ironed out before he can appear which may prevent him from ever appearing. In any case, right-handed minor leaguer Jonathan Holt will likely be out guest and will tie into the show theme of the bullpen.

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I made two appearances on the TV and radio last week, appearing on MILB Radio on Wednesday night to talk Indians prospects, and then talked prospects again on Friday afternoon on the program All Bets Are Off on the Indians cable network SportsTime Ohio. To hear the podcast of the radio show, click on this link, but be warned the quality of the show suffered because of some technical issues the host had with his microphone cutting in and out.

As for the SportsTime Ohio appearance I have no link to the video from the show; however, I am working on putting up the video from the appearance. I was on for about 40 minutes, and we talked about players like Adam Miller, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Nick Weglarz, David Huff, Hector Rondon, Beau Mills, Lonnie Chisenhall, Kelvin De La Cruz, Zach Putnam, TJ House, Cord Phelps, Abner Abreu and more.

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The Indians have eight players in total participating in the World Baseball Classic, five of them minor leaguers. Here is how those minor leaguers have fared so far in the early stages of the tournament:

Chen-Chang Lee (RHP, Chinese Taipei):
1 game, 1 GS, 0-1, 162.00 ERA, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 6 ER, 1 HR, 1 HB, 3 BB, 0 K, 15.00 WHIP

Sung-Wei Tseng (RHP, Chinese Taipei):
1 game, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 1.00 WHIP

Nick Weglarz (OF, Canada):
1 game, 0-for-2, 2 BB

Damaso Espino (C, Panama):
1 game, 0-1, K

Paolo Espino (RHP, Panama):
1 game, 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 1.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 0 K, 5.25 WHIP

Chinese Taipei is done for the tournament, so Lee and Tseng should be joining their Indians minor league teammates for spring camp out in Goodyear sometime this week. If Panama loses Sunday to the Dominican Republic and Canada loses to Italy, then all of the Indians minor league players will be out of the tournament.

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