Each and every Wednesday, I try to bring you all of the news and notes from the Cleveland Indians minor league system. Enjoy.
With lots going on in the minor leagues compared to the slumping Indians, there’s plenty to digest in today’s Wahoos. Here are some of the highlights: two red-hot outfielders in Columbus, the latest 10 prospects update, another link roundup from around the web and my analysis of yesterday’s 1B/OF Lars Anderson–RHP Steven Wright trade.
AAA Columbus Clippers: 59-53 (.527), 2/4 place, 9.0 GB in International League West and 3.0 GB in Wild Card
AA Akron Aeros: 65-44 (.596), 1/6 place, 9.5 games ahead in Eastern League West and 10.5 games ahead of third place
High-A Carolina Mudcats: 20-18 (.514), 3/4 place, 2.0 GB in Carolina League South SECOND HALF
A Lake County Captains: 20-17 (.541), 4/8 place, 4.0 GB in Midwest League East SECOND HALF
Short-Season Mahoning Valley: 21-20 (.512), 4/6 place, 4.0 GB in New York-Penn League Pinckney
As usual, these are not all of the transactions in the entire system, but just some of the official highlights involving the higher-end prospects and notable names.
July 23: LHP Rafael Perez (strained lat) received by AA Akron on MLB rehab assignment
July 24: IF/OF Brent Lillibridge acquired from Boston Red Sox (activated by Cleveland on July 25)
July 24: RHP Jose De La Torre traded to Boston Red Sox from AA Akron
July 25: OF Aaron Cunningham designated for assignment from Cleveland
July 25: RHP Kyle Blair (right ankle sprain) activated from High-A Carolina’s 7-day disabled list
July 25: OF Logan Vick (11th-round pick) assigned to Short-Season Mahoning Valley
July 26: RHP Roberto Hernandez (three-week suspension) received by A Lake County on MLB rehab assignment
July 26: 2B Matt Lawson (right ankle sprain) placed on AA Akron’s 7-day disabled list
July 27: RHP Jose Flores promoted to AA Akron from High-A Carolina
July 27: RHP Trey Haley activated from High-A Carolina’s 7-day disabled list
July 28: OF Aaron Cunningham outrighted to AAA Columbus
July 28: RHP Felix Sterling demoted to AZL Indians from A Lake County
July 31: RHP Steven Wright traded to Boston Red Sox from AA Akron
July 31: RHP Bryan Price demoted to AA Akron from AAA Columbus
July 31: 1B/OF Lars Anderson acquired from Boston Red Sox (set to be activated soon by AAA Columbus)
Jacob’s Updated Top 10 Prospects for 2012
In June, I created my new top 10 prospects ranking that I’ll use for the rest for the season. Forgot about that? Check out this link back to that post.
1. SS Francisco Lindor – Season stats: .265/.360/.374 with 65 R, 20 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 34 RBI, 48 BB, 59 SO, 22 SB, 8 CS in 93 games for A Lake County. Five walks, six runs scored and three steals in the past week for Lindor, who continues to be excellent with his patience. Despite hitting just .240 since the start of June, he’s posted a .382 OBP thanks to 35 walks in 47 games.
2. RHP Dillon Howard – Season stats: 0-5 with a 7.66 ERA in seven games (six starts) for the AZL Indians. He got roughed up again Tuesday, allowing four runs on six hits in just one inning. He faced nine batters total, and also threw his seventh wild pitch of the season. He’s now allowed 33 runs (only 19 earned) in his 22.1 IP this season. Yikes.
3. OF Tyler Naquin – Season stats: .289/.390/.413 with 20 R, 11 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 23 SO, 4 SB, 2 CS in 31 games for Short-Season Mahoning Valley. A nice end of the week – he went 5-for-9 with three doubles, two RBI and two runs scored on Monday and Tuesday combined – improved his numbers quite a bit. Still, the obvious positives (patience, doubles, slap hitting against lefties) outweigh the quiet negatives (still no power and decreasing average as he plays more games).
4. RHP Mitch Brown – Season stats: 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts for the AZL Indians. He’s allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in eight innings thus far. Obviously, he’s on a limited pitch count in his transition from high school ball to the pros, as he’s just 18 years old. Still, these are some solid numbers compared to what the older Howard is doing for the same team.
5. OF Luigi Rodriguez – Season stats: .270/.337/.406 with 63 R, 16 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 40 BB, 107 SO, 19 SB, 7 CS in 93 games for A Lake County. I’ve compared his stats to Lindor’s quite a bit this season, but the biggest difference is strikeouts. Rodriguez has struck out nearly twice as much as his teammate. He also has 88 K’s in 73 games since the start of May, ranking sixth-worst in the Midwest League over that span.
6. LHP Elvis Araujo – Season stats: 4-9 with 5.23 ERA in 21 starts for A Lake County. For just the second time since June 9, Araujo allowed less than four runs in a start. He allowed just two runs in four innings on Friday, as the Indians are possibly adjusting his schedule following his two-month slump. He walked another three batters on Friday, giving 38 in 16 starts since May, against just 55 strikeouts. Not too impressive lately, so hopefully Friday’s decent outing can get him back on track.
7. 2B/SS Tony Wolters – Season stats: .264/.326/.380 with 49 R, 22 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 43 RBI, 31 BB, 76 SO, 5 SB, 9 CS in 95 games for High-A Carolina. Wolters continues to split time evenly between 2B and SS – a good call for his future because of Lindor’s presence at short. But he’s got 12 errors at second compared to just six at short. Also not promising is his steal rate this year, as he was successful in 19/23 attempts in 69 games for the Scrappers last season.
8. 1B Jesus Aguilar – Season stats: .291/.385/.480 with 59 R, 24 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 44 BB, 84 SO in 95 games for High-A Carolina. There was no significant injury or promotion last week as he returned to the lineup last Friday after three days off. He wasn’t too great overall in July though, as he hit .236/.375/.389 with 12 RBI in 21 games.
9. RHP Jake Sisco – Season stats: 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in eight starts for Short-Season Mahoning Valley. Sisco recorded his first professional win on Friday, allowing three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings pitched. The walks continue to be down in longer outings – he’s allowed just six walks over 23.2 IP in his last four games, against 15 strikeouts. That’s pretty good for the big 20-year-old who should be a fun guy to watch next year in Lake County.
Wild Card: SS Dorssys Paulino – Season stats: .348/.406/.583 with 27 R, 8 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 12 BB, 19 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS in 27 games for the AZL Indians. A consensus top 20 prospect in the system before the year started, this 17-year-old is smashing the ball in Arizona. He has two four-hit games, three three-hit games and six two-hit games already. The power is certainly impressive, as is the patience for such a young kid. The errors (13) are certainly a negative though, which makes you think if he’ll switch positions eventually. But he’s likely to be moving up the charts pre-2013 as he hopefully plays for the Scrappers.
— In trade analysis related to yesterday’s minor deal, I recommend reading Minor League Ball’s John Sickels, Baseball America’s Jim Callis and Matt Eddy, and The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. Finally, WEEI in Boston had a podcast with Anderson just Sunday about his near-trade experience last season.
— Two weeks ago, I shared that Lake County OF Zach MacPhee’s press box nickname is Katherine. Well, Indians Prospect Insider’s Mike Zavagno shared some kinder comments about the 5-foot-9-inch switch-hitter on Monday. Always love reading underdog stories like that one.
— LHP Chris Seddon is putting up really solid numbers this year for Columbus, and IPI’s Andrew Holleran said that could lead to a September promotion. The 28-year-old AAA veteran is 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA over his last 10 outings.
— Did The Tribe Win Last Night’s Mike Brandyberry had a nice article last week on RHP Cody Allen. The young reliever shot through the system this year, and has gotten off to a solid start with the Indians over the last week and a half. Definitely seems like he’s there for good now.
— OF Ezequiel Carrera was honored as both International League and Indians Minor League Player of the Week in the past few days. I’ll have more on him in a Boot Up shortly, but it’s nice to see him doing really well for the Clippers after a slow start to the season.
— Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote about SS Dorssys Paulino this week (subscription required), describing his strengths as a 17-year-old in the Arizona League. The highlights: his patience at the plate, his sweet swing and the fact he’s a level ahead of his peers. But the defense certainly is a negative, as I mentioned above.
— Of course, I must share the article by the Columbus Dispatch’s Amy Saunders on the great expedition by Matt and Carolyn LaWell. The young couple is planning on seeing 119 minor league stadiums this year and is chronicling it at www.aminorleagueseason.com. I definitely recommend checking out the work of the NE Ohio natives.
Boot Up: Outfield on Fire – Two notable guys to mention from the AAA Columbus outfield. First, OF Tim Fedroff, who perpetually hits well but isn’t regarded as much of a prospect, is now hitting .373/.436/.599 in 39 games since his promotion. That includes nine multi-hit games in his last 12 contests (!!) along with a surprising seven doubles and seven homers. That power is very uncharacteristic, so I’m thinking this insane hot streak is more of a fluke by the 24-year-old.
As mentioned above, OF Ezequiel Carrera also as been red-hot of late for the Clippers. He had the day off Wednesday, but entered the day with a 20-game hitting streak, second longest in the International League this season. Over the course of the streak, he’s batting .440/.484/.679 with eight doubles, three triples, two homers, 16 RBI, 21 runs scored and eight steals.
This comes after Carrera began the year by batting just .242/.279/.323 in 43 games during April and May with just seven steals. He now second in the IL in runs (65), third in steals (26), third in hits (116) and 10th in batting average (.297). He’s certainly playing his way to a September promotion and don’t forget he’s just 25 years old.
Boot Down: Pitchout – A number of notable pitching news bits from the past week. Let’s start with yesterday’s headline, with RHP Roberto Hernandez allowing five runs in five innings in a rehab outing for the Clippers. It was his second rehab start, and he’s got another two weeks until he can return anyway, so not too much to worry about here.
Both RHP Felix Sterling and RHP Bryan Price moved back down a level. The highly touted had a 9.72 ERA for the Captains since May 23, so this was definitely expected. Meanwhile, Price gave up eight runs in five games for the Clippers, and because of the multitude of relief arms there, he’s going back in Akron where he’s done quite well since 2010.
Finally, over the past two weeks, RHP Joseph Colon moved up to High-A Carolina and RHP Jose Flores moved to AA Akron. Colon was 8-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 19 starts for Lake County, but now has a 7.53 ERA in his first three outings for the Mudcats. He’s just 22, and has been one of the best starters in the system this year. Flores had 15 saves and a 2.37 ERA in 36 games for Carolina, so he joins the crowded bullpen in Akron now.
Scott got us started with his trade analysis earlier today, but I couldn’t post the Wahoos without giving my two cents on the deal as well. Yes, there’s the whole PR nightmare behind this recent slump and not going for a bigger deal, so now I’ll just focus on the guys.
1B/OF Lars Anderson was undoubtedly the top prospect in the Red Sox organization in 2009. That was the year of the Justin Masterson trade and also when I started working for the Aeros full-time. So I remember him quite well, as he was playing for AA Portland back then. Unfortunately, the big 6-foot-4 lefty’s power never quite developed, as he’s yet to slug better than .517 in a minor league season.
Overall, however, I’m not that upset about this trade. Anderson provides depth at a position of need for the future. He’s a lot like 1B/OF Matt LaPorta, but that’s a good thing in that the two can compete for MLB playing time in September and beyond. I think the Indians would rather have them play than 1B Casey Kotchman long-term, as they’re significantly younger.
And going back to RHP Steven Wright, the guy many Indians writers are sad about parting with, I’m also a bit more rosey-eyed. He’s 27 years old and while the knuckleball has been successful through AA so far, he’s yet to prove he could be an effective AAA option, let alone in the majors. I’m fairly certain he was a goner on a free agent this offseason anyway, so I’m glad at least the Indians sold high and got something back in return.