Down on the Farm will be a semi-regular column here at WFNY. Mike Hattery and I (and occasionally–we hope–some others) will be taking a look at the minor league system, a game, a player, or even an at-bat that stands out for the good, or bad.
The Cleveland Indians full season affiliates have all kicked into full gear, and there’s a slew of really interesting players at the upper levels that will play a part with the Indians, both in 2017 and beyond. Perhaps the most interesting affiliate this season, at least in the first month or two1, are the Akron Rubberducks.
The ‘Ducks wield two of the Top 5 players in the system in Greg Allen2 and Francisco Mejia, and a slew of other interesting prospects.
Last night, the Rubberducks lost 6-4 to the Trenton Thunder thanks to a late bullpen implosion, but the game wasn’t without some fireworks from Allen, Mejia, and second baseman Tyler Krieger.
Allen continued his torrid start to the season with his third multi-hit game out of the six games Akron has played. He also had his first multi-stolen base game, as the fleet-footed center fielder will be looking to continue his assault on the base paths this season. In his three seasons with the organization, Allen has 124 stolen bases, in 158 chances.3
Here’s a nice overview of Allen’s stats, including his current season, over at a fantastic site I’ve used for pitch framing over the years, Statcorner:
It’s fun looking at the wOBA and the wOBA* over the past two seasons. While it’s easy jumping into overreaction theater this early in the season, Allen is right on pace with what he’s been doing since High-A ball.
While everyone knows my affinity for Allen, the big watch this year will be Francisco Mejia. The other “Frankie” burst on the scene in 2016 with a 50-game hit streak, and a magical offensive season. While many local prospect rankings had soured on Mejia4, proving the reactionary nature of rankings, the team’s future catcher went about his business of taking the next step. Of course, the rankings followed suit, and now Mejia is considered by many to be the club’s top prospect.5
Mejia hasn’t disappointed in his first week at Double A. The 21-year old (he won’t turn 22 until October) matched Allen with his third multi-hit game (in five games), and took it to another level. Mejia has opened the season with hits in each of his five games. Obviously, it’s early in the season. Here is Statcorner:
The other players of note are Tyler Krieger and Mike Papi. Krieger, playing in his third game of the season, had his first non-multi-hit game of the year. The 23-year old isn’t a top prospect in the organization, but if there’s anyone who can replace my love for Joey Wendle, it’s this guy.6 Like Krieger, Papi isn’t a top prospect, but is hitting the ball well. At 24, after the Indians selected him with a compensatory pick after the first round in 2014 the expectations have lowered for the corner outfielder with his struggling in his first couple seasons. There are some fun little pieces to his game that are worth watching. He does walk a ton, and there is some power there, but there are others in the organization that will get long looks before Papi.
The (Prospect) List:
- Mike Clevinger–SP, Columbus–7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 9K–Clevinger is making mince meat out of the International League. It’s only his second start, but he’s struck out 17, while only walking 4, in 13 innings. It’s clear that Clevinger can own Triple A, but can he take it to the next level?
- Bradley Zimmer–CF, Columbus–0-for-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB (2)–This is the watch, right? Can Zimmer keep the K% down, walk more, defend better, and continue to hit for power? He currently has two doubles, and two triples, and he’s only struck out four times in his six games, so it’s a start. I’ll be diving into his swing changes later in the year, to see if they’re sticking, or if the initial report was an overreaction.
- Kieran Lovegrove–RP, Lynchburg–2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K–It seems just yesterday that Lovegrove was selected in the third round by the Indians as a potential future starter. After struggling with hip injuries for four years as a starter, Lovegrove was given new life in the Lake County bullpen last season. The prospect status is clearly dusty, but if he can be effective out of the pen, he could be a quick mover. But it’s really hard to overcome slow minor league movement.
- It’s likely a few of these players will end up in Columbus by July [↩]
- Yeah, Allen is a Top 5 prospect, and Mike and I will make that argument in the coming days and weeks [↩]
- Allen 78.5% stolen base percentage is similar to Kenny Lofton’s big league percentage, which was 79.5%, just to give you perspective. Sure, major league stolen bases are harder to come by in theory, but Lofton’s minor league percentage was 75.7%, just in case you were wondering [↩]
- IBI, my former stomping grounds, had dropped Mejia from 5th to 10th heading into 2016 [↩]
- IBI bumped him back up to #2 [↩]
- In true Indians fashion, Wendle is currently out for the A’s with shoulder soreness [↩]