Every Wednesday, I bring you all the highlights from the week that was for the Cleveland Indians organization, along with some added insight on what it means for the major league squad.
The biggest call of the week seems to be the complex decision to promote 3B Lonnie Chisenhall back up from AAA Columbus. As has been reported several times, 3B Jack Hannahan missed about 10 games with a sore back, returned for one game Saturday, then re-injured a calf that’s been bugging him in years past. This is his first DL stint in the pros.
Thus, along with all of the other injuries going on in Cleveland, this opens the door for Chisenhall in his second stint with the Tribe. Last season, he batted .255/.284/.415 in 66 games, along with seven homers and 22 RBI. Those are slightly below-average numbers for a starter, but a bit respectable for a 22-year-old fresh off a .267/.353/.431 line in 66 games with the Clippers earlier in the year.
Now, it appears Chisenhall is here to stay, as long as he keeps earning his keep as he showcased with a towering homer in his first at-bat Monday. I’ve heard before that Hannahan, along with IF Jose Lopez, are not targeted by the organization to be everyday guys for much longer. Assuming the Chiz stays healthy and consistent, this could be his job for the indefinite future.
He proved his worth a bit more this season with a .324/.353/.541 line in 28 games for the Clippers. Of course, he had just missed two weeks of ball with a strained calf, but as Manny Acta said Monday, this was truly his first dominant stint at any level of the minors. Maybe it can translate into the pros, or maybe not, but either way, it looks like it’s finally Lonnie Time in Cleveland.
AAA Columbus Clippers: 24-27 (.471), 2/4 place, 6.0 GB in International League West
AA Akron Aeros: 30-19 (.612), 1/6 place, 3.5 game lead in Eastern League West
High-A Carolina Mudcats: 23-27 (.460), 4/4 place, 7.0 GB in Carolina League South
A Lake County Captains: 25-25 (.500), 5/8 place, 11.0 GB in Midwest League East
Short-Season Mahoning Valley: (no record, season begins June 18)
I’m reversing course against the usual segment of Top 10 Prospects this week. Instead, I’ll simply present to you some of the organization leaders in a number of statistical categories to get you more familiar with some of these names.
|1||COL Goedert||.362||1||COL LaPorta||13||1||CAR Tice||43||1||CAR Cid||13|
|2||AKR Chen||.316||2||CAR Tice||10||2||COL Goedert||32||2||CAR Holt||12|
|3||CAR Tice||.313||3||COL Goedert||9||3||COL LaPorta||30||2||LC Rodriguez||12|
|4||CAR Aguilar||.308||4||COL Mills||6||4||CAR Moncrief||25||4||LC Lindor & Myles||11|
|1||CAR Holt||30||1||COL Goedert||.434||1||CAR Tice||.649||1||CAR Tice||1.049|
|2||AKR Fedroff||28||2||CAR Holt||.404||2||COL LaPorta||.6013||2||COL Goedert||1.035|
|3||AKR Abraham||23||3||CAR Tice||.400||3||COL Goedert||.6012||3||COL LaPorta||1.001|
|3||COL Goedert & LaPorta||23||3||COL LaPorta||.400||4||CAR Aguilar||.503||4||CAR Aguilar||.896|
|1||COL McFarland||8||1||LC Johnson||9||1||COL Allen||5||1||COL McFarland||60.1|
|2||AKR House||6||2||CAR Flores||7||1||COL Herrmann||5||1||AKR House||60.1|
|3||LC Colon||5||2||COL Ray||7||3||CAR Reichenbach||4||3||COL Seddon||58.2|
|3||COL Seddon||5||4||AKR Guilmet||6||4||Five tied||3||4||LC Colon||58.1|
|1||AKR Wright||1.75||1||AKR House||.194||1||COL Kluber||11.29||1||COL McFarland||1.79|
|2||AKR House||2.24||2||LC Colon||.214||2||AKR Soto||8.51||2||LC Anderson||1.85|
|3||LC Anderson||2.40||3||AKR Wright||.2188||3||COL Berger||8.18||3||COL Seddon||2.30|
|4||COL McFarland||2.69||4||COL McAllister||.2192||4||AKR Wright||8.16||4||COL Slowey||2.39|
May 25: SS Juan Diaz promoted to Cleveland from AA Akron
May 25: RHP Zach McAllister optioned to AAA Columbus from Cleveland
May 26: C Luke Carlin promoted to Cleveland from AAA Columbus
May 27: LHP T.J. McFarland promoted to AAA Columbus from AA Akron
May 27: RHP Steven Wright activated from AA Akron disabled list
May 28: 3B Lonnie Chisenhall promoted to Cleveland from AAA Columbus
May 29: OF Bryson Myles placed on A Lake County’s 7-day disabled list
I’m reversing course against the usual segment of The Boots this week as well. Instead, I’m just going to do some shorter-form analysis of the many storylines in the system right now.
– The Indians are short-handed in the bullpen with only six guys currently following the DFA move of RHP Jairo Asencio. Thus, assuming SS Juan Diaz moves back down today, RHP Frank Herrmann (1-1, 5 holds, 4.13 ERA in 24.0 IP, 27 H, 7 BB, 26 K) is the leading candidate to move up in return to shore up the ‘pen. Herrmann’s on the 40-man roster and has 101.0 IP of experience with the Tribe over the past two years. – The other option, with LHP Rafael Perez still on the mend, could be surprising LHP Scott Barnes (0-2, 3 holds, 3.81 ERA in 28.1 IP, 17 H, 12 BB, 30 K). Barnes was on the DL earlier this year, and came back on May 3 as a reliever for the first time. He’s now got a 2.19 ERA and 13/5 K/BB ratio in 12.1 IP since the switch, and hasn’t given up an earned run since May 14. He’s also on the 40-man, which could make this an intriguing decision, despite his lack of MLB experience.
– Shucks, I had two whole paragraphs written, and then the Tribe decided to place DH Travis Hafner on the DL because of some knee issues. In the meantime, LHP Scott Barnes did indeed get the call up over RHP Frank Herrmann. You can read above through the strikes about my earlier thoughts on both guys. The biggest point here likely is that the Indians are trying to fast-track Barnes as a hot-shot relief prospect this year, as he recently got moved to that role this month. Herrmann’s been up in Cleveland before, but is likely more of an instrumental part of the Columbus bullpen and not as much of a prospect as the lefty. This now gives the Tribe three lefties in the current ‘pen (including LHP Nick Hagadone and LHP Tony Sipp), even though LHP Rafael Perez is on the 60-day DL until at least late June.
– Many folks were surprised by last week’s decision to promote Diaz from Akron over AAA Columbus 2B Jason Donald. My guess is that defense had to play a part of it, as Diaz is much better with the glove overall these days. But, more importantly, the team wants Donald to play everyday in Columbus now, while Diaz was more of a filler guy, who wasn’t even supposed to play much. He’s been impressive anyway in his games so far, and deserves some kudos for his effort in Cleveland.
– Pardon me for not giving some love earlier to AA Akron 3B Kyle Bellows, last week’s minor league player of the week in the system. He’s batting .257/.349/.399 in 44 games on the season, but has raised his average 64 points since May 12. The righty is tearing apart left-handed pitching, and I’ve heard before about the 23-year-old’s impressive fielding abilities.
– Kudos also go out to OF Tim Fedroff, who is having another solid year for the Aeros. He’s batting .300/.399/.428 as the everyday centerfielder, playing in 47 games so far. He’s not a power guy and doesn’t have much speed either, but has been getting good contact on the ball in his third year at Double-A. He’s now played 235 games for the Aeros, so the 25-year-old likely should be in AAA Columbus by the end of the year.
– One often-forgotten man in the system also is AA Akron LHP Giovanni Soto. He was pretty highly touted when the Indians acquired him from Detroit for SS Jhonny Peralta back in July 2010, but was in the Midwest League still then as a 19-year-old. He’s 4-2 on the year with a 4.07 ERA in nine starts, striking out an impressive 46 in 48.1 IP against 15 walks. The hits seem to be a problem, especially as he gets late into games, but he remains an intriguing prospect because he’s just turned 21.
– Over in the High-A Carolina League, the Carolina Mudcats have been on quite the cold streak lately. The team snapped a six-game losing streak last night with an 11-3 victory, moving them to 23-27 on the season. During the losing streak, the team allowed an average of 6.5 runs per game, a likely product of the departure of opening day ace LHP T.J. House and closer RHP Cody Allen to a series of promotions throughout the season.
– It was up on the site yesterday, but here’s even more: SS Tony Wolters is on fire for the Mudcats. He went 3-for-5 last night, punching in three more RBI. He’s now raised his average 103 points in May, batting .309/.381/.436 in 24 games this month. He was horrible to start the season, so his season total numbers are just now looking fairly mediocre. The 19-year-old was the team’s third-round pick in 2010, but he’s been playing more second base this year because of a guy one level below him (read the last bullet).
– Some local news now, as St. Edward grad C Alex Lavisky is heating up for A Lake County. He’s batting .281/.352/.438 in 18 May games, with two homers and eight RBI. He had several days off at the beginning of the month and doesn’t seem to catch more than four or five days in a row, so it looks like the organization is keeping his load easy for now. This is a good experience for the 2010 eighth-rounder to play All-Star baseball at one level and make his move up the system. Remember, he’s only 21.
– Finally, this was in While We’re Waiting the other day, but it’s worth another look. SS Francisco Lindor, the organization’s top overall prospect, shot up in the latest update of ESPN writer Keith Law’s prospect rankings. After placing at No. 35 to start the year, he now sits at No. 17, becoming one of the highest-rated position prospects in the system in a long while. The 18-year-old is hitting .292/.343/.431 in 45 games for the Captains, but has struggled a bit over the past two weeks. My bet is he stays in the Midwest League for the rest of the year, as the Indians have historically been quite conservative with their young position players.
Hmmmm. The NBA Lottery is tonight, right? Which means there’s some other draft around the corner too, right? Oh, yes, the MLB Draft. That thing that nobody pays attention to because there are like 50-bazilion rounds and it lasts several days, with the players headed to the depths of the minor leagues for several years to come (except for the rare gems, like Bryce Harper).
But yes, the draft for the Cleveland Indians begins Monday, June 4. The draft is boring beyond means for any average sports fan, and is very difficult to analyze en masse. The Tribe picks No. 15 in the first round and that’s about the only round worth analyzing at this point at all. I’ll certainly have more on the picks next week, but, for now, let’s take a look at five guys rumored to be available at that spot and likely targets of the club:
RHP Michael Wacha, Texas A&M, 6-6, 195, 7/1/1991, No. 11 on MLB.com list
LHP Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 175, 6/5/1991, No. 17 on MLB.com list
3B/OF Stephen Piscotty, Stanford University, 6-3, 195, 1/14/1991, No. 18 on MLB.com list
RHP Chris Stratton, Mississippi State, 6-3, 198, 8/22/1990, No. 20 on MLB.com list
SS/3B Corey Seager, NW Carrabus HS (NC), 6-3, 190, 4/27/1994, No. 22 on MLB.com list
Personally, I do like the idea of Wacha or Stratton quite a bit. We’re quite lacking in lower-level star pitching prospects – or really any of them, after the RHP Ubaldo Jimenez trade last year – so we need loads of talent, desperately. Wacha’s size is certainly appealing, but he might be gone by the time we pick, while the older Stratton seemed to be the more dominant college ace. You absolutely need to hit big in the first round, so I’m sure we’ll learn more about why the Tribe felt to go a certain way when the move goes down.