Each and every Wednesday, I try to bring you all of the news and notes from the Cleveland Indians minor league system. Enjoy.
Happy Fourth of July everyone! For this edition of the Wahoos, I’m going to spare you my usual introduction. Instead, I’ll later be passing the baton to some of the other great baseball writers out there with a new link roundup section. I’ve also got tons of details on Francisco Lindor’s struggles, another Jesus Aguilar hot streak, how some local guys are doing in the system, the amazing Akron bullpen and much, much more. Click forward for all the info.
The second half is well underway in High-A and A ball.
AAA Columbus Clippers: 42-43 (.494), 2/4 place, 12.0 GB in International League West
AA Akron Aeros: 49-35 (.583), 1/6 place, 5.5 games ahead in Eastern League West
High-A Carolina Mudcats: 9-4 (.692), 2/4 place, 1.0 GB in Carolina League South SECOND HALF
A Lake County Captains: 6-6 (.500), T-4/8 place, 2.0 GB in Midwest League East SECOND HALF
Short-Season Mahoning Valley: 9-7 (.563), 2/6 place, 1.5 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 highlights involving the higher-end prospects and notable names.
June 26: LHP Matt Packer assigned to AZL Indians on minor league rehab
June 27: DH Travis Hafner assigned to AAA Columbus on MLB rehab
June 27: RHP Chris Schwinden designated for assignment off AAA Columbus roster (claimed by NY Yankees on June 29)
June 27: RHP Jeanmar Gomez activated on AAA Columbus roster
June 27: IF/OF Vinny Rottino claimed off waivers from NY Mets (assigned to AAA Columbus on June 29)
June 27: DH/OF Jeremie Tice placed on bereavement list for AA Akron
June 27: 3B Kyle Bellows (sprained left wrist) activated from AA Akron’s 7-day disabled list
June 28: LHP Scott Barnes optioned to AAA Columbus from Cleveland
June 28: RHP Zach McAllister recalled to Cleveland from AAA Columbus
June 30: IF Jason Donald recalled to Cleveland from AAA Columbus
June 30: DH/OF Jeremie Tice activated from bereavement list for AA Akron
July 3: 3B Kyle Bellows (sprained left wrist) placed on AA Akron’s 7-day disabled list
July 3: RHP Bryce Stowell (strained left oblique) placed on AA Akron’s 7-day disabled list
Jacob’s Updated Top 10 Prospects for 2012
Two weeks ago, I created my new top 10 prospects ranking that I’ll use for the rest for the season. Forgot about that already? Check out this link back to that post.
1. SS Francisco Lindor – Season stats: .263/.352/.374 with 49 R, 14 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 32 BB, 48 SO, 17 SB, 6 CS in 71 games for A Lake County. He continues to trend down and has struggled for the last six weeks. Since May 19, he’s batting just .189/.333/.235 in 35 games. Walk totals are very encouraging though, as can be seen by his very high OBP compared to his slugging percentage.
2. RHP Dillon Howard – Season stats: 0-2 with 4.35 ERA in three games (two starts) for the AZL Indians. He has allowed 13 hits in 10.1 IP, but has 10 strikeouts against only five walks. Decent overall numbers for last year’s second round pick, and his Tuesday start of four innings with just one run (unearned) was certainly encouraging as well.
3. OF Tyler Naquin – Season stats: .371/.488/.514 with 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS in 9 games for Short-Season Mahoning Valley. Last week, I talked about Naquin’s up-and-down start with two good games and two bad. But, overall, he has three three-hit games in just nine contests. That’s good enough for now, young feller.
4. RHP Mitch Brown – Nothing new to report here. Brown, this year’s second-round pick out of an Minnesota high school, is still working his way into game shape for the AZL Indians.
5. OF Luigi Rodriguez – Season stats: .283/.334/.407 with 50 R, 13 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 24 BB, 78 SO, 15 SB, 5 CS in 70 games for A Lake County. Overall totals now slightly better than Lindor’s for Captains, as he’s been trending up. Since an 0-for-7 marathon game on June 14, he’s batting .306/.340/.469 with 10 runs scored and 10 RBI in 13 contests.
6. LHP Elvis Araujo – Season stats: 3-6 with 4.54 ERA in 17 starts for A Lake County. He broke a prolonged slump with a solid outing Tuesday night, going five innings of one-run baseball and no walks in a rain-shortened complete game. On the year, he has 66 K’s in 79.1 IP, but has a .278 batting average against. The big lefty turns 21 in just a couple weeks.
7. 2B/SS Tony Wolters – Season stats: .240/.303/.341 with 37 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 33 RBI, 23 BB, 63 SO, 4 SB, 6 CS in 72 games for High-A Carolina. This is a new high watermark for Wolters’ season totals following his horrific April. Overall, he’s batting a fairly solid .276/.327/.400 in 54 games since the start of May.
8. 1B Jesus Aguilar – Season stats: .308/.388/.525 with 48 R, 20 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 31 BB, 67 SO in 77 games for High-A Carolina. The burly slugger has two two-homer games since June 26, including another one Monday night. He’s on another of his unworldly hot streaks, as he’s batting .400/.452/.836 with six doubles, six homers and 18 RBI in his last 16 games. He should be in Akron soon.
9. RHP Jake Sisco – Season stats: 0-1 with 3.86 ERA in three starts for Short-Season Mahoning Valley. Last year’s third-round pick is being stretched out now with the Scrappers, as he worked 6.1 IP last Friday for the longest outing of his career. He was pretty good too, allowing just two runs and six hits, with four strikeouts against two walks.
Wild Card: 2B/SS Ronny Rodriguez – Season stats: .277/.310/.443 with 46 R, 14 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 10 BB, 55 SO, 4 SB, 3 CS in 79 games for High-A Carolina. I think this 20-year-old Dominican is making me pay for leaving him off my top-10 list. Since June 3, he’s on a .340/.368/.570 tear with five homers and 16 RBI in just 28 games. That’s darn impressive power for a guy who also struggled to start off the season. Give him a shot with the Aeros next year, and this guy should begin to shoot up all of the prospect rankings.
As introduced earlier, I’m now passing it over to many other great writers to see what they’re saying recently about folks in the Cleveland minor leagues.
I’m just doing a shortened version of the The Boots this week because of the new link roundup. As always, I give Boot Ups and Boot Downs to good and bad storylines going on lately.
Boot Up: Cleveland’s Pride – With today’s Boot Up, I wanted to provide some updates on three local guys you might be interested in. First up, the hottest one of them all. OF/DH Anthony Gallas, an undrafted free agent from Kent State and Strongsville HS, is batting .270/.335/.465 in 64 games for High-A Carolina this year. Since June, those totals are .340/.386/.606 in 28 games, however, lending some weight to a growing swell that the 24-year-old unheralded star might be on his way to AA Akron sooner rather than later.
C Alex Lavisky, the team’s 2010 eight-round pick out of St. Edward HS, is batting .236/.399/.363 in 56 games this year for A Lake County. He had a rough June at .158/.238/.281 in just 15 games – which shows he has been relegated to part-time play over the last three weeks. But he had a nice game at catcher on Monday, going 2-for-4 with two singles. Also, some signing news to report, as IF Jordan Hamilton, the son of radio announcer Tom Hamilton, signed with the Indians last week. The 35th-round draft pick out of Kent State also attended Avon Lake HS.
Boot Down: Struggle Bus – Much of this year, I’ve focused on higher-level prospects and those individuals trending up in the system. Today, for a change, I’m going to discuss three guys in the lower levels that haven’t played up to expectations. RHP Robbie Aviles is 0-1 with a 5.93 ERA in three starts for Short-Season Mahoning Valley this year. The team’s seventh-rounder in 2010, he underwent Tommy John surgery in July of that year. He pitched just for the Arizona League team in 2011, and is still on the long road to a full recovery.
RHP Felix Sterling was a guy consistently in the top 15 of prospect rankings before the year, but likely won’t be for next year. He is 3-7 with a 5.76 ERA in 18 games (16 starts) for A Lake County this season, with 36 walks, 71 hits and 58 strikeouts in 75 IP. Yes, he’s only 19, so he might repeat a level next year, but those aren’t too encouraging of numbers. Finally, I briefly mentioned his name in my Scrappers report last week, but 2B Robel Garcia continues to struggle. Another consensus top 20 guy before the season, he was demoted to Mahoning Valley when their year began after posting a .210/.298/.309 line in 63 games for the Captains. His stats are even worse a step below: .147/.293/.147 in 11 games so far. He’s only 19 as well, but this has been a huge regression so far in 2012.
I’ll end today with a report from Canal Park. The Akron Aeros have been dominating the Eastern League again this season, but I was on hand Sunday to see their 12th loss in their last 20 games. Entering that contest, the team had a spectacular 3.10 ERA – best in all of Double-A – led by a bullpen ERA of 2.74. The losses have continued as Akron lost again Sunday and Tuesday, but this is a team filled with surprises so far in 2012.
Starring in that bullpen, there is closer RHP Preston Guilmet (2-1 with 2.12 ERA and 10 saves in 27 games), RHP Rob Bryson (3-1 with 2.68 ERA in 25 games), RHP Bryan Price (2-2 with 2.82 ERA and four saves in 24 games) and RHP Loek Van Mil (1-1 with 2.17 ERA in 16 games). Those are some darn impressive statistics, so keep an eye out for these guys hopefully in Columbus soon to join several other Akron arms that have already made the trip this year.
I’ve talked about DH/1B Chun Chen’s hot bat lately and I wrote about OF Nick Weglarz’s Canada Day, but OF Thomas Neal might be the hottest of them all. Acquired in the offseason from San Francisco, the 24-year-old had regressed as a prospect over the last year and a half. But he’s now at .301/.375/.459 in 65 games this year and had six homers and 17 RBI in June alone. He’s playing well in center and right, and his Twitter account – @TdaddyNeal – is quite enjoyable too.
One possible reason for the recent team struggles is likely the rotation. RHP Steven Wright has allowed 13 runs (10 earned) in his last three games, LHP Giovanni Soto has a 9/12 SO/BB ratio in his last three contests and LHP T.J. House’s got a 7.08 ERA in his last four outings including a seven-inning shutout performance. These three still have pretty dominant season totals, but these are some troublesome trends of late. Keep an eye out to see if they can right their wrongs shortly.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.