July 29, 2014

Jesus Aguilar continues to destroy baseballs in Columbus

Jesus Aguilar: Home run hitter, food eater

If you’re one of those Tribe fans who only cares about high-profile prospects, you may want to make an exception for Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar, the Columbus Clippers first baseman blasted his fifth home run of the season on Monday, and is now putting up a red-hot slash line of .386/.453/.737 (1.190 OPS) through 16 games.

The portly Aguilar is listed at 6-feet-3-inches and 250 pounds, though he is likely closer to a an offensive lineman-like three bills. This hasn’t stopped the 23-yaer-old right-hander from anhiliating anything thrown his way.

 Last year, Aguilar batted .275/.349/.427 with 28 doubles, 16 home runs and 105 RBI in 130 games at Double-A Akron. As our own Kirk stated earlier this month, Aguilar could easily fill in at first base if the team would be willing to put Nick Swisher in the outfield against lefties. This, of course, would come at the expense of Ryan Raburn who recently signed a two-year deal to be—well—Aguilar. Though an equal-opportunity masher, against left-handed pitching this season, Aguilar has provided a line of .348/.444/.826 (1.271 OPS) with two doubles, three home runs and five runs batted in. He’s also walked four times as compared to just three strikeouts.1

Aguilar didn’t crack Baseball America’s top 10 list for Top Prospects this season. He doesn’t have the hype or long-term potential of Francisco Lindor; he certainly doesn’t have the tools of someone like Clint Frazier. But for a team that is in dire search of someone who can not only hit left-handed pitching but do so with power, their answer may be just two hours south on Interstate 71.

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. It’s worth pointing out that his 2013 slash line was more favorable against right-handed pitching. []

The Diff: Cleveland Indians prospect movement in 2013

The Diff is your weekly Wednesday WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I shared five statistical thoughts about the Tribe’s outlook. Now, I’m catching up on prospects.

The Diff

This edition is my third installment of my monthly Indians prospect update within The Diff. Back in June, the theme was looking at preseason prospect rankings and the common themes. Then in July, I shared a trade deadline update, looking at potentially useful prospect pieces. Today, I wrote about a grand total of 48 prospects to share the context of their 2013 prospect movement – up, stagnant or down. Stats below are as of games completed on Sunday, Aug. 11, or Monday, Aug. 12. [Read more...]

MLB News: Danny Salazar throws five no-hit innings for Columbus

Cleveland Indians starting pitching prospect Danny Salazar delivered five near-perfect innings for Triple-A Columbus on Friday night against the Buffalo Bisons.

After just 52 pitches (40 strikes) — as the organization continues to monitor his recovery post-Tommy John surgery — the 23-year-old right-hander struck out eight and retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced. It would have been a perfect outing, but one batter reached base on a fourth inning error by first baseman Chun Chen. There were three groundball outs, two pop outs and two flyouts.

Update: The Clippers pitching staff eventually lost the combined no-hit bid in the ninth inning on a ninth-inning two-out bloop single by Anthony Gose.

With the outing, Salazar now has a 2.71 ERA in 21 minor league outings this season. He has a sensational 129 strikeouts (12.5 K/9) against only 24 walks (2.3 BB/9) in 93.0 innings pitched. Only three times has he been allowed to pitch into the sixth inning.

Per a most recent update, his strikeout per nine inning ratio leads all 509 minor league pitchers with at least 80 innings this season. His 5.38 K/BB ratio also ranks 14th among all of these pitchers.

Salazar dazzled in his MLB debut back on July 11. He struck out seven in 6.1 innings pitched, allowing just one run on two hits. His 94 pitches tied a season high. He brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning against reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays. That was Salazar’s only game in Cleveland so far this season.

Entering the year, he was a top-10 organizational prospect, but many still wondered why the Indians decided to protect him on the 40-man roster following the 2011 season. After earning the early May promotion to Columbus, he suddenly was catching the eyes of evaluators around baseball.

It’s likely that Indians manager Terry Francona will utilize Salazar as a surprise bullpen option down the stretch, assuming he has yet to reach his innings limit for the season. Entering 2014, it’s possible he’ll compete for a starting rotation job.

[Related: WFNY Stats & Info: Danny Salazar’s magical debut]

MLB News: Zach McAllister shines in Triple-A rehab start

Zach McAllister dazzled in his latest rehab start on Thursday night, a huge sigh of relief for the Indians front office worried about his sprained right middle finger.

McAllister, 25, delivered six shutout innings of two-hit baseball for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers last night (box score). He struck out two and walked two, using only 69 pitches (44 strikes) to deliver the incredibly effective start and earn the victory in Columbus’ 3-2 win.

When the much-improved starter landed on the disabled list on June 8, the Cleveland Indians expressed their deep concern. The team’s executives didn’t want this finger injury to become a long-term nagging problem like similar injuries of the past for prospects Adam Miller and Alex White. Thus, it appeared McAllister would be out for quite some time.

He made his first rehab start for the Double-A Akron Aeros last Saturday. He allowed two runs on four hits in 3.1 innings, walking one while striking out five. He threw 61 pitches (42 strikes) in this contest.

Prospect Danny Salazar relieved McAllister on Thursday for the Clippers, allowing two runs in three innings with four strikeouts to earn the old-fashioned save. Salazar delivered an outstanding performance in his MLB debut for the Indians last week, in the No. 5 starting rotation spot that has been handled by a rotating crew of prospects since McAllister’s injury.

With the All-Star break providing an extra few days of rest and a full reset for the remaining Cleveland starters — in order, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez — there is a chance that McAllister resumes his spot in the rotation next Tuesday in Seattle. It’s likely that fans will hear more from manager Terry Francona and the team within the next few days.

[Related: Indians All-Star Break Review: The Starting Rotation]

MLB News: Indians to promote C.C. Lee, demote Danny Salazar

The Cleveland Indians are set to option Danny Salazar today back to Columbus and recall right-handed reliever Chen-Chang Lee. The team just announced the move on Twitter this afternoon. Tony Lastoria at Indians Baseball Insider broke the news last night.

It’s certainly sad to see Salazar go after his sensational debut yesterday afternoon, but it makes sense. The Indians won’t have a need for a No. 5 starter for another 11 days because of the upcoming All-Star break. By that time, Zach McAllister may be ready to be activated from the disabled list.

Salazar, 23, had one of the best debuts for a Cleveland Indians starter ever. He struck out seven Toronto Blue Jays in six dominant innings, carrying a no-hitter into his final frame. He’ll return to the Clippers where he’s only made 10 Triple-A starts (and 13 in Double-A) in his minor league career.

In return, the Indians are promoting the 26-year-old nicknamed C.C. Lee. A high-profile Taiwanese minor league free agent in September 2008, he’s one of the most touted reliever prospects in the system. He’s been on the mend thus far in 2013 from Tommy John surgery last year, thus he only has limited outings back in Triple-A. He’s old for his level now and will be getting his first opportunity in the big leagues.

Overall, in his 107 career games between the Double-A Akron Aeros and Clippers, Lee has a 2.83 ERA with 210 strikeouts and 53 walks in 165.1 innings pitched. A pint-sized 5-foot-10, he generates tremendous velocity and deception with his delivery. The Indians announced on Twitter that Lee will provide additional bullpen help for the next week or so.

Lee will be the 23rd pitcher to appear in a game for the Indians already in 2013. The team has had try-outs for a variety of other prospects such as Trevor Bauer, Matt Langwell, Preston Guilmet and, most recently, Salazar. They’ve also given opportunities to non-prospects like Joe Martinez and David Huff, while former prospects Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes messed up their chances to stick with the team too.

[Related: Indians 4 Blue Jays 2: Salazar dazzles in Tribe debut]

WFNY Stats & Info: Lonnie Chisenhall’s hot streak

Although the Cleveland Indians finally snapped their eight-game losing streak on Tuesday, many already have been calling for the return of Lonnie Baseball.

The team’s first-round pick in 2008, Chisenhall has been tearing up Triple-A pitching in the past three weeks. Dating back to May 18th, he has the best OPS among qualified full-season minor league players. Here is the entire top 10:

lonnie chisenhallChisenhall remains only 24 years old. He’s notably struggled defensively during this 19-game stretch, committing 7 errors at third base. But the offense has been extraordinary, even admittedly in a very small sample size.

In his 135-game MLB career, Chisenhall is batting .250/.286/.406. Those numbers were down across the board in 2013, despite being handed the starting position at third base. Most concerning for the Indians staff, he had 22 strikeouts against just 3 walks in 99 plate appearances. That was one of the specific items they mentioned upon his demotion on May 13th.

How is he doing thus far in Columbus? He has only 18 strikeouts along with an improved 11 walks in 110 plate appearances. Not anything exceptional, but certainly better.

Yet, it’s worth noting that Lonnie Baseball has never produced these dynamite numbers at any level before. His best full season in the minor leagues likely was in 2009 with High-A Kinston when he batted .276/.346/.492 with 18 homers and 79 RBI in 99 games.

Is he simply a AAAA player having a long stroke of good luck back against easier pitching? Perhaps, and he’s never going to be the most patient hitter in the world. The defense also is awful, but that’s not what he was sent down to Columbus to focus on. With the way his bat is performing, maybe it’s time for his return up I-71 to Cleveland.

[Related: The Diff: Update on top Cleveland Indians prospects]

The Diff: Update on top Cleveland Indians prospects

The Diff is your weekly Wednesday WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. Amazingly, this is already the 20th one I’ve written here at the site. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, The Diff looked deep into the stats of Nerlens Noel as the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. This week, it’s back to my roots: Cleveland Indians prospect talk.

The Diff

During most of the 2012 baseball season, I wrote a regular feature called the “WFNY Wednesday Wahoos“. Pre-The Diff, this was my weekly adventure into the stats and prospects world, where I could share updates and anecdotal ideas about the Cleveland Indians system. It’s been a long time since I did one of those, so as a special blast from the past, I’m dedicating this week’s The Diff to a similar construct as those old Wahoos. Hope you enjoy. All statistics below are current as of games played on Monday, June 3. [Read more...]

How good of a starting prospect is Danny Salazar?

danny salazarThe Cleveland Indians must have seen something in Danny Salazar before everyone else — and their early belief has paid off in a big way.

After the 2011 season, Cleveland’s organization surprised a lot of people by placing the 21-year-old right-hander on the official 40-man roster. Salazar actually had only made 15 starts in the previous two years because of Tommy John surgery and still hadn’t made it past the Single-A Midwest League with Lake County.

Yet, nearly 18 months after being protected from possible Rule 5 poaching, Salazar is rewarding the Tribe with the hottest start of any pitcher in professional baseball. In fact, following his fourth straight magnificent performance for Double-A Akron on Monday, he announced his own promotion to Triple-A Columbus on Twitter. And now, it’s time to wonder if he might be the best home-grown Cleveland pitching prospect in years. [Read more...]

Sunday Indians Notes: Beau Mills, the rotation and prospects

beau mills and tuve

Beau Mills and his bucking bulls: The Indians scoring 19 runs was not the strangest news I saw yesterday. No, not even close. It began with a pair of tweets from @Indians (here and here) sharing pictures of a young bucking bull named Tuve (after Astros infielder Jose Altuve) that happens to be owned by Indians third-base coach Brad Mills and his son Beau, Cleveland’s 1st-round pick in 2007.

I couldn’t believe it. The Mills family just owns a bull, named it after a Houston player and had it in front of Minute Maid Park on Saturday? So I Googled. And found the Plain Dealer‘s Paul Hoynes’ report from Friday night: It was true. Mills, the 26-year-old first baseman who the Indians pitched away to Cincinnati in June 2012, officially has retired from baseball and is raising several young bulls for a living. [Read more...]

Trevor Bauer, and the Indians’ starting pitching outlook

Trevor Bauer is a game-changer. Yes, the new Cleveland wunderkind is only 21 (he turns 22 in January) and has just 4 (bad) games of MLB experience under his belt, but his sheer presence drastically changes the starting pitching algorithm for the Cleveland Indians going forward.

Obviously, there’s a certain amount of risk associated with Bauer. I’d be amiss if I didn’t address that. According to all the reports out there, he’s eccentric, stubborn, abnormally intelligent, a bad rapper, practically revolutionary and thus, seemingly was at odds with Arizona’s upper management, which is why the No. 3 overall pick in 2011 was on the trade block at all. He could not become the star many expect him to be. That’s possible, and you always have to address that fact when dealing with a very limited MLB sample size.

But, undoubtedly, the UCLA product has more upside and MLB-readiness by far than any other starter in the entire Indians system. He could immediately slot into the starting rotation from day one — but it’s not exactly certain if that will be the case. Either way, with the Indians owning his rights through 2018 (at least), and the fact he’s dominated AA/AAA batters, he’s the bright future of the Indians pitching outlook for many years to come. [Read more...]

Box Score: Cavaliers 108, Clippers 101

The Cavaliers came out in this one sloppy, sluggish, and looking almost confused. It was an alarming start and most fans watching braced themselves for a long night. Little did we know how great of a game we were in for.

Kyrie Irving absolutely willed his team to life. In a breakout 1st quarter, Irving had 16 points to wake his team up and spark energy and belief into his team. And all of this against Chris Paul none the less. It was blossoming leadership and it was inspiring to watch.

The bench unit sans Luke Walton would actually manage to sustain the lead and when the starters took over, they were able to carry a 7 point lead into halftime.

In the 2nd half, though, it was the Dion Waiters show. The rookie went 7-11 from three to lead all scorers with 28 points. Waiters showed supreme confidence and star quality throughout the 2nd half. Kyrie Irving, who finished with 24 points of his own, seemed content to ride the hot hand in Waiters and again, showed great leadership in not trying to take the offensive focus away from Waiters.

There were so many positives in this game. Kyrie Irving’s clutch 3 to ice the game. Anderson Varejao with another double-double with 15 points and 15 boards. Tyler Zeller with a breakout game (15 points, 7 rebounds) before having to leave after taking an elbow to the face. CJ Miles with a big 10 points off the bench and some strong defensive plays. I could go on and on, but we’ll save it for tomorrow’s recap. For now, just enjoy this one, Cavs fans.

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
K. Irving G 37:20 8-23 4-8 4-5 +8 1 3 10 3 1 0 4 1 24
D. Waiters G 32:15 10-17 7-11 1-1 +3 0 3 1 1 0 0 0 2 28
A. Varejao C 36:06 7-10 0-0 1-2 +5 5 15 1 1 3 1 0 3 15
A. Gee F 33:33 2-8 0-2 4-4 +8 3 3 4 4 1 0 1 2 8
T. Thompson F 31:48 0-6 0-0 1-4 +5 4 8 1 3 3 1 3 5 1
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 40-92 14-29 14-22   18 43 24 17 12 2 13 18 108
Percentages .435 .483 .636   Team Rebounds: 14
T. Zeller 24:12 6-10 0-0 3-6 +1 4 7 2 3 1 0 0 3 15
D. Gibson 20:20 1-5 1-4 0-0 +4 0 3 3 0 1 0 2 1 3
C.J. Miles 14:27 4-7 2-3 0-0 -1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 10
D. Sloan 6:05 1-4 0-1 0-0 -1 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 2
S. Samuels 3:54 1-2 0-0 0-0 +3 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 2
O. Casspi DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Leuer DNP – Coach’s Decision
L. Walton DNP – Coach’s Decision

LA Clippers

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
C. Paul G 34:18 6-10 1-4 4-4 -9 1 5 9 2 1 0 1 4 17
W. Green G 21:08 3-4 1-2 2-2 -9 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 3 9
D. Jordan C 29:23 5-7 0-0 0-1 -4 1 6 0 3 0 5 1 2 10
B. Griffin F 35:24 9-14 0-1 2-2 -11 0 6 5 5 1 3 0 2 20
C. Butler F 21:45 4-9 3-6 0-0 -3 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 3 11
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 39-74 9-25 14-16   9 38 23 25 7 13 2 24 101
Percentages .527 .360 .875   Team Rebounds: 2
E. Bledsoe 25:38 3-10 0-2 5-6 +5 2 5 5 2 4 1 0 0 11
J. Crawford 25:05 7-13 4-8 1-1 -4 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 2 19
M. Barnes 16:06 0-4 0-2 0-0 -1 1 8 0 3 0 0 0 4 0
R. Turiaf 13:44 0-0 0-0 0-0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0
R. Hollins 13:29 1-1 0-0 0-0 -3 4 5 1 2 1 1 0 1 2
L. Odom 4:00 1-2 0-0 0-0 +5 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 2
 

Cavaliers Look to Shake Off Rough Weekend with First West Coast Game of the Season

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was a rough weekend for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they dropped both of their games Friday and Saturday night.

The Cavaliers showed us two very different types of losses, though. Friday night against Chicago was a reprise of the song we heard so many times last season. The Cavaliers fell behind by 16 in the first quarter and never really appeared too interested in playing and fighting back.

Here’s an example of how bad things were Friday night. With 4:41 left in the 1st, Kyrie Irving hit a 10 foot jumper to pull the Cavaliers to a 19-15 deficit. Here’s how the remaining first quarter possessions for the Cavaliers went:

[Read more...]

2012-13 NBA Blogger Previews: Pacific Division

For the past several years, the great Boston Celtics blog CelticsBlog.com has hosted an annual NBA Bloggers Preview. Basically, every day leading up to the start of the season, one team is previewed by some of the best writers on their team blogs, and then once the division is done, we will post the links to all the previews.

The Cavaliers preview day is tomorrow, so check back then for our preview of the upcoming season. In the meantime, though, check out all the excellent links below to start getting your fill of NBA goodness before the season starts.

Can Andrew Bogut stay healthy this season, and if so, what will his impact on the Warriors be?

[Read more...]

Indians recall RHP Frank Herrmann

The Tribe recalled 28 year old RHP reliever Frank Herrmann from Triple-A Columbus. Herrmann, 0-0 in four appearances with the Tribe (giving up 3 runs in 5.2 innings), was 2-2 with 8 saves in 42 relief appearances with Columbus. Herrmann has a career 4.64 ERA in 106.2 innings.

[Related: Looking for Leaders in the Cleveland Indians Clubhouse]

Indians Roster Notes: Lopez Released, Tomlin to Have Arm Evaluated

For the fourth time this month, the Indians announced today they have released a veteran player DFA’d 10 days earlier. This time, it was utility infielder Jose Lopez, following in the footsteps of, chronologically, Johnny Damon, Jeremy Accardo and Derek Lowe.

Indians beat writers, who had a nice Twitter fling with Lopez throughout the season, were saddened by the announcement:

In other notable Indians roster notes, recently-converted reliever Josh Tomlin will have his right arm examined in Cleveland this week. He was originally rumored to see well-known specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum while the team is in Southern California this week, but supposedly the doctor is unavailable.

According to various Twitter reports, Tomlin has fought elbow soreness dating back to last season, possibly resulting in his poor performance to date this year: 5-8 with a 5.82 ERA in 20 games (16 starts).

It’s very possible that Tomlin will be moved to the DL this week to make room for Roberto Hernandez, who is scheduled to start Wednesday. It is also possible that lefty Chris Seddon or righty Corey Kluber also could go back to Columbus, while outfielders Matt LaPorta or Russ Canzler could be activated from the Clippers roster (h/t @MLBastian).

[Related: Contention Windows and Depth Charts: Analyzing the Cleveland Indians’ Future]

Contention Windows and Depth Charts: Analyzing the Cleveland Indians’ Future

The youth movement is underway in Cleveland, or so we think. With the Indians now 52-61 and out of playoff contention here in 2012, the focus of the organization and fans has turned to the future.

The WFNY crew was debating recently about how bright that future looks. As the resident minor league guru, I took it upon myself to analyze the organizational depth chart, from Akron through Cleveland, along with all guys listed on the 40-man roster and 60-day disabled list.

This experiment should provide some basic knowledge about how competitive the Indians might be in 2013 and possibly 2014, and what some areas of need are in the upcoming offseason. Share your comments below about what’s on your mind concerning the Tribe’s future. [Read more...]

WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 8/1

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. [Read more...]

WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 7/25

Each and every Wednesday, I try to bring you all of the news and notes from the Cleveland Indians minor league system. Enjoy.

And the trading madness has begun. … Oh wait. The Indians have only acquired IF/OF Brent Lillibridge thus far? That’s not that incredibly exciting then. But Tuesday’s series-opening victory over Detroit sure got Cleveland fans back in the excitement of the playoff race, at least. [Read more...]

Indians Bullpen Moves: Cody Allen Up, Scott Barnes Down

The Indians announced another swap in the bullpen this afternoon, with young righty Cody Allen coming up from AAA Columbus to replace lefty Scott Barnes:

Allen, 23, hits in the mid-90s with his fastball and also has a good slider. He also was drafted by the Indians in the 16th round in 2010, but failed to sign. After starting in High-A Carolina in April, he has shot up through the system and emerged as one of the organization’s top prospects.

Barnes, 24, was acquired in the Ryan Garko trade with the San Francisco Giants in 2009. He had an 8.10 ERA in 7 bullpen appearances for the Tribe, allowing 12 hits and seven walks against 10 strikeouts in 10.0 IP. He was just recently converted to the ‘pen in May with Columbus, and went 7-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) last year for the Clips before tearing his ACL in July.

This now means that Tony Sipp is the lone lefty pitcher for Cleveland. Meanwhile, rehabbing lefty reliever Rafael Perez (lat strain) pitched a scoreless inning for Columbus on Wednesday and could be back in Cleveland by next week.

[Related: WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 7/18]

WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 7/18

Each and every Wednesday, I try to bring you all of the news and notes from the Cleveland Indians minor league system. Enjoy.

Last Thursday, I traveled off to Lake County to get the scoop on the Captains. Also included in this week’s edition of the Wahoos is the latest on some top prospects’ hot streaks, a no-hitter, some reliever promotions and a rehabbing lefty on his way back to Cleveland soon. We’re officially less than two weeks away from the trade deadline, so stay tuned next week for plenty on more on possible trades. [Read more...]