Minor League play has just about hit the one month mark. Here’s a look at who shined and who struggled down on the farm in the first month of action.
(Note: Stats only through April)
AAA Columbus Clippers
Out In Front:
RHP Preston Guilmet (0-1 1.46 ERA 12.1 IP 8 SV) – Guilmet is tied with former Indian Jairo Asencio for the International League lead in saves. At every level he’s been at, Guilmet has been reliable at the back end of the bullpen and continues to be a strike thrower. He doesn’t throw particularly hard but might be one of the last pitchers to throw a splitter. His over the top delivery plays up an average fastball and makes his other pitches very deceptive. He’s not yet on the 40 man roster but that could change at some point this year.
RHP Trevor Bauer (1-0 2.50; 24/6 K/BB ratio) Bauer has the results in his favor at AAA but in both of his starts he struggled with his command much like he did in the major leagues. The results in AAA come from facing hitters who are in the minors for a reason. They can’t hit big league pitching because they chase the wrong pitches. Some of the spots Bauer throws to in AAA, hitters will swing at. Miguel Cabrera or a Billy Butler, won’t chase some of those. An NL scout who watched Bauer in his April 19th start against Toledo said that he graded out all of his pitches at least above average. He was extremely impressed with Bauer but made sure to note his command was “poor”. A lot of people think he belongs in the big leagues now. Bauer’s day will come but he’s proven he needs to work on his command at AAA.
Note: 1B/OF Matt LaPorta was added to the Columbus roster towards the end of the month and hit two home runs in his first two games back. He was in extended spring training in Arizona rehabbing from hip surgery.
Off To A Slow Start:
OF Tim Fedroff (.226, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 2B) Evidenced by the fact that the Indians picked of OF Ezequiel Carerra as en emergency OF while OF Michael Bourn gets healthy rather than bring up Fedroff or any of the other outfielders, things didn’t go well for Fedroff, who was the only outfielder at AAA on the Indians 40 man roster. At best, Fedroff was probably a fourth outfielder but a slow start forced the Indians to look externally for a short term fill in and remove 1B Mike McDade from the 40 man and expose him to waivers.
AA Akron Aeros
Out In Front
1B/DH Chun Chen (.351 3HR 16RBI .558 SLG) Most, if not all of Chen’s value is tied to his bat. His ability to hit has never been a question. The Eastern League circuit can be a tough one for hitters to adjust to at times and give that he plays half of his games in the spacious Canal Park, his numbers could have easily taken a bigger hit. In 2012 his average (.308) crept back up from a low 2011 but his power disappeared quite a bit. After hitting 16 home runs in his first year in Akron in 2011, he hit just five home runs (through he did notch 30 doubles) but so far in 2013, he’s had the best of both worlds as a hitter.
RHP Danny Salazar (1-3 3.57 ERA; 22.2 IP 31K/7BB) Salazar has settled in at the top of the rotation for the Aeros and has been almost dominating at times over the Eastern League. His fastball has been sitting mid 90s in plenty of his starts. Given the Indians all the sudden lack of pitching depth, it wouldn’t be a shock if he is moved to Columbus at some point this year, he’s certainly earned it. The Indians already moved LHP Giovanni Soto to the bullpen for at leas the time being and many feel that may be where Salazar might be best suited for, but there’s nothing right now that suggests he can’t be a starter other than needing to increase his work load.
LHP T.J. House was promoted to AAA Columbus after four terrific starts with the Aeros. (3-1 3.22; 22.1 IP; 27K.3BB). The lefty has learned to throw all of his pitches for strikes in any count. His normally solid control became even better and he should have a shot at making his major league debut at some point this season
Off To A Slow Start:
RHP Shawn Armstrong (6.35 ERA 5.2 IP) Armstrong has been sent back to Arizona for rehab for what is a problem somewhere in his pitching arm. There’s a good chance the injury will keep him out for the season. He had a rough few starts to the season and likely had a shot to make his big league debut as a September call up, but that seems unlikely now.
C Alex Lavisky – Lavisky was backing up Roberto Perez to start the year in Akron after oddly skipping High-A Carolina, something uncommon but his teammate Jose Ramirez did the same thing. Lavisky however has a broken toe and is in Arizona rehabbing. He might be tracked for a backup role anyway but his injury now puts him further behind at this point. The Indians love his athleticism behind the plate and his game calling, as well as his power. But he may not be an everyday starter.
High-A Carolina Mudcats
Out In Front
SS Francisco Lindor (.341 1 HR 10 RBI .406/.505) Lindor has made quick work of Carolina League pitchers, a league that often favors pitchers because of the size of the league (eight teams). His 13K/10BB ratio early is very nice too for the league he’s in. He’s already off to a hot May. I predicted at some point this year that they’d have to move him to AA-Akron, but with Ronny Rodriguez in front of him right now (for the time being and having no where else to put him right now) he’ll continue to man shortstop for Carolina and haunt the league’s pitchers.
RHP Cody Anderson (3-0 2.25; 28IP 18K/9BB) Anderson was converted from a college closer to starter last year as the Indians monitored his innings towards the end of the season. So far he’s been the Mudcats top starter. There’s a lot to like about Anderson’s arm as the Indians continue to bring it around while stretching him out.
Off To A Slow Start:
C Jake Lowery (.195 in 12 games) Lowery started the year in Carolina in 2012 but struggled and swapped places with C Alex Monsalve. He played regularly last year at the end of the season for the Captains. With the Indians switching Tony Wolters from second base to catcher, they may not view Lowery as an option going forward. He’s currently with the Akron Aeros backing up Roberto Perez because of Lavisky’s injury and Charlie Valerio is getting the bulk of the at bats in Carolina after basically skipping Lake County. Lowery has fallen off the pace after having some real promise once he was drafted.
Low-A Lake County Captains
Out In Front :
OF LeVon Washington (.563 ; 9-16 in five games) The Captains as a whole have been off to a slow start and despite playing in just five games, Washington has been a boost to that lineup. He’s made an impact whenever he’s been at the top of the lineup. If he continues to stay healthy and hopefully gets the clear to play everyday from here on out, he’ll have the chance to prove he’s a real threat as a table setter. OF Luigi Rodriguez is up with the Mudcats and probably won’t be back with the Captains again so the playing time is there for WashTime to make a full return.
RHP Michael Peoples (15IP 18K/2bb 1-0 1.20) Peoples has been the best reliever of a very shaky bunch with the Captains. He’s been able to give the Captains multiple innings or one dominant inning at a time so far. His control and ability to pitch out of jams, particularly other people’s jams, have him off to a solid start.
Off To A Slow Start
SS Dorssys Paulino (.208 0HR 5RBI 20 GP, 10 E) Paulino might have been affected by the cold and being just 18 years old in a full season league and could have him in over his head. It could be considered an aggressive move to have him in Lake County to start the year. He’s been bothered by a neck injury and has struggled both at the plate and in the field. His defense was already a question coming in and has done nothing to dispel that notion. He is only 18 and has plenty of time to work, but for the hype he came into Lake County with, it’s been a tough April for one of the Indians top prospects.
RHP Felix Sterling (0-3 11.57 12 ER; 9.1 IP) Sterling has been toxic to any lead or tie game for the Captains this year. He struggles with his command and when he does find the plate, the ball has been getting ripped apart by opposing hitters. Coming into 2012, he was high on a lot prospect lists. He was sent back to Arizona last season after a rough start to the season. He returned to Lake County for a third time and hasn’t been productive on the mound at all.