Peering into the future

Pomeranz2.jpgDrew Pomeranz was firing baseballs with his left hand and Alex White was doing the same with his right.

They were doing so next to one another on a row of mounds at the Indians player development complex on Thursday morning. The moment was not lost on Indians manager Manny Acta.

Especially considering pitching prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryce Stowell were also in this particular group.

“That was fun,” Acta said with a smile. “I don’t know how they were able to put that group together, but it was beautiful to see those four guys. I was just talking to some of our coaches and I said, ‘This is it. This is the next wave right here.’ It’s exciting.”

Pomeranz (pictured to the left) was the Tribe’s top pick in the 2010 Draft. White was the same the year before. Hagadone was one of the prospects reeled in in the Victor Martinez trade with Boston and Stowell is an up-and-coming relief prospect who could see the bigs this year.

Watching them work on Thursday during the team’s first official workout of the spring was special for Acta.

“Alex White is knocking the door to being a very good pitcher up here,” said the manager, “and Pomeranz is going to be an impact guy. Hagadone, everybody knows how well he was thought of in the Boston system and in our system. Bryce Stowell has one of those power arms that you need in the American League.

“I know that there were no hitters standing up there, but those guys are going to be able to get guys out.”

White, 22 features three fastballs — four-seam, two-seam, cutter — along with a slider and a split. He said his focus for this spring and this season is to become more consistent and trusting with his offspeed pitches. White appears set to head to Triple-A with the possibility of seeing the Major Leagues later this summer.

“There’s a lot of things [to work on],” White said. “Consistency would be the biggest one. Consistency in my delivery and in my offspeed pitches. There’d be times where I had great offspeed pitches one night and there’d be times that I didn’t. I just want that consistency of having good stuff every time I go out.”

Pomeranz, also 22 years old, is listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds.

“He’s a big boy,” Acta said.

Pomeranz is the impact lefty that the Indians lack in their current rotation. He features a plus curve, four-seam and two-seam fastballs, and a changeup. He’s on a similar path as White was when he was Drafted. So expect Pomeranz to open with a Class A affiliate with the goal of possibly reaching as high as Double-A this year.

“I had my meeting with the coaches the other day,” Pomeranz said, “and they just talked about getting experience and learning stuff from all the guys [here in big league camp]. Obviously, a lot of these guys are successful people because they’re in the big leagues. Basically, I’m just being a student of the game here.”

Notes  from Thursday…

  • Acta1b.jpgAs things currently stand, the Indians could open with five right-handed pitchers in their rotation. Two lefty candidates for the fifth spot are David Huff and Aaron Laffey. Asked if in a perfect world he’d like to have a lefty in the rotation, Acta quipped, “In a perfect world, I would take five Roy Halladays.” So I asked, “What about three Docs and two CCs?” Acta laughed and replied, “Five Docs.”
  • Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) took part in some early batting practice on Thursday. Throwing to Sizemore? Indians media relations director Bart Swain. With his last swing of the session, Sizemore homered to the opposite field. Bart’s cutter needs a little more fine-tuning.
  • Acta said that first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. takes special care in matching pitchers with certain catchers during bullpen sessions during Spring Training. “It’s strategic,” Acta said. That’s why on Thursday, for example, Carlos Santana, and not someone like Minor League catcher Chun Chen, was behind the plate for White (a possible big leaguer this year).
  • Speaking of Chen, both GM Chris Antonetti and Acta have raved about him as a prospect. Beyond getting working on his defense behind the plate, though, Chen also needs to work on his English. “That’s very important for a catcher,” Acta said. Chen, a native of Taiwan, actually knows more Spanish than English right now.
  • Right now, the general thought is that the Indians rotation will be 1. Fausto Carmona, 2. Justin Masterson, 3. Mitch Talbot and 4. Carlos Carrasco, followed by the winner of the fifth starter competition. That said, Acta noted that the specific order behind Carmona “doesn’t matter” right now. So, come Opening Day, it’s not set in stone that it will be Masterson, Talbot and Carrasco occupying the Nos. 2-4 spots in that order.
  • Speaking of Carmona and Masterson, Acta foresees great things for them in 2011 (what else would you expect him to say, really?). He said he feels Carmona’s 2010 showing was nearly as impressive as his ’07 performance considering the offensive support. Acta also said he feels Masterson is on the cusp of a breakout year.
  • Acta has been singing and tweeting the praises of right-hander Carlos Carrasco ever since the manager arrived to Arizona. That did not change on Thursday, when the manager had this to say about the young starter: “He has the stuff to be one of the best guys in the American League, period.”
  • It seems like every year, just about every team holds a competition for the backup catching job during Spring Training. The Indians are no different this year. Acta made it clear that Lou Marson (the only rostered backup candidate) did not have a leg up on the other catchers in camp. Acta went as far as to say that Luke Carlin, Paul Phillips and Juan Apodaca were all in the mix for the backup role.
  • If Huff is going to win the fifth starter’s job, it sounds like he might have to have a fantastic spring showing. Acta said the Indians “aren’t giving up” on Huff (11-8 for the Tribe in ’09 and then 2-11 in ’10), but later in the discussion about the lefty, the manager added, “Peoples’ moods change with results. We need to see results.”

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Photo of the day:

Choo.jpg

Big League Choo

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Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned…

–JB

10 Comments

I can’t help but get excited about White and Pomeranz for the future. I know they’re prospects, but if both pan out, pairing those two up with Carmona, Masterson (if he continues to improve) and Carrasco could be something special. It’s in the future, and injuries happen so cross your fingers… http://tribeinscribe.blogspot.com/

I think I randomly threw it out there before, but now I honestly believe that Laffey has a decent shot as making the rotation. His performance as a starter is substantially better than Huff’s, so in a battle of lefties it’s not even close. I also don’t think the right handed candidates are so overpowering as to beat him out. Given we’re already going to carry two lefties in the ‘pen and the fact that we appear to have some depth there, Laffey starting again seems like a real possibility.

Laffey as a starter? Ugh! Where is AC pointing out that he went 3-2 with something like a 2.79 ERA over 5 starts in May of God knows what year. But your points are valid. There is no real need to carry 3 LHPs in the bullpen and Laffey has as good a shot at the 5th SP spot as Gomez or Tomlin I suppose. I just don’t like the guy.

amseeley – “AC” left us quite some time ago. The new “beat reporter” is Jordan Bastain. While neither one are good choices, I’d prefer Laffey over Huff, anyday.

tribetime1, you’re lucky I’m in a good mood otherwise I would roast you. Your obvious sardonic tone was noted though.

While I have been following JB’s blog EVERY day and welcomed him on his arrival to our fair city my posting was an inside joke to LACF about how AC felt about Aaron Laffey. I was always tough on AC about Laffey. My post was simply a Castronauts inside joke that I was throwing at LACF. Plain and simple. No disrespect to JB was intended for mentioning his predecessor and I would not think that JB took it that way.

amsilly – glad u r in a good mood. Oh my ! Heaven forbid that you roast me !!! Geez…… hope my “sardine tone” wasn’t too well noted ?
The 4 man rotation +/Laffey could/should be a good rotation to start with, after that, I’m sure adjustments will be made, as needed.
GO TRIBE,………. let’s make a run this year !!!!!!

JB, your tag line about the pen reminds me of that SNL skit of Sean Connery on Jeopardy. I’m not going to go any further than that.

As far as Laffey is concerned, I agree with LACF about him starting the year in the rotation. When he’s been healthy, he’s a reasonable 5th starter and we need that lefty. Laffey runs into trouble when they bounce him around from the rotation to relief. With the healthy offseason he’s had and assuming they stretch him out as a starter and he wins the right to that fifth spot, I think he has the potential to surprise. I’m not talking ace material here, but a solid 4.0 ERA is certainly in the cards, which ain’t bad for a #5.

tribetime1, you overstep your boundaries and act like an ignorant child in a situation that had absolutely nothing to do with you and your response is to continue this behavior? I feel sad for you and I’m done with this back and forth. There is no need for this. Lets talk some baseball.

the photo of pomeranz is uncanny if you look back at 50 yrs ago. facially, left handed, size, overpowering stuff it is deja vu almost the comparison I am trying to make is sudden sam mc dowell they look alike a lot alike lets hope the flame is strong as 50 yrs ago for Sudden Sam McDowell , as for a few short ears he pitched as if he would be a sure fire hall of fame pitcher who just had demons overwhelm him.

If anybody ever see’s my post here it is 3yrs later. If Manny-non-Acta liked those 4 pitchers and said they were the new wave back then and said he was excited. Any wonder why he’s a baseball commentater now? Hey Manny the WAVE CRASHED

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