2013 Indians Minor League standouts

FrazierOver the past couple of years, the Indians have boasted about the wealth of talent at the Class A levels of their farm system. This year, if you are looking for hope for Cleveland’s future, the time has come to start taking a glimpse at Double-A.

This season, the Indians’ top prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, and 2012 top pick Tyler Naquin ascended to Double-A Akron, which also featured a powerful one-two punch in Jesus Aguilar and Carlos Moncrief. Infielder Jose Ramirez — one of the Tribe’s surprising September call-ups — also spent the year in Akron. It is a talented class that could be knocking on the Triple-A door in 2014.

That is good news, because the cupboard at Triple-A Columbus was rather bare this season. That is clear enough when outfielder Jeremy Hermida — a 29-year-old veteran of a eight big league seasons spent between five teams — was the Clippers’ offensive player of the year. The depth at Triple-A was lacking this year, to the extent that Cleveland brought in veterans Kelly Shoppach and Jason Kubel from outside the organization as September reinforcements.

So, hope resided in Akron, as well as in the system’s lower rungs.

Most notably, Cleveland’s trio of first-rounders from the past three Drafts had strong showings.

The 19-year-old Lindor (selected with the eighth overall pick in 2011) led Cleveland’s farm system in average (.303), adding 25 stolen bases, 31 extra-base hits, 34 RBI and 65 runs before a lower back injury ended his season. The switch-hitting shortstop ended with more walks (49) than strikeouts (46).

Naquin — the 22-year-old outfielder out of Texas A&M — hit .269 with a .739 OPS in 126 games between tours with Class A (high) Carolina and Double-A Akron. The outfielder showed off a cannon of an arm (11 assists) and finished with 10 homers, 30 doubles, six triples, 15 stolen bases, 48 RBI and 78 runs.

Outfielder Clint Frazier, 18 (pictured) made his pro debut with the Arizona League (Rookie level) Indians after being taken with the fifth overall pick in the June Draft this summer. In 44 games, all Frazier did was hit .297 with an .868 OPS, collecting 21 extra-base hits, 28 RBI and 32 runs in AZL play.

At the big league level, the Indians have quickly turned the page on a 94-loss season by staying within shouting distance of the American League Wild Card race. A handful of Cleveland’s top prospects provide hope that the organization can continue to hold its ground, especially at some key positions around the diamond.

There were certainly disappointments this season — chief among them, pitching prospect Trevor Bauer — but here is a look at Cleveland’s standouts from this year’s Minor League season:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MoncriefOutfielder Carlos Moncrief

The easy pick here would be first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who launched 16 home runs and knocked in 105 RBI, but it was the 24-year-old Moncrief who had the better all-around offensive season.

Over 129 games, Moncrief hit .284 with an .824 OPS, belting 17 homers, churning out 50 extra-base hits while delivering 75 RBI and stealing 15 bases. Remarkable was Moncrief’s reduction in strikeouts this year, too.

Moncrief (taken in the 14th round of the 2008 Draft) whiffed 98 times in 489 at-bats after piling up 284 strikeouts across 817 at-bats in his previous two seasons. A former pitcher, Moncrief has improved his OPS each season as a pro since converting to the outfield: .693 (2010), .768 (2011), .804 (2012), .824 (2013).

PITCHER OF THE YEAR

SalazarRight-hander Danny Salazar

The 23-year-old Salazar has already advanced to the Major League stage, where he has a 3.00 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 33 innings for the Indians, but his work on the farm is worthy of the Pitcher of the Year nod.

In 93 innings, the hard-throwing Salazar amassed 129 strikeouts against 24 walks, posting a 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and .211 opponents’ batting average. He did so while limited to an average of 70 pitches per appearance between Double-A and Triple-A.

His showing was a continuation of 2012, during which Salazar went 5-2 with a 2.36 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 27 walks in 87 2/3 innings between stops with Class A (high) Carolina and Akron. The Indians have been careful with Salazar’s work load since he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010. Heading into 2014, Salazar (signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006) will be primed for a full-time rotation opportunity with Cleveland.

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MINOR LEAGUE YEARLY PICKS

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Year: OF Jeremy Hermida
Stats: .247/.365/.416/.781, 17 HR, 23 2B, 3 3B, 66 RBI, 88 BB, 62 R, 117 H, 132 games

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Preston Guilmet
Stats: 1.68 ERA, 20-for-24 saves, 64.1 IP, 72 K, 14 BB, 0.89 WHIP, .182 AVG, 49 games

Double-A Akron

Player of the Year: OF Carlos Moncrief
Stats: .284/.354/.470/.824, 17 HR, 26 2B, 7 3B, 75 RBI, 15 SB, 77 R, 139 H, 129 games

Pitcher of the Year: LHP Matt Packer
Stats: 12-9, 3.27 ERA, 154 IP, 119 K, 44 BB, 1.40 WHIP, .286 AVG, 28 games (25 starts)

Class A (high) Carolina

Player of the Year: 2B Joe Wendle
Stats: .295/.372/.513/.885, 16 HR, 32 2B, 5 3B, 64 RBI, 10 SB, 73 R, 122 H, 107 games

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Cody Anderson
Stats: 9-4, 2.34 ERA, 123.1 IP, 112 K, 31 BB, 1.10 WHIP, .236 AVG, 23 starts

Class A (high) Lake County

Player of the Year: OF Logan Vick
Stats: .281/.413/.407/.820, 5 HR, 23 2B, 3 3B, 45 RBI, 25 SB, 81 BB, 61 R, 98 H, 108 games

Pitcher of the Year: RHP D. J. Brown
Stats: 2.71 ERA, 66.1 IP, 71 K, 20 BB, 1.19 WHIP, .238 AVG, 27 games (2 starts)

Short-Season Affiliates
Mahoning Valley, Arizona League, Dominican Summer League

Player of the Year: OF Clint Frazier, Arizona League
Stats: .297/.362/.506/.868, 5 HR, 11 2B, 5 3B, 28 RBI, 32 R, 51 H, 44 games

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Cole Sulser, Mahoning Valley
Stats: 2.06 ERA, 48 IP, 50 K, 9 BB, 0.94 WHIP, .206 AVG, 14 games (8 starts)

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MINOR LEAGUE STANDOUTS FOR AUGUST

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: OF Matt Carson
Stats: .314/.368/.500/.868, 3 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 11 RBI, 10 R, 22 H, 21 games

Previous 2013 winners:

OF Jeremy Hermida (April), INF Cord Phelps (May, June), 3B Ryan Rohlinger (July)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Bryan Price
Stats: 0.53 ERA, 17 IP, 17 K, 1 BB, 0.53 WHIP, .143 AVG, 9 games

Previous 2013 winners:

RHP Preston Guilmet (April, June), RHP Carlos Carrasco (May), RHP Danny Salazar (July)

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: 1B Jesus Aguilar
Stats: .308/.352/.477/.829, 5 HR, 3 2B, 26 RBI, 16 R, 33 H, 28 games

Previous 2013 winners:

1B/DH Chun Chen (April), C Roberto Perez (May), OF Carlos Moncrief (June, July)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Kyle Crockett
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 10.1 IP, 9 K, 2 BB, 0.87 WHIP, .200, 9 games

Previous 2013 winners:

LHP T.J. House (April), RHP Jose Flores (May), LHP Matt Packer (June, July)

Class A (high) Carolina

Player of the Month: OF Jordan Smith
Stats: .369/.478/.550/1.027, 2 HR, 10 2B, 2 3B, 17 RBI, 23 BB, 22 R, 41 H, 29 games

Previous 2013 winners:

SS Francisco Lindor (April), OF Luigi Rodriguez (May), 2B Joe Wendle (June),  3B Paddy Matera (July)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Louis Head
Stats: 1.65 ERA, 16.1 IP, 22 K, 0 BB, 0.61 WHIP, .172 AVG, 9 games

Previous 2013 winners:

RHP Cody Anderson (April, May, June, July)

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: C Eric Haase
Stats: .318/.408/.515/.923, 3 HR, 4 2B, 11 RBI, 10 BB, 11 R, 21 H, 19 games

Previous 2013 winners:

OF Logan Vick (April), OF LeVon Washington (May), 2B Yhoxian Medina (June), 1B Joseph Sever (July)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Grant Sides
Stats: 1.72 ERA, 15.2 IP, 20 K, 5 BB, 0.89 WHIP, .170 AVG, 12 games

Previous 2013 winners:

RHP Michael Peoples (April), LHP Ryan Merritt (May), RHP Josh Martin (June), RHP D.J. Brown (July)

Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: INF Claudio Bautista
Stats: .253/.299/.363/.662, 7 XBH, 6 RBI, 10 R, 23 H, 24 games

Previous 2013 winners:

Bautista (June), 1B Nellie Rodriguez (July)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Trevor Frank
Stats: 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP, 19 K, 0 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .205 AVG, 8 games

Previous 2013 winners:

LHP Harold Guerrero (June), LHP Kyle Crockett (July)

Arizona League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: INF Grant Fink
Stats: .311/.370/.486/.857, 1 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 14 RBI, 13 R, 23 H, 20 games

Previous 2013 winners:

OF Clint Frazier (June, July)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Sean Brady
Stats: 2.37 ERA, 19 IP, 17 K, 4 BB, 0.95 WHIP, .197 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners:

LHP Anderson Polanco (June), Brady (July)

Dominican Summer League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: 1B Juan Carlos Moncion
Stats: .235/.299/.397/.696, 2 HR, 5 2B, 11 RBI, 6 R, 16 H, 20 games

Previous 2013 winners:

2B Erlin Cerda (June), OF Hector Caro (July)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Daniel Gomez
Stats: 0.36 ERA, 25 IP, 19 K, 6 BB, 1.00 WHIP, .204 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners:

RHP Edward Estrella (June), RHP Francisco Lopez (July)

–JB

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