September 2013

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

Month in review: August

titoLast August was Cleveland’s downward spiral. This August, it was all about survival.

You might call it The Mark Reynolds Effect — the fact that the Indians’ slugging percentage has declined each month since April. Reynolds’ slump, and subsequent release, coincide with the Tribe’s regression on offense as a whole. In August, there were slumps on top of slumps, and virtually every batter struggled in the month.

Here’s the thing, though.

Even after a 1-5 trip through Atlanta and Detroit, the Indians are still in this thing. The Tribe sat 3.5 games back in race for second Wild Card, entering Monday.

“We’ve played ourselves positively and negatively into a position where every game means so much,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I can think of a lot worse scenarios. I can think of a few better, but I can think of a lot worse.

“The fact that it’s September, and every time we go out there it’s so meaningful, that’s good.”

Here is a look at the month that was for the Indians…

Record: 12-16
Home: 4-7
Road: 8-9

Offense (AL rank)

.229 average (14)
.295 on-base (15)
.362 slugging (15)
.658 OPS (15)
92 runs (14)
221 hits (13)
45 doubles (t-6)
3 triples (t-11)
26 home runs (t-9)
86 RBI (15)
86 walks (t-10)
217 strikeouts (7)
18 stolen bases (8)
74 extra-base hits (9)
350 total bases (14)

Notes: The Indians suffered their worst single month in terms of offense since, well, last August. Over the past 20 seasons, Cleveland has had three months with an OPS of .658 or worse: August 2013, August 2012 and June 2011. Over past 20 seasons, only in August 2013, August 2012 and April 2005 did the team have an OBP of .295 or lower. Prior to this August, Cleveland hadn’t turned in a slash line of .230/.295/.365 or worse since June of 1991 (.230/.294/.295).

Pitching (AL rank)

12 wins (t-10)
3.77 ERA (6)
4.10 rot. ERA (7)
3.25 bullpen ERA (5)
7 saves (t-8)
255.2 innings (6)
242 hits (6)
117 runs (9)
107 earned runs (7)
19 home runs (1)
107 walks (14)
257 strikeouts (1)
.249 average (4)
1.37 WHIP (9)

Notes: This marked only the sixth time since at least 1916 that the Indians had a month with 250-plus strikeouts and 100-plus walks. The Tribe also did so in May earlier this season, but prior to that the club hadn’t had a month like that since the ’60s (August 1967, September 1965, July 1964, June 1964). September of ’65 was the last time the Indians had 250/100 and an ERA of 3.77 or better. This was the first time since September 1989 that Cleveland had an ERA of 3.77 or better with at least 16 losses in a single month. Add 200 strikeouts to the mix, and the Indians hadn’t done it since August of 1968.

INDIANS PLAYER HONORS

Player of the month: C Yan Gomes
Stats: .281/.361/.422/.783, 2 HR, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 6 R, 18 H, 19 games

Notes: In a month with very few individual offensive standouts, Gomes seemed to be the best choice. He led the Indians’ regulars in average and on-base percentage for August and assumed the bulk of the playing time behind the plate (156 innings).

Previous 2013 winners: C Carlos Santana (co-winner, April), INF Mark Reynolds (co-winner, April), 2B Jason Kipnis (May, June), LF Michael Brantley (July)

Pitcher of the month: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Stats: 1-4, 3.10 ERA, 29 IP, 37 K, 13 BB, 1.38 WHIP, .241 AVG, 5 starts

Notes: It is hard to turn in an ERA of 3.10 and lose four games. In fact, Jimenez’s month marked the first time since June 2002 (Chuck Finley) that an Indians starter lost at least four games with an ERA of 3.10 or better. The last to do so, while also having at least 35 strikeouts, was Gaylord Perry in September of 1974.

Previous 2013 winners: Masterson (April, May), Jimenez (June), LHP Scott Kazmir (July)

Reliever of the month: LHP Marc Rzepczyski
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 K, 4 BB, 0.86 WHIP, .150 AVG, 13 games

Notes: This marked only the third time since at least 1916 that an Indians pitcher enjoyed a single-month with an opponents’ batting average of .150 or better and no earned runs allowed in at least 13 games (no starts). The others: Matt Miller in August 2004 and Paul Assenmacher in July 1997.

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Joe Smith (April), RHP Cody Allen (May), RHP Vinnie Pestano (June), RHP Chris Perez (July)

Game of the month (hitter): Ryan Raburn, Aug. 1, during 6-1 win over White Sox
Stat line: 3-for-4 with 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 9 TB

Notes: Raburn turned in his second two-homer, three-hit, four-RBI game of the season, making him the first player to have two such games in one year for the Indians since 2011 (Asdrubal Cabrera). Raburn became the first Tribe outfielder to have two such games in one season since 1999 (Manny Ramirez).

Game of the month (pitcher): Jimenez, Aug. 29, during 3-1 loss at Braves
Stat line: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K

Notes: For the first time in his career, Jimenez finished a start with 10-plus strikeouts and no walks. Unfortunately, one ill-time mistake cost him in the form of a three-run homer to Atlanta’s Brian McCann. Jimenez became first Indians pitcher since 1976 to go 0-2 in back-to-back 10-plus strikeout games.

The monthly Minor League awards for August/September, along with my picks for the top players and pitchers of the year, will be posted following the completion of the Minor League season.

Previously…

Month in review: July
Month in review: June
Month in review:
May
Month in review:
April

–JB

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