A Minor League Stop In Lake County
November 18, 2008
Stop number three on my minor league tour went into the books a few weeks back, this time at Single-A Lake County. I actually completed this visit back on July 13th, but due to a vacation and a large amount of material to cover for Minor Happenings the past few weeks, the posting of this writeup was delayed. Also, be sure to check my previous writeups for my visits to Mahoning Valley and Akron.
I ended up picking a great night to go to the game and tour the facility and talk to the players. Not only was it a beautiful night, but several of the Indians top scouts and most of the minor league decision-makers were in attendance. One of those people in attendance was Farm Director Ross Atkins whom I had a chance to sit down and talk to about several prospects at Lake County and throughout the system. During my visit I took a lot of pictures and video, so I'll be brief with my comments and let the pictures and video do most of the talking.
Before I get started with a recap of the visit, here is some background on the franchise. The franchise started back in 1991 as an expansion team in the South Atlantic League in Columbus, GA and called themselves the "Indians" in 1991 and then changed their name to the "Red Stixx" in 1992. In 2003, they re-located to Eastlake, Ohio and became known as the Lake County Captains. In that inaugural 2003 season in Eastlake, the Captains put up the best winning percentage in all of baseball, and finished 97-43 (.693) and lost in the South Atlantic League Championship Series to Rome.
The move to Eastlake, OH has brought yet another one of the Indians minor league affiliates closer to the homebase operations in Cleveland. Also, there is a strong following in Eastlake and the surrounding cities, as the Captains set all sorts of attendance records in 2003. And, even though the Captains have failed to make the playoffs since that inaugural campaign, they still draw well.
The stadium is located in Eastlake at the corner of the very busy intersection at Vine Street and Route 91, and there is a pedestrian bridge that allows fans to walk from the main parking lot across the street and over the busy four-lane highway Route 91 to the stadium. Here are a few shots of the exterior of the stadium (scroll over any picture for a brief description of who or what the picture is):
Once inside, I passed through the administrative offices. Here are two pictures of the meeting room and some plaques on the wall:
I arrived at the field about three hours before gametime, so had a chance to tour the field. Here is a video of the field:
Video 1: 360 degree view inside Classic Park
Here are some shots from the dugout and on the field:
Here are a few shots of the Captains bullpen:
I had a chance to check out the Captains new indoor batting cage facility, which is the large building located behind the right field wall. Here are a few shots of the cages:
Here are some shots of the dugout area:
And, finally, here are two shots of the Captains large scroeboard:
After touring the field, I hung around behind the cages on the field while players like Beau Mills, Matt McBride, Carlos Rivero and others take some hacks. Here is a video of Rivero in the cage:
Video 1: Carlos Rivero takes batting practice
And, here are some shots of other players taking batting practice:
Shortstop Carlos Rivero did not play that night, but he worked out before the game with minor league infield coordinator Ted Kubiak. Here are some shots of Rivero's workout, as well as him hanging around the cages:
Catcher Matt McBride also got the night off, but took some batting practice and ran the bases working on situational base-running. Here are some shots of him on third base:
Here are some shots of various players stretching before the game:
The game finally got rolling, and the focus shifted to watching starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez and some of the top hitters in the Captains lineup. Here is a video of Gomez pitching:
Video 1: Jeanmar Gomez brings the heat
And, here are some pictures of Gomez on the mound:
2007 top draft pick Beau Mills played third base, and here is a video of him at the plate:
Video 1: Beau Mills at the plate
And, here are some pictures of Mills in action at third base and at the plate:
Outfielder Roman Pena got off to a promising start this year, but has struggled of late. Here are two videos of him hitting:
Video 1: Pena at the plate
Video 2: More of Pena hitting
Here are a few pictures of Pena:
Outfielder Nick Weglarz has been one of the biggest stories of the year with the advanced approach at the plate and good power he has shown at such a young age. I sat down and talked with him and my interview with him will post tomorrow. Here are two videos of Weglarz at the plate:
Video 1: Weglarz at the plate
Video 2: More Weglarz
Here are some shots of Weglarz:
Catcher Matt McBride is one of the top prospects in the Indians system, and I had the chance to sit down and talk with him as well. I'll have an article on him up soon, but in the meantime here is a video of him in action, as he was called on late in the game for some pinch-hitting duty:
Video 1: Matt McBride at the plate
Here are some pictures of McBride in action:
Outfielder Cirilo Cumberbatch has been somewhat of a surprise of late as he has been swinging a hot bat. Here is a video of him hitting:
Video 1: Cirilo Cumberbatch at the plate
And, here are a couple pictures of him in action:
Finally, here is a random assortment of pictures of various players in action, starting with outfielder Jason Denham:
Second baseman Adam Davis:
Reliever Austin Creps and first baseman Fernando Pacheco:
And that's it. Another minor league stop in the books. Classic Park is a beautiful park, and one I frequent often since it is the closest affiliate for me to visit (20 minute drive). Hopefully this visit to Lake County helped a few Indians fans become more familiar with the facility and players.
Up next, I'll recap my stop from a few weeks back in the Gulf Coast League to see the GCL Indians in Winter Haven. This will post this upcoming weekend or early next week. A very interesting stop to say the least.
Also, I visit Buffalo this weekend, and Kinston the last weekend of this month to wrapup the tour, so look out for the remaining installments of this series over the course of the rest of August and early September. If anyone has anything specific they would like me to checkout, or players they would like me to concentrate on interviewing, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.