Around the Farm: August 9, 2014
Moncrief's big night highlights the night on the farm
Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Cleveland prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.
Note that Carolina's game was suspended in the 11th inning and that the Arizona League team was off Saturday.
Carlos Moncrief (RF, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SO
The story really has not changed much for Moncrief this season, as after a rough first two months from an overall performance standpoint, the 25-year-old has started getting better results without fixing his plate discipline. That still remains true, with Moncrief approach at the plate (109:30 SO:BB in 112 games this season) needing addressed, but it is not like the right fielder is having a terrible season. With a .276/.328/.441 line and 41 extra base hits, Moncrief is actually hitting at an above-average rate to go with his strong defense. Moncrief may not be knocking down the door to the major leagues, but given his decent performance this season and overall skillset, you can see how he could fit onto the roster in Cleveland at some point in 2015.
- Toru Murata (SP, Columbus): ND, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 E. Murata may own a 4.88 ERA this season, but the right-hander is still filling in where needed quite well and tends to turn in solid outings like this more often than not.
- Columbus Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO. Josh Outman, J.C. Ramirez, and Austin Adams did not dominate in their individual innings, but collectively they pitched well and navigated the final three innings of the Clippers' win cleanly.
- Audy Ciriaco (2B, Columbus): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SO. Ciriaco had already set his career-high in home runs earlier in the week, but the 27-year-old pushed it even higher with his 14th long shot Saturday night.
- Giovanny Urshela (3B, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B. Nothing is really changing in Columbus as Urshela is still putting up some very impressive numbers in his Triple-A debut (.286/.342/.503 line, 43:24 SO:BB in 84 games).
- Francisco Lindor (SS, Columbus): 1-for-5, 1 2B. Lindor's transition to Columbus has not gone seamlessly (.606 OPS, 18:5 SO:BB in 17 games), but the top prospect should put everything together in time.
- Shawn Morimando (SP, Akron): L (1-4), 6.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 E. Morimando is getting his long-awaited shot in Double-A, but to date it has gone decently, though there is room to improve (3.78 ERA, 19:10 SO:BB in 33.1 innings).
- Louis Head (RP, Akron): 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO. Head's introduction to Double-A was not that great, but since those first 9.2 innings, the right-hander owns a 3.71 ERA and 19:7 SO:BB in 17.0 innings.
- Enosil Tejeda (RP, Akron): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO. He may not wow you on the mound, but with a 2.37 ERA and 55:11 SO:BB in 49.1 innings, it is really time to see what Tejeda can do against Triple-A hitters.
- Alex Lavisky (C, Akron): 2-for-4, 1 2B. Another two hits allowed Lavisky to run his hitting streak up to nine games as the 23-year-old has taken advantage of some extra playing time that opened up when Tony Wolters went on the disabled list.
- Justin Toole (3B, Akron): 3-for-4, 1 R. Toole does not it for much power, but the elder statesman of the RubberDucks is racking up the hits this season and owns a .301/.358/.375 line in 61 games.
- Erik Gonzalez (SS, Akron): 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 E. Gonzalez's honeymoon period in Akron will end eventually (he owns a .466 BABIP through 22 games), but the 22-year-old spent Saturday warding that regression off for yet another night.
- Dace Kime (SP, Lake County): ND, 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 HBP, 1 E. One of Kime's big problems in 2014 has been too few strikeouts and too many walks (93:52 SO:BB in 116.0 innings), but the right-hander improved upon that on Saturday and found some decent success.
- Robbie Aviles (RP, Lake County): W (2-1), 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 1 HBP. Aviles kept up his usual pitch-to-contact approach, finding good results as the right-hander continues to work his way back after missing over six weeks of the season.
- Richard Stock (C, Lake County): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SO. Stock is not playing all that frequently, but when his name is in the lineup, he is a decent bet to show some pop (.156 isolated power in 44 games).
- Claudio Bautista (2B, Lake County): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB. Bautista had two big things going for him in his 100th game of the season Saturday, as he launched his 11th home run of the season and drew his ninth walk.
- Nellie Rodriguez (1B, Lake County): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SO. This season has been a very good one for Rodriguez, as the 20-year-old did well in his second attempt at the Midwest League, putting up a .808 OPS and .206 isolated power in 109 games.
- Juan Santana (SP, Mahoning Valley): ND, 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO. This was not Santana's best outing, though it definitely beat his previous appearance (six runs, five walks, one strikeout in 3.2 innings).
- Justin Garcia (RP, Mahoning Valley): W (3-1), 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR. Garcia also improved on his last outing (five runs on seven hits in 3.0 innings) despite not having the greatest stats on Saturday.
- Francisco Mejia (C, Mahoning Valley): 3-for-6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SO. The Scrappers scored 11 runs on Saturday, yet Mejia's double was the only extra base hit the team had on the night.
- Greg Allen (CF, Mahoning Valley): 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB. Allen is getting a chance to play center field while Bradley Zimmer recovers from running into an outfield wall and the 2014 sixth round pick is taking advantage, increasing his on-base percentage to .383 while stealing his 16th and 17th bases in 40 games.
- David Armendariz (LF, Mahoning Valley): 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 SO. Armendariz's first three games in Mahoning Valley were pretty rough, but the 23rd round pick in this year's draft got his first hit with the Scrappers Saturday and performed quite well overall.
- Taylor Murphy (RF, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 E. Murphy did a good job of reaching base Saturday, but the 2014 18th round pick also committed his second and third errors of the season along the way.
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I doubt the Indians would trade Santana- he fits well at 1B/C with his power, patience, and better than advertised defense at 1B, plus a team-friendly contract, not to mention he probably fits best as the cleanup hitter on this team. I would consider trading Kipnis, though I suspect the Indians won't do that (right away at least, but think it could be a possibility a year or two from now, more so down the line, especially if his offense continues to be erratic). Chisenhall's dropoff has been disappointing, but he's still a solid bet in hitting for a higher BA than Kipnis has in any year since he's been up here, and he's had far more at-bats than Chisenhall has had.
Granted, BA is not everything, but the reason Chisenhall kept his BA above 300 for so long and still has a chance hitting at or above that is because he displayed an ability to drive the ball hard to the opposite field, hitting the ball where it's pitched. That, or the lack thereof, is arguably the main reason why Kipnis has not hit .300+ as some had expected and why his offense has been so erratic and largely nonexistent in most of the three seasons he's been up here. That's the area where Kipnis must improve to really be the offensive difference maker he was expected to be. Ironically, he needs more at-bats like he had in Game 1 of the Arizona series on Tuesday night, which was wiped out due to the postponement. In that game, he drove the ball with authority the other way to knock in the lone run on the night. Kipnis needs more at-bats and a more consistent approach that utilizes the whole field to really be the offensive difference maker he was expected to be. So far, he has not been; combine that with weak defense at 2B (weaker than Chisenhall's defense at 3B, which I think repetitions could help to solidify, as Chisenhall's problem isn't really range- he was a SS in HS/college after all; Kipnis' biggest problem at 2B is range, though like Chisenhall, he too bobbles too many routine plays, which is why I think his defensive skill is even weaker than Chisenhall's and why I feel Kipnis must move back to the OF; I think Chisenhall can and should spell Urshela at 3B next year as he adapts to the Majors, while also having Chisenhall move to the OF- a bit similar to what Walters can do, though some might suggest that could make Chisenhall or Walters expendable in the right deal).
As for needing starting pitchers, you can never have too much pitching, but I think we have more capable pitching than you might think. What guys like Tomlin, Carrasco, House, and even Salazar and Bauer need are innings at the Major League level, not the Minor League level- that means sticking with them and letting them develop, not resorting to cheap veterans who really don't improve the rotation. Experience is nice, but Kluber and even McAllister have a fair amount of experience now to know what to expect and can help guide the younger ones to know what to expect.
I don't just want to stick a veteran in the 4 or 5 spot just because he has experience- if he can pitch better on a consistent basis and give us a better chance moving forward with every start for the next few years, I'd consider it. Same thing with trading for one or more younger pitchers- they really have to be better than what we already have for me to consider trading guys like Ramirez, Holt, Walters, etc. Otherwise, I'd rather go with the bunch that we have and let them develop. It would probably be better to upgrade the offense and try to shed some contracts (Bourn, Swisher, Axford, possibly Kipnis) and see if we can't add to our young pitching depth that way, along with maybe the outfield. That's what I'd prefer the Indians do.
If the Indians fall out of the race, I would definitely experiment with both of them in the OF and have them make the transition this offseason. Even if Lindor is delayed and Ramirez needs to play more SS to start the year, it's still probable that Lindor will be up at least semi-regularly in 2015 at SS, so Ramirez would need to move, and I'm not thinking utility role either. He should be playing every day, and his better defense at 2B would be welcome on a very porous defense, especially when you combine that with Lindor and Urshela. Add in an underrated Santana at 1B (he's better than Swisher, who has been quite poor defensively as well) and Gomes/Perez at C, and this infield defense would improve significantly. That means moving Chisenhall AND Kipnis to the OF this offseason at the latest, sooner if the Indians fall out of the Division and Wild Card races.
Also good to see Lavisky having a good year; his 39% CS mark looks awfully nice.
My only concern is that his numbers are inflated somewhat by Columbus being a hitters' park. His OPS at home is .927 versus only .771 on the road, a difference of over 150 points. Not that .771 is all that bad.
Chisenhall, OTOH, is hitting under .200 the last two months. He's no longer hitting to left field and up-the-middle, and when he gets two strikes on him he consistently swings at pitches off the plate and gets himself out. It will be interesting to see if he can hold the 3rd base job next year with Urshela coming on strong with the bat and being much better defensively. Considering the Indians are the worst defensive team in baseball, getting a superior glove in there is not an insignificant thing.