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Around the Farm: May 14, 2014

Rodriguez, Naquin going deep in Akron highlights the night on the farm

Around the Farm: May 14, 2014
Ronny Rodriguez (Photo: Brittany Chay)
May 15, 2014
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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. 

Ronny Rodriguez (1B, Akron): 1-for-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SO, 1 SB, 1 HBP

Ronny Rodriguez (Photo: MiLB)As yet another reminder that you cannot ever overreact to April stats, Rodriguez is beginning to work his way out from under the weight of his .331 April OPS. Rodriguez homered again on Wednesday, his second on the season, and extended his hitting streak to six games. Additionally, Rodriguez has hits in 12 of his last 13 games as his .235 BABIP begins to naturally rise. Rodriguez did not magically become a terrible hitter overnight; he has always done at least decently -- despite being young for his level -- and cut his strikeouts every year heading into 2014, even though he was promoted in each of those years. He is coming around this season and could be approaching his breakout, though that April from hell will make it hard to see in his season stats for some time.

Tyler Naquin (CF, Akron): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SO

Tyler Naquin (Photo: MiLB)On his leadoff home run Wednesday, Naquin was ahead of the pitch and under it, popping it high into the sky. The center fielder hit it hard enough, however, to get it over the right-field fence for his first home run of the season. That strength and ability to hit the ball hard is what makes Naquin special at the plate, and though he is still learning to catch up to the pitching at this level, hits like this home run or his hard line drive single that got between the shortstop and third baseman are flashes of what could be. There are still adjustments to make, but Naquin is making them as he looks to master the Double-A level.

  • T.J. House (SP, Columbus): ND, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO. This was House's worst outing on the season, though overall, it is not all that bad. The left-hander is still the owner of a low 2.40 ERA and 2.74 FIP in 41.1 innings.
  • Vinnie Pestano (RP, Columbus): L (1-3), 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO. Pestano had not allowed a run in four straight outings following a blow up on April 29, but he was tagged Wednesday. The right-hander has 20 strikeouts in 12.1 innings in Columbus.
  • Giovanny Urshela (3B, Columbus): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB. This is Urshela's first extra base hit since Friday as the third baseman finally cooled a bit after coming out of the gate red hot. The 22-year-old has still posted a .891 OPS in his first 12 Triple-A games.
  • Carlos Moncrief (RF, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 SO. Moncrief continued his slow crawl back up on offense Wednesday as he pushed his OPS to .603. However, the 34:8 SO:BB in Moncrief's 35 games is concerning, especially considering how much of the right fielder's 2013 breakout hinged on evening those numbers out.
  • Elliot Johnson (SS, Columbus): 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 E. Johnson has played four positions in four games since being sent down, logging time at second base, designated hitter, center field, and shortstop for the Clippers.
  • Justin Sellers (LF, Columbus): 1-for-3, 1 BB. Sellers is doing his best Elliot Johnson impersonation of late as the 28-year-old has played second base, shortstop, third base, and lately, left field this season.
  • Gabriel Arias (SP, Akron): W (5-2), 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 HR. Arias set out to pitch to contact Wednesday and succeed with that approach. The 24-year-old has been solid in his first year in the organization with a 3.65 ERA and 3.85 FIP in 37.0 innings.
  • Tyler Sturdevant (RP, Akron): S (4), 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO. After missing all of 2013 with a shoulder injury, Sturdevant looks to be all the way back with a 1.59 ERA and 16:5 SO:BB in 17.0 innings. Plus, the right-hander is showing confidence in his shoulder and not holding back when he pitches.
  • Joe Wendle (2B, Akron): 2-for-3, 1 BB. Wendle continued to see his offense come along as he extended his hit streak to 10 games and raised his OPS to .768.
  • Francisco Lindor (SS, Akron): Lindor's hit streak is only to eight games, but the shortstop owns a higher .819 OPS as the top prospect continues to impress in 2014.
  • Alex Lavisky (C, Akron): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI. Lavisky has not played much, but when is playing, he is showing off his power. The catcher has three home runs in 13 games this season.
  • D.J. Brown (SP, Carolina): L (2-3), 6.2 IP, 11 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 HBP, 1 BK. Like Arias, Brown also pitched to contact Wednesday, though the right-hander had worse results. Despite the less than stellar night, Brown still owns a 3.38 ERA and 24:5 SO:BB in 37.1 innings this season.
  • Grant Sides (RP, Carolina): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO. Another scoreless outing gives Sides six in a row and nine out of 10 on the season. To go with that run suppression, the right-hander has a 12:4 SO:BB in 15.0 innings.
  • Todd Hankins (LF, Carolina): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO. Hankins had five hits in three games before going up to Columbus for a few days. After returning to Columbus, he has home runs on back-to-back nights and three consecutive two-hit games.
  • Jeremy Lucas (C, Carolina): 2-for-5, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 SO. Lucas has really stood out this season as the catcher added another extra base hit to the total Wednesday night. In addition to his .377 on-base percentage in 33 games, Lucas also owns a .192 isolated power and 20:19 SO:BB.
  • Logan Vick (CF, Carolina): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 SO. Vick has seen the extra base hits come after failing to get one until April 24, but the outfielder is still seeing his .222 BABIP work its way back up. Even with the low BABIP, Vick owns a .325 on-base percentage in 2014.
  • Erik Gonzalez (SS, Carolina): 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Gonzalez continued to rack up hits Wednesday as the shortstop has 11 in his last five games. The 22-year-old has a .344 on-base percentage on the season, some of which is aided by his .375 BABIP.
  • Adam Plutko (SP, Lake County): L (2-1), 4.0 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 WP. Following his best outing as a professional, Plutko came back down to Earth with his worst. The right-hander still has a 51:10 SO:BB in 39.1 innings this season.
  • Alexis Paredes (RP, Lake County): 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO. Unlike Plutko, Paredes followed his worst outing of the season with one of his better ones. The walk gives Paredes 10 to go with 16 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.
  • Nellie Rodriguez (1B, Lake County): 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 E. After reaching base three times, Rodriguez's on-base percentage is up to .340. He is still striking out quite a bit, but a 39:23 SO:BB in 37 games is not all that bad for the slugging first baseman.
  • Paul Hendrix (2B, Lake County): 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SO. Another two hits stretched Hendrix's on-base streak to 21 games. The infielder has seen his OPS rise to 1.014 during the streak.
  • Clint Frazier (CF, Lake County): 1-for-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 SB. Frazier has hits in 12 of his last 14 games, and while the power has not quite come yet (.136 isolated power), it should be there before too long.
  • Brian Ruiz (LF, Lake County): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SO. Wednesday's double was Ruiz's fifth extra base hit in 27 games as the normally light-hitting outfielder raised his OPS to .620 with the strong day.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com

User Comments

GSon
May 15, 2014 - 3:13 PM EDT
@Tondo: the comp of Naquin to Matt Joyce is wherein lies the question: If the pick was made to save $ for later picks, then those picks have to pan out.. They aren't. The next few picks in the draft, several selected by posters here, included Giolito (my pick), Michael Wacha (Homer's pick) Steve Piscotty (Hermie's pick)Corey Seagar, Marcus Stroman, Victor Roache, Lewis Brinson were all posted as being better picks.. They are all equal to or have better upsides than Naquin does. The cuteness of the stategy, back fired. The 2013 draft, with Clint Frazier at the top is looking very nice as he is clearly a talented future contributor at the ML level. Drafts that have seen 'reaches" like Naquin is just more of the same from prior to 2009 when the Indians drafts were REALLY bad..
Tondo
May 15, 2014 - 2:37 PM EDT
It's nice to see RRod have some success in May, but he's still the same player when it comes to plate discipline. He has a good .882OPS in May, but with a 0:9 BB:K ratio. As long as he doesn't improve one bit in that department I have a hard time to take him serious as a prospect. Not a lot of free swingers make it in the MLB and those who do, were elite bats, which RRod is not. I would still look to trade him. Him and Gonzalez are the MIF I'd look to trade from the org depth.

Wendle is back. I began to worry that he would fade out in AA, but he seems legit, improving at every level he's been so far.

Naquin = Matt Joyce. Less power, little more speed, probably better defense, but he's a MLB platoon OF. He will be Murphy's successor in 2016

It's probably because of his speed upside (30+ SB the past two seasons), but I haven't given up on Hankins yet. If he ever gets his BA to around .250 and OBP to .340-.350, OPS to around .700, then he's a legit speed/9th hitter or MIF backup. I still think he can make it. In many ways he reminds me of R.Perez. One of those longshot guys that have a shot
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 1:36 PM EDT
Thanks Tony
Adam
May 15, 2014 - 12:31 PM EDT
Okay, wasn't sure if I had that right but I did go back and look at reports from right after that draft and Brown and McClure were pretty much it as far as overslot signings. In fact I think we left some money on the table as far as our total pool allotment.

If you view Naquin as a 2nd round type talent, it's hard to be disappointed with what he's done so far in the minors or how he projects as a big leaguer. If you expect him to be a 1st round type talent I think you're going to be disappointed--but either way, it's not his fault we took him there, he's just playing his game.
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 12:29 PM EDT
Hiram, unfortunately no, Hankins is not considered a prospect. He's a good lower level depth guy, but is going to be hardpressed to get to Double-A with the Indians unless he is a bench player. Hendrix is still more of a depth guy who is not much of a prospect, though those kind of guys can prove people wrong over time. He's doing that now, but he has to be above average with the bat to maintain relevance and more importantly will need to continue to hit at Carolina whenever he gets there later this season or next year.
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 12:27 PM EDT
Adam, you are correct. I answered off the cuff and my memory failed me on that one. So yeah, considering most of the savings went to Brown and McClure.....that's not looking like too good of a decision right now. Just puts more pressure on Naquin overachieving and being a little more than expected.
Adam
May 15, 2014 - 12:14 PM EDT
"The savings on the Naquin selection helped them sign Lovegrove, McClure and Baker."

Tony, the Cleveland PD reported that Lovegrove signed for less than his slot amount and Baker signed for about 35K less than his allotment...so whatever money we saved on Naquin basically went to Brown and McClure. Not a real good allotment of resources IMO.
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 12:10 PM EDT
Tony,

Is Todd Hankins and Paul Hendrx legit prospects?
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 12:10 PM EDT
Important to note that the 2012 Draft was also the first draft with the new bonus pool rules. So the Indians were trying to be creative with their money allotment. So far it looks like that plan backfired, though still not for certain. I think they learned from it.....and even if it doesn't work out with the other players they still have a good chance at a solid player in Naquin.
Adam
May 15, 2014 - 12:07 PM EDT
As Tony said, I have no issue with Naquin as a person or a player, I have a problem with where he was selected. I pegged him as a comp. round or early 2nd round type talent, so 15th overall is a reach no matter what happens in his career from my perspective. I want him to succeed, but that doesn't change the fact that I view it as a reach. John Sickels had Naquin ranked around #30 overall in his top-100 right before the draft, and that's about where I would've put him as well.

The other problem I have with that 2012 draft is that when you take an underslot guy early, you're supposed to use that money on tougher signs later. Whatever money we saved on Naquin went to a combination of Mitch Brown and D'Vone McClure. They've both been horrible thus far.

I think the 2012 draft was an example of the Indians trying to get too cute with their spending, rather than just taking the best player available and doing whatever you can to get them signed.
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 12:03 PM EDT
The savings on the Naquin selection helped them sign Lovegrove, McClure and Baker. So far it is not working out well McClure and Lovegrove have some issues they are working through still in Arizona, although it may pay off with Baker who is a legit starting pitching prospect.
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 12:00 PM EDT
Big Lavisky fan here. He's unfortunately limited in playing time because Wolters is the priority guy there, but Lavisky has more than held his own and performed well in his limited opps. I have felt for some time now that he's going to be around for some time catching at Columbus and Akron and filling a backup role and sometimes starting role. Just a good high character guy with excellent leadership abilities. And I think if things break right for him, perhaps could at least get a cup of coffee in the big leagues.
allhailshapiro
May 15, 2014 - 11:59 AM EDT
I thought the Naquin pick was done so they could use the pool money savings to take some harder signs later on in that draft. Who were those harder signings and how are they doing? To me that is how the draft should be rated. If Naquin becomes a bigleaguer and they get one of those 5-15 rd guys to make the bigs, to me, the strategy worked. Who were the guys they signed with those savings, though? I can't remember. Hamrick?
Jim Piascik
May 15, 2014 - 11:56 AM EDT
Sturdevant was hitting 94 yesterday with good movement on his cutter and slider. Got out of a tricky jam in the late innings. Not an easy save for him.
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 11:40 AM EDT
I think the Indians new approach to the draft is they are going to come away with something even though it might not be the highest upside guy. In the past they've tried for the HR's and came away with Squat. THis way they will come away with if nothing else solid, contributors at the major league level and stack the farm system accordingly
Robert
May 15, 2014 - 11:29 AM EDT
Lavisky putting up impressive numbers in limited playing time. He really should play more.
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 11:28 AM EDT
Tony,

I would take that for Naquin. I don't think anyone thought he would be an all star but doesn't mean he can't be a good productive player and help this team going forward.
shy
May 15, 2014 - 11:25 AM EDT
Any radar numbers so far on Sturdevant? I remember in camp in 2011 he was mid to upper 90's w movement before disappearing. He and Adam Miller are both pushin' 30 at this point. Either one gettin' to the show would make a wonderful story.
Tony
May 15, 2014 - 11:01 AM EDT
Naquin is having a solid season. He won't be an All Star, and I think that's a big reason a lot of people are less than enamored with him as a first round pick, but he is going to play in the big leagues. Those strikeout issues will probably always be an issue, but he looks to be a solid average defensive center fielder with a cannon for an arm, some wheels to steal some bases, and should hit close to average with a small amount of pop. That's a solid player!
GSon
May 15, 2014 - 10:41 AM EDT
@Hiram: Most of the comments that came out regarding the Indians selection of Tyler Naquin versus Michael Wacha or Lucas Giolito were not negatively centered on Tyler Naquin. The comments were negatively centered on the draft strategy whereby selecting a "signable" prospect (like Naquin, who was rated as a top 20 prospect) for slot or below slot in the first truly restricted Rule IV entry draft was a poor use of the draft budget. The negativity was indirectly focused on Naquin..

Clarity can be seen from the answer to this question: Would you want to spend $ 3 MM on a prospect that promises to be a Front of the Rotation/Superstart Starring pitcher or would you prefer to spend $ 1 MM three times on three good to very prospects who project well below that FOR guy.. That is the crux of the comments.. Not that Naquin isn't a very good prospect, he is.. He'll never be Michael Wacha.. and, perhaps, never be Lucas Giolito.. but he might be the next Dr Smooth.. or, Desmond Jennings?..or we'll see..
Homer
May 15, 2014 - 10:14 AM EDT
*easy to forget how young some of these guys are.
Homer
May 15, 2014 - 10:13 AM EDT
If I recall correctly RRod has been a slow starter for several yrs. I'm sure bouncing around the diamond and in and out of the lineup hasn't helped. Easy to forget how young some of highest guys are.
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 9:42 AM EDT
Robbie Aviles is sounding really nice and I hope it continues because he has a big arm and we could use him progressing in the system

Indians farm system is coming along nicely and look forward to a massive influx of talent with five out of the top 100 players coming onboard in June too.
Walter
May 15, 2014 - 9:32 AM EDT
I bet that Naquin's defense in CF is probably better than Bourn. If he continues to have a strong year in Akron he could be on the radar for the Indians next year.

Look like all the starters that got of to a good start have had there worse outing this week.

It looks like Sturdevant is healthy and is having good results. Hopefully Columbus is not to far on the horizon for him.
Hiram
May 15, 2014 - 9:21 AM EDT
Must be something to the adjustments Naquin made at the plate that he spoke of last year. I get the strange feeling that those who degraded him so much are going to eat their words. I think some who said some of these things were mad because the Indians didn't take Wacha. They punished the Indians for that but might be overlooking the fact that they did come out with a good player. Goes to show that fans. media can't get past their personal agendas to see objective and fair when analyzing players.


Naquin still has some proving to do and I won't tell you otherwise like the SO's but to say his play isn't encouraging is being blind and unfair, IMHO

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