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Around the Farm: May 28, 2014

Sulser's bounce back, Hendrix's continued dominance highlight the night on the farm

Around the Farm: May 28, 2014
Cole Sulser (Photo: IBI)
May 29, 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. 

Cole Sulser (SP, Carolina): L (1-5) 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 9 SO, 1 HBP

Cole Sulser (Photo: MiLB)Sulser started the season strong before fading in spectacular fashion at the beginning of May. The right-hander seemed to be an April flash in the pan after allowing 16 runs (nine earned) in only 9.1 innings during his first three May starts, a series of outings that torched his ERA. Through it all, however, Sulser continued to fill up the strike zone, an approach that looks to have him back on track. Sulser struck out nine batters in each of his last two starts -- both of which went six innings -- while only allowing one walk. It is possible that pitching in the zone so much will lead to Sulser being hit hard from time to time, but his approach is getting results again as the calendar approaches June. The 25th round pick in 2013 still has work to do in order to earn a call to Akron, but the early returns are encouraging for the 24-year-old.

Paul Hendrix (2B, Lake County): 3-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SO

Paul Hendrix (Photo: MiLB)Another multi-hit performance (Hendrix's third in his last four games) pushed the infielder's OPS back over 1.000 as the 22-year-old continues to punish Midwest League pitching. There are a few holes in Hendrix's game -- like the 51 strikeouts in 41 games -- but the infielder has more than made up for it by punishing the ball when he makes contact. There is no way Hendrix stays quite this hot for the whole season, but the infielder has played well enough that he should get a chance to prove himself up a level in Carolina. If the infielder can continue performing at a more age-appropriate level, then we can firmly start to move him from the "older hitter beating up on Low-A pitching" category to the "intriguing prospect" one. As we approach June, these types of promotions should start happening and Hendrix's name should be one of the first called.

  • Travis Banwart (SP, Columbus): ND, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 1 HR. Banwart continues to put up solid starts in Columbus, going strong for seven innings. The right-hander is yet to make his major league debut, but Banwart remains a solid depth starting option for the big league club.
  • Scott Barnes (RP, Columbus): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO. After a few rough outings last week, Barnes bounced back in his last two appearances. The left-hander has been mowing down batters, though he could use a little more control going forward (25:9 SO:BB in 20.2 innings).
  • Nick Hagadone (RP, Columbus): L (1-3), 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 0 SO, 1 HR. Hagadone's own error set the stage for the deciding three-run homer as the left-hander allowed a run for the first time since May 9. The left-hander's power pitching typically has played well in 2014, however, putting Hagadone in position for a potential callup at some point.
  • Carlos Moncrief (RF, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI. Moncrief had Columbus' only extra base hit on the day. This marks back-to-back two-hit games for Moncrief as the right fielder continues to search for sustained success at the Triple-A level.
  • Ryan Rohlinger (2B, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 SO. The versatile Rohlinger keeps on filling in the gaps in Triple-A. The 30-year-old has been playing every day, though that could change a bit with Justin Sellers coming back down from Cleveland.
  • Will Roberts (SP, Akron, Game 1): L (4-6), 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1 WP. Roberts put a lot of baserunners on Wednesday, but the right-hander managed to avoid giving up a ton of runs. That has been the theme for Roberts this year, as he has gotten solid results despite allowing 66 hits in 56.2 innings.
  • Francisco Lindor (SS, Akron, Game 1): 1-for-2, 1 BB. The RubberDucks only reached base five times in game one, with Lindor putting up two of them. That on-base ability has been there all year for Lindor as the shortstop exited game one with a .375 on-base percentage in 47 games.
  • Tyler Naquin (CF, Akron, Game 1): 1-for-3. Akron's second hit of game one came off the bat of Naquin, extending his hitting streak to eight games (a streak that was ended in game two). Following game one, the center fielder had hits in 14 of his last 15 games and 22 of his last 24, though interestingly, Naquin's OPS only rose from .703 to .744 during those 24 games.
  • Joey Wendle (2B, Akron, Game 1): 1-for-3, 1 R. And Akron's final hit of game one belonged to Wendle as the second baseman continues to hit the ball well. The results may not quite be there yet (he owns a .681 OPS in 49 games), but Wendle is making good contact and should continue seeing more hits fall in.
  • Ronny Rodriguez (DH, Akron, Game 1): 0-for-2, 1 BB. Rodriguez did not manage a hit in game one, but that walk is his eighth in 39 games on the season. The 22-year-old is still having a down season, though he put up some better numbers -- especially on the power front -- in 25 May games (.233/.268/.444).
  • Jordan Cooper (SP, Akron, Game 2): W (5-1), 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO. Making a spot start, Cooper shined as he led the RubberDucks to a win in game two. The right-hander has looked good out of the bullpen and managed to get that to carry over to his first start of the season Wednesday night.
  • Adam Miller (RP, Akron, Game 2): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 0 SO. Miller is not back to his old dominant self yet, but the 29-year-old is doing a good job of regaining his footing as he continues along his Cinderella story.
  • Ronny Rodriguez (3B, Akron, Game 2): 2-for-3, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SO. Rodriguez continued his May resurgence in game two, and while the consistent on-base ability is not there yet for the infielder, he is still showing the raw power that makes him stand out.
  • Joey Wendle (2B, Akron, Game 2): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB, 1 E. The hits keep coming for Wendle, including the second baseman's 14th double and 20th extra base hit of the season (good for a strong .156 isolated power in 50 games).
  • Bryson Myles (LF, Akron, Game 2): 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 SB. After striking out three times in game one, Myles came back with a better showing in game two. The outfielder owns a solid .286/.356/.416 line in his first 45 games at the Double-A level.
  • Josh Martin (RP, Carolina): 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 E. Martin is a bit of an older guy at 24 years old, but there is no doubt the right-hander is dominating the Carolina League. He could get a shot in Akron once a few relievers are promoted up to Triple-A.
  • Grant Sides (RP, Carolina): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO. Following a rough time in High-A last year, Sides is doing a much better job in 2014. The right-hander has only allowed runs in two of his 15 appearances, though he could stand to improve the 16:9 SO:BB he owns in 21.0 innings.
  • Anthony Gallas (RF, Carolina): 2-for-3, 1 2B. Much like the RubberDucks in game one, the Mudcats offense was not much to write home about. Carolina did not walk once and only managed five hits while scoring no runs (in addition to committing five errors). Naturally given how good he has been in 2014, Gallas was the only Mudcat with multiple hits and the only one with an extra base hit.
  • Jordan Milbrath (SP, Lake County): L (1-6), 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 1 HR. After not striking out a single batter in his last start, Milbrath came back with seven Wednesday evening. The 22-year-old continues to excel in the Midwest League and could follow Adam Plutko down south to Carolina before too long.
  • Wander Beras (RP, Lake County): 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO. With a 16:11 SO:BB and six hit batters in 23.2 innings, Beras has frequently walked the tightrope in 2014. The 25-year-old has not fallen off much, however, though he did stumble a bit Wednesday.
  • Anthony Santander (DH, Lake County): 2-for-4, 2 2B. Santander continues to only play at designated hitter as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, which is possibly still messing with his offense. The 19-year-old typically has good power, but these two doubles only give him 11 extra base hits and a .094 isolated power in 39 games this season.
  • Nellie Rodriguez (1B, Lake County): 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SO. Rodriguez's second go-round at Lake County has been much better than his try in 2013, as the first baseman is showing some nice power. Given his solid approach to date this season -- with plenty of walks to go with his strikeouts -- Rodriguez should see a few more hits come and raise the .223/.321/.397 line he has put up through 50 games at least a little bit.

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

Indin Fan
May 29, 2014 - 7:09 PM EDT
Louis Head a couple of rough outings last 2 out but should be back on track next outing. Josh Martin and Grant Sides have really come on lately and all 3 cold possibly be in Akron by year end. Starters have been really solid lately.
Walter
May 29, 2014 - 2:15 PM EDT
Where does Clayton Cook fit in the Carolina scenario? I know he just can of injury. Is part of the piggyback sytem or will they move him into the rotation?

Tony
May 29, 2014 - 1:25 PM EDT
It will be interesting to see how long Merritt stays in Carolina as well. High-A is such an important level that few guys spend less than three quarters of a season there, but if he continues to pitch like this the Indians may be forced to challenge him at the higher level sooner than anticipated. If he were a frontline prospect that might indeed happen, but since Merritt is more a middle of the road prospect (that is not a knock....Aviles and House are middle of the road prospects) then perhaps they won't be as aggressive and keep him in Carolina longer. Aviles may have to wait for Merritt to move before he is promoted as well....although the Indians can easily move Peoples, Brown and Sulser into a piggyback or pen role to create room since they are much further down the prospect priority meter.
BigTex
May 29, 2014 - 1:12 PM EDT
That's a great point. Not sure how Brady has performed in extended, but hoping that is the case at least in a piggyback role. Given the performances by the Lake County staff lately I would think moving Lugo back into a full-starting role would be more likely.

If the rumors are true, congrats to Morimando. Well-deserved promotion after a strong showing in Carolina. Looking forward to seeing Plutko take the mound tonight against a stingy Wilmington rotation.
Tony
May 29, 2014 - 12:50 PM EDT
I've heard from someone who said the same thing about Morimando, but the organization has yet to confirm. But sounds like he's going to Akron. What will be interesting is who fills for Plutko in Lake County. Do the Indians simply just move someone like Lugo out of a piggyback role or do we finally get the arrival of Sean Brady?
BigTex
May 29, 2014 - 11:22 AM EDT
Confirmed Morimando was called up to Akron yesterday.
BigTex
May 29, 2014 - 10:27 AM EDT
Have I missed something? Has Morimando been promoted to Akron? Makes sense with Plutko coming to Carolina and both being on the same pitching schedule...
Tony
May 29, 2014 - 9:57 AM EDT
If that happens, I can already see a Disney inspirational movie in the making....."The Finger".;)
Tony
May 29, 2014 - 9:56 AM EDT
I have a feeling that if Adam Miller keeps pitching the way he has been that the Indians are going to do something for him in September and give him that big league callup. Would make for a great story if they did so.
Jim Piascik
May 29, 2014 - 9:53 AM EDT
Wait a minute, I forgot Aviles. New plan: bring Milbrath up if (when?) Merritt gets the call to Akron. And since it's Merritt's first full season in Carolina, that happens a little later in the season, giving Milbrath more reps in Lake County.

Problem solved!
Jim Piascik
May 29, 2014 - 9:49 AM EDT
Why not both? Haha. Get a Carolina rotation of Merritt, Plutko, Sulser, Milbrath, and Morimando with Peoples and Cook piggybacking.

I do agree Milbrath could get more time down in Lake County with the inexperience of coming from a cold weather state. But I'd also be in favor of a promotion to Carolina for the last month or so, especially since he's turning 23 on August 1. Assuming all stays well, of course.
Willie
May 29, 2014 - 9:48 AM EDT
Agreed, on Adam Miller, he could get a Sept. call up if he's pitching well and an injury or two pop up. Maybe a few trades thin the herd too. A number of scenarios, but he has to do his part. If he does he will get that invite.
Tony
May 29, 2014 - 9:22 AM EDT
Yes, Aviles should go to Carolina before Milbrath. For as well as Milbrath is pitching, he's inexperienced and I don't see the Indians aggressively pushing him out of Lake County.....yet.
Walter
May 29, 2014 - 9:16 AM EDT
I think Aviles would get promoted to Carolina first before MIlbrath. It is good to see 34 th round pick having a good year in LC. He would have a winning record if there was some hitting in LC.

If Miller continues his impressive pitching this year I think the Indians should invite him back to Sp Tr next year to compete for a bullpen job. It's his only route to the big leagues. Also just wondering what type of pitcher he could have been if he did not have the finger issues.

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