Lindor and Naquin are Fishing for Mudcats
By Jim Pete
May 19, 2013
From the Bait Shop:
…and then there’s being just plain bad.
The Mudcats were officially bad last week, as they only managed a 1-6 record, dropped to 13 games behind the first place Myrtle Beach Pelicans, were outscored by 13 runs, and had the worst record in the entire Carolina League, by five games.
Some will point to the offense leading the league with a .269 average, and scratch their heads at how or why this team is so bad. It’s easy. The average doesn’t mean a thing when you aren’t scoring enough runs. The Muddies continue to have some players just scorching on the offensive side of things with regards to hitting the baseball, they are now last in the league in runs scored, last in home runs (by six), and last in RBI.
The Mudcats hit a pretty respectable .261 on the week, but were really carried by two or three guys at the top of that lineup this week. They averaged just under four runs a game, which is horribly bad, but never good when your pitching has been struggling to keep runs from scoring.
The one area in which the Mudcats excel is with regards to hitting doubles. They crushed 22 doubles in week 6, and are now second in the league with 88 on the year, one behind Lynchburg. Some of that has to do with the 19 foot wall around Five County, but much of it has to do with a team that just doesn’t have any real home run hitters in the middle of the lineup.
Past High A teams for the Indians have struggled offensively, but made up for it with their pitching staff. This isn’t one of those teams, although there was a marked improvement from some of the guys in the bullpen.
There was really one good starter on the team this week out of the bunch, but they just weren’t any good overall. It certainly didn’t help that Joseph Colon and Elvis Araujo went down to injury, but it’s not like either were doing much of anything anyways.
The starters went 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA.
The bullpen did their best to stay in ballgames, getting the team’s only win and rolling out a 3.08 ERA.
Overall though, this pitching staff has no consistency, no real depth, and just hasn’t been very good. You just can’t give up 43 runs over seven games and expect to compete.
Let’s go fishing…
Where we stand after Week #6:
|2013 Carolina League Current Standings|
|Carolina League Northern|
|Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL)||23||17||0.575||-||W2|
|Potomac Nationals (WSH)||22||20||0.524||2||L2|
|Frederick Keys (BAL)||21||20||0.512||2.5||L2|
|Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC)||19||23||0.452||5||W1|
|Carolina League Southern|
|Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX)||27||15||0.643||-||L1|
|Winston-Salem Dash (CWS)||20||21||0.488||6.5||W2|
|Salem Red Sox (BOS)||19||21||0.475||7||W2|
|Carolina Mudcats (CLE)||14||28||0.333||13||L2|
Week #6 Games:
|May 2013 (all times local unless noted)|
|12 vs. Lynchburg, L 4-11 (WP: G. Ross; LP: S. Morimando)|
|13 vs. Lynchburg, L 4-7 (WP: N. Moore; LP: N. Pasquale)|
|14 vs. Salem, L 1-2 (WP: M. Augliera; LP: C. Anderson; SV: N. Striz)|
|15 vs. Salem, L 4-5 (WP: H. Quevedo; LP: J. Lee)|
|16 vs. Salem, W 5-4 (WP: E. Tejeda; LP: M. Ott)|
|17 @ Lynchburg, L 6-7 (WP: J. Cornely; LP: G. Sides)|
|18 @ Lynchburg, L 3-7 (WP: N. Moore; LP: N. Pasquale)|
This Week’s Transactions:
|5/16/2013||Robert Whitenack assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Mahoning Valley Scrappers.|
|5/13/2013||Nick Pasquale assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Lake County Captains.|
|5/12/2013||Carolina Mudcats placed LHP Elvis Araujo on the 7-day disabled list. Strained left shoulder.|
Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Naquin:
It really does say it all that there have been six different names on this list in the first six weeks of the season. Part of that may be based on injury, as Bryson Myles and Joseph Wendle are both on the DL, and have been for an extended period of time.
It is interesting that there really has been a different guy or two to lead this team in one way or another, every week of the season. There’s been some consistent guys as the backbone to the lineup, with Francisco Lindor leading the way, but Tyler Naquin hasn’t really been all that far behind.
Naquin is one of three Muddies with averages over .300, and one of only three out of eight total in the Carolina League. Naquin has hit in ten straight games, and in 24 out of his last 27 games overall. He hasn’t had hitless back-to-back games since April 18th and April 20th.
This week, Naquin hit almost .400, but over his last four games, is 8-for-16, with four runs, two doubles and a triple. Going back to April 21st, the Muddies centerfielder is hitting .311, with 18 runs, nine doubles, two triples and two homers in 27 ballgames. In other words, he’s been doing exactly what the Indians thought he would do when they started him off here in Carolina.
The big question remains whether or not they bump him up to Akron at any point soon, as there are many in and out of the organization that think his ceiling is reachable soon. That’s by no means a knock, but the reality is that this isn’t a kid that has franchise written all over him. He’s going to be a good, solid player going forward.
If he can continue this sorta play, consistent would be an understatement. You have to wonder if Naquin or Lindor will get called up first if they continue to play well.
The best of the rest:
Charlie Valerio has been under the radar for this team thusfar. If I asked you to name the top two averages on the team since April 16th, you’d likely guess Lindor, Sabourin and Naquin, and probably four or five other guys before you’d get to Valerio. Since that date, Valerio is hitting .315, with a .903 OPS. That certainly wasn’t counted on since his call-up.
The best offensive player on this team so far this year has been Francisco Lindor. I’m still a bit shocked at his offense though, as his defense is a known commodity. That’s been every bit as good as advertised here in Carolina, but the offense has been off the charts. Lindor had hits in the five of his seven games played this week, including a three and two-hit game. He also managed to steal three more bases, and is third in the league with 11 overall.
Ryan Battaglia, Zach MacPhee and Jerrud Sabourin also had nice weeks. Battaglia hit .429 in his two games, but only played in two games. It’s still worth a mention. MacPhee hit .278, and had one of the Muddies two homers. Sabourin hit an okay .263, but really just added him to the list to note that he’s now on the DL as well. This team has taken a lot of hits on the injury front.
In the Mud:
Jordan Smith dropped back to earth this week, going 6-for-28 for a .214 average. He did score four runs and hit three doubles, but after his past strong month, it was a drop in offensive play, for sure. Joe Sever matched Smith hit for hit, but had one less run and one less double. His drop-off is less of a surprise than Smith’s, as Sever isn’t an offensive prospect in any way, shape or form. Luigi Rodriguez did lead the team with four doubles, which is worth mentioning, but he also led the team with 10 strikeouts. Rodriguez is a free swinger, and until he controls that, it’s hard to believe that he’s going to advance all the way to the bigs, even with his multiple skill set. His approach is very inconsistent.
Pitcher of the Week: Cody Anderson
I really went back and forth with this one, as there was a real battle for this position between a reliever, and a starter. At the end of the day, I always value a fantastic performance from a starter. Cody Anderson has really been the one guy on this staff that’s been not only dominant, but consistent as well.
Anderson made only one start, but went six innings, striking out nine batters, without giving up a walk. He only gave up one run, but ended up taking a loss thanks to that wonderful, non-run-scoring offense.
Where Anderson has improved this year as the season has progressed is with regards to his K/BB ratio. After his fourth start, he had walked eight batters, while striking out only 14 in his 22 innings. In his last four starts, he’s walked one, while striking out 23 in 24 innings pitched. For those counting at home, that’s what we like to call improvement.
Anderson is an interesting prospect going forward. While he’s been dominant with the Muddies, there are still questions about him as a major league starter. He’s definitely moving up the prospect charts, however, and when he gets his inevitable call up to Akron, we’ll see if this translates. While there are other guys that have come to Carolina and I thought could see a quick move, I could definitely see Anderson hanging out in Carolina for much of the season.
We’ll see though. He may have played his way back to Ohio.
The best of the rest:
If I could throw out a tie, it would go to Enosil Tejeda. He’s been outstanding all week, and really, all year. This week though, Manager David Wallace pitched him in four games, and he didn’t give up a run in his 4 1/3 innings. He only walked one batter. He’s definitively been the only reliever that’s shown even a bit of consistency. Michael Goodnight was also light’s out good finally. He went three innings, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out four. He didn’t give up a run. Rob Nixon went 4 1/3 innings in his two outings, without giving up a run. He’s having one of those seasons where he’s either really good, or really bad. J.D. Reichenbach is another guy, like Tejeda, that’s been pretty good all year.
In the Mud:
Grant Sides gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings in three appearances, and that’s not going to get you anywhere. High hopes for Sides have quickly fallen. Robert Whitenack gets a bit of slack, as he made his first start with the Muddies. Of course, he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings. Owen Dew had a second bad week in a row. Shawn Morimando, Nick Pasquale and Jacob Lee all strugged as starters.
Next Week’s Fishing Expedition:
|19 @ Lynchburg, 2:05 PM|
|21 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM|
|22 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM|
|23 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM|
|24 vs. Winston-Salem, 7:15 PM|
|25 vs. Winston-Salem, 6:15 PM|
The View Astern:
Tony Wolters is making his debut with the Carolina Mudcats at the catcher position. There really isn’t a player in the system I like more than Wolters, and to watch how resilient he was last season was a joy to see. Many questioned Wolters skipping Lake County last year, and he struggled big time early in the season. What many didn’t get to see during that stretch is just how upbeat he remained from day-to-day. In talking to him throughout that slump, you would have never known he was struggling. He’s a hard worker, and it paid off, as he really played well from May on.
Many will question his move to catcher, but I have no doubt that the Indians brass chose wisely in the move. He can handle it, and I have no doubt that he will.
Francisco Lindor has been on base in 26 straight games, the most in the Carolina League this season. While there are certainly some other players making an impact offensively, this team’s two major catalysts really are Lindor and Naquin. They both lead the team with 17 RBI. That’s really the problem here, as these two top-of-the-order guys shouldn’t be leading this team in anything close to the RBI stat. If you are a bit concern about the lower minors power, you have good reason. This isn’t a Carolina League thing.
Injuries for the Muddies are definitely a concern. The DL is loaded with guys that are “impact” players on this team. This week, as I mentioned before, Jerrud Sabourin, Elvis Araujo and Joseph Colon made the move to the DL. They joined Bryson Myles,Joe Wendle, Anthony Gallas and Todd Hankins. Most of those guys are starters on this team, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they are this bad. Hopefully, they are gearing up for a second half run.
When you are last in the league in home runs with 15, and you’ve given up the most in the league, with 32, that’s not a good thing, is it?
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.