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Tribe returns favor with 12-3 blowout win over Cincinnati

Carrasco and Indians prospects shine in game two of Cactus League play

Tribe returns favor with 12-3 blowout win over Cincinnati
Indians catching prospect Jake Lowery celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning. (Photo: AP)
February 27, 2014
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If you are a key Indians prospect, you were probably hitting, walking, driving in runs, scoring runs or flashing leather in the field on Thursday as the Indians put a 12-3 shellacking on the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

Carlos Carrasco earned the win and deservedly so after two perfect innings of work in the third and fourth while Elliot Johnson, Jake Lowery and Tyler Naquin provided a good chunk of the scoring with three home runs, including a grand slam by Lowery in the fifth.

Lineup:

1. Bourn, CF (0-2, 2 K's)
  Naquin, CF (1-3, HR, 2 RBI)
2. Aviles, SS (1-2, 2B, 1 K)
  Lindor, SS (1-4, 2 R, K)
3. Brantley, LF (0-1, BB)
  Morgan, LF (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB)
4. Santana, 3B (1-2)
Adams, 3B (1-1, R, 2 BB)
5. Giambi, DH (0-1, BB)
González, DH (1-2, 2B, RBI, R, BB)
6. Murphy, RF (0-2)
Moncrief, RF (0-2, R, BB, K)
7. Aguilar, 1B (0-3, R, 2 BB, K)
8. Treanor, C (0-2)
Lowery, C (1-1, HR, 4 RBI)
Carlin, C (1-2, R)
9. Johnson, 2B (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB)
Wendle, 2B (1-3, BB)

Pitchers:

Masterson
Kluber
Carrasco (W, 1-0)
Aardsma
Outman
Wood
Zagurski
Cloyd

A glimpse into the future?

Spring training has different meanings for the different players in attendance. For the big league players, it's about preparing for the season. For the newcomers and non-roster invitees, it's about proving they're worthy of roster spots. And for the prospects who may not break camp with the major league squad, it's about making a strong impression before they head back down to their assigned minor league affiliates.

On Tuesday, the Tribe had seven total key prospects who all got in the game at some point and made some headway on that strong impression by going 5-for-19 with two home runs, a double, two home runs (including Lowery's grand slam), seven RBI and seven runs scored. They also showed some quality plate discipline by drawing five walks as a group.

Of course, the second game of exhibition play doesn't have much bearing on the season nor the future of the players in the game, but for guys like Jake Lowery and Erik González who are in big league camp for the first time in their professional careers, seeing them carrying themselves confidently with little intimidation from the start is something that surely won't go unnoticed by Chris Antonotti, Terry Francona and the big league coaches.

Perfection for Carrasco

The field of pitchers in camp vying for the final spot in the rotation is fairly wide at this point in spring training, but one of the leading candidate had a decent start to his campaign on Thursday with a win against the Reds in his first exhibition appearance. Carlos Carrasco pitched two innings and retired all six batters he faced in order with two strikeouts. His fastball was clocked in the range of 93-96 mph.

The right-hander claims to have made adjustments in the offseason to add deception to his delivery, including raising his glove hand more in his windup.

Carrasco is coming off a season in which he went 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 big league appearances for the Indians. He is now over two years removed from Tommy John surgery and is now the sole remaining piece of the infamous Cliff Lee trade. The Indians have sung Carrasco's praises on multiple occasions this offseason regarding the work he has put in to make changes and adjustments on the mound and are expecting big things from him in 2014.

Facts and Tidbits

  • Carlos Santana made his Indians debut at third base on Thursday.
  • Justin Masterson started in Thursday's game and spoke to the media following his outing and addressed the continuous speculation about a potential long-term extension between him and the Indians saying that "Somehow, someway, I'll end up still being here for a few more years."
  • Indians hitters showed impressive plate discipline on Thursday by drawing 10 walks.
  • All three Indians home runs were hit with runners on base and two outs.

Up next: Indians (1-1) vs. Reds (1-1) @ Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch at 3:05 pm ET.

Right-hander Zach McAllister will get the nod for the third game of exhibition play for the Tribe. McAllister will be matched up against Homer Bailey, the recent recipient of a long-term contract extension by the Reds. Also slated to take the mound for their 2014 Cactus League debuts for the Indians will be fifth starter candidate Josh Tomlin, new closer John Axford and setup man Cody Allen. The Tribe will be playing as the home team in the "rubber match" of this opening series of exhibition play against their interstate rivals.

Follow me on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake for all the latest Cleveland Indians news and baseball chat.

User Comments

Jake D.
February 28, 2014 - 10:45 PM EST
Apologies for any typos I may have missed. I thought I got them all, but I guess not.

I wrote this story using my new tablet that has built-in auto-correct that I haven't figured out how to shut off yet.

Gotta love technology...
Hermie13
February 28, 2014 - 2:30 PM EST
Wasn't that good against righties his first stint up though. Would love to see how his vs RHP split looked int he 2nd half of 2012 as well (thought he mostly faced righties in that 2nd half and still struggled).

Maybe LaHair works out though. Guess I just look at him and Giambi on the same team as kind of a waste.
Tony
February 28, 2014 - 1:52 PM EST
Yeah, LaHair is not good when used everyday. But in his limited ML sample he's proven very good against lefties with a career .289 average and .835 OPS (118 OPS+). That's a guy I could see Francona maybe maximizing his effectiveness against righties as a 1B/DH off the bench, and maybe the starter in most cases at DH versus righties.
Hermie13
February 28, 2014 - 1:42 PM EST
Want to clarify that I wasn't saying I wanted Cooper making this team or thought there was a good chance.

Just think LaHair is not good at all. Was terrible in 2012 after that hot start and was bad in JAPAN last year. I'd rather see Chiz DHing against righties at this point than LaHair. Gives you a better chance at winning, which should be the main goal this year.
Walter
February 28, 2014 - 1:08 PM EST
Cooper coming off major surgery. He might need a full year AAA or order to get back to the majors. However if LaHair falters which he has done in past, and if Cooper has strong showing in Columbus he could be one of first call ups.

If Aquilar has good fast start in Columbus he could also be considered.

Finally it looks like there is hope in farm system that there are players that can help this team compared to the last 3 years
.
Tony
February 28, 2014 - 1:05 PM EST
Don't believe David Cooper has a chance to make the team. A big reason he was given the Major League deal was that they knew they controlled him for this season and can option him to the minors (he has one left) as a depth guy and to prove he is 100%. He needs some time in the minors before going to Cleveland. Same thing with David Adams....another guy given a ML deal to add sure depth in AAA. I think it is important that people understand giving them ML deals for this season is not a sign they are ML options right now, but that it allows the club to control them right out of the gates this spring. Whereas a veteran guy who signs a minor league deal typically has an opt out and has to agree to stay in the minors.
Hermie13
February 28, 2014 - 1:01 PM EST
Not a big fan of the prospects of LaHair making this team.....

Still like Cooper more at this point.
Rick
February 28, 2014 - 12:56 PM EST
I also agree that we might see 3 quality lefties in the Pen to offset the no lefty in the S.Row. Blake Wood is almost the forgotten man in the mix. Before his injuries he was a top prospect. He looked good.

That said, it is way way to early. CC Lee, and everyone else, has plenty of time to prove or disprove.

It was a joy to watch all these younsters - especially had my eyes opened with Moncrief - and now understand why Aguliar has gotten so much ink at IPI.

There really is a lot to be excited about beyond just Lindor.
Rick
February 28, 2014 - 12:50 PM EST
Again I liked Ant praising Carlos and pointing out what a uniquely positive situation this is for the team. I think their hope is that Carlos proves steady enough to not need to carry another catcher - and - the competition pushes Chiz over the hump so they can give Santana the lion-share of his ABs in a quality platoon.

Sounds to me like plan B is carrying a defensive back-up for Yan.
Hermie13
February 28, 2014 - 12:49 PM EST
Agree with what Tony is saying in respect to the pen depth.

Figuring barring injury you have Axford, Shaw, Allen, Scrabble, and Outman locked into 5 spots in the pen. Think Pestano has a spot as well barring a total meltdown or injury in the spring. Probably only 1 maybe 2 spots open...one could be Carrasco if he doesn't win the rotation spot. I think a guy like Blake Wood probably has a leg up on the NRI guys too. As said, lots of bullpen depth. Hags if he has a big spring could force his way on (nothing wrong with 3 lefties in the pen).


The offensive NRI guys are the ones that intrigue me more than the pitchers...
Tony
February 28, 2014 - 12:41 PM EST
Walter, I'm just projecting Santana as the starter at third and until I see otherwise that he also gets some time in as the backup catcher. Antonetti's comment on TV yesterday where Santana "allows them to have a 26-man roster" which means no need for a backup catcher really makes me believe that no one else is in consideration as a catcher on the team and they go with Gomez/Santana in the role. Whether that holds true if Santana is the starter at third base remains to be seen. If Santana is the starter, then Chisenhall definitely goes to Columbus. I could see them then going with one of LaHair as the backup 1B and primary DH against righties and Francoeur at an option in the OF and primary DH against lefties (or Raburn DHs against lefties and Francoeur plays RF vs lefties). Might come down to LaHair, Giambi and Johnson for the last two bench spots.
Walter
February 28, 2014 - 12:36 PM EST
Tony

Your recent depth chart has Santana at 3B and Chisenhall in Columbus. I assuming you the backup catcher is Santana. Youe believe that both LaHair and Francouer are going to make the team?

My other question if a spring invitee on minor league contract has a great spring training and another team wants him because of need, can the Indians make a trade or do they have to release him because it a minor league deal?
Tony
February 28, 2014 - 12:00 PM EST
I fixed that Richard. Sometimes guys who are their own self-editors miss things.

As for Gonzalez....I'm on board with him playing shortstop at Carolina. He is not blocking anyone and it is a great opportunity for the Indians to see if he can handle the position. It is not so much as to put him in the starting shortstop category, but to improve his value and also give the organization an idea if he truly can be a utility player for them. Shortstop is the most important aspect when being a utility-type, and he needs time and development there to see what he can do.
Richard
February 28, 2014 - 11:48 AM EST
Terry Franconia and John Alford??
Hawk1228
February 28, 2014 - 11:41 AM EST
It’s a shame we can’t see more spring games I enjoy the games early to see those young kids trying to make an impression I loved the double play started by Lindor, smooth as silk I can see why they say he is MLB ready defensively. Also that was a sweet swing by Lowery, I tweeted to Tony, nice seeing some real depth at the catching position Lowery, Wolters, and the young kid Mejia . I am Also seeing some real depth at middle infield. Still not clear why moving Erik Gonzalez to SS is a good thing. It appears to make for an already crowded situation worse. But as Tony explained he is probably no more than a Utility guy at the moment.
Nice start by Carrasco after falling behind 3-0 on Hamilton he breezed through the rest of the batters faced. I also like what I saw of Wood and Aardsma We need to find some veteran arms to replace Smith and Albers. What I loved about Francona last year was his use of the bullpen, both of them, the one in Cleveland as well as the one in Columbus. He found that core of bullpen arms and used the rest of his arms in Cleveland and Columbus so not to wear them down. Having Wood and Aardsma is key so guys like Hagadone and Lee who have minor options can travel that 71 corridor.
One other thought, I would have sworn Naquin’s home run was nothing more than a fly out to right, never did I think it would nearly end up in the brush outside of the stadium.
Tony
February 27, 2014 - 11:04 PM EST
Anyting can happen with Lowery.....I wouldn't be surprised. But the Indians typically like a veteran defensive-minded catcher who knows how to handle a staff in Columbus. Lowery has some significant defensive concerns that to me will keep him in Akron to start the season (unless injury opens the door to go to Columbus to start).
Walter
February 27, 2014 - 11:01 PM EST
Look like that CC Lee might have opened the door for Aardsma to take the last bullpen spot. Good to see Carrasco have strong start and is the early favorite to take the 5th and final starting spot. Wood had strong showing and would be good addition to bullpen. If Pestano falters he could also open up another bullpen spot.

Is there a chance that Lowery could beat out Perez/Carlin/Treanor for one of the catching positions in Columbus.
Andy
February 27, 2014 - 10:28 PM EST
Stop the presses - Gonzo with a walk in his third plate appearance
Tony
February 27, 2014 - 10:11 PM EST
You will get to see him Monday.
Hiram
February 27, 2014 - 9:46 PM EST
I want and need to see Pestano

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