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LaPorta Update

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LaPorta Update

Postby TonyIBI » Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:27 am

A brief update:

http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/2 ... n-and.html

Outfielder Matt LaPorta has struggled some out in Venezuela this offseason while playing winter ball. In 16 games, LaPorta is hitting .175 with 2 HR, 12 RBI and a .581 OPS, and also has 6 walks and 20 strikeouts in 63 at bats. Coming off his short stint in Akron where he hit .233 with 2 HR, 8 RBI and a .649 OPS in 17 games after being acquired from Milwaukee in the C.C. Sabathia trade, some fans are already getting restless with his performance to date as an Indian. There certainly is reason for concern as in his combined time in Akron and Venezuela, in 33 games as an Indian he is hitting .203 (25-for-123) with 4 HR and 20 RBI.

It can be tough for any American or foreign player who plays out in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, and in LaPorta's case a firsthand report from out there said that his slow start is partly the result of the umpires who keep expanding the zone on him. So, LaPorta has had a tough time with the large strike zone.

That said, while the concern is noted, it is way too early to go off the deep end and ledge on LaPorta's performance until things settle down for him and he has a chance to play in a regular environment for an extended period of time. Remember, upon being acquired he played a handful of games in Akron, then a week later went to New York for the Futures Game, then went home to Port Charlotte, Florida for a week to spend time with his family after the passing of a family member, then he came back to Akron for ten days, then he went to Beijing for a month and played for Team USA, then he returned to Akron for about two weeks, and then he went home for a little bit between the end of Akron's season and the start of winter ball, and now is in the Dominican Republic. All this in about four months.

Bottom line, this is LaPorta's first full season and the level of competition he has played at in the Olympics and now Venezuela is about as good as it gets next to the major leagues. No doubt he is getting challenged, and when you combine that with all everywhere he has been and everything he has been a part of these past four months, some slack should be given. The performance to date is surely noted, but let's see what he does next season after he comes back in with the batteries recharged and sticking in one spot (Columbus) for what should be most of the first half of the season and then start to grade him out.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby gotribe31 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:01 pm

Consigliere wrote:A brief update:



It can be tough for any American or foreign player who plays out in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, and in LaPorta's case a firsthand report from out there said that his slow start is partly the result of the umpires who keep expanding the zone on him. So, LaPorta has had a tough time with the large strike zone.
[/quote]

As long as he doesn't get into any bad habits (chasing pitches, expanding his own hit/strike zones), he'll be better for the experience. Every ballplayer faces slumps and adversity at some point. How they deal with those slumps and recover is what can make a good player great. Matt can learn a lot in Venezuela, and carry it over to Columbus in the spring.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:27 am

Read a rumor he may start in AA next year....hope he has a good spring and starts in RF at Columbus. We really need his big bat to come alive and help out the big league club in 2009....
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby npc29 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:49 am

^ For what reasons? I think he's past AA at this point in his development.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:47 am

npc29 wrote:^ For what reasons? I think he's past AA at this point in his development.


Because he struggled at Akron and is struggling some in winter ball.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby dnosco » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:07 pm

npc29 wrote:^ For what reasons? I think he's past AA at this point in his development.


Lots of questions about LaPorta. Defense and his stats since the trade among the major ones:

Akron (regular season) .233, 2 HR, 4 BB in 60 AB
Team USA (Olympics): .158, 2 HR, 3 BB, 8 K in 19 AB
Akron (playoffs) (.320, 3 HR, 7 BB in 25 AB)
Winter ball: .164, 2 HR, 6 BB in 67 AB

Look at his team's stats: http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp ... bp&cid=695

LaPorta is the only player on his entire winter league team hitting under .200 and one of only two hitting under .250.

Yeah, while we can all say that he went through a lot this year those are just excuses designed to quiet the fears of people who might be starting to think this trade is a clunker. Bottom line is, execept for the Eastern League playoffs, the guy has not looked like a top prospect. I don't see a lot of examples out there of guys who excuses were made for who came back strong in the future. Probably are some but my guess is that those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

This is the problem with assessing a guy with only one total year in pro ball at the time of the trade. There is little long-term data to base it on. An analogy could be the performance of Franklin Gutierrez in 2007, if you looked at it without considering anything else. His defense and arm were a given and it appeared he could hit and would only get better with time. However, his previous numbers, outside of one season, showed he wasn't going to hit for power, was going to have trouble with his strikezone judgement and was questionable with his hitting, in general. Nevertheless, after the promise of 2007 people maybe (time will tell) fooled into thinking he was still on the steep part of his development curve. Plus, the latest is the most comical: The umpires are all against him. Hmmm, that might be more plausible if he wasn't the only one on his team struggling.

Plus, there is LaPorta's defense, which is probably good enough in the outfield to make you look at his first base defense.

Hey, this may turn out fine. However, at the time the trade appeared to me to stink and it ain't smelling any better right now.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:49 pm

Well I'm not that down on LaPorta. I still like the CC trade (though Bryson's injury hurts). LaPorta is still a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He may never hit .300, but I can see an Adam Dunn like start to his career. HRs and high OBP. He'll likely have a higher average too (and slightly less strikeouts). I'd take that for the next 6+ years in LF/RF (or 1B should he end up there). His defense is nothign to right home about, but he is a converted catcher (from his college days). He's got a decent enough arm to handle either RF or LF. Isn't fast but with Grady in CF he won't have to cover as much ground (especially if Brantley ends up in LF).
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Duane Kuiper » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:13 pm

I highly doubt that LaPorta makes the top 10 in all of baseball list. He's good but not that good.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:01 pm

Every single ranking I've seen has him there.

Only guys that will for sure be higher than him are Price, Weiters, Maybin, and Snider. Rasmus had a bit of down year so he's no gurantee. There's a bunch of other guys right up there with LaPorta, but no one that totally jumps out.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby dnosco » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:05 pm

Hermie13 wrote:Well I'm not that down on LaPorta. I still like the CC trade (though Bryson's injury hurts). LaPorta is still a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He may never hit .300, but I can see an Adam Dunn like start to his career. HRs and high OBP. He'll likely have a higher average too (and slightly less strikeouts). I'd take that for the next 6+ years in LF/RF (or 1B should he end up there). His defense is nothign to right home about, but he is a converted catcher (from his college days). He's got a decent enough arm to handle either RF or LF. Isn't fast but with Grady in CF he won't have to cover as much ground (especially if Brantley ends up in LF).


I think he was a first baseman in college (I had never heard of him ever catching) and his arm is actually below average, but I could be wrong on that. I would have to go back an look at the scouting reports.

I also doubt he will be in the top 10 prospects in all of baseball and I doubt that there is enough evidence to say he will hit for average and have a high OBP. The professional data does not support that and the college data is unuseable, IMHO, as guys are pitched around in college even more than in the pros since the disparity in college between the best players and the next tier is much greater than it is in the pros. If you want a guy who will probably have a high OBP in the majors if he can hit up to that level, see Nick Weglarz's stats this year.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:11 pm

Matt LaPorta was drafted in the 14th round of the 2003 ML draft by the Cubs as a Catcher. He went to Florida to catch but moved from behind the plate.


He was playing RF for the Brewers mostly because of Braun and Fielder at 1B/LF, but also because he does have a decent arm. Never said it was great (he's no Gut out there). But Manny did play RF for 8 years for us. LaPorta could manage out there. He moves around ok for his size too in the OF (at least from what I've seen thus far at Akron).

I all but gurantee he'll be top 10. He was top 30 last year and had a very solid year. I don't think they'll hold his sluggish stint with Akron against him since he did go to the Olympics and got hurt there (came back and was strong in the playoffs).

Here's what I found a scout say when he was drafted by the Brewers in 07:

He's played every position on the baseball field at some point in his career including where he is stationed now (left field). His arm is above average for outfield and he seems to get good jumps on balls hit his way, although I only saw him have two cans of corn hit to him in the game.

Sounds good enough to me if he can just hit the ball. That's all we need out of our cOFers....
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby jellis » Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:49 pm

as a matter of fact I remember the draft and when the brewers took him there was shock because they have fielder and laporta was near ready, and they began to comment on how Mil might view him as a Catcher s
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby TonyIBI » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:39 pm

Hermie13 wrote:
npc29 wrote:^ For what reasons? I think he's past AA at this point in his development.


Because he struggled at Akron and is struggling some in winter ball.


Those rumors are bunk. No player, agent, media person or anyone knows where these guys will start next year. They are merely educated guesses.

That said, my educated guess has Laporta starting in Columbus next year. I would be shocked if he doesn't.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Jake Taylor » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:58 am

That Columbus lineup is going to be stacked. Prior to the Rule 5, barring trades, it should run along the lines of...

1) Michael Brantley - CF
2) Trevor Crowe - RF
3) Matt LaPorta - LF
4) Wes Hodges - 3B
5) Jordan Brown - DH / 1B
6) Stephen Head - 1B / DH
7) Chris Gimenez - C
8) Andy Cannizaro - SS
9) Josh Barfield - 2B

... Assuming Josh Rodriguez starts the year at Akron, and Aubrey is with the ML-team. I know we recently signed Cannizaro to a minor league deal.

That's a loaded lineup, with a likely loaded pitching staff too.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby MadThinker88 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:24 am

As funny as this sounds, the bullpen will be the strength of the team. Again barring deals and Rule 5 loses I figure only 1 of the following makes the Tribe bullpen out of spring training.

Closer: Stevens/ Meloan (these two have the inside track for 1 slot in bigs unless Wedge wants a lefty)
Lefty setups: Rundles / Sipp (unless one is in the majors)
Righty setups: Adam Miller, non-closer if both in C-bus, JD Martin, Tom Mastny
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:28 am

Jake Taylor wrote:That Columbus lineup is going to be stacked. Prior to the Rule 5, barring trades, it should run along the lines of...

1) Michael Brantley - CF
2) Trevor Crowe - RF
3) Matt LaPorta - LF
4) Wes Hodges - 3B
5) Jordan Brown - DH / 1B
6) Stephen Head - 1B / DH
7) Chris Gimenez - C
8) Andy Cannizaro - SS
9) Josh Barfield - 2B

... Assuming Josh Rodriguez starts the year at Akron, and Aubrey is with the ML-team. I know we recently signed Cannizaro to a minor league deal.

That's a loaded lineup, with a likely loaded pitching staff too.


I highly doubt you'll see Crowe in RF. LaPorta played more RF last year than LF. He'll be the one over there. With Grady in CF in the majors they'll want Brantley or Crowe playing LF. They'll probably switch back and forth between the two spots.

I also don't see Aubrey making the ML squad unless Marte is cut. I'm not the biggest Head fan (wow that sounded dirty, lol). I see Aubrey starting at 1B/DH (with Brown). Or possibly Torregas and Gimenez getting some DH time.


I do agree, this team looks very good on paper (I'd like to see Barfield hitting higher in the order though to get him more ABs). SS is a bit of a conecern though (can be said throughout the whole system minus the bigs really)....
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby toledobuck » Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:47 pm

Aubrey will most likely start at AAA this year as well since he was just recently given an additional option year. You can expect him to split time with Brown and Head. Head may get selected in the rule 5 as well.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Jake Taylor » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:45 pm

I made a mistake putting Crowe in RF and LaPorta in LF, and I agree that those positions are likely to be swapped.

Splitting time between Head, Aubrey, and Brown is going to end up being a bit of problem if Aubrey is indeed at Columbus. I did state barring any picks in the Rule 5 Draft, but the more I think about it, the more I think Head will be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected. He brings a lot of versatility and could be a safe bet to stick on a National League team to split time in the OF and at 1B, as well as be a solid pinch-hit and double-switch guy. While not the most conventional way to free up a spot, it would do the job. Personally, I feel Head might bring more to the table than Aubrey any more, but time will tell in that case.

As for the catcher position, I'd like to see Gimenez get most of the starts. If we do indeed trade Shoppach, I'd like Toregas to be bumped up to the Tribe and keeping Gimenez getting the glut of the time at Columbus.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:12 pm

I think Head has a better shot on an AL team (possibly Seattle), with the DH being in play as well. Again, I don't see him as being any better than Aubrey or Brown down the line. Yeah he can play the OF but so can Brown in a pinch. I don't think Head is ready for the majors and stick....but didn't think Barton would either so we'll see.....
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Duane Kuiper » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:11 pm

LaPorta will be a LF in Cle because Gutz and Choo are better suited for RF.

So the Indians may want LaPorta in LF in the minors because that's where he will be playing in the ML.
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Re: LaPorta Update

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:20 pm

I see it differently. I agree Choo/Gut are better suited in RF than LaPorta....but I think the Tribe may envision an OF of Brantley in LF, Sizemore in CF, and LaPorta in RF in 2009 or 2010. Plus playing RF will help him keep his arm strength up some (not much, but something). Moving from RF to LF is easier than LF to RF.

He'll see time at both cOF spots as well as some time a 1B even.
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