Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Final Harvest of the Season

With the Tribe on the Left Coast, I thought it would be a good time to take a final look at the top players in the upper levels of the Minor League system.

The final numbers for the players show the numbers achieved at the highest level at which they appeared for an extended period of time.

I kept the list to prospects only or players who may fit into the Indians’ long-term plans, mainly guys that we didn’t get to see too much of in Cleveland.

Buffalo Bisons (73-68)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Kevin Kouzmanoff - .353 – 7 – 20 – 1.056
Franklin Gutierrez - .278 – 9 – 38 - .806
Ben Francisco - .278 – 17 – 59 - .799
Asdrubal Cabrera - .263 – 1 – 14 – .632

Guys like Marte, Inglett, and Garko were excluded from this list because of the extensive time that they spent in Cleveland. Cabrera will get another year in Buffalo to season him as a hitter, because, by most accounts, his defense is already ML-ready. A decision will have to be made on Francisco, who needs to be added to the 40-man roster or he’ll be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Gutierrez and Kouzmanoff will be given a shot to make the 25-man, though both have options remaining for 2007.

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Edward Mujica – 3/1 – 2.48 – 1.10 – 29/5
Andrew Brown – 5/4 – 2.60 – 1.41 – 53/36
Brian Slocum – 6/3 – 2.61 – 1.22 – 91/37
Tom Mastny – 2/1 – 2.61 – 1.08 – 46/16
Rafael Perez – 0/3 – 2.63 – 1.02 – 33/8
Juan Lara – 1/1 – 3.00 – 1.33 – 15/3
Jeremy Guthrie – 9/5 – 3.14 – 1.23 – 88/48
Jake Dittler – 5/12 – 4.70 – 1.55 – 54/50

Obviously, Sowers and Carmona are missing from the list as we’ve all seen the good (Sowers and Carmona as the set-up guy) and the bad (Carmona’s rapid descent from “This Guy Can Save Games” to “We’ve Got To Save This Guy”). These players have all made the trip West to Cleveland, except for Dittler. The results have been fair to middling in Cleveland with Mastny and Lara having the most success. Guthrie and Brown are out of options and may not fit into the 2007 plans; but, then again, maybe none of these guys do.

Akron Aeros (87-55)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Brian Barton - .351 – 6 – 26 - .919
Ryan Goleski - 296 – 17 – 63 – .898
Brad Snyder - .270 – 18 – 72 - .796
Ryan Mulhern - .268 – 15 – 69 - .773
Wyatt Toregas - .258 – 4 – 29 - .711
Eider Torres - .273 – 2 – 42 - .650
Trevor Crowe - .234 – 1 – 13 - .643

Barton, Torregas, Goleski, and Crowe all spent most of the season in Kinston, where they justifiably earned the trip to Akron. Goleski, who is 2 months younger that Brad Snyder is starting to outpace the former 1st rounder from Ball State as a possible future corner outfielder. Mulhern will likely move up to Buffalo to take the spot vacated by Garko (assuming he’s in Cleveland). Torres, who is a slick-fielding MI, has numbers that show why he doesn’t fit into the Tribe’s immediate plans at 2B. Overall, it was an underwhelming offensive year for Akron as the brighter prospects, like Crowe, were brought in to help the team with their playoff push. The disappointing offensive output is what makes the pitching performances even more impressive.

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Bubbie Buzachero – 8/3 – 2.72 – 1.25 – 71/25
Adam Miller – 15/8 – 2.75 – 1.12 – 157/43
Tony Sipp – 4/2 – 3.13 – 1.08 – 80/21
Aaron Laffey – 8/3 – 3.53 – 1.37 – 61/33
Travis Foley – 4/5 – 3.83 – 1.38 – 86/31
Sean Smith – 10/5 – 3.88 –1.28 – 94/45
Bear Bay – 7/8 – 4.33 – 1.31 – 114/48
Dan Denham – 6/2 – 4.88 – 1.58 – 40/39
Nick Pesco – 6/8 – 5.81 – 1.58 – 64/40

Gaze upon the “Next Wave of Arms”, led by Adam Miller, who could be pitching in Cleveland this time next year. There may be one other spot in the rotation available in Buffalo, with Laffey, Smith, and Bay the most likely candidates. Sipp figures in, down the line, as a match-up lefty while Buzachero may not be in the organization after getting into a fight in the Canal Park locker room, breaking Eider Torres’ jaw. No word on whether Torres made fun of his name to provoke the onslaught.

Kinston Indians (85-54)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Jose Costanza (OF) - .327 – 1 – 27 - .855
Jordan Brown (OF) - .290 – 15 – 287 – .831
Stephen Head (1B) - .235 – 14 – 73 - .696
John Drennan (OF) - .239 – 8 – 37 – .656
Matt Whitney (3B) - .206 – 10 – 39 – .656

Once again, like in Akron, the offense in Kinston was not the motor that took this team to a Mills Cup Championship. Jordan Brown is the most impressive of this largely unimpressive group. Drennan is still a youngster who started the season in Lake County (where he hit a HR off of Roger Clemens), and Matt Whitney has ceased to be a prospect, much less a top prospect.

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Scott Lewis – 3/3 – 1.48 –0.97 – 123/28
Chuck Lofgren – 17/5 – 2.32 – 1.16 – 125/54
Joe Ness – 9/6 – 3.62 – 1.31 – 120/55
Reid Santos – 2/0 – 3.44 – 1.17 – 65/28
Jensen Lewis – 7/6 – 3.99 – 1.28 – 94/29
Kevin Dixon – 6/3 – 5.19 – 1.43 – 40/23
TJ Burton – 2/5 – 5.36 – 1.69 – 46/18

Again, just like in Akron, the pitchers carried this team. 4 of the 5 starters had ERA’s under 4.00 and Chuck Lofgren cemented his top prospect status. Scott Lewis led all of the Minor Leagues in ERA, earning him the “Most Spectacular Pitcher” Award, three years after undergoing “Tommy John” surgery. Jensen Lewis (21) and Joe Ness (22) are the type of pitchers who progress through the system, never blowing anyone away – just winning

The fact that 2 of 3 of these teams were in the running to win their leagues (with Kinston winning, Akron losing) and the one team that was out of the running (Buffalo) was picked clean by the parent club is pretty encouraging for the future.

Now it’s time for Shapiro and the boys to make the difficult decisions on the 40-man roster so they don’t expose the wrong guys to the Rule 5 Draft and determine which of the higher level prospects will contribute, and when to keep the product at the corner of Prospect and Ontario exciting.

3 comments:

Cy Slapnicka said...

Got this from a friend....

In an article in the Enquirer about how beat up all the Bengals are...this was from Chad Johnson, talking about the hit he took from Russell the muscle...

"He said he was sore all over."

"I have to get somebody back. Someone has to pay for me not being able to look up at the sky. I can't turn my head to the left. I can't look to the right, and I can't raise my right shoulder. My left knee hurts;my back is in discomfort. I can't even eat solids. I'm on a liquiddiet right now. "

Reporters laughed)

"That's not funny, guys."

T-Bone said...

From Tom Verducci's mailbag:

Do you foresee the Indians bouncing back next year to contend for the playoffs, or were their struggles this year indicative of deeper structural problems that will take some sort of minor overhaul to correct?
-- Dale C., Brunswick, Ohio

I see the Indians with a big bounce-back season. They were my preseason pick to be the AL's most disappointing team this year, but only because I believe that one of the most difficult things to do as a young team is win when people expect you to win -- and that's what people extrapolated from their 2005 season. But their core of young talent is legit, and assuming they address their bullpen issues this winter, they'll be right in the thick of things next year.

T-Bone said...

Anyone getting a paver?