Monday, March 26, 2012

View From Goodyear: Part One

Pure Rage
In the past few days down here in the Arizona sunshine, I’ve seen a LOT of baseball, both at the major league and minor league level. From minor leaguers working on bunt plays and PFP all the way up to the big league club in game action, I’ve seen pretty much everything one can see on a baseball diamond. Here are some of the highlights from around the Goodyear complex:

Jason Donald has looked serviceable in centerfield. Not amazing, but certainly not terrible. He made several routine plays, one really good plan on a sinking liner that he had to come in, and then one play where he took a bad route to a ball in the gap and turned a single into a triple. He’s not going to save a ton of runs, but probably won’t give up too many extra runs either.

Pure Rage Perez returned to “live” action on Saturday, facing three hitters in a minor league intersquad game. He only needed 7 pitches to retire the side in order, as OF Delvi Cid grounded out on the 1st pitch, OF Tyler Holt hit a drive to the track in CF that Trevor Crowe ran down and SS Tony Wolters grounded out sharply to 1B to end the inning. Perez had to hustle over to cover the bag on the Wolters groundout, and was showing no ill effects from the strained oblique that he suffered earlier in the year. Hopefully his body is now ready for the intensity of pitching.

1st round draft pick Francisco Lindor looks like the real deal. The switch-hitting SS has shown impressive doubles power to all fields from both sides of the plate, especially considering his size. He looks solid in the field, although he hasn’t had a chance to make any crazy plays in the games that I’ve seen. Still, he passes the initial eye test and should be a lot of fun for NE Ohio fans to watch in Lake County this year.

RHP Austin Adams is still not throwing after shoulder tightness sidelined him earlier in camp. Adams assured me that there is no apparent structural damage to the shoulder, and that the Indians are just being conservative at this stage. There’s no reason to push his million-dollar arm in March, so hopefully he throws a few innings in extended spring training and then heads up to Columbus in mid to late April.

RHP Trey Haley was lighting up the radar gun in his two innings of work Saturday in the intersquad games. His fastball was sitting consistently between 94-97, and he touched 99 a couple of times. Haley is an intriguing guy who could really be a breakout prospect this year, as he’s healthy and ready to go at the beginning of the season after struggling with some nagging injuries last year. His command is still coming along, as he walked a couple of guys but if he can harness his stuff, he’s one of the top starting pitching prospects in the organization

RHP Bryce Stowell sat between 91-95 with his fastball, and showed a really impressive slider with excellent life. The fastball still isn’t where it was in his breakout 2010 campaign, but if he can regain his velocity the stuff could still be dominant.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but LHP T.J. House is in the best shape of his life. He lost 27 pounds in the offseason, and really looks solid. After a poor 2011, House tinkered with his delivery, going back to the ¾ arm slot he featured to great success earlier in his career. He’s definitely talented, and hopefully the new (old) arm slot will help him get back to where he was in 2010. The native of Louisiana is a little upset about the harsh penalties levied on coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints, but other than that things are looking up for the young lefty in 2012.

Slugging 1B Jesus Aguilar also looks like he’s added some strength in the offseason. Hitting is not the big righty’s problem, as he’s shown some impressive raw power so far in his young career. Defensively though, he’s struggled with his footwork at 1B. Aguilar was out at the fields an hr before the rest of the players on Thursday, getting in extra work with coach Travis Fryman on the defensive side. He looks much more athletic and light on his feet than he did last year, and really seems to be making strides defensively.

Catcher Dwight Childs, usually known more for his defense than his offense, hit a long home run off Bryce Stowell in intersquad action. Childs only has two professional HR’s in 125 career AB’s, but he really got into a Stowell fastball and hit one off the light tower in left field.

Outfielder LeVon Washington looks to have added some strength to his frame in the offseason, but he hasn’t lost any of his speed. He’s had a really good spring so far, popping a home run and hitting over .400 for high-A Carolina. Washington’s arm looks much, much better than last season, and he’s much more of a candidate to remain in CF than he was at this time last year.

RHP Rob Bryson seems a little off. He’s sitting between 90-94 with his fastball, which is a little slower than usual. His command is the real concern though, as he’s been walking way too many hitters this spring. It’s still early and I’m not going to condemn a guy to failure just because of a few poor outings in March, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Catcher Eric Haase has been extremely impressive this spring. Drafted and signed out of high school, Haase is one of the younger players in camp but is performing like a veteran. He’s shown remarkable power to the opposite field, something he was forced to develop in high school as pitchers would consistently pitch him away. He’s still learning the intricacies of the position defensively, but his plus athletic ability is making him look awfully good behind the dish. He has the chance to be a five-tool player, something that you don’t see very often for a catcher. I really think the Indians got a steal when the selected him in the 7th round of the draft last year.

Jason Knapp…still not throwing.

That’s it for today, but more to come later this week. I’ll be back at the fields all day tomorrow before flying out late Monday afternoon. If you have any burning questions about any of the prospects in the org, shoot them to me via Twitter and I’ll do my best to get them answered before I leave town. 


MTF said...

Thanks for the report; I wish I could go some year, and this sort of expert view makes for tantalizing reading.

Is there any chance that Lindor ends up in Carolina at the end of this season, do you think? The Indians like to let young prospects move slowly, I realize, but the early reports on Lindor make it seem like a possibility.

Al Ciammaichella said...

No problem. Wait till I start posting some of my will make you want to start planning your trip!

I highly, highly doubt it. He'll play the entire 2012 season as an 18-year old. Even if he's tearing up the Midwest League (which can be tough on hitters, especially early in the year), there's really no reason to push him to Carolina this year. It's tempting to want to rush him because he's at the top of a somewhat thin system, but I think the Indians will stick to their history and he'll be a level a year guy for now.

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