Results tagged ‘ Cleveland Indians ’
Last week, I wrote a feature that focused on Courtney Hawkins, Brandon Nimmo and Trevor Bauer and how, in different ways, they were all bouncing back from either up-and-down or subpar seasons in 2013 to have solid-to-outstanding 2014 campaigns to date.
As is often the case, I had way too much information from the conversations I had with players and farm directors. Rather than send them into the vitrual trashbin, never to be seen again, I figured I’d post them here for your perusal. Some of it was used partially, but most of it didn’t make it into the final version of the story.
“The numbers weren’t horrible, but they weren’t where I’d like them to be. This year, one of the biggest things was in the offseason, I got to some warmer weather sooner. I was little more focused on bringing the baseball aspect of it into my workouts instead of just focusing on strength and speed. Going to IMG for seven weeks really helped. We worked on everything from mental to vision to strength and speed and flexibility. We also would go on the field and work on the swing, get out there, hit with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starlin Castro. To hit with those kinds of guys, I really benifitted from picking their brains a little bit. I’m stronger, more control of my body, which is going to happen as I mature.”
“I put the work in this offseason, lets see the results. So far, so good. There will be some bad times, but I’m trying to be more consistent and iron out those down times more.”
“You can’t let one bad game spiral into a week or two of bad games. Or maybe you had a good game, or got some cheap hits, you need to realize that’s not what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to hit the ball on the barrel all the time. You’re picking up small things that might help you not fall into those long droughts. When you’re in the droughts, you try to [remind yourself] it takes a little bit of time. Maybe you created a bad habit and it’s not going to take one swing to get out of it. [Learning to deal with success and failure are] both essential in developing for a Major League career.”
“I had my times where what I was capable of would pop out. I’d start feeling good and say, ok time to breakout. You really do have to take things pitch by pitch, day by day. If you let one at-bat get to you, you’re going to be screwed that whole game. I can tell you from personal experience.”
“I don’t worry about the media stuff this year. Last year, I’d read stuff and say, ‘I’m going to prove them wrong.’ I just go out and play ball now.”
“At instructs, I was hitting well again. It didn’t really click until this offseason. My second offseason, I knew how to go about stuff. I didn’t take much time off. I stayed in the groove and kept going at it. When I came into the hitting camp in January,they could tell the difference. I felt good in Spring Training. Toward the end of Spring Training, they lowered my hands more. Since then, I’ve been putting my bat on the ball more.”
“Last year, whenever they told me to do something, I did it. That’s why you saw so many different stances. I kept tyring to find something that was clicking. You ‘d be back to square one every time. Lowering my hands clicked fast for me. But it doesn’t always work that way. You have to work on it.”
“I was tyring to get that callup, but you can’t think that way. It’s so much easier to play when you’re not worrying about the other stuff. That first summer, I had the mentality, all I worried about was just playing ball. My whole mindset changed. Now I’m back to that, just go out and play ball and not worry about anything else.”
White Sox farm director Nick Capra (on Hawkins):
“This last year, experience of first full year of baseball, maturity has a lot to do with it, him learning he didn’t have to be in a hurry to get in the big leagues. In his mind, he thought he was on a fast track. He got ahead of himself.”
“We moved him from CF to LF this year. He’s responded tremendously. His defense has improved. He looks like an OF with a passion to [play defense].”
“There are different personalities, different kids. They have to find themselves somehow, rather than look at what other people are doing. They have to focus on what they are capable of doing and how they’re doing.”
On whether in hindsight they feel they rushed him:
“I don’t think so. When he signed, he progressed rapidly. We got him to Kannapolis and he really stood out in the SAL. We got him to the Carolina League for the playoffs and he excelled. We thought he’d settle in during his first full year and grow on the success he had before. It’s easy to look back, but no I don’t think so.”
On his progress:
“I think it was more of a gradual thing. He worked on things in instructs that he brought into Spring Training. Then we worked on other things in Spring Training. A lot of it was the mental things that figure into how you play. He’s adjusted to things rather well. You have to have confidence and it plays a big factor in how you compete. This kid had never failed before. He failed a little bit last year. Now it’s about how he responds to failure. He is definitely a more confident player last year.”
Indians farm director Ross Atkins (on Trevor Bauer):
“I can tell you I haven’t met many pitchers that are as passionate about delivery mechanics, about pitching philosophically and mechanically, as Trevor. It’s been great for us to learn with and from him about him and about pitching. He has incredible toughts about pitching.”
“Even last year, when he wasn’t at his ‘best,’ we were still extremely encouraged. His results and velocity weren’t where they were. We didn’t see him back off from trying to master his skills and craft. Obviously, this year in Spring Training, you see the spike in velocity and strikeouts, how he’s pitched this year, we’ve been extremely encouraged. Although the results have varied, we’ve never been disappointed with his commitment. I know he had a hard time with last year. He was extremely frustrated. The fact he was coming close to making such a significant adjustment to his approach and still was competing, it gave us faith he’d find that comfort level eventually.”
“With Trevor, we really have been, from the start, extremely impressed and encouraged by his process and how committed he is to being great. He’s never tried or focused on , ‘I’m going to show or prove to someone,’ it’s not about how he was traded. It’s always about how can I be great. That’s why we’ve always been so encouraged. Now that he’s having more productive results, obviously we’re encouraged by that. I can honestly say , there were never levels of discouragement. He’s always been in a very good place.”
“All pitchers have ebb and flow. He’s now higher than we’ve every seen him, consistently in the mid to high 90s. His curve, slider and changeup are all average to slightly above-average weapons. They vary which one is most effective; that makes him more interesting.”
Hey all —
Have to be quick today as we’ve got the big Top 100 reveal tomorrow (MLB Network and MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET!!). Besides, coming up with 5 more first basemen isn’t exactly. But here’s a list of names. I’ll be back later today with the much easier to come up with outfielders.
Nate Freiman, Astros
Ricky Oropesa, Giants
Christian Walker, Orioles
Neftali Soto, Reds
Jesus Aguilar, Indians
If you have suggstions for other first basemen to consider, by all means, let me know.
There are even some worthwhile prospects to put on the 11-15 list. Check it out.
Stefen Romero, Mariners — He’s hit .318/.368/.534 in his Minor League career so far. An argument can be made that he belonged in the top 10.
Grant Green, A’s — He started as a shortstop, then moved to the outfield and now is back in the infield at second, which is a good home for him. The bat has always had a chance to contribute.
Rougned Odor, Rangers — The Rangers are good at developing shortstop prospects, why not on the right side of second base? Odor can hit, with a little pop, and can run a little, too.
Ronny Rodriguez, Indians — Yes, he’s nore of a shortstop now and has the skills to stay there. But if he’s going to play in Cleveland with Francisco Lindor someday, he’ll have to move and he did play 45 games at second in 2012.
Angelo Gumbs, Yankees — He has plus speed and is a basestealing threat. He only knows one speed and continues to improve defensively.
The video report features Brentz, Michael Almanzar and Brock Huntziger.
Got two Stars of the Day for you, one from Wednesday and one — witnessed in person! — from Thursday.
For Wednesday, I’m going to go with T.J. House of the Indians. This is the second Star of the Day nod for the lefty and for good reason. He’s been solid this fall. On Wednesday, he went four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four. For the fall, he has a 1.59 ERA and .175 BAA over 17 IP. It’s been a pretty good way for House to cap off a successful 2012 season that saw him spend much of the year in Double-A.
For Thursday’s Star, I have to go with a guy I saw. Kevin Jensen has been mentioned here before, too, named the Star of the Day for last Thursday. I threw out some fun stuff from our friends at Trackman about how Jensen was among the leaders in hardest, and farthest, balls hit in the AFL. Well, he was at it again on Thursday at Salt River Fields. The Marlins’ outfielder went 3-for-3 in the game, driving in driving in a pair and scoring twice. His second hit was a laser triple to center field that hit the batter’s eye (without knowing the ground rules of the place, I thought at first it was gone). In his next at-bat, he crushed a ball out the opposite way. Not sure what Trackman would have to say about either, but they’d have to register somewhere on the hard hit balls list, I’d wager. I’m told that Jensen is more of a mistake hitter than anything else (he did strike out over 160 times in 2012 and his Double-A numbers weren’t great), but boy, he’s not missing any mistakes here so far this fall. He currently stands second in RBIs and SLG and he’s third in OPS.
Are you kids on the Twitter? Well, then, I suggest you take a look at a handy list compiled of the players in the Arizona Fall League who like to “tweet,” as you youngsters call it. It’s fun for the whole family.
So is reading the most recent AFL team report. Today’s subject: Your Cleveland Indians (focus on T.J. House). And, as has been my custom, here’s the video report (featuring Ronny Rodriguez, Alex Monsalve and Shawn Armstrong):
As for the Star of the Day for Tuesday’s games, let’s give a big B3 cheer for…
Kyle Jensen of the Miami Marlins for his grand slam in what ended up a 7-7 tie between Phoenix and Mesa. Jensen’s had himself a fine AFL campaign so far, sitting fifth in batting average (.390), second in RBIs (10) and seventh in OPS (1.017). But I also wanted to use Jensen to highlight some cool stuff that the folks at Trackman are doing in Arizona. They measure all sorts of cool stuff, from good ol’ fastball velocity to fastball extension and breaking ball spin for pitchers to hardest and longest hits, including exit speeds for hitters. Why do I bring this up now? Because Jensen, at last check in, led the AFL in hard contacts at the plate. Of 15 contacts recorded off the bat by Jensen, 12 were deemed as hard contacts by Trackman (hard meaning 90+ mph). He has three of the top 20 hardest hit balls of the AFL, all three of which had speeds of over 106 mph. And as Trackman points out on that leaderboard, the MLB average on balls hit over 105 mph is .722, so Jensen is clearly doing something right.
Happy Monday everyone. Just wanted to catch everyone up on the team reports and accompanying video:
- Toronto Blue Jays, with a focus on Sam Dyson (Video focuses on Jake Marisnick, Deck McGuire and Kevin Pillar)
- Colorado Rockies, with a focus on Kent Matthes (Video focuses on Matthes, Corey Dickerson and Isaiah Froneberger)
And we have 2 Stars of the Day to hand out, for Friday and Saturday. First, Friday:
While the Marlins’ Kyle Jensen gets a tip of the cap for his 4-for-5 day at the plate for Phoenix (to go along with 3 RBIs), B3 has to go with another pitcher as Friday’s Star of the Day. Any 1-0 game in the AFL stands out and while Indians LHP T.J. House didn’t figure into the decision of Scottsdale’s win by that score, he certainly did his part. House went five hitless innings for the Scorpions, walking three and striking out four. He’s now given up one run on three hits over eight innings in the AFL, following a season that saw him finish third in the organization in strikeouts and fourth in WHIP, BAA and wins.
And now, from Saturday:
The scores from Saturday look much more like the Fall League we’ve all been used to over the years — one game 16-10, another 12-11. Kudos to the aforementioned Sardinas for homering and driving in four runs. But Saturday’s Star is awarded to Josh Prince of the Brewers. Prince, a former shortstop who made the transition to the outfield during the regular season, did what a leadoff man is supposed to for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. He went 3-for-3 with two walks, getting on base all five times he came to the plate. He scored two runs and drove in three, walking and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. He also fell a home run short of the cycle. The only downside for the speedster who his hitting .433 in the AFL thus far is that he got caught stealing twice (once via pickoff).
I know I owe you a few OMGs, but please forgive me. I had to fly down to Florida today for Spring Training coverage and had much to do on the home front to get ready. So I’ll play catch-up the next few days, I promise.
So, we’ll start the catch-up with the Indians. Here’s their Top 10 prospects and their OMG (One More Guy):
Nick Hagadone, LHP: The Red Sox’s sandwich pick from the 2007 Draft, Hagadone, of course, came over to the Indians in the Victor Martinez trade at the deadline back in 2009. He had missed nearly all of 2008 thanks to Tommy John surgery and 2009 was really just the bounce-back year.
In 2010, his first full season with the Indians, he began with Class A Advanced Kinston. After 10 starts and a 2.39 ERA (to go along with a .206 batting average against), he moved up to Double-A Akron. He made seven starts (5.19 ERA), then spent the rest of the year in the Aeros’ bullpen (3.68 ERA in 12 games).
Hagadone still has a pretty good arm, though he’s not throwing as hard as he was before the elbow surgery. While he did strike out 9.4 per nine innings in 2010, he also walked 6.6. Even if the velocity bounces back to the upper 90s consistently and his slider is always there for him, he’ll need to seriously harness his command. Many think he’s a reliever when all is said and done and they might be right. His 85 2/3 IP last year were a career high, so perhaps the Indians’ decision to let him continue starting in 2011 is as much about getting him needed innings as it is about developing him as a future part of a rotation. This could be the year we find out if a short relief role is really the way to go for him.
The Cleveland Indians have signed their fourth-round pick,
right-handed pitcher Kyle Blair, MLB.com has learned. The University of San
Diego standout was the No. 120 pick overall of the Draft and it took an
over-slot deal to get it done.
Blair will get $580,000 to sign. The Indians have yet to sign first-rounder
Drew Pomeranz, the lefty out of Ole Miss (No. 5 overall), outfielder LeVon Washington, their 2nd-round
pick and high school shortstop Tony Wolters, their third-round selection.
There was some buzz that a Wolters deal was close to being done.
In case you were curious, you can take a look at the Draft Report we had on Blair before the Draft in June: Kyle Blair, RHP, University of San Diego
I figured Matt LaPorta’s gotten enough attention (though you can watch my interview with him in Akron last night on the MiLB.com homepage). What about a guy like Robert Bryson, the low-A RHP included in the deal? How about some love for him?
I’m no stats geek (though I like them to an extent), but I was looking at his performance since he began his pro career and something stuck out: He seemed to have a lot of strikeouts. Seventy in 54 IP for Helena last summer in the Pioneer League, then 73 more in 55 IP in West Virginia prior to the trade. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 143 K’s in 109 IP.
Boy, I thought, that seems like a pretty good rate. I wonder, I pondered aloud (that was strange because I was working in a coffee shop and people turned and stared. But I digress…), where that ranks among Minor League pitchers over the same time frame. So like I did with the LaPorta power numbers, I asked my good friends in the MLBAM stats department to do some crunching for me. They came back with great abs. When I told them I meant for them to crunch the numbers, they said, “Ohhhhh,” punched themselves in the stomach and got the spreadsheet up and running. Lo and behold, this is what they found, using the strikeout per nine inning ratio and using all pitchers from June 22, 2007 (Bryson’s debut) and a minimum of 100 IP:
Santo Luis, Astros/White Sox, 12.62 K/9
Victor Garate, Astros/Dodgers, 12.03
Neftali Feliz, Rangers, 11.83
Rob Bryson, Brewers, 11.81
Jeremy Jeffers, Brewers, 11.78
I almost want to discount Luis and Garate since both are older (Luis is 24; Garate 23) and pitching in low-A ball. Not that they can’t have careers, but they’ve been around since signing in 2001 and 2002 (both by the Astros, who let them go, if that’s telling at all). Feliz is legit and is in Double-A now at age 20. Jeffress has ridiculous arm strength, but has had some off-the-field issues and it remains to be seen what he becomes. But he’s still very young. And there’s Bryson, No. 4 overall in the Minors with his K/9 rate. So while LaPorta is clearly the big fish the Indians wanted to reel in with this trade (C.C. makes for some imposing bait, no?), don’t just relegate Bryson as “some random guy” thrown in. Dude can throw and if he can figure some things out, he could be a nice arm, either in the rotation or more likely as a short reliever, down the line.
That’s right, it looks like we can just about offically “close the door” on the C.C. Sabathia trade. The biggest part of the trade, as you know by now is Matt LaPorta, whom the Brewers took in the first round of the 2007 draft, No. 7 overall. Young fastballer Robert Bryson and Triple-A lefty Zach Jackson are also part of the deal, with a player-to-be-named to be, well, named later on. Many feel it could be Taylor Green, who’s currently in Brevard County.
LaPorta, who should be able to stay in the outfield according to a scout I spoke with today, has put up tremendous power and run production numbers the moment he entered pro ball. Over his first 114 games, LaPorta has homered 32 times in 417 at-bats. He’s driven in 97 runs in that span, slugging .609 and posting a 1.002 OPS.
I was curious how his numbers compared to others in the same time span. So my good friends in MLBAM’s stats department (thank you, Cory Schwartz) ran them for me. Starting from July 30, 2007 — the date of LaPorta’s pro debut — and going through yesterday’s action, here’s where LaPorta stacks up in a number of offensive categories:<p>
Chris Davis, 35
Matt LaPorta, 32
Greg Halman, 32
Mike Hessman, 31
Dallas McPherson, 31
Jesus Guzman, 107
John Lindsay, 103
Chris Davis, 98
Matt LaPorta, 97
Darin Holcomb, 94
Mat Gamel, 281
Jesus Guzman, 273
Chris Davis, 266
John Lindsay, 255
Matt LaPorta, 254
Using a minimum of 300 plate appearances, LaPorta also is eighth in SLG (.609) and 15th in OPS (1.009). So much for the tough transition to the pro game. While at first it seemed like he might be headed up to Triple-A Buffalo, he’s going to at least start his Indians career in Double-A Akron. He’s slated to be a part of the U.S. Team at the Futures Game on Sunday in Yankee Stadium and that shouldn’t change. What could is him going to Beijing for the Olympics. If the Indians want to keep him around for a possible callup, they may decide they want him stateside rather than in China for a couple of weeks.