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Around The Farm: August 14, 2013

Lowery, Lavisky's strong performances highlight night on the farm

Around The Farm: August 14, 2013
August 15, 2013
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Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Indians prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.

Note that the AZL Indians were off last night.

Jake Lowery (C, Akron): 2-for-3, 1 BB

It has been a while since Cleveland has developed a catcher, as Carlos SantanaYan Gomes, and Lou Marson all came to the organization in trades. This year has been a revelation in that department, as Lowery has rebounded after a disappointing 2012. With a .281/.340/.474 line in 58 games, Lowery is impressing and reestablishing himself as a prospect. The talent was always there for the 23-year-old -- Lowery did win the Johnny Bench Award in college -- and it looks like the catcher has put things together in his second full professional season. He will need to sustain this level of performance, but after last year, the future is bright again for Lowery.

Alex Lavisky (C, Carolina): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Speaking of developing catchers in the system. It is easy to look at Lavisky's .225/.278/.371 line in 24 games this year and call him a disappointment, but there is a little more to the situation than meets the eye. Lavisky missed most of the season with a fractured toe and, now that he is healthy, is not playing every day due to the presence of Tony Wolters. Most players have difficulty hitting while playing sporadically, plus Lavisky has the added burden of having to call the game and run the pitching staff. At 21 years old, it is not like Lavisky is aging out as a prospect. Even if he starts next year back in Carolina, Lavisky can still make a name for himself in the organization.

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, Columbus): L (5-7), 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO. Matsuzaka continued his recent string of successful starts and, considering Carlos Carrasco's struggles Wednesday, could potentially see some time in Cleveland.
  • Blake Wood (RP, Columbus): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO. Now that Wood is done with his rehab, the right-hander is pitching well in Columbus (19:5 SO:BB in 11.2 innings) and could be an option for the bullpen in September.
  • Ryan Rohlinger (2B, Columbus): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI. Rohlinger is still trucking along, as the 29-year-old is playing every day in Columbus and owns a respectable .268/.358/.357 line.
  • Matt LaPorta (1B, Columbus): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 SO. In nine games since being activated off of the disabled list, LaPorta owns a .804 OPS with two doubles and two home runs. His 11 strikeouts are not so impressive, though.
  • Will Roberts (SP, Akron): ND, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO. Since the calendar turned to July, Roberts owns a 2.68 ERA and 38:13 SO:BB in 57.0 innings. Roberts did not come into the year as a high-priority guy, but the right-hander's rank will improve after this year.
  • Austin Adams (RP, Akron): BS (4), L (1-2), 1.0 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR. Up to Wednesday, Adams' 2013 season had gone quite well. The right-hander still owns an impressive 64:27 SO:BB in 46.0 innings, though his ERA jumped from 2.40 to 3.13.
  • Jose Ramirez (3B, Akron): 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 SAC. The double is good to see as Ramirez only has 23 extra-base hits in 97 games, though the bigger story here is Ramirez playing third base for the second consecutive night.
  • Francisco Lindor (SS, Akron): 0-for-2. After missing a week with a sore back, Lindor was pulled in the fifth inning after experiencing more discomfort.
  • Tyler Naquin (CF, Akron): 0-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO. Not the best debut for Naquin, but there is no use overreacting to one not-so-good game.
  • Cole Cook (SP, Carolina): W (2-1), 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO. Cook has seen more downs than ups in 2013 but he had his game going Wednesday. The right-hander needs more outings like this over the final month to salvage this year.
  • Francisco Valera (RP, Carolina): 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 HBP. Valera's 4.00 ERA in Carolina does not look so good, but with a 42:19 SO:BB and 3.16 FIP in 47.1 innings, things are not all that bad for the right-hander.
  • Bryson Myles (LF, Carolina): 1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB. Myles' 23-game hitting streak may have ended, but he has just started another one over the past two nights.
  • Logan Vick (CF, Carolina): 0-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO. Like Naquin, Vick's High-A debut could have gone better, but once again, there is no use putting too much stock in one game.
  • Felix Sterling (SP, Lake County): ND, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 7 R (3 ER), 7 BB, 4 SO, 2 WP, 1 E. After Sterling allowed seven runs on seven walks while only recording eight outs, Wednesday looked like a lost cause. Sterling's teammates bailed him out for a win, however.
  • Lake County Bullpen: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 9 SO. Luis DeJesusAnderson Polanco, and Grant Sides salvaged this one, answering the bell for over seven innings of strong pitching. DeJesus hauled 3.1 innings immediately after Sterling while Polanco and Sides each posted two effective innings after that.
  • Joe Sever (1B, Lake County): 3-for-6, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI. South Bend managed one run in the top of the 10th, but Sever's two-run double in the bottom half of the inning brought Lake County back for the win. The first baseman now owns a .289/.349/.440 line in 84 games with the Captains this year.
  • LeVon Washington (CF, Lake County): 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 SAC, 1 SB. #WashTime had been slumping heading into Wednesday night, but no one really thought that Washington would stay down for long, right?
  • Jeremy Lucas (C, Lake County): 3-for-4, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO. Lucas may not have the pedigree of the catchers featured above, but the 22-year-old owns a .300/.409/.460 line in 62 games this year.
  • Kent Mathews (SP, Mahoning Valley): ND, 4.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO. Mathews did not have the most accurate night, but the left-hander did manage to avoid any real damage.
  • Ben Heller (RP, Mahoning Valley): 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 E. With another three scoreless innings, Heller's ERA drops to 0.94 and his FIP to 2.61 in 29.0 innings. Not a bad start from the 2013 22nd round pick.
  • Breily Puerta (RP, Mahoning Valley): L (2-3), 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO. Puerta is still having a good season despite Wednesday night's poor showing (2.03 ERA, 2.19 FIP in 26.2 innings). The real culprit for the Scrappers' loss was the utter lack of offense.
  • Nellie Rodriguez (1B, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-2, 2 BB, 1 PO. On a night where there was not much offense for the Scrappers, Rodriguez still managed to reach base three times. Being able to draw those walks will be important going forward for the first baseman.
  • Martin Cervenka (C, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-2, 1 BB, 1 PB. With a .211/.280/.284 line in 28 games, Cervenka's demotion to Mahoning Valley is not helping the catcher that much in 2013. The newly-21-year-old looked good Wednesday, however, getting on base during a down night for the offense.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@kent.edu

User Comments

Andy
August 15, 2013 - 11:30 PM EDT
If the offensive requirements for the Tribe's 3B are to hit .220, not walk, and struggle vs LHP, then Urshela should be a shoe-in for a June call-up next season. At least he has well above avg D.

Numerical oddities for Chiz so far in 2013 - well below his 2011/2012 BABIP (.256 vs .300) yet well above his IFH% (10.0% vs 4.2%) with 7 IFH out of 49 total H. He'd be hitting an even .200 without that spike in IFH%. Add in a whopping 6 GIDP in 235 PAs (5 combined in 374 PAs in 2011/2012) and the eye test is confirmed - Chiz looks lost at the plate. And that's without facing most LH pitchers.
Joe Chengery
August 15, 2013 - 8:04 PM EDT
What's magnifying Chisenhall's struggles is the fact that more experienced, key cogs in the lineup are struggling: Swisher, Cabrera (Adam- this is THE hole in the Indians' lineup- Chisenhall's at-bats have largely looked better than Cabrera's, and Chisenhall has just over 600 PAs, about 1-1.5 seasons' worth, versus Cabrera having about 3300 PAs, about 6-6.5 seasons' worth).

Chisenhall's struggles wouldn't be standing out nearly as much if other parts of the lineup were doing what they were expected to do and what they should be doing. Is Chisenhall the likely long-term answer at 3B? The answer is leaning more toward "no," which is why you hold onto a Giovanny Urshela, who's shown solid plate discipline and GG-caliber defense at 3B in AA at age 21. And while he hasn't shown much power, he's still only 21, and power is often the last thing to come (provided it comes, of course). By the same token, though, Chisenhall hasn't had enough exposure yet- 2014 is where he really needs to break out- he's not in LaPorta-Marte territory yet.

Still, Chisenhall's struggles at adapting to the MLs wouldn't be as much of an issue if other guys that were supposed to be carrying the majority of the offensive load were doing their parts, and they largely have not. That is something to keep in mind before we write off Chisenhall, who only turns 25 in October (I think), and might have 700 ML PAs by the end of this season.

Side note: On Instagram tonight, David Huff was showing his ride into NYC, arriving at Yankee Stadium, and putting on pinstripes for the first time.
Tony
August 15, 2013 - 5:03 PM EDT
The jury is still out on Chisenhall. But what is known is that right now he absolutely cannot be counted on at third base next season. He may need to open at AAA. He may need to platoon. But he can't be the everyday 3B based on the play to date. I still think he can eventually play his way into being a more consistent player, but for a team that plans on contending you just can't be patient with a guy who has more or less struggled at the big league level for three straight seasons - sample sizes be damned and all. I think the way things look right now, that it is 50-50 that Chisenhall opens next season as the everyday third baseman.
Nick
August 15, 2013 - 4:57 PM EDT
Agreed Seth. He's 24 and in all honesty was rushed a bit due to our 3B hole. Way to early for anyone to call him anyone kind of failure, borderline or not is just flat out incorrect.
Seth
August 15, 2013 - 4:20 PM EDT
Really, because I would say that making any claim on whether or not a baseball player can do a particular thing off of 37 plate appearances is pretty much going to be by default the stupidest thing you've ever heard. He had a .915 OPS against lefties in Columbus, he has yet to hit lefties in the majors, but he's yet to hit righties either, when it comes down to it. Whether you're looking at batting average, walk rate, etc, it's meaningless. Anything can happen in baseball in that size of a sample. To declare him forever a platoon player based on that sample is silly. Jim Thome hit .050 against lefties in '91 and .214 in .92. A total of 34 at bats, with a 0% walk rate and and 38% K-rate. Meaningless.
Adam
August 15, 2013 - 12:48 PM EDT
First round draft pick who turns out to be a guy that MIGHT be a bench player IF he can learn 1-2 more defensive positions? Failure of a 1st round pick.

It's the responsibility of the guys making the decisions to project what a player will do 3,4, 5 years down the road. That's what they get paid to do.
Criznit2009
August 15, 2013 - 12:36 PM EDT
Chiz not hitting lefties is a failure of the Indians? That is the stupidiest thing I have heard in awhile... It is no secret/surprise Chiz has/had issues against left handers and just like LaPorta, Marte and countless other top prospects can't seem to handle big league pitching... There is only way to find out if guys are ML players or not and that is by playing in the ML And Chiz has had enough time to solidify himself in the line-up and his lack of production is HIS FAULT. I am not completely writing him off yet but the tribe would be nuts to pencil him as the starter at 3B next year. He likely gets one more real crack at some point next year either at 3B/1B/DH/UT/OF - but even if he does turn it around he will sit most days against lefties.. Thats not as bad as it sounds, there are plenty of solid ML'ers whom sit against lefties.
Adam
August 15, 2013 - 11:38 AM EDT
Which is why I also cited his embarrassing .11 BB/K ratio against lefties this year, which is actually an improvement over his .09 ratio in his career. Yes, you read that right...He has a .09 BB/K ratio against lefties in his career. And if that's not enough PA's for you, forget about the numbers. Watch the dude face lefties. He looks like a little leaguer.

If we weren't trying to contend these next few years, you would run him out there every day and tell him to sink or swim. If you want to actually WIN, you can't have a gaping hole in the lineup every night.
Seth
August 15, 2013 - 10:56 AM EDT
Chisenhall has 37 PAs this year against lefties. How can you even make the determination that he can't hit lefties? 187 total in his career. Being in the playoff picture, I can't really fault Francona for sitting him against lefties, but if Chisenhall becomes a platoon player, that's a failure of the Indians development. He has to get opportunities to get better. To even quote batting average as some kind of meaningful statistic over 35 ABs is silly. I don't get the comments about Chisenhall being inconsistent defensively, he's probably been their best infielder other than Swisher. Asdrubal has played a far worse shortstop, and Kipnis has had just as many lapses as Lonnie. I've seen Chisenhall get plenty of guys on rollers down the line that I thought were sure infield hits, but he has good range and a good arm. Usually his screwups are the type of things that look like inexperience, where he'll rush a throw home, etc. His bat has been a big disappointment, though the same could be said for the guys playing short and 1st.
Adam
August 15, 2013 - 10:29 AM EDT
And Nick, yes, he hit better for about a week after getting recalled, but is now hitting .176 in the second half with one extra base hit, a double, in 19 games. I want to see him turn it around too, but he's quickly approaching Matt LaPorta/Andy Marte territory.
Adam
August 15, 2013 - 10:26 AM EDT
@Nick-

Just because draft picks before him were also failures, does not mean that the Chisenhall pick is not a failure as well. Career .23 BB/K ratio at the big league level, .11 against lefties. Now hitting .086 against lefties on the year. Sorry, just making it to the big leagues because there's nobody ahead of you on the depth chart just isn't quite good enough for a first round pick.
Ramin
August 15, 2013 - 10:24 AM EDT
Anyone else concerned that a 19-year old has a sore back? Is this conditioning/strength related? Is there a real structural issue?
Tony
August 15, 2013 - 9:33 AM EDT
Utter failure is maybe a bit overboard, but he is a borderline failure at this point. This is now his third season with the Indians, and this one his most extended opportunity, but he has been unable to break through in the big leagues. You hold out hope he will put things together and finish strong, but if he continues to struggle with consistency both offensively and defensively, then third base in the offseason becomes a position they need to seriously considering upgrading and have him as a depth option stashed away in Columbus. Or start to experiment with him as a first baseman and outfielder so he could be on the bench in the future since he looks like a platoon guy since he can't hit against lefties.
Nick
August 15, 2013 - 9:30 AM EDT
Chisenhall is an "utter failure of a draft pick"? Seriously? Maybe you need to go back and look at previous drafts before you start saying that about Chiz. He's been in the majors for a few years which alone makes him not a bust. He hasn't hit his ceiling but the kid is young and since his return has been better than he was. He's one of the kids I'm most confident has it click soon at the plate.
Adam
August 15, 2013 - 9:21 AM EDT
@Jim--

Yeah, that's a big problem. Allen and Kipnis are really the only drafted players of consequence to this point. Salazar is of course of consequence but I don't like lumping him in with players taken in the draft as it's a completely different department and different process.

Chisenhall is looking like an utter failure of a draft pick at this point.

On a side note--is there a reason Wood is still in Columbus while Matt Albers still has a job in Cleveland?
Jim Piascik
August 15, 2013 - 8:40 AM EDT
Just observing how much of the big league club is made up by trades and free agent signings. The poor drafts of the mid-2000s are still leaving their mark.

Players drafted/amateur international free agents on the team this year: Kipnis, Salazar, Chisenhall, Allen, Guilmet, Langwell, CC Lee, Pestano, Phelps, Huff.

So two starting position players, one starting pitcher, one bullpen guy who has been up all year, four bullpen arms who have bounced betwen Triple-A and the majors, Phelps, and Huff. Aka not all that much.
Chengy
August 15, 2013 - 5:05 AM EDT
I never really understood the term "developed a player" in statements you made there Jim. Carlos Santana didn't really start playing catcher until 2007 and the Indians acquired him 2008 so pretty much any development he made as a catcher was in the Indians organization.
Clay
August 15, 2013 - 4:08 AM EDT
Not that it's a huge issue, but the link to BR for Jose Ramirez takes you to the page for one of their minor league pitchers rather than the Indians IF.

Anyway Interesting that Ramirez is getting a look at 3rd.

Not sure of their future roles with this organization, but really becoming fans of Jeremy Lucas and Logan Vick. Seem to have really good eyes at the plate.

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