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The K-Tribe Chronicle: "Uh, everything's under control. Situation's normal..."

The K-Tribe Chronicle: "Uh, everything's under control. Situation's normal..."
July 27, 2011
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(Photo: Kinston Indians)
From the Reservation:

So, now apparently the team is an offensive juggernaut. After a season in which they've struggled hitting air, they come out as a team and hit over .300. To make matters even more confusing, their starting rotation was over 8.00. Yeah...right is left, and left is right...

Which is absolutely normal for this team.

There's no rhyme-nor-reason to how they play, but they do win. They've grabbed ahold of first place in the Southern division by 3 1/2 games, and have the second best overall record for the season.

So where will this team go next week? Well, I suppose their going to hit .400, throw a perfect game, and perhaps trade for Donovan McNabb...

Now let's get driving, before I start talking NFL free agency...

Where We Stand after week 15:

Overall Record: 56-42 Overall, 18-11 Second Half (4-1 the past week, first place in the Carolina League Southern division, 3 1/2 games ahead of Winston Salem)


Week #15 Games:

July 2011

20 vs. Winston-Salem, W 5-4 (WP: P. Guilmet; LP: J. Ballinger)
22 vs. Wilmington, W 11-10 (WP: K. Landis; LP: B. Lafferty; SV: P. Guilmet)
23 vs. Wilmington, W 11-8 (WP: T. Haley; LP: B. Paukovits; SV: T. Murata)
24 vs. Wilmington, W 7-5 (WP: K. Landis; LP: R. Dennick; SV: P. Guilmet)
25 @ Winston-Salem, L 3-5 (WP: M. Wickswat; LP: C. Cook; SV: T. Thompson)

This Week's Transactions:

07/20/2011 RHP Toru Murata assigned to Kinston Indians.
07/19/2011 Placed C Roberto Perez on the 7-Day disabled list. strained oblique

The Offense:
Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG
Argenis Martinez
1
2
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
.000
Jeremie Tice
3
13
3
3
1
0
1
3
1
4
0
0
.231
Justin Toole
4
12
3
4
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
.333
Tyler Holt
4
15
3
4
0
0
0
2
3
6
1
0
.267
Adam Abraham
4
14
4
5
1
0
0
1
1
6
0
0
.357
Tyler Cannon
5
18
5
8
1
1
0
7
2
4
0
0
.444
Abner Abreu
5
20
6
9
1
1
2
7
0
6
0
0
.450
Chase Burnette
4
14
4
4
2
0
1
4
2
6
0
0
.286
Anthony Gallas
4
15
2
4
4
0
0
4
1
5
0
0
.267
Casey Frawley
5
20
3
4
0
0
0
2
1
3
0
0
.200
Delvi Cid
3
10
1
4
0
0
0
1
2
2
3
0
.400
Doug Pickens
4
13
1
1
0
0
0
0
2
1
0
0
.077














Totals 46 166 37 50 10 2 4 32 15 44 6 0 .301

This was clearly the K-Tribe's best week with the bat. While clearly the team road on the shoulders of their two hot bats in Abner Abreu and Tyler Cannon, the rest of the team didn't just around with their bats on their shoulders either. Every player that got some game action scored at least one run, which is far-and-away a first for the 2011 season. Their 37 runs scored over their past five games is their weekly best (according to my "week," which this week was Wednesday-Monday, and next week will return to Tuesday-Monday).

While this certainly isn't something that is assuredly sustainable, there are indicators that the Indians' bats are on the upswing. The past two weeks have shown an increase in production. Obviously, it's not realistic to expect the Baby Indians to roll out a .301 average over the rest of the season, but there is talent enough here that they could keep the average in the ballpark of .260 through .280, which is a big deal in the Carolina League.

The Good...

If you've followed my ATF's throughout the week, you already know how I feel about Abner Abreu's performance. He really has a chance to be something special if he can figure it all out. He hasn't had a stretch like he's been on since the start of June since 2009, and has certainly given pause to Tribe management, who have to be salivating over what he could become. If he has simplified his swing, as reports have indicated (and stats would back-up), he could be ready to take this system by storm. He absolutely has #1 prospect written all over him. Don't forget, he's one of the better outfield defenders in the system, and has good baseball speed.

Abner Abreu has stolen the thunder from the Cannon. Tyler Cannon has been nearly as good this week, tying him for the team lead in RBI with 7, and one behind in runs, with five. Cannon has an advanced bat, and while the Carolina League slowed it down a bit, he's finally starting to figure things out, as his big week showed. It's likely that you'll see a guy like Cannon move up to Columbus by the end of next season based on his offensive ability and his ability to play multiple positions. With Kinston, he's played first, second, third and short, as well as a game in left. Shortstop is his position of choice, but you have to like his ability to play the field. He has a bit of Cord Phelps in him, which IS a good thing, regardless of Phelps struggles to stay in Cleveland this year. Cannon may be a better than Phelps in the field, however.

...the bad and the ugly...

Casey Frawley is really struggling at the plate, and you have to wonder how long the Indians will stick with him. It's not like there are players at Lake County pushing him, so he should have the season to figure things out, but if he doesn't, I can't see Frawley moving up, or even staying put next season. He's scrappy and tenacious, but .208 will only carry you so far.

Jeremie Tice is hitting .272 on the season, which is second on the team, believe it or not, but struggled this week in his three games. Tice is a nice little hitter, but there's not a whole lot of upside there.

...and the rest...

Anthony Gallas had my favorite stat line of the week. He went 4-for-15, and all four of his hits were doubles. He just can't leap that final hurdle in the Carolina League with regards to the stick. He'll have a big week, then a middling week.

Justin Toole played well, but just doesn't have an impact bat. He's another utility guy in a system full of them, but if you sit down and look at his overall ability, other names will pop up with better talent and similar defensive skills.

Tyler Holt continues to look like he's going to return to "Havoc" mode. He's struggled in 2011, but he's been getting on base with much more regularity. We'll see if he can overcome his lack of plate discipline over the past couple months.

Adam Abraham rebounded from a horrible two-hit week by hitting .357 on the week. He also reminded many that he used to be a catcher in the system, covering for Pickens and the DLed Roberto Perez for a game last week. Abraham lacked the impact at bats that he's had in the past, with four singles and a double, but they'll come. The big thing with Abraham this season was a consistent bat, and he's finally starting to show it.

Chase Burnette had a really nice week. He isn't a special offensive player, but is at his best when he's driving in runs. He hit a homer this week, driving in four runs, and scoring four as well. He's struggled mightily from the plate this year, but he has a good attitude, so it's good to see him come through.

Delvi Cid is one to watch. He hit .400 for the week, and stole three bases. He's a big kid at 6'3", and as his 71 SB's last season suggest, fleet of foot on the basepaths. He had three stolen bases this week, and has seven over the past two weeks.

Doug Pickens only hit .077 this week, so while he should be in the bad and ugly, he's done a nice job behind the plate with Perez on the DL. Personally, I'm hoping Alex Monsalve makes the move up, but until then, Pickens and Abraham can hold the fort.

The Bullpen:
Player W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
Chris Jones
0
0
13.50
3
0
2 2/3
5
4
4
0
2
0
Jose Flores
0
0
2.25
2
0
4
5
1
1
0
2
1
Preston Guilmet
1
0
0.00
3
2
4 1/3
1
0
0
0
1
7
Francisco Jimenez
0
0
13.50
1
0
2
5
3
3
0
1
1
Kyle Landis
2
0
2.25
3
0
4
3
1
1
0
1
3
Toru Murata 0 0 0.00 3 1 3 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 4
Trey Haley
1
0
4.50
1
0
2
1
1
1
0
3
0













Totals 4 0 3.97 16 3 22 2/3 20 10 10 0 11 16

While a couple of guys failed to step up to the plate this week, overall, the bullpen was as solid as it ever was. The also received an added bonus, when Toru Murata was brought off the disabled list.

While the ERA hovered right around 4 (two of the seven relievers gave up seven of the ten runs), the bullpen was able to step up and win all four of the K-Tribe's victories this week, without a loss. They also didn't allow a home run after allowing three last week, which is an added bonus. This unit lost a lot of strikeouts when Rob Bryson left the fold, but this unit continues to show off the fact that K's aren't necessarily exclusive to solid play in the pen.

Kinston continues to mirror the organizational bullpen strength.

The Good...

Preston Guilmet just keeps getting better and better, and there has to come a point when you feel a bit bad for the guy.  As a closer, there's just no room for him at the advanced affiliates with Cory Burns at Akron and Josh Judy at Columbus. They likely don't want to move him from the closer role, which essentially locks him into Kinston. There is no doubt in my mind that Guilmet has been the best pitcher on this staff...bullpen or starter...since the start of the year.  He's currently riding an eight inning scoreless streak.

Toru Murata is another intriguing player on this team, and in many ways (minus the knuckleball) is similar to Steven Wright in that he spent the start of the season bouncing from the rotation to the bullpen.  After the two months on the DL, I doubt that the Indians are going to do the same thing, and it appears as though he's settled into the pen. Hopefully the Tribe will keep Murata in the pen,  where he hasn't given up a run in 7 2/3 innings.

Kyle Landis is just one of those stories that needs to be told more.  With a lot of this season's focus on Adam Miller's comeback, Landis has more-or-less been lost in the shuffle. Landis was never the #1 prospect in the system, but has a similar story after missing the 2010 season. He has been absolutely dominant in the Carolina League, giving up only three runs over his 28 innings, for a 0.75 ERA. He's walked only six batters, and struck out 30, showing off an arm that is back to full strength.

...the bad and the ugly...

I just don't have any confidence in Chris Jones. It seems as though every game that I've seen him pitch, whether he's gotten out of jams or not, he is teetering on the edge. This week, he fell off, and hard. He had such a good season last year, that you'd hope he'd continue to progress, but after two seasons in Kinston, it's going to be hard to see Jones moving forward with so many quality bullpen arms.

I wonder if the K-Tribe questions whether or not they should have started Francisco Jimenez a couple of weeks ago. He was pitching extremely well out of the pen after struggling earlier this season, having gone 10 2/3 innings without giving up a run. They let him spot start after Drew Pomeranz moved on, and he's given up seven runs in two outings. Hopefully he gets it back.

...and the rest...

Trey Haley is a bit like T.J. House in that he has a cannon of an arm, but can't seem to find his way. Unlike House, Haley has found himself in the bullpen, and while he hasn't been horrible, he hasn't been all that good either. The kid has a bunch of talent, and he just turned 21, so he's got plenty of time to figure things out. Let's just hope that he does.

Jose Flores may be the Travis Turek of 2011, now that Turek is gonzo. He had been pitching extremely well in late June and July, but you always know that Flores is going to have those stretches that make you cringe, as he did in two of his last three outings. I'm not sure where he ends up in years to come. He doesn't have one of those arms that make you take notice, as Haley does.

The Starters:
Player W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
Brett Brach
0
0
5.40
1
0
5
4
3
3
2
2
2
T.J. House
0
0
6.75
1
0
4
7
4
3
0
3
4
Clayton Cook
0
1
9.82
1
0
3 2/3
5
4
4
0
4
4
Marty Popham
0
0
20.25
1
0
2 2/3
9
6
6
1
2
0
Steven Wright 0 0 6.00 1 0 6 10 5 4 1 4 3
Totals
0
1
8.44
5
0
21 1/3
35
22
20
4
15
13

I never thought I would say this, but thank goodness for the offense.

If it weren't for the hot sticks and a solid bullpen, the Kinston Indians would have had a hard time staying in ballgames. The starters didn't get a win this week, and luckily enough, only had one loss. How bad was it? The bullpen pitched more innings then the starters. That's just not very good.

While there aren't any real stand outs on this staff, there still are three guys that are in the top 50 prospects within the organization (House, Cook and Popham). Brach, who's probably been their most consistent starter all season long, didn't provide the anchor the staff needed. And Wright? Well, it's hard to tell where he's going to pitch from, and with that developing knuckler, you never know what you're going to get.

This team lacks an ace, so perhaps it's time for the Giovanni Soto watch to begin.

The Good....


Look at the numbers, there just wasn't anything good to mention, other than we're a week closer to getting Giovanni Soto back.

...the bad and the ugly...


Marty Popham had been shredding the opposition over the past couple of months, but not this week. Popham has slowly been moving up the prospect charts with his outstanding work this season, including arguably his best outing, an 11 K, 5 2/3 inning worth of shutout. Then he follows with his shortest outing since a relief appearance on June 6th. Not good for a guy that seemed to be a consistent winner as a starter in 2011.

T.J. House has an electric arm (95+) and youth (21-years-old) on his side, but has yet to find any sort of consistency as a starter. Over his last seven starts, he's given up 0, 0, 3, 3, 0, 5 and 3 earned runs. Only one of the aforementioned appearances went seven innings, while the rest were 6 or less. If House ever wants to be taken seriously, he needs to find a happy medium, or get moved to the bullpen. Of course, power-armed left-handers don't grow on trees.

Brett Brach has some absolutely outstanding performances this season, but he needs them to be taken seriously in a system with more than a few magic arms. He isn't a power pitcher by any stretch, and needs to locate by keeping the ball down to really be effective. When he doesn't, which is becoming more and more frequently, he's just an average starter.

Clayton Cook just hasn't been very good in July after being really good in May and June. He's given up 17 earned runs over his past two starts, and you have to wonder if he's having stamina issues. Cook has a lot of promise, but hasn't shown it in awhile. He needs some solid starts to regain his footing as one of the top prospects.


Steven Wright is a mystery to me. Is he a reliever or a starter? Is the knuckleball going to really carry him past High A? Is he really going to be any good? While his start this week wasn't anything to shout about, Wright does seem to have a solid feel for throwing the toughest pitch to command. He continues his discussions with Tom Candiotti weekly, and does seem to have a future in this organization. The problem with Wright is that he's likely the first one to the bullpen once Soto returns. So, do the Indians really want a knuckle-balling reliever? 

Week #15 Awards:

Hitter of the week:  Abner Abreu
Pitcher of the week:  Preston Guilmet
Player of the week:  Abner Abreu

Weekly Awards

Week 1: 3B-Adam Abraham
Week 2: CF-Tyler Holt
Week 3: SP/RP-Toru Murata
Week 4: SP-Clayton Cook
Week 5: SP-Giovanni Soto
Week 6: RP-Adam Miller
Week 7: RP-Tyler Sturdevant
Week 8: NA
Week 9: NA
Week 10: NA
First Half: SP-Giovanni Soto
Week 11: Adam Abraham
Week 12: Adam Abraham
Week 13: Drew Pomeranz
Week 14: Abner Abreu
Week 15: Abner Abreu

Here comes week #16:

July 2011

26 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM27 @ Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
28 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM
29 @ Wilmington, 7:05 PM
30 @ Wilmington, 6:05 PM
31 @ Wilmington, 1:35 PM


The Rearviewmirror:

Without any real player movement, how about saying goodbye to my sanity. This team makes absolutely no sense at all, but as long as they are winning...who cares. Aaron Holbert has to practice voodoo.

Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his latest book the 2011 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is available for purchase for $20.95 to customers in the US (shipping and handling extra).

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