Lake County Captains
While plenty of focus has been given to the big name free agents departing the Cleveland Indians organization this offseason, there has been plenty of movement down on the farm for the club’s minor league free agent class.
The names are nowhere near as big as Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, and Joe Smith, who have all signed lucrative contracts in Philadelphia, Colorado, and Houston, respectively, nor are they as big as Jay Bruce, who is still testing the free agent waters while waiting for the right deal, but the moves cut into some of the existing depth in the team’s minor league system.
The annual Winter Meetings wrapped up on Thursday from Orlando, Florida, with the completion of the Rule 5 draft.
Despite having an open 40-man roster spot, the Cleveland Indians did not make a selection during the Major League portion of the procedures, but the club did lose right-handed pitcher Jordan Milbrath to the Pittsburgh Pirates with the eighth pick in the draft.
During the minor league phase, the Indians selected left-handed pitcher R.C. Orlan from the Washington Nationals farm system during Round 1 of the Triple-A phase. The Tribe lost two more minor leaguers, when outfielder Junior Soto was nabbed by the New York Yankees several picks earlier in the round and shortstop Ivan Castillo was selected with the 41st pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in Round 3.
The Cleveland Indians’ season may be over and the World Series nearly half way complete, but competitive baseball continues to be played at spots across the globe.
Eight different Tribe prospects are in Glendale, Arizona, working in Arizona Fall League play. Four more have headed to South America to work in the Venezuelan Winter League, while nine more have taken up temporary residence in the Caribbean while participating in the Dominican Winter League.
Three different Tribe position prospects and six pitchers are scattered throughout the six-team Liga de Beisbol Dominicano.
Outfielder Conner Capel once again caught the eyes of those in the Midwest League with another solid week of play for the Lake County Captains. He was recognized by his league on Monday with his second Player of the Week award of the season.
The 20-year-old Capel has made good use of his playing time for Lake County this season, putting on a strong display of power for the Class-A Captains. In his first full season in the organization after being selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Indians, the Katy, Texas, native is hitting .248 through 105 games with 20 doubles, six triples, 19 homers, and 52 RBI. His good week last week has continued on this week, as he has an eight-game hitting streak heading into action on Friday night.
That streak is his second longest of the season, trailing just a 10-gamer that ended earlier in the month.
Tanner Tully is a 6’0”, 200 lb. left-handed starter out of Elkhart, Indiana, selected by Cleveland Indians in the 26th round. He was the last of six Ohio State Buckeyes taken in 2016.
Growing up in Indiana, he developed an appreciation for hunting, fishing, and sports. These made up a rotation across the seasons that kept him engaged.
An impressive three-week tear at the plate by Lake County’s Conner Capel has captured the eyes of those in the Midwest League as the second-year outfielder was named the league’s Player of the Week for games played between May 29 through June 4.
The Lake County Captains put to bed a five-game losing streak during the week by ripping off three straight wins to take their series against the Great Lakes Loons before starting their homestand against West Michigan with a 4-3 win. …
It has been some tough sailing for the Lake County Captains over the last two weeks, but the offense took out some frustration on Saturday night, putting up 13 runs on 17 hits in a 13-3 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits. It evened the road series at one game each before Sunday’s 2:15 PM ET finale.
The win brought the Captains record up to 11-17. A team of streaks for much of April, they won five straight in the third week of the month before dropping nine of their last ten to conclude the first page of the regular season schedule. The Captains sit in the seventh spot in the eight-team Midwest League Eastern Division, seven and a half games out of first place.
With a 1-0 victory on Monday night over the Bowling Green Hot Rods from Classic Park in Eastlake, the Lake County Captains pushed their season record back over the .500 mark at 6-5 and pulled within a game of first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
The current season-high three-game winning streak for the Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians has seen some interesting extremes. After winning a 5-2 decision in Lansing on Friday, the club put up 17 runs in a 17-5 victory in the series finale on Saturday before an off day on Sunday. Back home in northeast Ohio for their second homestand of the season, it was a Logan Ice RBI-single through the right side of the infield in the sixth inning that broke the scoreless tie and proved to be the difference in the ball game.
The Captains will not be home for long, as they will hit the road following Wednesday’s third game with the Hot Rods. From there, Lake County will stop for four games at West Michigan and three with Great Lakes before coming back home to wrap up April with four at Classic Park with the Whitecaps.
In other news and notes from the Captains’ log:
Captains baseball is back as the Class-A Lake County squad opened the 2017 season on the road against the Dayton Dragons. While Mother Nature prevailed in the suspended opener, the Captains would win the continuation of the game, 9-1, the following day, giving new manager Larry Day his first career managerial win.
Day returned to the Captains after spending last season working as the hitting coach at High-A Lynchburg for Mark Budzinski, another former Captains skipper. He took over for Tony Masolino, who moved into Budzinski’s vacant seat with the Hillcats when he was moved up to lead the Double-A Akron RubberDucks.
Day is quite familar with the Lake County organization already, having previously worked as the Captains’ hitting coach in 2015.
While the focus right now may be on the Cleveland Indians’ Major League roster, things are going well throughout the Tribe’s farm system as well.
The importance on drafting strong and developing stronger is no more apparent than at the Major League level for the Indians. The current playoff roster is well-balanced between guys drafted/signed internationally and developed solely by the club (Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Cody Allen to name a few), others acquired via trades and developed on the farm (Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, and other absentee names like Carlos Carrasco, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes), and other veterans still who were added via big trades or free agent moves (Andrew Miller, Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, and Coco Crisp).
The names that compose the roster now all worked their way up through the minor league system, whether in the Indians organization or elsewhere. The names of the future are doing the same and some standout performers were recognized this week when MILB.com announced its picks for Cleveland’s organizational All-Stars.
Growing up in Pearland, Texas, a suburb south of Houston, Brock Hartson was naturally a fan of the Astros and their famous Killer B’s lineup. In fact, he played baseball against the sons of Craig Biggio.
“I really liked Biggio. He went about the game the right way,” said Hartson. “Playing against his sons, I had a pretty good understanding of who he was as a person and who he was as a player.”
The 6’3”, 195 lb. pitcher was drafted in the 21st round of 2015 out of the University of Texas-San Antonio. He won 22 games in three seasons as a starter in college, never getting a chance to pitch out of the bullpen.