Going into a situation surrounded by hype and expectation can be a daunting task for anyone. It can be especially challenging for a professional athlete that is yet to reach his 20th birthday.
So far, shortstop Francisco Lindor is pulling it off with aplomb.
The Cleveland Indians’ top rated prospect is having a sensational season so far for the Carolina Mudcats. On Monday, Lindor was named as the Carolina League Hitter of the Week. Wednesday, the Indians named him their Minor League Player of the Week. The native of Puerto Rico batted a smooth .500 between April 29 and May 5 (13-for-26) and also hit his first home run of the season.
After the first month of the Carolina League season, the 2013 Carolina Mudcats are starting to form an identity as a team that will slap the ball around, make spectacular plays, and produce many exciting prospects for the Cleveland Indians.
While they have not shown much power this season, the Mudcats are easily leading the Carolina League in batting. Carolina has a .274 team batting average through 23 games. Its nearest competitors are batting more than 20 points below the Cats.
Before the season started, there was quite a bit of hype within the Cleveland organization over the several top prospects that would be starting the season with the Tribe’s Class A affiliate Carolina Mudcats.
With high draft picks like Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin beginning the year in Zebulon, plenty of eyes were certain to be fixed on Five County Stadium over the summer.
One player that did not receive the fanfare of Cleveland’s higher profile minor league stars but is excelling and climbing up the ladder within the Indians’ organization with equal success is Mudcats’ infielder Jerrud Sabourin.
After climbing the minor league ladder as a catcher, Dave Wallace wasted no time jumping back in as manager to climb it again.
In his third season as manager in the Cleveland organization, Wallace is guiding the Carolina Mudcats in 2013. The Mudcats, stocked with some of Cleveland’s top talent this season, provide their skipper a chance to improve upon not only his player’s prospects but also his own.
The jump straight from a playing career to managing is not surprising. Wallace has an extensive sports background.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Wallace grew up playing football and baseball and received a scholarship offer to play at home with the Vanderbilt. The native son played both sports at the private school, including receiving time at quarterback for the Commodores during the 1998 and 1999 seasons under head coach Woody Widenhofer.
To develop a winning mentality in major league baseball, it is best to begin with a formula for success in the minor leagues.
The Carolina Mudcats begin its second season as Class A affiliates of the Cleveland Indians with excitement over the influx of talent and hope that its relationship with its parent club will continue to blossom.
David Wallace is marching up the managerial ladder in the Cleveland organization. In his third season as skipper, Wallace has been annually promoted and begins his first year in Zebulon with a 112-102 record overall.
With a solid nucleus of players from last season’s Lake County Captains’ roster that made it to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs, the 2013 Mudcats will look to expand on the gains on the field and in player development.
It all starts with 2011 first round draft pick Francisco Lindor, the top-rated prospect in the Cleveland organization by Baseball America. Last season, the shortstop posted solid numbers in his first full year. Lindor batted .257 with six home runs and 42 RBIs along with 27 stolen bases in 2012 at Lake County.
Lindor, however, is not nearly satisfied.
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the young players on the 40-man roster that is a part of the Indians’ minor league system.
By Mike Brandyberry
Sometimes a major adjustment lends major results. For Indians’ relief pitcher, Trey Haley, it may have saved his professional career.
Haley was a second round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but continued control issues and a lack of progression through the Tribe’s minor league system forced him to the bullpen. However, once transitioning to the bullpen, Haley has thrived and regained his place as a top prospect in the Tribe’s system.
“I think it was just a combination of growing up as a player,” Haley said. “Out of high school I was working on so many things. I think that work has helped me get to where I am now.”
In 2012, the 22-year old, hard-throwing, right-hander had his best season as a professional. Haley split his season between High-A Carolina, where he had a 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings, and Double-A Akron where he was 3-1, with a 1.76 ERA in 15.1 innings.
By Mike Brandyberry
Most highly touted prospects carry the pressure and expectations to develop while analyzing and improving every mechanical aspect of their game. For the Indians’ top prospect, Francisco Lindor, his keys to improvement and development are simple.
“Get better every day and have fun,” Lindor said.
Lindor has been having a lot of fun since the Cleveland Indians selected him out of Montverde Academy in Florida with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the Indians just minutes before the Aug. 15 deadline—with a $2.9 million signing bonus—and bypassed his commitment to Florida State. But Lindor never has felt pressure as a high, first round draft pick or a player with a large signing bonus.
“At first, it was an honor to be drafted so high and drafted by the Cleveland Indians,” Lindor said. “They gave me a great opportunity and I thank them every day. They let me be a part of the ballclub. As far as pressure, we’re all the same. We all have the same goals: to get better and make it to the bigs.”
By Laurel Wilder
Shawn Armstrong’s goal for the 2013 season is simple: To finish his climb through the Indians organization and make it to the majors.
For the 6-foot, 2-inch, 210 pound right-handed pitcher from Bridgeton, N.C., that goal does not seem far off.
The Indians drafted Armstrong in the 18th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of East Carolina University. Though he is relatively new to the Indians system, with 2012 being his first full season, Armstrong has risen through the minor ranks at an alarming speed.
Armstrong,22, started his 2012 season pitching for Low-A Lake County, but quickly moved up to pitch for High-A Carolina and ended his season playing for Double-A Akron. The only other player recently to move through the Tribe system at that speed is current Indians right-handed relief pitcher Cody Allen.
“I loved it,” Armstrong said of his rapid move through the organization. “Playing at every level, getting to meet all the different staff and players was a good experience for me, because it was a learning experience. I got to have three different pitching coaches’ perspectives of pitching…It kind of made my season just fly by. I looked up and it was September and we were playing for a championship in Trenton.”
By Mike Brandyberry
Hard work and patience often results in personal growth and achievement. It’s the formula Cleveland Indians farmhand Tyler Holt hopes will take him to the big leagues some day soon.
While 2012 was a very positive year resulting in development and progress for Holt, the road has not always been easy for him as a professional. Despite a strong amateur and collegiate career, Holt has had to make mechanical adjustments to continue to thrive as a professional. The hard work and adjustments saw Holt thrive at three different levels last season.
“You’re never satisfied, but I was happy I learned way more than I expected,” Holt said. “I don’t think you are ever satisfied though, even when you make it to the league. If I can just have a good process and learn more than I thought I would, or I go about it doing the right thing, then I’m happy. The results will come if you really buy into the system and the process, you’ll be fine.”
By Laurel Wilder
When asked what their favorite thing is about the game of baseball, one would expect a player to talk about making a seemingly impossible out, or driving in the game winning run. For 20-year-old Tony Wolters, however, the smell of fresh-cut grass during batting practice is far more special than any play he could make.
“It’s a great smell!” Wolters said at the Lake County Captains’ Hot Stove Dinner. But, all smells aside, Wolters admitted that he truly enjoys “taking ground balls, hitting…I love the practice [before the game].”
The importance of practice is one thing the infielder from Vista, CA, knows all too well. Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Wolters played with the Indians’ Arizona League and in Mahoning Valley before spending his 2012 season with the Carolina Mudcats. Wolters posted fairly solid numbers during his first two seasons, batting .211 with two stolen bases during the five games he played in Arizona in 2010, and posting a .292 AVG with 19 SB in 2011 with Mahoning Valley.
By Laurel Wilder
Baseball is about consistency. Successful players work tirelessly for days on end to perfect their role on the team, to improve their numbers, and to perform flawlessly enough to earn the much sought after promotion to the big leagues. Many players have been working at the same position since their early years of playing. Getting a request, therefore, to move to a new position is enough to throw them for a bit of a loop.
Carlos Moncrief, however, is not a man to get easily flustered.
Moncrief was drafted by the Indians in the 14th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft as a relief pitcher, despite his work as a starter in high school and his only having thrown 17 innings as a late-inning reliever while at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fl. During his two seasons pitching with the Indians organization (he pitched for the Gulf Coast League in 2008 and the Arizona Rookie League in 2009), Moncrief appeared in a total of 28 games, going 1-2 overall with a combined ERA of 7.75. He gave up 39 hits, 22 walks, and allowed one home run while also throwing 43 strike outs.
By Mike Brandyberry
The Cleveland Indians announced Thursday the organizational staff alignment within the Player Development System for the upcoming season.
Two members of the 2012 Major League coaching staff will resume prominent roles within the system. Tom Wiedenbauer …