It’s been a bumpy season for Carlos Moncrief.
After having a phenomenal spring training with the Tribe, and almost making the 25-man roster on opening day, Moncrief has been spending time down in Double-A Akron with the RubberDucks to try and turn his season around.
Moncrief, 26, was drafted by the Indians in the fourteenth round of the 2008 draft. He’s spent eight seasons now in the Indians minors, and has yet to make it to the show. What he’s been known for in his career is his cannon of an arm. He’s able to provide some stellar defense, along with some pop in his bat. His best season was in 2013 with Double-A Akron where he hit .284/.354/.470 with 17 home runs, 26 doubles, 7 triples, and 75 RBI. Along with 15 stolen bases, and 55 walks to 98 strike outs. Moncrief seemed like he was going to be the full package for the Tribe, and on the cusp of making it to the show.
He repeated his solid 2013 with a stellar 2014 in Triple-A Columbus. In ’14, he hit .271/.328/.431 with 12 home runs, 33 doubles, 4 triples, 63 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. With Moncrief starting to age out of the minors, it seemed like his chance to make it to Cleveland would be just beyond his grasp.
When I spoke with right fielder Carlos Moncrief before the Columbus Clippers’ home opener on April 18, he was happy to be home and had a feeling the team was ready to explode after a slow start on the road. In nine road contests, the Clippers went 4-5 and owned the IL’s worst batting average at .157.
“It feels good to be home,” said Moncrief. “I think the whole team will be more comfortable and I think we’re ready to explode.”
Moncrief’s prediction was right as the Clippers completed a four game sweep of the Louisville Bats on Sunday afternoon and went 6-2 in their first homestand of the year.
Entering the homestand, the Clippers had just four home runs as a team. Now, they find themselves tied for the league lead with 15 homers. They’ve also raised their team batting average .087 points to .244.
Tyler Holt was the first player I interviewed when I started covering the Columbus Clippers last summer. He had just been promoted to Columbus from Double-A Akron. A few weeks after the interview, he got called up to Cleveland and made his big league debut on July 6.
Holt had a positive impact on the Tribe’s playoff run that fell short. If you were not watching the games and only reading the box scores, you wouldn’t have noticed his contributions as he batted .268 with two RBI and two runs in 36 games. But if you’re a regular watcher of SportsCenter Top 10, there’s a pretty good chance you saw a defensive web gem or two of Holt’s.
“That’s one of the things I pride myself on, defense and effort,” said Holt. “You can be 0-4, but also make a difference in the outfield so that’s kind of what I look at. Instead of forcing things to happen just let them happen.”
Strong Pitching Performances Highlight Season-Opening Series
The Columbus Clippers opened their 2015 campaign on the road against the Indianapolis Indians last Thursday. Manager Chris Tremie gave the opening day start to veteran lefty Bruce Chen and was rewarded with an outstanding …
Cleveland Indians outfield prospect Carlos Moncrief had his share of “Wow” moments in 2014. He had 22 of them to be exact.
The Jackson, Mississippi native’s 22 outfield assists tied the International League single season record and helped catapult the Columbus Clippers to a Western Division title.
To put Moncrief’s accomplishment into perspective, Yoenis Cespedes led Major League Baseball with 16 outfield assists, and the last big league baseball player to tally at least 22 in a season was Richard Hidalgo for the Texas Rangers in 2003.
Today continues DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians’ 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.
At the beginning of 2014, the Indians did not really have any high end prospects that were just waiting to make it to the majors. Jose Ramirez had spent a small amount of time in Cleveland in 2013, but even after Spring Training this season, he was still not quite ready to take on even a bench role to start off 2014. This caused the Indians to have to go out and find some help in the free agent market to bolster some weaker positions left by players due to free agency, or trades. The Indians shouldn’t have this issue again in 2015, as they have plenty of players who are ready to take on the challenge of playing in the majors right now.
The Double-A Akron RubberDucks started off the season as one of the deepest teams in terms of depth that the Indians have had in a minor league team in quite a long time. This team who had previously consisted of Jesus Aguilar, Carlos Moncrief and Ramirez now consisted of Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, Giovanny Urshela, and Joe Wendle. Lindor being the biggest name of them all, with also having the best chance of breaking the majors in 2015. If 2014 showed anything for these minor leaguers, it’s that they’re going to be breaking into the majors sooner rather than later.
Hose. Cannon. Rifle. Laser. Whatever you want to call it, Columbus Clippers outfielder Carlos Moncrief has it. His International League leading 22 assists have left fans saying “wow” and base-runners walking back to the dugout shaking their heads all season long.
“I never knew I was doing anything spectacular because nobody said anything,” the 25-year-old Moncrief said. “It wasn’t in the newspaper or on the news. I was just in Jackson, Mississippi doing it in someone’s backyard [Laughs]. Nobody knew. But now that people talk about it I try to stay as humble as I can.”
Moncrief’s 22 outfield assists are the most in one season by a Clipper and the most in one season in the International League since Norfolk’s Chris Roberson had 22 in 2008. To put this feat into further perspective, Boston Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes currently leads the major leagues with 14 outfield assists.
It’s been an up and down week for the Cleveland Indians, just like the rest of the season. After a disappointing road trip to start the second half and losing two out of three to the Seattle Mariners at home, the Indians traded veterans Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera for Triple-A players. While Indians manager Terry Francona insists they aren’t waving the white flag, clearly there is an eye toward next season as the Tribe has just 50 games remaining.
Then the Indians sweep the Texas Rangers and find themselves just three games back of the final Wild Card spot by this morning. It’s been that kind of strange year for the Indians, and like a lot of people, I’m full of frustration, remaining guarded optimism and a dose of reality.
I couldn’t possibly put all my thoughts into one column at this point, so instead I welcomed our readers to fire questions and topics my way. I like this from time to time because I get a feel for the things readers have the most concern about and it’s a great way to fill one column full of links that might give you even more insight to your questions. Hopefully, you enjoy.
Leading off, @boomhauertjs asks, “Is it safe to say 2017 is the next realistic year of contention since the Swisher/Bourn contracts are off the books?”
Lake County Captains right handed pitcher Robbie Aviles continued his impressive season to date as he made two starts this past week earning one win while throwing 13 innings, allowing just six hits, three runs, zero walks and striking out seven. Aviles—originally projected to be a first or second round pick out of Suffern High School in Suffern, New York—partially tore the elbow ligament in his right arm a week before the draft, undergoing Tommy John Surgery. The Indians took a chance on Aviles by drafting him in the seventh round of the 2010 Draft, not knowing if he would come back as the first or second round pick he was projected to be. Aviles was able to make his professional debut near the end of the 2011 season after a long rehab. It had to be wondered if Aviles would ever return to pre-Tommy John form that the Indians had gambled on, as he would struggle sporting a 5.22 ERA in the two and a half years after making his professional debut. Still only 22 years of age, Aviles seems to finally be back, as his 2014 season has been nothing less than spectacular ranking second in the Midwest League in both ERA 1.65 and WHIP 0.85 along with only allowing 32 hits and five walks in 43.2 innings of work. Indians fans are hoping that Aviles has regained the form that had him so highly touted before his injury.
The Columbus Clippers have finished the first month of the 2014 season and the team has seen its fair share of call-ups and downs with the Cleveland Indians, 16 to be exact, including 11 in April and five already in May. However, despite seeing multiple players make appearances with the Clippers and Indians, Columbus has seen consistent play from a handful of core Clipper players.
Jesus Aguilar has been the keystone for the team’s lineup in every game this season, making appearances at DH, first base, and third base. The 24-year old Venezuelan shows promise at the plate with a batting average of .340 in a team-leading 100 at-bats. Aguilar currently leads the Clippers in games (28), plate appearances (113), runs (14), hits (34), home runs (7) and walks (17). He is also tied for first in doubles (6) and RBIs (17). Aguilar was the Indians’ minor league player of the week for April 4-13 by the club after six multi-hit games in that span, including a two-home run, five RBI performance against Louisville on April 8, which was also the Clippers’ first win of the season.
No way, Jose!
Jose Ramirez is back after making his debut with the Indians as a 20-year old September call-up last year where he impressed hitting .333 with four hits in 12 at bats scoring five runs. The 21-year old prospect has been called up to Cleveland with All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis going on the disabled list with a right oblique injury. Ramirez has had an impressive start to the 2014 season at Triple-A Columbus. In 23 games at Columbus, Ramirez had a .319 average with 12 runs scored, 29 hits, three doubles, four homeruns, 17 runs batted in, eight stolen bases and eight walks.
Ramirez last season had only three homeruns in 482 at bats in the minor leagues. Already this season he has a career high of four homeruns in just 91 at bats. Power is not Ramirez’s game with his 5-foot, 9-inch, 165 lb. frame. He’s a tremendous contact hitter that offers above average speed and has great versatility being able to play many different positions on the field. Ramirez was mostly playing second base for Columbus this year but can also play shortstop, third base and even some outfield. Ramirez started the year by reaching base in the first 21 games that Columbus had played this season. It will be interesting to see how the Indians use him. Will he be the full time replacement for Kipnis at second while he’s out? Will he be in a time share of sorts at second base with Elliot Johnson and Mike Aviles? Finally will the Indians utilize him as a super utility man and play him all over the field? The kid just seems to have that it factor and will be exciting to watch.
If anyone can learn something from Columbus Clippers outfielder Carlos Moncrief’s experience in professional baseball, it would be the importance of hard work and taking it one day at a time.
“[It’s been] hard work, I can tell you that,” Moncrief said. “When I think back on it, it was a tough road, but when you’re stuck in the grind, you’re just thinking about that day. I had times where I was thinking about the future, but when I started to understand to take it one day at a time, that was the biggest thing for me and I carry it on to today.”
Moncrief has been in the Cleveland Indians farm system since the 2008 season when he was only 19-years old. He spent two years at the Rookie levels in the Gulf Coast League and the Arizona League. However, Moncrief was not an outfielder at the time; he was a pitcher.