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.
A streaky May has turned into a very even month of June for the Akron RubberDucks, who won their last two games over the weekend to take their series in New Hampshire against the Fisher Cats, ending a six-game road trip.
At 5-5 in the month and 28-30 on the season, the ‘Ducks sit in fourth place in the Eastern League Western Division, three and a half games in back of the Altoona Curve. They have been as close to even across the splits this season, putting up a 13-16 record at Canal Park, a 15-14 record on the road, and a 15-15 mark within the division.
The Akron RubberDucks roster received a big blow this week when the club placed outfielder Greg Allen and catcher Francisco Mejia on the 7-day disabled list with injuries. The moves will deprive the Akron lineup of a pair of its two more exciting players to watch.
The RubberDucks sat in the middle of the Eastern League Western Division pack heading into action on Saturday, winners of three straight to post a 15-17 record on the year, five games in back of the first place Altoona Curve while sitting in the fourth spot in the division.
It’s been a rough week to be a ‘Ducks fan.
Akron saw two of its star players promoted to Triple-A while the RubberDucks have dropped seven straight games. After winning their series opener last Thursday, 7-1, in Altoona against the Curve, Akron was tied for first place. Since then, the club has lost seven straight, including three to the Curve, three more at home against the visiting Richmond Flying Squirrels, and the first game against Bowie.
The RubberDucks will continue their seven-game homestand to close out the month with three more games against the Baysox. The ‘Ducks will take Monday off before hitting the road for New Hampshire and Portland.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
These famous opening words of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities could easily describe the 2015 season of Indians prospect Luigi Rodriguez.The now 23-year-old outfielder began the season at the High Class-A level for his sixth professional season. Even though it was his third season at the level, he had only 133 games with 449 at-bats there entering the year.
Injuries during the 2013 and 2014 seasons while in Carolina had derailed the progress he had made in 2012 while playing for the Low-A Lake County Captains. In that season he had eleven home runs, 48 runs batted in, and 24 stolen bases backed up by a .338 on-base percentage and a .744 OPS. With two seasons marred by an initial shoulder injury, his power and speed had fallen off to where he only hit a single home run in 2013 and his combined stolen base totals for the 2013 and 2014 seasons only reached 23, one shy of his previous season high.
Luigi Rodriguez possesses an intriguing set of tools; power, speed, and defense. These tools have had him on and off the Cleveland organizations top prospect list for the past several years.
At the age of 16 he was signed out of a baseball academy in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The somewhat diminutive outfielder, he stands 5’11” and 160 lbs., first got noticed for his on-field performance at Low-A Lake County in 2012. He put up a slash line of .338/.406/.744 that included 5 triples, 11 homeruns and 24 stolen bases. The power speed combination garnered attention, but he has been unable to capitalize on these talents in the several years since.
That trend seems to be reversing itself this year with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. He shares time in the outfield with the trio of number one picks, Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier and Mike Papi and of late has been manning the leadoff spot in the lineup for the Hillcats.
Three days, that’s all it took for the RubberDucks to lose arguably their three best players.
Wednesday June 25, Indians top prospect and current RubberDuck shortstop Francisco Lindor took a bad hop on the infield directly to his face and suffered a small non-displaced nasal fracture. The good news on Lindor is he should only be out for 7-10 days. Thursday June 26, second baseman Joe Wendle, suffered a right hamate fracture which will most likely require surgery and is a couple month process to return. The hamate bone is a small bone located in the wrist and it is usually fractured while a player is hitting. Friday June 27, Tyler Naquin, the top outfield prospect in the Indians farm system, was hit-by-pitch fracturing his right hand.
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.