As the Carolina League enters its All-Star break, it is time to break down the Carolina Mudcats performance in the first half of the season.
Entering the season, the Mudcats were the team in Cleveland’s minor league system receiving the most attention. Based on the amount of top-level prospects in Zebulon, it was easy to see why. With the previous two first-round draft picks in Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin slated to begin the campaign in Carolina, the excitement at Five County Stadium was palpable.
It has been a season to forget on the field for the Carolina Mudcats. Entering Wednesday’s game with a dismal 21-43 record, the ‘Cats have floundered spectacularly to the shock of most observers. Carolina’s record belies not only the talent in Zebulon but also the individual performances from some of Cleveland’s top prospects.
The announcement of the Carolina League All-Star team only accentuates that surprise. Carolina has four players who will be making the trip to San Jose, CA to face the California League All-Stars on June 18, including both of the first round picks. Only the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas) have more All-Stars than the Mudcats.
One June 3, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left the game early after limping his way down the baseline. The next day he was placed on the 15 day disabled list and the Indians called up injury fill-in Juan Diaz from Columbus. The injury seemed to call into question among fans not only his value on the field, but his value in the trade market. Many looked to the Indians Minor Leagues and asked who within the organization could replace Cabrera at short. The Tribe is thick with young talent at shortstop at the Minor League level, and among there is almost certainly a couple future Major League players. Three of the Indians top 20 prospects play short, and four of their top 20 prospects play the position. Among all those young players, six have made themselves worthy of note as possible future Indians.
Francisco Lindor is one of the most recognizable names that have come through the Indians system in the last decade. He has sparked hope and excitement in Cleveland’s future, and the hype is not just smoke and mirrors. Drafted 8th overall by the Tribe in 2011 at the age of 17, Lindor has climbed the ranks to debut this season for the Carolina Mudcats, the Indians High A affiliate. The now 19 year old Lindor currently boasts a .299 batting average, a .367 on-base percentage, and a .416 slugging percentage. He looks like the real deal, excelling both offensively and defensively at every level. His skills have earned him the Indians organization top prospect and Baseball America’s 28th best prospect in baseball. He is certainly on the fast track to the Major League level but is still at the very least a year away.
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.
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.
By Mike Brandyberry
It was just for a day yesterday, but it might be a one-day look into the future of the Indians and Francisco Lindor.
Monday the Indians second-rated prospect, behind only Trevor Bauer, started and played the entire nine innings against the Chicago Cubs during the Tribe’s 13-5 victory. Lindor was 2 for 4 at the plate and made several plays at shortstop, making them all look routine.
“He’s such a nice kid,” Indians Manager Terry Francona said in his daily press conference. “He’s always smiling and he has a boatload of talent. He just needs to play because he’s so young. For our staff to get to see him for nine innings is really enjoyable.”
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.”
On this week’s podcast Erik Pinkerman and Ronnie Tellalian discuss the Cleveland Indians, the arbitration process and a few Indians that cashed in, like Chris Perez. The duo also talks about the upcoming World Baseball Classic and the Tribe players …
When you lose 94 games in a Major League Baseball season, you aren’t a contender and you probably aren’t very close. In the Indians’ case, maybe they know they are farther away than they’ve previously alluded.
“Our current mix of guys and how things came together didn’t work,” Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti said at his end of the year press conference. “We need to reexamine ways to be better moving forward, but I still continue to feel strongly about the nucleus of players we have. We need to do a better job of finding the right mix around them. Where that takes us, we’ll have to see, but that’s a process we’ll go through this winter.”
The building of that new mix of players might have begun quietly on Saturday afternoon, when the Indians traded right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Blue Jays for infielder Mike Aviles and catcher Yan Gomes. Rogers was 3-1, with a 3.06 ERA in 53 innings with the Indians in 2012. He seemed to stabilize himself as a big league reliever after three bumpy seasons as a starter with the Colorado Rockies. Rogers credited his turnaround to a better ability to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters with his high-octane fastball.
Captains Use Strong Relief Performance From Pasquale to Take Game One; Captains 5, Hot Rods 4
By Mike Brandyberry
In a tale of two different contest wrapped into one nine-inning game, the Lake County Captains were able to win both. They’ll only be credited with one win in the standings, but they were able to take the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 5-4 over the Bowling Green Hot Rods–Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
After the game began full of fireworks for the first four and one-half innings, the contest turned to a pitchers’ duel featuring Jake Partridge in relief for Bowling Green and Nick Pasquale for Lake County. Pasquale worked five quality innings in relief.
“In my mind, player of the game,” Captains Manager Dave Wallace said in regards to Pasquale’s effort. “The way he stepped up and battled through those last couple innings when he didn’t have much left in the tank was huge. It sets up our bullpen nice for tomorrow night and the rest of the series. I thought he did a great job.”
By Mike Brandyberry
At only 18 years old, Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor has had many opportunities in baseball already, but instead of putting his accomplishments on a pedestal, he wishes he could share them.
Lindor, in his first full season as a professional, was selected to play in the Major League Baseball Futures Game on the Sunday prior to the All-Star Game in Kansas City. Lindor, born in Puerto Rico, joined fellow Tribe prospect, Jesus Aguilar on the World team.
“It was an honor to play in that game,” Lindor said. “Not too many people get to play in that game. I wish everyone could get to go play. I was honored, excited and it was a great experience.”
Lindor replaced top Texas Rangers’ prospect Jurickson Profar at shortstop for the final three innings. While he only received one at bat, Lindor made the most of it, lacing a base hit through the right side.