With the NFL draft starting on Thursday and running through the weekend I thought I would try to incorporate a draft type feel to this week’s minor league recap. Every player I discuss below I am including the round the player was drafted, the team who drafted the player and the year they were drafted. There was a lot of movement throughout system this week. I’ll touch on a few of the bigger names. Of course, right-handed pitcher Josh Tomlin (19th round by the Indians in 2006) got the call up to the big league club from Triple-A Columbus and looked great getting his first win in the majors since 2012. Third Base prospect Giovanny Urshela (non-drafted free agent by the Indians in 2008) was having a huge year for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks was moved up to Columbus.
One of the most surprising moves of the week was the demotion of Lake County Captains shortstop Dorssys Paulino, (non-drafted free agent by the Indians in 2012) thought to be one of the Indians top prospects, getting sent down to Extended Spring Training to work on a position change. Since the start of last season, Paulino has committed 52 errors at shortstop for Lake County. Yes that’s not a typo 52 errors. Paulino is thought to be working on a switch to the outfield. Hopefully the switch on defense will help him at the plate as well where his was also struggling. The Indians are still incredibly high on his bat as he was already repeating at the Low-A level this season as a 19-year old which is still very young for the league. There is still plenty of time for Paulino to turn things around but this is certainly a discouraging development.
The Clippers started out week on the road finishing up a road series against the Durham Bulls. The Clippers won on Friday before losing the final two games on Saturday and Sunday, scoring only two runs in the final two games. Columbus headed home to Huntington Park to start a four game series against the Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings offense was totally stifled by the Clippers pitching staff in the series as they were only able to muster eight runs total in getting swept in the four games. After a very successful 5-2 record on the week the Clippers are now (17-15) on the year sitting in second place in the International League Western Division, 1.5 games out of first place.
There were a couple of hitting stars that stood out for the Clippers this week. Outfielder Matt Carson (5th Round in by the Yankees in 2002) had an outstanding week hitting .450 with nine hits, eight runs scored, three doubles, two home runs, seven runs batted, two walks and a stolen base. Third Baseman Giovanny Urshela (Non-Drafted Free Agent by the Indians in 2008) was just added to the Clippers roster from Double-A Akron this week. Urshela was scorching hot at Akron and continued his strong play with the Clippers hitting .350 with seven hits, six runs scored, two doubles, a triple, two homeruns and six runs batted in.
The pitching star of the week was Trevor Bauer (1st round by the Diamondbacks in 2011). Bauer seems to have rediscovered his stuff that made him one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Bauer is sitting between 94-98 mph with his fastball and seems to have regained some control as well not walking as many batters. Bauer has been dominant and this week was no exception. On the week he made two starts pitching 14.2 innings, only allowing nine hits, one run, four walks while striking out twelve batters and earning one win. Bauer’s earned run average on the year is a ridiculous 1.12 and he is second in the International League in strikeouts with 40.
Columbus starts the week at home starting a four game set with the (18-15) Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Clippers then head back on the road to face the same (16-16) Rochester Red Wings who they just swept at home for four straight.
The Akron RubberDucks began the week already on a four game winning streak. The streak continued as the Ducks won six more in a row this week to extend it to 10 straight before finally losing Wednesday. Four of the wins came at the beginning of the week as Akron swept the Altoona Curve on the road with all four games only being decided by five runs combined. Akron then started a three game set versus the Erie SeaWolves again on the road. Akron won the first two games of the series before the SeaWolves won the final game 10-3, ending the teams 10 game winning streak. Finally heading home after a seven game road trip the RubberDucks looked to start a new winning streak as they won on Thursday in which was the first of four games against the Altoona Curve lasting through Mother’s Day weekend. Despite the winning streak coming to an end the RubberDucks won seven out of eight games played and moved into first place with a record of 21-12.
With Akron playing so well there were many hitting stars. The top two though were shortstop Francisco Lindor (1st round by the Indians in 2011) and outfielder Tyler Naquin (1st round by the Indians in 2012) stood out a little more. Lindor, probably the hottest of any Indians minor league batters, hit .344 with six runs scored, eleven hits, one triple, two homeruns (one a grand slam), 10 runs batted in, four walks and four stolen bases. Naquin stays hot as well this week hitting.353 with nine runs scored, twelve hits, three doubles, five runs batted in, three walks and two stolen bases.
The pitching star of the week was starting pitcher Will Roberts (5th round by the Indians in 2011) for the 2nd straight week. Roberts made one start, pitched six and one third innings, giving up only three hits, allowed one run walking just one while striking out three and picking up the win. Kyle Crockett (4th round by the Indians in 2013) had his scoreless inning streak snapped, dating back to last year end this week, at 25 straight. Crockett still had an impressive week going four innings giving up just one run, striking out seven and earning three saves.
Akron starts the week finishing up the final three games at home of a four game series versus the (13-19) Altoona Curve the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Akron will end the week and its seven game home stand facing the (10-21) Harrisburg Senators for the Washington Nationals, for three Monday through Wednesday.
The Carolina Mudcats started the week losing three straight games to the Wilmington Blue Rocks at home. With the week looking bleak, already losing three in a row and headed out on a road trip, the Mudcats were able to sweep the Lynchburg Hillcats for three straight in Lynchburg. The Mudcats started a four game series on the road versus the Salem Red Soxs on Thursday after winning three straight and promptly suffered the worst lost in franchise history by a final of 18-2. The Mudcats could not make up any ground in the standings going 3-4 on the week and still sit in third place at (16-14) on the season in the Carolina League Southern Division.
Not too many hot bats for the Mudcats this week. The hitting stars of the week went to outfielder Anthony Gallas (non-drafted free agent out of Kent State in 2010) and catcher Jeremy Lucas (12th round by the Indians in 2012). Both players have had outstanding seasons so far for Carolina. Gallas this week hit .370 with six runs scored, ten hits, two doubles, one home run, two runs batted in, four walks and one stolen base. Lucas only hit .231 for the week but scored six runs adding one double, two homeruns, five runs batted in and six walks.
The pitching star of the week was right-handed starting pitcher D.J. Brown (39th round by the Indians in 2012). Brown in his one start went six and two-third innings, giving up just seven hits, one unearned run, one walk and struck out four. As a former 39th round pick Brown has been nothing short of remarkable this season. Brown is fourth in the Carolina League in earned run average at 1.75 and WHIP at 0.94.
Carolina has three more road games Friday through Sunday against the (18-14) Salem Red Soxs, the Hi-A affiliate of the Boston Red Soxs, before heading home for seven straight. The first team that comes in to start the home stand on Monday will be the (13-18) Lynchburg Hillcats for a quick three games. Salem comes into town for four games starting Thursday.
The Lake County Captains started the week making you think they just might be starting to turn the corner after such a terrible start to the year by winning their first two games versus the Dayton Dragons. Unfortunately, they dropped the third game and final game against the Dragons and then proceeded to get swept for three straight on the road against West Michigan. The Captains somewhat salvaged the week on Thursday when they came home, winning the first of three games against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Believe it or not, the Captains had their second most wins in a week on the year in winning three of the seven games played. Lake County sits in last place for (10-24) the season.
The hitting star of the week for the Captains had to be infielder Paul Hendrix (18th round by the Indians in 2013). Hendrix for the week hit .357 with five runs scored, ten hits, two doubles, two homeruns, six runs batted in and three walks. Captains outfielder Clint Frazier (1st round by the Indians 2013), also had a good week hitting .303 with three doubles, five walks and two stolen bases. One more was Nellie Rodriguez (15th round by the Indians in 2012) with a .320 average, scoring five runs, three doubles and an incredible eight walks.
The Captains pitching star of the week without a doubt was right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko (11th round by the Indians in 2013). Plutko made two starts during the week with his second start being probably the most dominating start made of any Indians minor league pitcher this year throwing eight innings, giving up just three hits, zero runs, zero walks and striking out thirteen batters in earning the victory. In Plutko’s two starts combined he went thirteen innings, allowing eight hits, two runs, walking none and striking out 18 batters. On the year Plutko is tied for the Midwest League lead with 49 strikeouts on the year and has nine more strikeouts than fellow Indians prospect Trevor Bauer, who both played collegiately at UCLA.
Lake County finishes up a short home stand with two more games Friday and Saturday with the (15-18) Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Low-A affiliate of the Tampa Rays. After a short stay at home, Lake County hits the road for seven straight starting on Monday. First up on the road trip are the (13-20) Fort Wayne TinCaps, the Low-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The Captains will finish up the trip with four in a row against the (22-13) West Michigan WhiteCaps starting on Thursday.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer