Tribe Draws on Youth in this Week’s Minor League Round-up
Todd Paquette | On 17, May 2014
The Cleveland Indians have called up two of their more intriguing prospects this week in first baseman Jesus Aguilar and left-handed relief pitcher Kyle Crockett. The two couldn’t have taken much more of different paths to the Major Leagues than they did. Aguilar was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela at the ripe old age of 16. Aguilar has already spent six seasons in the minor leagues from the Indians Dominican Summer League team all the way up to Triple-A Columbus this year playing for all six minor league affiliates for the Indians. Kyle Crockett, on the other hand, has spent less than a year in the Indians minor league system. Crockett was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia and has made only 36 appearances for three different teams during his short minor league career. Crockett was pitching for Double-A when he got the call.
The 23-year old Aguilar is no small man. At 6-foot, 3-inches, 250 lbs., Aguilar is a menacing looking figure at the plate. Aguilar has never been looked at as an upper echelon prospect, like a Francisco Lindor or Trevor Bauer but season after season all he’s done is continue to produce. Last year in Double-A for Akron he led the Eastern League in RBI’s with 105, which also set Akron’s all time record. Though he only hit 16 home runs on the year in 2013 while at Akron his power really started to show this winter while he was playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. During winter ball Aguilar hit 22 home runs in just 68 games played including the playoffs. So far Aguilar’s power has carried over to the 2014 season for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. Jesus was hitting .298 on the season with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in 37 games before getting the call to Cleveland. Hopefully Aguilar can be the right-handed power bat the Indians have been needing for many years to come. Fans should just temper their expectations for now. Jesus is still a work in progress.
Kyle Crockett, a baby faced 22-year old, has just been plain filthy since being drafted last year. Crockett pitched for Mahoning Valley, Lake County and finished the year with Akron in 2013. In 2014 he started his year for Akron before getting the call up to the big club. Crockett’s numbers in his short time in the minors make you look twice. Kyle has only pitched in 36 games, throwing 40.1 innings, only giving up two earned runs on 24 hits while just walking just eight batters while striking out 49. The two earned runs allowed in the 40.1 innings pitched equates to a 0.45 earned run average! Crockett is not a lefty specialist coming out of the bullpen, he is just as dominant on right handed hitters. Crockett is following in another current Indians teammate Cody Allen as far as being fast tracked to the Major Leagues. Allen also made it to Cleveland after being drafted the year prior. Crockett is also the first player from the whole 2013 MLB Draft to make it to the Major Leagues. Many people view Crockett as a future closer for many years to come.
The Columbus Clippers roster has been a revolving door of late with prospects Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar getting the call up to Cleveland as well Josh Tomlin. Then there’s George Kottaras who was up with the Indians for one game, hit two homeruns, then was designated for assignment and accepted to be assigned to Columbus. Elliot Johnson started the season with the Indians was also designated for assignment and accepted to be assigned to Columbus as well. Roberto Perez who is off to a tremendous start to the season was placed on the seven day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.
The Clippers started the week off strong, winning three of four at home against the Syracuse Chiefs (Nationals) then went on the road and dropped the first three games versus the Rochester Red Wings (Twins) with the final game of the series scheduled for Friday night. Columbus is now (20-19) on the season currently in second place in the International League Western division.
Columbus Results, May 9-15:
|9 vs. Syracuse, W 7-3 (WP: Vinnie Pestano)|
|10 vs. Syracuse, W 4-2 (WP: Scott Barnes; SV: Mark Lowe)|
|11 vs. Syracuse, L 1-4 (LP: Kyle Davies)|
|12 vs. Syracuse, W 5-4 (WP: Mark Lowe)|
|13 @ Rochester, L 0-6 (LP: Trevor Bauer)|
|14 @ Rochester, L 4-5 (LP: Vinnie Pestano)|
|15 @ Rochester, L 4-5 (LP: Tyler Cloyd)|
The Clippers had no obvious choice for a hitting star of the week. I decided to go with utility infielder Audy Ciriaco. Ciriaco only hit .263 for the week but hit four doubles and added five runs batted, tied with first baseman David Cooper for the most on the team for the week.
Just like the hitting star of the week there was no real standout performances. I went with left-handed starting pitcher T.J. House. House has been the forgotten man in Columbus with all the talk of Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. House, still just 24-years old, really came on strong late last year for the Clippers and has continued his success in 2014. House on the season in 41.1 innings pitched has struck out 34 batters and sports a nice 2.40 earned run average. For the week House made two starts, throwing 11.2 innings allowing nine hits, four earned runs, four walks and nine strikeouts. Both starts ended in no-decisions.
Columbus Week Ahead, May 16-22:
|16 @ Rochester (Twins) 7:05 PM|
|17 @ Syracuse (Nationals) 7:00 PM|
|18 @ Syracuse (Nationals) 2:00 PM|
|19 @ Syracuse (Nationals) 7:00 PM|
|20 @ Syracuse (Nationals) 12:00 PM|
|22 vs. Durham (Rays) 6:35 PM|
The Akron RubberDucks had another stellar week. The Ducks played all their games at home this week and started by winning two of three from the Altoona Curve. The Harrisburg Senators came to town next and were promptly swept and shown the door by Akron. Akron is now an incredible (26-13) on the season and lead the Eastern League Western division by five games.
Akron Results, May 9-15:
|9 vs. Altoona, W 8-4 (WP: Gabriel Arias; SV: Shawn Armstrong)|
|10 vs. Altoona, W 2-0 (WP: Joseph Colon; SV: Kyle Crockett)|
|11 vs. Altoona, L 4-7 (LP: Will Roberts)|
|12 vs. Harrisburg, (Game suspended 3-3 in the 7th)|
|13 vs. Harrisburg, W 10-3 (WP: Enosil Tejeda)
(Completion of game suspended on 5/12/14)
|13 vs. Harrisburg, W 7-6 (WP: Jordan Cooper; SV: Shawn Armstrong)|
|14 vs. Harrisburg, W 4-2 (WP: Gabriel Arias; SV: Tyler Sturdevant)|
The hitting star of the week is second baseman Joe Wendle. Wendle struggled a bit early in the season but turned it on this week and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak. Wendle hit .444 for the week with three runs scored, eight hits, four doubles, one home run, five runs batted in, one walk and a stolen base.
The pitching star of the week was also named the Cleveland Indians minor league pitcher of the week right-handed relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong. Armstrong threw four and one-third shutout innings, giving up only one hit, walking two, striking out four and picking up two saves. Akron’s bullpen is loaded with talented arms. With Kyle Crockett being called up to the big leagues this week the Ducks will certainly miss him, but with relievers like Armstrong, Tyler Sturdevant, Enosil Tejeda and Giovanni Soto the team shouldn’t miss a beat.
Akron’s Week Ahead, May 16-22:
|16 @ Erie (Tigers), 7:05 PM|
|17 @ Erie (Tigers), 7:05 PM|
|18 @ Erie (Tigers), 1:35 PM|
|19 @ Altoona (Pirates), 6:30 PM|
|20 @ Altoona (Pirates), 6:30 PM|
|21 @ Altoona (Pirates), 10:30 AM|
|22 @ Altoona (Pirates), 10:30 AM|
The Carolina Mudcats started the week finishing up a four game road series with the Salem Red Soxs. After losing the first game of the series the Mudcats were able to take two of the last three games against the Red Soxs this week. Carolina returned home to take on the Lynchburg Hillcats for a quick three game series. Lynchburg was able to take two of three from Carolina in the series. Next up, a four game set at home with the same Salem Red Sox, who the Mudcats had just played on the road. The first game of the series on Thursday was rained out and will be made up as part of a double header on Friday. Carolina is currently (19-18) on the season in third place in the Carolina League Southern division.
Carolina Results, May 9-15:
|9 @ Salem, L 3-5 (LP: D.J. Brown)|
|10 @ Salem, W 11-3 (WP: Michael Peoples)|
|11 @ Salem, W 7-5 (WP: Ryan Merritt; SV: Rob Nixon)|
|12 vs. Lynchburg, L 8-11 (LP: Cole Sulser)|
|13 vs. Lynchburg, W 13-5 (WP: Shawn Morimando; SV: Louis Head)
Carolina had a plethora of hot hitters this week but one really stood out. The hitting star of the week was local Kent State University product, outfielder Anthony Gallas. Gallas hit an insane .480 with four runs scored, 12 hits, six doubles, three home runs, seven runs batted in and two walks. Gallas was also named as the Indians Minor League Player of the Week. Gallas, a bit old for the Carolina League, has been tremendous all year for the Mudcats. Gallas leads the Carolina League in doubles with 16, is second in batting average at .346 and third in hits with 47 on the year. Gallas would probably have already been promoted to Akron if not for the highly talented group already in place for the RubberDucks. For now, Gallas will have to wait for his turn and opportunity to come.
The pitching star of the week was left-handed starting pitcher Ryan Merritt. Merritt in his start went six and two-third innings, giving up eight hits, just one earned run, one walk and struck out four in earning the victory. Merritt has been a standout all year, not just for the Mudcats, but in the Carolina League. With his victory this week Merritt became the first player in the league to get to five wins. Merritt also currently ranks second in the league with a miniscule 1.65 earned run average.
Carolina’s Week Ahead, May 16-22:
|16 vs. Salem (Red Sox), 5:00 PM|
|16 vs. Salem (Red Sox), TBD|
|17 vs. Salem (Red Sox), 6:00 PM|
|18 vs. Salem (Red Sox), 2:00 PM|
|20 @ Wilmington (Royals), 6:35 PM|
|21 @ Wilmington Royals), 4:35 PM|
|22 @ Wilmington (Royals), 10:35 AM|
The Lake County Captains started the week with a win and then returned to form by losing the next five straight. The week began with promise with the win on Friday and the team taking two of three from Bowling Green, losing the last game in the series. On Saturday, the beginning of the losing streak, the Captains then hit the road to finish the week and were swept by Fort Wayne and dropped the first game of a four game series with West Michigan. Lake County with a disappointing 11-29 record on the season currently is in last place in the Midwest League Eastern division.
Lake County Results, May 9-15:
|9 vs. Bowling Green, W 11-10 (WP: Wander Beras)|
|10 vs. Bowling Green, L 3-6 (LP: Kerry Doane)|
|12 @ Fort Wayne, L 5-10 (LP: Dace Kime)|
|13 @ Fort Wayne, L 0-7 (LP: Jordan Milbrath)|
|14 @ Fort Wayne, L 6-8 (LP: Adam Plutko)|
|15 @ West Michigan, L 2-5 (LP: Mitch Brown)|
The hitting star of the week was infielder Paul Hendrix. Hendrix, a 18th round draft pick from last year’s draft out of Texas Christian University, hit .400 with seven runs scored, 10 hits, four doubles, two home runs, five runs batted in and three walks. Hendrix didn’t do much in his first season last year in the Arizona Rookie League but has been nothing short of terrific so far this year for the Captains. His .324 average leads the team by a wide margin. He also leads the team in hits and is 2nd in RBIs with 16 and third in home runs with five.
The pitching star of the week goes to right-handed pitcher, Caleb Hamrick. Hamrick has been a bit of a disappointment this season after putting up some nice numbers at Mahoning Valley in 2013. This week Hamrick made one appearance going four innings, allowing just one hit, zero runs, one walk and three strikeouts. Hopefully, Hamrick can build of this outing and keep the momentum going to turn his season around.
Lake County’s Week Ahead, May 16-22:
|16 @ West Michigan (Tigers), 6:30 PM|
|17 @ West Michigan (Tigers), 7:00 PM|
|18 @ West Michigan (Tigers), 1:00 PM|
|19 vs. Fort Wayne (Padres), 6:30 PM|
|20 vs. Fort Wayne (Padres), 1:00 PM|
|21 vs. Fort Wayne (Padres), 11:00 AM|
|22 @ Bowling Green (Rays), 8:05 PM|
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer