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.
Not so fast.
After starting the 2015 campaign in Triple-A Columbus, Moncrief has struggled mightily since then. In 57 games with the Clippers, he hit .187/.322/.331 with 7 homers, 3 doubles, 24 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. He has yet to hit a triple, and he’s walked 32 times to 59 strike outs. With the plethora of outfield prospects already in the Indians system, they were forced to move Moncrief back to Akron to allow Tyler Naquin and James Ramsey to get regular at bats in Columbus.
“In a sense, I was kind of happy when I came, it was a humbling experience,” Moncrief said.
For Moncrief, his time in Akron is a time for him to really decide on where he wants his career to go. With the logjam of Indians outfielders in our system, a guy like Moncrief kind of just brushed away and goes unnoticed. When there’s players like Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, Naquin, and Ramsey in the mix of future outfielders, Moncrief doesn’t exactly matchup with that type of potential talent. At least, not with the way he’s been playing in 2015.
In order for Moncrief to be successful, he’s needs to stay consistent. During his last two seasons where he really broke out, he was hitting for consistent power. That hasn’t really happened in 2015. He only has 10 extra base hits so far this season, and a poor average to boot. If he’s looking to continue on in his baseball career, he’s going to need to turn things around, and he knows this.
He’s not letting this take him down though.
“Obviously I expect the best for myself, but pretty much only I know what that is. It’s like everybody else. Just being the best I can be every day. Like they say, if I can look in a mirror at the end of the day and say I gave everything I had, I’m alright with that,” Moncrief said.
In 33 games with the RubberDucks, he’s hitting .241/.338/.310 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 11 RBI and five stolen bases. He’s using this as a time of reflection, and bringing him down to Earth. He’s not allowing this to break him down just because he was sent back to Akron. It’s a learning experience, not only in baseball, but in his character as well.
“A lot of things happen and go on, but to be in a humble state of mind to keep working and move forward. Sometimes you do have to take a step back to take ten steps forward,” Moncrief said. “I’m happy to be able to do that and then move forward from here.”
One thing that hasn’t changed at all this season is how he’s playing his defense. His arm is still as sharp as ever.
“It won’t go nowhere. As long as I’m walking and breathing, which we should be alright,” Moncrief said.
Manager David Wallace has been happy to have Moncrief in the clubhouse. As a “veteran” player for Akron, he’s the kind of guy that can be a leader to some of the newer players, like Zimmer. His attitude is one that players tend to gravitate towards, and look into for advice and wisdom.
“Hasn’t complained since day one. He’s been a big part of the club house. Energy wise, he hasn’t moped about being here. Proud of him for that. He plays the game right, plays hard,” Wallace said.
The future of Moncrief is in his hands. Only he has the power to determine where he wants to go with his career as a baseball player. He has the tools to be successful, he just needs to put them all back together again.
“As long as I’m not going up there and laying over for people. As long as I’m trying to do damage and provide for my family and whoever else needs me, then I’m alright.”
Photo: Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer Photo