The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday the addition of five minor league prospects to the organization’s 40-man roster, protecting them from inclusion in the Major League portion of December’s Rule 5 draft.
Such moves may seem inconsequential, given the difficulties presented for claiming clubs to keep selected prospects on the Major League roster for the duration of the year without sacrificing from the goal of winning. This drafting process is done to help prevent teams from hoarding talent in the minor league systems while giving these prospects the opportunity to reach the MLB level.
When looking at things in the context of wins and losses, particularly given the success of several of the other teams in the Cleveland minor league system, it would be easy to dismiss the 2014 edition of the Carolina Mudcats as unproductive. A 62-74 overall record for the campaign will not look good in the media guide next season. Of the top-four teams in the Tribe’s organization, only the Mudcats failed to advance to the playoffs.
While winning is important, Minor League baseball is predicated on other things. It is important to discern whether the Carolina Mudcats as an organization provide an environment conducive to learning and have a coaching staff that sends players upward in the organizational ladder.
Adam Plutko was drafted last year in the 11th round of the First Year Player Draft out of UCLA. Unlike most players making their professional debut in the same year that they were picked, the Indians held Plutko out until the 2014 season as they were concerned over the amount of innings he had already thrown for the Bruins in the 2013 collegiate season.
In 2013 Plutko was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player, helping the Bruins win the College World Series. Plutko was on the same pitching staff with the Bruins as Pittsburgh Pirates starter, Gerrit Cole, and the Indians own, Trevor Bauer. Plutko actually came into college with what most scouts thought better stuff than both Cole and Bauer, with a fastball that sat around 95 m.p.h. as a freshman. Plutko saw his velocity drop down to around 90 m.p.h. over time for the Bruins and witnessed Cole and Bauer also become first round picks. As a junior in 2013, Plutko had become the workhorse and the ace of a staff in which many didn’t have high hopes for. While Plutko and the Bruins proved many wrong in 2013, it still didn’t help his draft status as the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series because he wasn’t taken until the 11th round by the Indians.
It is remarkable how playing winning baseball becomes addictive. In Zebulon, Carolina Mudcat players, along with fans, are getting hooked.
Entering Wednesday’s action, the Mudcats are in first place in the Carolina League Southern Division and also sport the league’s …
The Columbus Clippers will be represented by two players this year at the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. Both first baseman Jesus Aguilar and catcher Roberto Perez were selected to be on the International League roster, and will be taking on …
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.
Akron RubberDucks second baseman was some kind of hot this past week. Joe Wendle went 11-21 for an obscene .524 average with three runs scored, three doubles, one triple, eight runs batted in and added a stolen base. Wendle got off to a slow start to the season having multiple hot and cold streaks. Over his last 26 games, however, Wendle has been consistently hot hitting .333 with eight extra base hits and 24 runs batted in during the time frame. Wendle leads the team with 41 runs batted in, one more than fellow prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor. Wendle has his batting average up to .264 with his recent surge but is still well below his career .307 minor league average coming into the season.
Wendle a sixth round pick in 2012 out of West Chester University has some uncanny similarities to a current Indians star Jason Kipnis. Both Kipnis and Wendle are listed at 5’11 190lbs, both bat left-handed and throw with their right hand. Take a look at the stats for both players in their first two years in the minor leagues.
The Carolina Mudcats slogged its way through the first half of the season with a 29-38 record, placing the team 11.5 games behind first place Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League South Division. It was the second year in a row the Muddies finished in last place in the division during the first half of the campaign, although expectations were markedly different from this season entering the campaign.
Two Mudcats featured in Tuesday’s All-Star Game between the Carolina League and the California League with a third player, Anthony Gallas, having been named to the Carolina League team but unable to participate due to promotion prior to the game.
To say that Akron RubberDucks centerfielder Tyler Naquin has been hot at the plate lately would be an understatement. Scorching, sizzling, scalding, searing might be a better way to describe his bat of late. Naquin the Indians first pick from the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft hit .485 for the week with 16 hits in 33 at bats. Naquin scored eight runs, added a double, triple, two homeruns, four runs batted in and two stolen bases. Naquin is currently on a 15-game hitting streak, which he has maintained an unbelievable .453 average with 29 hits in 64 at bats.
Naquin’s hot hitting started before the 15-game streak, however. In his last 48 games Naquin has amassed 72 hits, leading to a .365 batting average while scoring 44 runs and adding 12 stolen bases as the leadoff hitter in the RubberDucks lineup. Interesting enough it took the first 16 games of the season for Naquin’s bat to get started. In his first 16 games he hit only .200 with 22 strikeouts, leading some to wonder if Naquin was indeed ready for the jump to Double-A to start the year. Naquin, sporting a robust .327 average on the season, has put that talk to rest and then some.
Carolina Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker has guided his team to a 28-35 record with one week remaining before the Carolina League battles the California League in an All-Star showdown in Wilmington, Del. on June 18. Tucker is in his second season as a manager in the Cleveland system and, after leading many of the same players last year at Lake County, is encouraged by the progress he has seen from his players.
This week the All-Star rosters were named for both the Carolina League and Midwest League. The Carolina Mudcats had three players named to the Carolina League team in LHP Ryan Merritt, SS Erik Gonzalez and OF Anthony Gallas. Merritt a left-handed starting pitcher is tied for the league lead in wins with fellow teammate Shawn Morimando with six. He leads the league with a 1.71 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who has missed sometime with a finger injury, is sixth in the league with a .309 batting average. Gonzalez has 15 extra base hits, 26 runs batted in along with eight stolen bases and is a tremendous defender. Outfielder Anthony Gallas got off to a tremendous start to the season but has cooled off some lately. Gallas leads the league in doubles with 21 in only 54 games. Gallas sports a .279 average with seven homeruns and 27 runs batted in.
Despite Lake County struggling and sitting in last place, the Captains have three players representing them in the Midwest League All-Star game in RHP Robbie Aviles, RHP Jordan Milbrath and C Eric Haase. Aviles has been in another world leading the league with a 1.45 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. His ERA is so good the next closest pitcher is more than a half a run higher at 2.02. Aviles control has been outstanding giving up only seven walks in 56 innings pitched. Jordan Milbrath has been a pleasant surprise as a 35th round draft pick in last year’s first year player draft. Milbrath has a 2.92 ERA and has only allowed 42 hits in his 52.1 innings pitched. Eric Haase is third in the league in homeruns with 10 despite only playing in 37 games on the year. Haase along with the 10 homeruns has four triples on the year helping him to lead the league with a .522 slugging percentage.
The Carolina Mudcats entered Tuesday’s contest at Wilmington with .500 winning percentage after 40 games. Often when teams have an even split of wins and losses, there is a consistency at the statistics within. The Muddies have some interesting contrasts so far in 2014.
Carolina is a better team away from Five County Stadium so far. The Mudcats prior to Tuesday are 11-7 on its travels away from Zebulon. A 9-13 home record is not the only thing negating the advantage however, as six teams in the Carolina League has winning records on the road and two clubs actually have won more games than it has lost at home. Not coincidentally, the two teams are Myrtle Beach and Potomac. Both have leads in its division.