Thursday, May 17, 2012

Minor League Troubles?

It has been a while since I posted. I am not going to be able to do so many game posts as I used to, so this blog is now going to have to be a little more big picture. And this far into the season some complaints have come up about the minors. This is usually connected to whether or not the Front Office should be retained or not. So let's look. It is true that the Indianapolis Indians have struggled offensively this year. They have underwhelmed to be sure. However, we should take a closer look. First, the actual prospects have not done horrible. Marte started blazing hot and has cooled. Matt Hague started off in the majors, so has not been down the whole time. But his average is not bad, and I think has earned another call up for the interleague series. We will see about that. Jordy Mercer is hitting well. He had a slump that hurt his overall numbers, but just had a 13 game hit streak. Gorkys at .266 could be better, but he is blocked at the major league level anyway. Chase D'Arnaud is really the only one who should cause worry, and he missed most of the season so far with a concussion. Plus, he has a .292 OBP, which is good when your average is .150. That said, the pitching has been nice. Daniel McCutchen is doing well. Rudy Owens is showing his promise again. Bryan Morris is decent enough out of the pen. Both of those guys have WHIPs under 1, and amazing K/BB ratios. Daniel Moskos is having some control problems, so there is one let down. He needed to step up and earn the second lefty spot in the pen that Hurdle wants so badly. Lincoln was great while he was there. In fact, he never walked anyone in his 12 innings. McPhearson has been out, so that is a loss, but not because he is no longer promising. So overall not so bad. Altoona is the place that we knew would be weak. This hole in the organization predates Neal and the current Front Office and has been moving through the organization. Two years ago it was in WV, last year it was in Bradenton, and this year it is in Altoona. The big disappointment here is the lack of production from Robbie Grossman. But he is still coming off of surgery, so some extra slack time ought to be allotted. Tony Sanchez is the big concern. He is starting to look like a bust. AA has been too much for him. This is the second year in a row he has struggled. He is not even getting as much playing time as one would think any more. He has already sat out over 10 games. So, that is a miss for the Front Office. Other than that the prospects have been good. Brock Holt is hitting well as is Matt Curry. I know a lot of people like Jarek Cunningham, but I have never like him that much. I don't even have him in my top 50. He is doing just about what he always does. Show flashes of power, and hits around .250. However, he has only played in 12 games so, maybe something will change when gets back from the DL. Pitching here has been okay as far as the prospects go. Phil Irwin just got off the DL, and had a good game tonight to earn the win. Brandon Crumpton has given up too many long balls, but has an impressive K/BB rate. No reason to worry about him. The person to watch is Victor Black. He gives up a lot of hits, and that is bad in a reliever. However he has a 21/7 K/BB rate, which is good. Good hard fastball makes him interesting. I believe they have to make a choice about him soon, so watch Black for the rest of the year. Bradenton is where all the eyes are and Cole and Taillon have not disappointed. They are striking out guys a lot. And we are seeing Taillon go deep into games now. Good news. Cain has been less than one might have hoped, but 24/12 is not awful of a K/BB ratio. He has some stuff to work on, but it is far from a prospect busting performance. Tyler Waldron needs to be moved permanently to the pen, and he has made two pen appearances. It is not like that was not expected when he was drafted, so I hesitate to call this a draft bust. Josh Poythress in the pen has pitched his way to interesting prospect status. No runs allowed in 10 innings is nice. The bats could be better. I was hoping for more from Alex Dickerson, who has a strikeout problem and is hitting .252, which happens to be the same average of Dan Grovatt, who I was hoping more from. Drew Maggi started off hot, but is cooling down a bit. The bright spot here is Mel Rojas, who did not look all that good last year. Rojas is hitting .273, but making it even better is his 5 triples. Speed is always good. Rojas has not made a fielding error either. But Rojas needs to be more patient at the plate as he strikes out even more than Dickerson. West Virginia is even more fun to see, and I think the real proof we need to keep the front office. The Latin America players are shinning through here. First, Bell was hitting .267 and that is including a slow start to the first few games. His knee injury does not look too serious, so we should see him again this year. Alen Hansen is unbelievable right now. He has an OPS over 1, but his 17 errors including a recent four error game are a problem. He has hit 6 dingers showing the kind of power one hopes for at this stage of development. Gregory Polanco is almost as impressive with a .299 AVG and 7 homers. Jose Osuna is doing okay as well with a .281 AVG and Junior Sosa is showing back up on the radar with a .297 AVG. And Dan Gamache should not get lost in all of this. He is only hitting .267, but his 12 doubles is interesting. As great as the hitting here has been the pitching has been equally as disappointing. Allie was sent back to extended spring training. He was awful, and had elbow tightness to boot. Nick Kingham has been beat around giving up 6 homers in 8 games, but is sporting a 26/10 K/BB ratio. Zack Dodson also has been hit around with stats very similar to Kingham. Ryan Hafner has missed a few games on account of injury, but looks shaky with only one decent start under his belt. He is not striking guys out either. Matthew Benedict was okay for a while, but has had a couple of rough outings here at the end to show his weakness. Jordan Cooper and Orlando Castro have been disappointments out of the pen as well. No one on this staff can do anything except get beat down. Still let us not forget that we are going to be treated to a lot of high school arms when short season starts. Overall I think it is too early to give up on a Kingham or a Hafner. Arms are not fully mature until about 24. Cole and Taillon look great and on track. There is a great one two. Cain shows promise of being a three man in a rotation. And if we keep turning out players like Hansen, Polanco, and Osuna from our Latin American system, we should be in great shape offensively. Dilsen Herrera should be in rookie ball this year, and it will be neat to see him continue this new tradition. Overall, things look fairly good. If the high school arms flop in the rookie or Low A when those seasons start then we can start to say that maybe we loaded up too much on a gamble that does not look to be paying off. Until then, we should all just relax.