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Indians Indians Archive Minor Happenings: Kipnis Is First At Second
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

Jason Kipnis"Minor Happenings" is a weekly column which covers the important developments and news in the Indians farm system. While most of the information in this report is from my own research and through interviews I have conducted with organizational personnel, some information in this report is collected and summarized from the various news outlets that cover each team.

Lots and lots of stuff to share this week, so we will dive right into it.

In case you missed them, two player articles posted this week on Low-A Lake County right-handed pitcher Clayton Cook and on High-A Kinston left-handed pitcher Chris Jones.  Also, I provided another update on the 2010 Draft and where we are in the signing process with several players.  Also, with the draft coverage all but over, I will finally be posting lots of player articles in the coming weeks.

A lengthy conversation I had with Low-A Lake County pitching coach Mickey Callaway was to be included in this report today, but due to the length of the conversation and the piece itself, I will be posting it tomorrow.  We talk extensively about 7-8 pitchers on his staff, covering the entire bullpen.

I will be in Columbus this week to get my second look at the Clippers, my first since the opening week of the season.  The team has a much different look than they did to start the season, and I am excited to see some of the new and old faces there and see how the immediate future of the Indians are doing.

Onto the Happenings….

Indians Minor League Player of the Week
(for games from June 17 to June 23)

Jason Kipnis (Second baseman - Akron)
.360 AVG (9-for-25), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 1.127 OPS

While things topside in the organization appear to be a mess this year with the win/loss record, poor performance, injuries, and Jason Kipnissome questionable roster decisions, if you peer down below to see what is going on in the farm system things are much better these days.

The Indians have been very aggressive this year in pushing up their better prospects, a change in philosophy that is very welcomed and refreshing to see.  Instead of the typical level to level moves for some of the higher level prospects in the system we have seen in past years, a lot of them have seen promotions to a new level at least once already this season, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that others could jump two full levels by the end of the season.

One of those players who has moved quickly is Double-A Akron second baseman Jason Kipnis.  After he hit .300 with 6 HR, 31 RBI and an .865 OPS in 54 games for High-A Kinston, he was quickly promoted to Double-A Akron about two weeks ago.  In years past, a move out of Kinston after just two months worth of games and under 250 plate appearances would have been unheard of, but not this year.

Since arriving in Akron, Kipnis has continued to hit.  His numbers since joining the professional ranks last year have been solid and consistent, and for a second baseman the output is actually very good.  In 11 games so far at Akron he is hitting .333 with 3 HR, 7 RBI, and a 1.036 OPS.

Overall at Akron and Kinston Kipnis is hitting .306 with 9 HR, 38 RBI and has an .894 OPS, but the most important area he has excelled is the transition to a full time second baseman.  He has adapted quickly to the position change, which is what ultimately led to the promotion to Akron as if he were struggling defensively or showing little progress there he surely would have remained in Kinston.

Kipnis' success to date at the plate is the result of him being in a good rhythm and using his very good, strong hands where he can let it air out when he swings but still keep the bat under good control.  He hits the ball where it is pitched, stays on the ball well, and shows good power to all fields.  Defensively, he just needs more repetition at second base to continue to become more comfortable there and increase his confidence, especially on the hard shots right at him.  He shows all the makings of being at least a solid average defensive Major League second baseman.

Kipnis has always been kind of undervalued because of his small 5'10" 175 pound frame, but there is no doubt that within that small frame he packs a lot of punch.  The concerns that scouts once had about him because of his size have all but evaporated, and many scouts are starting to jump on his bandwagon and feel he will be the Indians' everyday second baseman as soon as this time next year.

Honorable Mentions:

Cord Phelps (2B – COL): .353 (6-17), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, .833 OPS
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B – AKR): .375 (9-24), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 1.028 OPS
Doug Pickens (C – KIN): .467 (7-15), 3 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K, 1.129 OPS
Jeremie Tice (3B – LC): .545 (6-11), 2 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, 1.758 OPS
Jeanmar Gomez (RHP – COL): 0-0, 1.13 ERA, 1 G, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, .120 BAA
Josh Tomlin (RHP – COL): 2-0, 1.46 ERA, 2 G, 12.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, .182 BAA

Previous Winners:

06/10 to 06/16: Jared Goedert (3B – Columbus)
06/03 to 06/09: Josh Rodriguez (INF – Columbus)
05/27 to 06/02: Paolo Espino (RHP – Akron)
05/20 to 05/26: Kyle Bellows (3B – Kinston)
05/13 to 05/19: Carlos Santana (C – Columbus)
05/06 to 05/12: T.J. McFarland (LHP – Kinston)
04/29 to 05/05: Trey Haley (RHP – Lake County)
04/22 to 04/28: Jason Donald (INF – Columbus)
04/15 to 04/21: Bo Greenwell (OF – Lake County)
04/08 to 04/14: Carlos Santana (C – Columbus)

Director’s Cuts

Indians’ Farm Director Ross Atkins this week shared some thoughts on the recently promoted Aaron Laffey as well as the Indians’ two Futures Games participants Lonnie Chisenhall and Chun Chen:

On Aaron Laffey:  "It's an interesting situation.  He obviously has had some Major League success in a couple of different roles Ross Atkinsand is probably someone you can make an argument belongs in the Major Leagues.  His Triple-A experience was by no means ideal, but we did get the most important goal accomplished in getting him stretched out so that he could give us five or six innings or hopefully more.  I think that is a very tough situation for anyone to handle, and I think with Aaron the one thing we know is that there is no fear, he enjoys the challenge, and he has come off of non-ideal performances before in the past and has been pretty close to ideal in the Major Leagues.  So it will be interesting to see how he handles this.  The one thing we can count on from Aaron is his competitiveness, his lack of fear and competition, and putting the ball on the plate."

On Lonnie Chisenhall:  "Lonnie remains to be one of the purest and most consistent hitters that we have.  Each time that he is challenged he makes subtle adjustments.  Most of his adjustments are approach related as they are not anything fundamental since his swing is really right where it needs to be.  There is really nothing we can really tell him about his swing that he can improve upon, it is really a matter of him making adjustments to being the best hitter in the lineup and being attacked that way.  Hopefully he will continue to be the best hitter in the lineup and continue to be attacked that way.  So I think that is what the learning curve has been for him, to try not to do too much in situations especially when guys are pitching around him.  When guys come into the zone he makes more consistent hard contact than anybody we have in our system.  I think the injury is behind him.  It's something where his shoulder flared up, so he will have to work hard to ensure it doesn't flare up again and being consistent with his preparation.  But I feel confident it is behind him for the rest of 2010.”

On Chun Chen: "It is a really interesting case with him as well in that he came over from Taiwan and he immediately impressed us with the bat-to-ball, the power, the professional swing that translated to the wood bat, and the ability to go behind the plate.  Initially one of the biggest hurdles we thought would be catching, receiving, blocking, calling a game in a professional environment, and he has answered those challenges.  I think in trying to answer those challenges his bat took a backseat.  Now the adjustments are coming with the bat, and now the consistency is coming with the bat.  He has outperformed anyone on that team for sure with the bat and really had a productive first half.  So he is another offensive catcher in the system, and certainly someone we are excited about."

King Henry

When it comes to plate discipline and the ability to get on base, no one is better at those two things in the entire Indians' system than Double-A Akron outfielder Jordan Henry.  As a 7th round pick out of the University of Mississippi last year, the fact he has Jordan Henryraced up the system so fast is proof enough in how the Indians are trying to give him more of a challenge and see where his eye at the plate and ability to get on base takes him.

Prior to Henry’s promotion to Akron, he ranked 1st in the Carolina League in on-base percentage and walks while playing for High-A Kinston.  In 52 combined games between Akron and Kinston he is hitting .315 with 0 HR, 17 RBI, 17 stolen bases, and a .422 OBP (.340 SLG).

Henry, 22, may just be a singles hitter and not very exciting to watch hit, but all that matters are the results and so far the results are incredible.  He is the prototypical lead off man not because of his above average speed and light hitting bat, but because he can set the table by getting on base at a ridiculous clip.  He has an exceptional eye at the plate and is a tough out for pitchers because to get him out they are going to have to come into the zone and hope he misses or that he hits the ball at the defense.  Most importantly, he sees a lot of pitches in every plate appearance so he works pitchers hard and early in games.  He rarely swings at the first pitch, and as the leadoff hitter in the first inning he helps the hitters behind him see everything the pitcher has to offer before they even have to step up to the plate.

Henry is the very definition of a slap hitter, having only two career college home runs (one an insider the parker), and almost serving the ball in play as if he were a tennis player so he can use his speed to leg out hits.  His approach is much different from the average hitter as most hitters will be very aggressive early in the count and late in the count will be more conservative.  He is the exact opposite in that he will be very conservative and patient early in the count, but late in the count he goes into attack mode and is absolutely fearless when hitting with two strikes.

Henry’s extraordinary plate discipline is best shown by an internal report the Indians keep called "chase percentage" and recently it was reported that less than 5% of his swings have been at pitches out of the strike zone, which is unheard of.  That comes out to about one pitch he chases about every four to five games, when on average the typical player will chase a pitch once every one to two at bats.

What makes Henry very interesting is he is more than just a patient hitter and on-base machine.  When he gets a chance to run he can impact a game with his speed on the basepaths.  He also is a very good centerfielder in that his arm is only maybe slightly above average, but he has exceptional range and instincts to cover a lot of ground.  In less than a year in the organization he has made several sensational catches in center field going back or in on balls, and gets to a lot of balls very few Major League outfielders even get to.  With his lack of power but very good speed, defense, plate discipline and ability to get on base a comp that has started to float around is that of former Major League center fielder Brett Butler.  Indians fans can only hope.

Chisenhall Back In The Swing Of Things

If there was ever an example of showing how a player played before and after an injury, and how they performed again once they got healthy, Double-A Akron third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall would be that guy.Lonnie Chisenhall

Chisenhall, 21, hit .358 with an .860 OPS in his first 16 games this year.  While he did not hit a home run in any of those first 16 games, he was driving the ball well and making hard contact.  A shoulder issue cropped up near the end of April, which was classified as an "impingement", "strained", "sore", or "fatigued" depending on who you talk to.  He and the Indians decided to try and play through the issue, and he ended up playing exclusively at designated hitter for several games before finally going on the disabled list on May 12th.  During that stretch, in 11 games he hit a miserable .114 with 0 HR, 1 RBI and a .303 OPS.  The shoulder was obviously not getting better and was affecting his performance, so he was shut down for about two weeks.

Since returning on May 28th, Chisenhall has looked better than ever, as it appears the full range of motion in his swing has returned and more importantly the power in his stroke has as well.  Since returning on May 28th, in 25 games he is hitting .330 (32-97) with 6 HR, 21 RBI, and a .997 OPS.

So, let's see, prior to the shoulder issue Chisenhall was hitting .358/.860, when it cropped up he hit .114/.303, and now (mostly) healthy he has hit .330/.997.  It is easy to see what part of the data you should throw out when evaluating him this year, and is another example of how sometimes looking at the overall numbers don't always tell the true story, or in this case how sometimes the stats can be an indicator that something physically is wrong.  Of course, he is a gamer and won't use the injury as an excuse, but there is no doubt his shoulder issue affected his swing to some degree.

While the offense has been there, Chisenhall continues to show progress as well at third base defensively, a position he just switched to last year and one the Indians believe he has the chance to be at least an above average defender at.  One of the secrets to his success is his unique approach to improving his fielding where he uses an extremely small sized glove during batting practice when he fields fungoes so that when he uses his regular full sized glove in games fielding is so much easier.

Chisenhall's clock to reach the big leagues is still set to around this time next season.  No matter what, he very likely will not be a part of the Indians' opening day roster next year for a variety or reasons, mainly for roster reasons (he does not need to be rostered this offseason) and contract reasons (bringing him up a month into the season allows the team an extra year of control).  The Indians will likely go the same route with him as they did with catcher Carlos Santana this year, which will be to have him play a little over two months in Triple-A Columbus to polish off his game and at the same time work out any roster issues.  If the time comes in mid-June to call him up and he is ready, the Chisenhall Era should begin.

Lost Season For Berger

Sometimes players get caught up in the midst of a bizarre year for reasons they cannot control.  Typically the reason has to do with a lot of nagging injuries which result in the player missing considerable time and at the same time seeing their performance Eric Bergerdecline and their development stalled.  This is what appears to have happened for Double-A Akron left-hander Eric Berger this year, a pitcher who came in as one of the organization's top pitching prospects but bad luck has forced him to miss a lot of time this year.

Berger, 24, missed the first three weeks of the season after he came down with an intercostal strain near the end of spring training.  The setback not only robbed him of about four to five starts at the beginning of the season, but it also caused him to lose his sharpness as he struggled in his first two outings for Akron where he managed to go just 2.2 innings in each start and gave up a total of 11 earned runs, 8 hits, and 10 walks.  However, since then in eight starts he has been more like his usual self with a 3.59 ERA where in 42.2 innings he allowed 37 hits, 19 walks, and had 38 strikeouts.  Overall in ten starts he is 3-4 with a 5.25 ERA (48.0 IP, 45 H, 29 BB, 41 K).

Unfortunately for Berger, he suffered another setback on Tuesday night where back stiffness forced him to be scratched from his scheduled start and ultimately landed him on the disabled list on Wednesday.  It is a tough break because of late he had been one of the hottest pitchers in the system as in his last four starts he was 2-1 with a 1.90 ERA (23.2 IP, 17 H, 9 BB, 24 K).  He even flirted with a no-hitter on June 10th which was ultimately broken up with one out in the seventh inning.   Hopefully the setback is just a short one and it does not interrupt the momentum he had built over the past five weeks.

Pitching Changes

Triple-A right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco may have been passed over by the Indians to fill the vacant starting rotation spot in Cleveland when lefty David Huff was optioned to Columbus earlier this week, but he is still very close to claiming a rotation spot inCarlos Carrasco Cleveland and likely will by the end of July.  In the meantime, he has been working hard on being more consistent with his fastball to both sides of the plate in order to more effectively setup his secondary pitches.  He and Columbus pitching coach Charlie Nagy have made a few small adjustments to his mechanics, more notably to get him to stay more closed and the results have been better command of the fastball.  He has also focused more on pitching inside to batters.  To date, in 14 starts for Columbus he is 6-3 with a 4.26 ERA (86.2 IP, 87 H, 29 BB, 73 K).

Triple-A Columbus right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez has pitched much better of late.  In his first 12 starts for Columbus this year he was 3-7 with a 6.96 ERA (64.2 IP, 85 H, 31 BB, 40 K), but in his last two starts he is 1-0 and in 15.0 innings has allowed 1 run on 16 hits, 1 walk, and has 10 strikeouts.  While it is only two good games in a row, it may be the result of some recent work where the Indians have gotten him to try and relax more on the mound and approach each hitter one at a time by being more aggressive and attacking them.  His confidence has returned, and as a result so have the results as he is showing much better command in getting ahead of hitters and also throwing all of his pitches for strikes.  Some adjustments were also made to his mechanics to help him stay behind the ball and keep it down in the zone.  With his confidence and mechanics possibly back on track, perhaps he may be in line for a good second half of the season.

Double-A left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone is pretty much in the clear with his pitch limit as he is on a regular 85-90 pitch count, though is about 5 - 10 pitches lower than other starters in Akron so the Indians are still being a little cautious with his use as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery two years ago.  In addition to improving his fastball command he is working on developing his changeup and breaking ball.  His command is still erratic, especially with his offspeed pitches, but he is throwing all of his pitches with conviction and without fear.  To date, in 15 combined starts between Akron and High-A Kinston he is 2-3 with a 3.65 ERA (56.2 IP, 48 H, 45 BB, 66 K).

Switch Hitting

Triple-A Columbus outfielder and first baseman Matt LaPorta's health has been a topic of concern all year among fans and the organization itself.  When the Indians optioned him to Columbus a few weeks ago, they did so with the intent to get him every day at bats but also to help him regain his confidence at the plate.  Some could say that in a way he went on the disabled list for "broken confidence".  Well, it didn't take long for him to regain his old form and show that he may be more healthy than originally thought.  In his second game with Columbus he hit three home runs, and so far in 17 games with Columbus he is hitting .353 with Jordan Brown5 HR, 16 RBI and a 1.061 OPS.

Triple-A Columbus outfielder and first baseman Jordan Brown has battled through some recent struggles at the plate where in a nine game stretch from June 2nd to June 12th he hit just 5-for-38 (.132).  True to his nature, he spent hours in the cages to work through his mechanics and right the ship, and it appears he has as he followed up that rough nine game stretch with a sizzling seven game stretch from June 13th to June 21st where he had multi-hit games in six of the seven games and hit 13-for-31 (.419).  Overall, in 37 games he is hitting .282 with 2 HR, 25 RBI and a .732 OPS.

Double-A Akron shortstop Carlos Rivero is once again off to another one of his patented slow starts where in 67 games he is hitting just .234 with 3 HR, 24 RBI and a .603 OPS.  These are not the kind of numbers expected from a higher level prospect repeating at the same level this year who was added to the 40-man roster last offseason.  That said, things have been somewhat better for him in June where in 18 games he is hitting .257 with a .736 OPS.  His better performance of late can be attributed to a change in his batting stance where he now sets up with a wider base.  As a result, his at bats have been more consistent and the balance in his swing has been much improved.  The wider stance at the plate has helped keep his swing on a more even plane and control the barrel of his bat through the zone.  He is still regarded as a good defender, but he just needs to find a way to be more consistent as a hitter and take advantage of his good bat speed.

Short-Season Outlook

The Indians two short-season league teams at Mahoning Valley (Single-A) and Arizona (rookie) have both gotten under way in the past week.  When looking at the rosters for the two teams, the makeup of prospects and upside is night and day between the two.

At Mahoning Valley, the highest draft pick currently on the roster is a 9th rounder, that being right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper from this year’s draft.  In addition to that, they also have seven guys signed after the draft as undrafted free agents on the roster. Mahoning Valley The rest of the roster – aside from third baseman Giovanny Urshela - is a mix of interesting guys with some potential, but generally viewed as low upside guys.  Urshela is the only true high level prospect on the team, a gold glove caliber defender who is just 18 years of age and will surely struggle at the plate this year, but a player the Indians are excited about and are being aggressive with challenging him at such an advanced level.

Mahoning Valley is a team that will likely struggle most of the year because of the lack of a lot of true impact talent, though as the Indians make some signings over the summer with some of their more high profile 2010 draft picks the outlook could look better when those players arrive.  This is by far the worst “prospect” team the Indians have put together in years.

On the flipside, the rookie level Arizona team may have the most upside of any affiliate in the system.  The Indians are very excited about a lot of the players on this roster, and while their projection at this point is very long, they believe the upside is certainly there.  It is an extremely young group where many of the players are not only 16-17 years old and from Latin American, but many are playing professional baseball for the first time.

If you want to know who to keep an eye on with the team, keep an eye on infielder Jorge Martinez, catcher Alex Monsalve, infielder Robles Garcia, third baseman Juan Romero, right-handed pitcher Felix Sterling, right-handed pitcher Ramon Cespedes, and right-handed pitcher Luis Encarnacion.  All of those guys listed above except for Monsalve have never played a professional game, and by the organization having them skip the Dominican Summer League where they normally would start their careers it is telling not only of how aggressive they are being in the system this year, but also what kind of upside they think these players have.

The one thing to note is while they expect these players to hold their own, by the same token they in no way are expected to dominate.  Their success of the players won’t necessarily be dictated by their performance or team record, but by their continued development and growth.

Back To The Future

The Indians will have two representatives in the 12th annual XM Radio Futures Game held over All Star weekend at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Sunday July 11th.  Double-A Akron third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has been chosen to play on the Lonnie ChisenhallUS team and Low-A Lake County catcher Chun Chen has been chosen to play on the World team.  The showcase game pits the top American-born prospects against a 25-man World roster comprised of athletes from ten countries and territories across the globe.  The game will be played at 6:00 PM ET, and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, MLB.TV, and XM Radio 175.

Chisenhall is the 14th Akron player chosen to participate in the event since the showcase game first started up in 1999.  On the season, he currently leads all active Akron players with his six homers and slugging percentage of .452 while ranking second with 34 runs scored.  Chen is from Hualian County, Taiwan, and is the first player ever from an active Lake County roster to be named to the team.  Chen played 52 games in the first half of the season and hit .318 which ranks him 5th in the league.  He is also 3rd in the Midwest League with 20 doubles and is 4th in slugging percentage (.544), and he was named to the Midwest League All Star game this season.

All Star Wrapup

The Single-A All Star games came and went this past week with several Indians’ farmhands from both Low-A Lake County andBo Greenwell High-A Kinston participating in the games.

At Kinston, left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland was the lone representative for the team and he got the start in the Carolina League vs. California League All Star Game.  He pitched two innings and allowed an unearned run on one hit and had two strikeouts.

Lake County was very well represented as five players were in attendance for the Midwest League All Star game, which is no surprise since they were the first half division winner.  Outfielder Bo Greenwell said goodbye to the Midwest League with a 3-for-4 night at the plate and had a double, RBI, and scored two runs.  Catcher Chun Chen went 1-for-2 and right-handed reliever Nick Sarianides only faced one batter and struck him out.  Right-handed pitcher Trey Haley and catcher Roberto Perez did not play.

Random Notes

No notebook this week, but here are some random notes:

Double-A Akron left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes had another good outing on Sunday as he went five innings and allowed one run on two hits, five walks, and had eight strikeouts.  He is now tied for 3rd in the Eastern League with 67 strikeouts on the season. He has put up a good month of June where in four starts he is 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA and has recorded 28 strikeouts with just seven walks in 21.2 innings pitched.  In 13 starts overall this year he is 3-6 with a 5.82 ERA (60.1 IP, 58 H, 30 BB, 67 K).

Double-A utility man Jerad Head has a career night on Sunday as he went 2-for-3 at the plate with two home runs.  It was his first multi-homer outing since July 14, 2006 with the short-season Class A Burlington Indians.  In 31 games between Akron and Triple-Bryce StowellA Columbus he is hitting .269 with 5 HR, 18 RBI and an .854 OPS.

Double-A Akron right-handed reliever Bryce Stowell has been lights out this year and been on a roll the past month.  He put up another scoreless outing for Akron on Wednesday night and is now in the midst of a 19.0 consecutive scoreless innings streak to begin his Double-A career.  He earned a promotion from High-A Kinston on May 20th and has been on a tear this season where in 22 combined appearances between Kinston and Akron he is 2-0 with six saves and a 0.81 ERA (44.1 IP, 31 H, 16 BB, 65 K).

High-A Kinston right-handed reliever Cory Burns is tied for the second most saves in all of Minor League Baseball this year with 23 between Kinston and Low-A Lake County.  He is a perfect 23-for-23 in save opportunities and has a 2.15 ERA in 28 appearances this year (29.1 IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 42 K, .230 AVG).

With Double-A Akron left-hander Eric Berger going on the disabled list, right-handed pitcher Zach Putnam was activated off of the disabled list.

Low-A Lake County outfielder Bo Greenwell and right-handed pitcher Austin Adams have been promoted to High-A Kinston.  Replacing them on the roster are outfielder Trent Baker who was reassigned from Kinston to Lake County and catcher/first baseman Dwight Childs who was promoted to Lake County.Nick Weglarz

Left-handed pitcher Elvis Araujo is still recovering from an elbow injury which sidelined him for all of the 2009 season.  There is no timetable on his return, though he may just be shut down until Instructional League in the fall.

Triple-A Columbus outfielder Nick Weglarz missed a few games this week because of recurring tendonitis in his surgically repaired leg.  Coming off surgery, the tendonitis is expected and will likely be something which crops up from time to time through the rest of the season.

Catcher Wyatt Toregas has been out of the short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley lineup the past few games because of some minor back pain.

High-A Kinston first baseman Nate Recknagel may be nearing return as he is playing games for rookie level Arizona.

Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @tlastoria.  His new book the 2010 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is also available for purchase on or his site.

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