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Indians Indians Archive Minor Happenings: Popham a No-Hit Wonder
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

Marty Popham"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.

The minor league regular season has come to a close, and with that this year's Minor Happenings updates will soon as well.  That said, with three teams in the playoffs there is still lots to talk about through the end of this month, so the Happenings should continue to be strong through the end of the month when we wrap it all up with the year end Tony Awards.

The postseason excitement kicks up tonight for three Indians' affiliates as Triple-A Columbus, High-A Kinston, and Low-A Lake County open up first round play.  On the hill tonight will be left-hander David Huff (Columbus), left-hander T.J. McFarland (Kinston), and right-hander Brett Brach (Lake County).  The full schedule and probables for the first round can be seen here.

Also, just a quick reader note to mention that I have tons of interviews in the queue that will start to get out over the course of the next several weeks.  New players like Alex Lavisky, Cole Cook, Tony Dischler, Chase Burnette, and Michael Goodnight, along with others like Zach Putnam, Josh Judy, Trey Haley, Roberto Perez, Marty Popham and others will all be posting between now and really the end of the year.  So be on the lookout for these 20-25 player features coming throughout the fall.

Speaking of fall, Instructional League kicks up in a week, so I should be posting the roster and schedule soon.  Also, I will be going out there to Arizona the final week in mid-October to see how the players are doing as well as catching a game or two of the Arizona Fall League to see how our young, top prospects are doing there.

Good luck to the Tribe farmhands tonight and throughout the playoffs....and with that onto the Happenings...

Indians Minor League Player of the Week
(for games from August 26th to September 6th)

Marty Popham (Right-handed pitcher – Kinston
1-0, 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 13.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 10 K, .050 BAA

Talk about ending the season on a good note.  High-A Kinston right-handed pitcher Marty Popham did that and then some when Marty Pophamhe along with two other pitchers left-hander Chris Jones and right-hander Cory Burns combined on a 10-inning no-hitter on Sunday.

Popham, who just turned 23-years old last month, was on his A-game as he was perfect through six innings.  He lost his bid for a perfect game when he walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning, and his shutout bid was put in danger when a wild pitch pushed the walked batter into scoring position with no outs, but he was able to settle down and although he walked another batter he was able to retire the side with no one scoring or getting a hit.

Popham was outstanding all night, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, and he was removed after the seventh inning as he had reached his pitch count since he was at 95 pitches.  With the game at a scoreless 0-0 tie, the no hitter was passed onto Jones who threw two shutout-hitless innings in the eighth and ninth inning, and then after gaining the lead in the 10th thanks to a Doug Pickens RBI, Burns was summoned to close out another K-Tribe win and he responded with a scoreless-hitless inning.

The no-hitter was the seventh in Kinston history, and the first one since lefty Keith Ramsey threw a perfect game on almost the same date six years ago in September 2004.  Going back to 1945 it was just the third extra innings no-hitter in league history, and the first since Durham’s Chris Czarnik pitched an amazing 14 no-hit innings back on May 24, 1990.  

Honorable Mentions:

Josh Rodriguez (SS – COL): .375 (15-40), 4 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.030 OPS
Jose Constanza (OF – COL): .356 (16-45), 8 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K, .909 OPS
Eze. Carrera (OF – COL): .341 (15-44), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K, 6 SB, .908 OPS
Miguel Perez (C – AKR): .367 (11-30), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, .875 OPS
Chun Chen (C – KIN): .368 (14-38), 7 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 5 K, 1.158 OPS
Donnie Webb (OF – COL): .368 (14-38), 13 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 10 K, .993 OPS
Jeremie Tice (1B – KIN): .326 (14-43), 9 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.039 OPS
Tyler Holt (OF – LC): .344 (11-32), 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 10 BB, 5 K, 3 SB, 1.020 OPS
Jesus Aguilar (1B – MV): .400 (16-40), 4 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.017 OPS
Alex Kaminsky (RHP – MV): 1-1, 2 G, 11.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, .184 BAA
Francisco Jimenez (LHP – LC): 0-0, 3 G, 0.00 ERA, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, .167 BAA
Joe Gardner (RHP – KIN): 1-1, 2 G, 0.87 ERA, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9 BB, 6 K, .176 BAA
Austin Adams (RHP – KIN): 2-0, 2 G, 0.90 ERA, 10.0 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, .216 BAA
Matt Packer (LHP – AKR): 1-0, 2 G, 0.69 ERA, 13.0 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 16 K, .239 BAA
Steven Wright (RHP – AKR): 1-1, 3 G, 0.90 ERA, 10.0 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, .250 BAA

Previous Winners:

08/20 to 08/26: Jason Knapp (RHP – Lake County)
08/13 to 08/19: Carlos Carrasco (RHP – Columbus)
08/06 to 08/12: Alex Kaminsky (RHP – Mahoning Valley)
07/28 to 08/05 T.J. House (LHP – Kinston)
07/22 to 07/28: Adam Abraham (3B – Lake County)
07/15 to 07/21: Jason Kipnis (2B – Akron)
07/08 to 07/14: Jesus Aguilar (1B – Arizona)
07/01 to 07/07: Matt McBride (OF – Akron)
06/24 to 06/30: Michael Brantley (OF - Columbus)
06/17 to 06/23: Jason Kipnis (2B – Akron)
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 recently shared some thoughts on how players deal with the end of the minor league season as well as some thoughts on several players throughout the system:

On Carlos Carrasco: "The [adjustments he has made] and that are easier to see that are more tangible are his ability toRoss Atkins command his ball and control the running game.  You see those in any given start at this point as compared to six months ago.  The ability to hold the ball and not have a track meet with a good base-stealing team is clearly something that he has improved on.  I also think all of his pitches are better right now than they were six months ago, but the fastball command is what jumps out though there is still work to be done there.  It is not necessarily delivery related at this point as in our mind it is his ability to control his emotional intensity.  Every young competitive athlete is going to improve because of their competitive nature, but with someone as talented as Carlos it comes down to two things.  One, how good does he want to be and does he want to be as good as his potential.  And two, can we expedite that given that he is only 22 turning 23 years old."

On Jordan Brown: "Jordan has answered challenges well.  We pushed him on the defensive front and he has made positive strides at first base and he is an option in the outfield.  He has always had the ability to hit and is one of the best at it in our system just putting the bat on the ball and making hard contact.  He stabilized that Triple-A lineup and was the toughest out in that lineup.  Hopefully he will make the most of this opportunity [in Cleveland]."

On Corey Kluber: ""Corey has been solid.  His first couple of starts I think with the whirlwind of the trade with trying to live up to the expectations of the trade for Jake Westbrook he put a little bit of pressure on himself.  He has settled down and his last couple of outings in Double-A were very good and his outings in Columbus have been his best yet.  He has a solid average fastball that he commands well and probably a touch above average slider.  He is strong, durable, and a great athlete we feel has all the intangibles to be a major league starter."

On Kyle Bellows: "Objectively and subjectively he has been the best defensive third baseman in almost all of minor league baseball.  It is remarkable what he can do and really exciting and fun to watch.  All of the new defensive metrics say he is outstanding, and every scout and coordinator who comes through Kinston says the same.  Really what it comes down to is his throwing accuracy.  No matter where he picks up the ball and stands up he is always able to hit the first baseman in the chest.  It is remarkable how consistently he has done that this year.  And the bat is developing.  He is one of those individuals who is learning about the rigors of a long season as he has lost 20 pounds.  [Going forward], mostly it is going to be a process for him to learn how he can maintain his strength through the season which has definitely impacted his offense."

On Austin Adams: "It is a great story with Austin who is a converted shortstop.  He is a guy who reminded us a lot of Josh Tomlin when he first came into the system because of his athleticism and the strength in his lower half.  He is throwing 96-98 MPH.  He doesn't have Josh Tomlin's pitch ability, but Austin has had a very encouraging year as a starting pitcher in Kinston and in Lake County.  Every night he is flashing upper 90s fastballs, and as you know that is hard to come by.  We are hearing more and more of that in the system over the last six months, so that is a good thing."

On Juan Diaz: "He actually made a significant adjustment with us, which is unusual as we usually like to let guys play and show us what got them here and show us what they were doing and get to know them.  It was clear we had strong opinions with how he was approaching the ball left-handed as he had a very different approach left-handed than right-handed.  We asked him to make it more aligned with his right-handed approach and it seemed to help him.  He is a really fun player and has some exciting actions in the field and has more strength to the bat than I was anticipating.  There is no question he has major league shortstop value."

On Chun Chen: "He has not missed a beat from Lake County to Kinston.  He is catching a little bit more now than he was in Lake County, and that is a good thing as there is some development there.  He is the best hitter in the lineup and it really has been a break through year for him.  Hopefully he will play in the Arizona Fall League this year, and if he does not it will be because he is playing for his country in Taiwan.  He really has become a solid prospect for us."

On managing a Triple-A roster at this time of the year: “It never ceases to amaze us how challenging that is.  You think it is just Triple-A baseball and is a part of it, and you think you can manage things well and manage expectations well, but you just never can because it is just such a thrill for these young players to even think about the major leagues, some of them for the first time.  It is such a powerful point in their career that there is so much anxiety and emotion that unfortunately sometimes there are things that are unmanageable.  It is really a challenging time for Mike Sarbaugh and for the players just for the heightened excitement and the potential of being disappointed.  Sarbaugh has done a very unbelievable job being very honest and direct to the point that he can, and managing their expectations getting them focused on what they are doing."

On players wearing down at this point in the season: "We talk to the players, staff, and leadership group about it everyday about how we are helping overcome that mentality that when you are feeling tired and using that as an excuse for less performance.  It is not necessarily who is tired, but who has the most energy left at the end of the season.  There is no question that it is very taxing on a young player.  Obviously guys in the major leagues have learned to manage it and learned to establish their routines in a way where when they get to the end of the year they are feeling as good as they possibly can.  I think the biggest thing about it is first and foremost the comments they make to themselves about how they are feeling, and then the secondary issues with how they are resting, what they are eating, and if they are just getting up at this point in the season and thinking about their offseason."

On managing player exposure in the playoffs: “[Making the playoffs] is obviously something that is important to us, but first and foremost we never want to overexpose anybody.  We never want to put a player in a position especially at this point in the season where we are pushing the envelope from a pure physical standpoint.  Whether that be workload for a position player or innings for a pitcher, just not increasing what they have been doing all year.  Getting a team into the playoffs has huge value because you see a player's performance on that stage where they are absolutely doing what they can do to win and under more pressure.  There is definitely value there."

Indians Minor League Player of the Month
(for August)

Lonnie Chisenhall (Third baseman – Akron)
.296 (32-108), 20 R, 7 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 15 BB, 25 K, .906 OPS

Double-A Akron third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was on top of his game the final month-plus of the season, and his strong finish Lonnie Chisenhallwipes away any thoughts of disappointment that had crept in after he struggled through the first two months of the season with just one home run and seven extra base hits in total.

It has been mentioned a few times already this year, but it bears mentioning again how much different Chisenhall was when he returned from a short stint on the disabled list in late May.  Prior to going on the disabled list on May 12th, in 27 games to start the season he hit .261/.325/.315, and that poor slugging number was the result of just six doubles and zero home runs in 111 at bats.  When he returned on May 28th, in 90 games he hit .284/.359/.493 and his power stroke returned as in 349 at bats he had 16 doubles, 3 triples and 17 home runs.  The 17 home runs are impressive as they came over just a stretch of three months and about one week of games.

Chisenhall, 21, still was not completely 100% all season with his shoulder, but it was a lot better than it was in the early stages of the season where he was unable to drive anything and had considerable pain.  Even with the lingering injury all year, his final line of .278 with 17 HR, 84 RBI and an .801 OPS in 117 games is very impressive, especially when you consider his defensive play on the field was never really affected.  He was limited at times to designated hitter duties because of the shoulder, but when he was on the field he was always on top of his game.

Chisenhall won’t ever wow anyone with eye-popping numbers, but he is extremely consistent year-to-year (.794 OPS in 2008, .797 in 2009, .801 in 2010).  His consistency to go along with his above average defense makes him an exciting third base option for the Indians in the very near future.  He may not have the flash of an elite third base prospect like an Evan Longoria, but he has the potential to be a steady offensive and defensive performer and have a long big league career, much like former Indians third baseman Travis Fryman.

Honorable Mentions:

Jose Constanza (OF – COL): .358 AVG, 18 R, 5 2B, 4 3B, 10 RBI, 14 BB, 9 K, 6 SB, .914 OPS
Carlos Carrasco (RHP – COL): 1-2, 5 G, 2.43 ERA, 33.1 IP, 25 H, 9 ER, 3 BB, 30 K, .208 BAA
Jason Kipnis (2B – AKR): .309 AVG, 23 R, 7 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 10 BB, 27 K, .914 OPS
Chun Chen (C – KIN): .326 AVG, 18 R, 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 20 BB, 17 K, 1.019 OPS
Austin Adams (RHP – KIN): 2-1, 5 G, 1.64 ERA, 22.0 IP, 20 H, 6 BB, 16 K, .247 BAA
Cory Burns (RHP – KIN): 1-1, 10 G, 0.00 ERA, 7 S, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 14 K, .176 BAA
Joe Gardner (RHP – KIN): 3-0, 5 G, 1.86 ERA, 29.0 IP, 22 H, 12 BB, 21 K, .218 BAA
Matt Langwell (RHP – KIN): 0-0, 8 G, 2 S, 0.00 ERA, 11.1 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 13 K, .111 BAA
Casey Frawley (SS – LC): .296 AVG, 17 R, 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 8 BB, 22 K, .849 OPS
Jose Flores (RHP – LC): 1-0, 11 G, 5 S, 1.76 ERA, 15.1 IP, 11 H, 1 BB, 16 K, .193 BAA
Brian Heere (OF – MV): .338 AVG, 8 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 21 BB, 11 K, .876 OPS
Carlos Moncrief (OF – MV): .305 AVG, 13 R, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 12 BB, 28 K, .848 OPS
Giovanny Urshela (3B – MV): .338 AVG, 9 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, .834 OPS
Juan Romero (3B – AZL): .274 AVG, 12 R, 8 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 8 BB, 31 K, .894 OPS
Felix Sterling (RHP – AZL): 1-2, 5 G, 2.74 ERA, 23.0 IP, 19 H, 4 BB, 19 K, .235 BAA

Previous Winners:

July: Matt McBride (OF/1B – Akron)
June: Matt Packer (LHP - Lake County)
May: Chun Chen (C - Lake County)
April: Bo Greenwell (OF - Lake County)

Coach’s Corner: Dave Miller

Indians minor league pitching coordinator Dave Miller recently talked about some of the pitchers in the system and the encouraging years they had.  He also touched on the work he and several other coaches did with Fausto Carmona last year when he was struggling and was sent to Goodyear to get himself straightened out.

On Fausto Carmona: "I'm very proud of Fausto, especially in making the All Star team.  Fausto works really hard.  He got into aDave Miller rut last year where his delivery kind of fell apart on him and he got away from using his changeup.  We just tried to get him back to what he used to do in the minor leagues.  He was great about it.  It was far away, we were in Goodyear, and it was 100 degrees everyday.  To Fausto's credit he came in every day on time, worked extra, we looked at a lot of video, and he never complained and was very coachable.  We made suggestions and he gave us feedback, and myself, Julio Rangel and Steve Lyons spent 17 days with him in Goodyear and also transitioned him back into Lake County and into Akron.  We give Fausto a lot of credit as he was in Goodyear where the rookie ball guys were and he had to swallow some pride and he really worked his tail off to get back to where he is now.  He is using his pitches and using his changeup and using his slider occasionally, so I am very proud of him.  He works very hard, is a great kid, and I am happy with what he has done this year."

On Carlos Carrasco: "Charlie Nagy and myself just tried to get Carlos to stay over the rubber a little bit more and stay back.  To get him in line with the plate and finishing better, and consequently he is staying behind the baseball better and down in the bottom of the strike zone better.  He has also brought a two-seamer into play which has really helped him keep the ball on the ground."

On Alex White: "Alex has good stuff, but [what's most impressive] is just his professionalism and the way he goes about his work.  It is very consistent and has a lot of discipline.  He is one of the most disciplined kids we have ever had coming out of college with his routines, his eating habits, and his strength and conditioning.  It is just very professional and he goes about it the right way. You see the results he has had as he had success in Kinston and when he got to Akron he got better.  This is a guy who really believes in himself and has a lot of confidence in his stuff pitching to contact, and he had a lot of success this year."

On Jason Knapp:  "Here is a kid who had surgery last year, and anybody who goes through surgery and misses the amount of time that he missed, mentally it is a challenge to do it.  For a 19-year old kid he worked his but off to get back to where he is today.  He is back to throwing 92-98 MPH.  He has huge upside, is a big kid with great arm strength, and very mature for a young kid.  We are expecting big things from him next year."

On Matt Packer:  "He kind of flew under the radar a little bit coming out of the draft from the University of Virginia.  He is a left-handed pitcher who was a reliever in college, and we started him off as a reliever in Lake County and then made him a starter.  Then we pushed him up to Akron and skipped Kinston, and he had a lot of success in Akron. So we are excited about him."

White Out

The Indians shut down Double-A Akron right-handed pitcher Alex White last week as they decided to skip his final two starts of Alex Whitethe season to help protect his arm.  Having already reached his innings pitched threshold of 150 innings with 150.2 innings, the Indians were happy to call it a season and put him in plastic bubble wrap on the shelf for the remainder of the season and offseason where he is expected not to throw again until spring training.

There had been some thought that once Akron was eliminated from the playoffs that the Indians would send White to Triple-A Columbus to pitch in the playoffs, but the Indians made the common sense move to shut him down rather than risk injury by stretching him out another four starts and potentially 25 or so innings.  In the end he finishes the season with 10-10 record and a 2.45 ERA, and in 150.2 innings he allowed 123 hits, 46 walks, and had 117 strikeouts in 26 combined starts between High-A Kinston and Akron.

White had a very successful professional debut, and a lot of it was enhancing his pitching talents by developing other areas of his game.  He solidified his delivery by incorporating more of his lower half, which in turn allowed him to more consistently command his fastball better to both sides of the plate.  His refined delivery also helped his two secondary offerings his slider and splitter become more effective and repeatable.

White was initially assigned to Kinston to open the season to help him acclimate himself to the rigors of professional baseball and develop his slider he had recently added back into his repertoire.  In college he threw almost an exclusive fastball-splitter mix and would occasionally mix in his slider as a show pitch, but as a professional it is a much needed third pitch that the Indians wanted him to develop this year and use often in his pitch mix.  Over the course of the season he developed a good feel for the slider, much so that it became a weapon for him and one he quickly gained a lot of confidence in.

White, who just turned 22-years old last week, showed good rhythm and tempo on the mound all year.  He consistently kept the ball down in the zone, showed maturity beyond his years, and displayed an advanced understanding of how to plan and attack hitters.  It was definitely a banner first pro season for him, and it looks like he is on course to open the 2011 season at Triple-A Columbus and potentially make it to Cleveland sometime in the second half of next season, if not sooner.

Greenwell The New Center Of Attention

High-A Kinston outfielder Bo Greenwell had a strong finish to his season as he hit .389 with a 1.004 OPS with five multi-hit games in his final eight games of the season.  Overall, in 131 combined games between Kinston and Low-A Lake County this year he Bo Greenwellhit .301 with 6 HR, 57 RBI, had 25 stolen bases and a .776 OPS.

Greenwell’s strong season offensively prompted the Indians to make a move late in the season and to slide him over from his more customary left field position to center field.  Prior to the move he had only played a handful of games in center field, playing there mostly with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team in 2007 after signing out of the 2007 Draft.  Had he not signed with the Indians in 2007, it is a position that had he gone to school at the University of Miami, FL that he would have played in college as that is where Miami had planned to play him.

After he gained about 20 pounds of muscle going into the 2008 season the Indians decided to develop Greenwell more as a corner outfielder so abandoned playing him in center field.  But, two and a half years later they have decided to move him back to a primary center field role because it is a position he probably profiles better at because he lacks above average power to be a corner outfielder.  With his sound approach, a knack for getting on base, and plus speed he fits better offensively in center field.

Greenwell is still adapting to playing center field everyday where he still needs to pick up a lot of the nuances to the position like tendencies of the hitters, positioning, reading the ball off the bat, and route-running.  The organization’s idea was to test him out in center field the final few weeks of the season to see how he would handle it, and while nothing has been officially decided it looks like going forward that at least to start next season he will play center field.

Rough Year For Haley

Low-A Lake County right-handed pitcher Trey Haley had an interesting season.  From a performance perspective, he was all over Trey Haleythe place as he struggled with walks in seemingly every outing and would have one good game only to follow it up with two or three bad ones.  In the end, in 27 starts he finished the season 5-11 with a 5.97 ERA, and in 116.0 innings he allowed 122 hits, 86 walks and had 97 strikeouts.

But with a raw talent such as Haley, numbers are only but a fraction of the evaluation process.  There is no question he has the stuff as he is armed with an elite mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a very promising curveball and changeup.  He is still very young as he just turned 20-years old in June, and he has the physical tools at 6’3” and 180 pounds to be a durable starting pitcher.  But even though he appears to have youth on his side, he is now getting to an age where he is going to have to start producing next year as he will pitch most of next season at 21-years old and likely at High-A Kinston.

Because Haley is so raw he is still more of a thrower rather than a pitcher, so he is still a work in progress.  It was a constant battle for him all season finding a consistent arm slot and throwing consistent strikes.  It is an ongoing issue that he and the Indians will likely continue to work on throughout the offseason and into spring training next season.  One notable area of improvement, however, is how he showed much better maturity and composure on the mound this season.  Last year when things would not go right he would quickly unravel and openly show his frustrations on the mound, but this season he mostly kept his cool and controlled his emotions much better.

Random Notes

Triple-A Columbus right-handed pitcher Bryce Stowell is done for the year, though the Indians expect him to be 100% healthy for the start of next season and he will not have surgery.  He left his last appearance on August 21st with some discomfort in his right elbow, so the Indians quickly shut him down.  Had the season not been ending in the next week, he likely would have returned, but the Indians have taken the conservative approach and will have him continue to rest and rehab it this offseason.  Even though hisBryce Stowell season came to a premature end, he had one heck of a breakout season as he touched 100 MPH and finished the season 3-1 with 7 saves and a 2.14 ERA in 42 combined appearances between High-A Kinston, Double-A Akron and Columbus.  In 67.1 innings he allowed 42 hits, 36 walks, and had 102 strikeouts.

Double-A Akron right-handed reliever Omar Aguilar had a solid season going 2-7 with 7 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 47 games this year.  Over 62.0 innings he allowed 57 hits, 30 walks and had 72 strikeouts.  The Indians acquired him in the spring as compensation from the Milwaukee Brewers to trade the full rights of Rule 5 pickup left-handed pitcher Chuck Lofgren to them.  He has been hindered in the past with some injury issues, but he was relatively healthy all season and his improved performance was the result of the Indians eliminating his curveball he had picked up the previous season and shortening his high leg kick.  He instead relied on peppering the zone with his 92-97 MPH fastball and his slider and changeup, and he pitched exclusively out of the stretch using a slide step to help with his slow delivery times.

Hats off to High-A Kinston first baseman Jeremie Tice who finished off an excellent comeback campaign this season.  He struggled through the 2009 season with various injuries, most notably an elbow injury which hampered him most of the season.  He came back healthy this season and responded by hitting .282 with 14 HR, 79 RBI and an .810 OPS in 117 combined games between Low-A Lake County and Kinston.  Prior to joining Kinston in early July the Indians had him make the in-season switch from third base to first base, a switch he made smoothly and a new position that he looked natural at and comfortable playing.

Low-A Lake County outfielder Delvi Cid was a man of steal this season as he finished the year with 71 stolen bases, which Delvi Cidranked him first in all the minor leagues (seven more than the next player).  Even though he swiped such a high amount of bases, he is still a work in progress as a base-runner.  He still relies on outrunning the ball since he does not get good jumps when stealing bases.  As he develops and becomes a more heady base-runner, his thievery on the bases and overall success rate should only get better.  At the plate, he had a solid season hitting .253 with 2 HR, 33 RBI and a .618 OPS.  For him to be more of a factor as a prospect and on the bases he needs to work on getting on base more frequently, which is something that will require him to refine his approach at the plate and cut down on the strikeouts and draw more walks.  He had just 36 walks but struck out 132 times in 513 at bats.

Short-season Mahoning Valley third baseman Giovanny Urshela was not a household name coming into this season, but if you have been reading this site or read the 2010 prospect book you would know that he was a player the Indians were very high on.  The Indians showed that excitement by installing him as the everyday third base option at Mahoning Valley this year at just 18-years of age, and given the opportunity he did not disappoint as he more than held his own at the plate hitting .290 with 3 HR, 35 RBI and a .693 OPS in 58 games.  He struck out just 32 times in 221 at bats, and really showed progress as the year wore on to where as the youngest player on the team he was the leader of the lineup by season’s end.  In addition to that he played near flawless defense at third base and showed the tools to where he could be a gold glove caliber defender down the road.

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

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