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Indians Indians Archive The View from Goodyear, Day 3
Written by Al Ciammiachella

Al Ciammiachella

Group_stretch1_800x419Sunday was yet another beautiful day in the Arizona sunshine.  I understand that yesterday’s weather in Cleveland wasn’t quite as nice.  Seriously…what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Phoenix for next year’s spring training.  I highly, highly recommend it. Ironically, the nicest thing about yesterday was getting to watch minor league games over on the Reds side of the Goodyear complex. There's much more fan access to the minor league fields in Reds camp, where they actually have a small set of bleachers on each side of the minor league fields for fans to sit and watch. There is no such luxury on the Indians side of the house, unless you have a press or family pass to get past the fenceline that seperates the players from the fans. The Cincy setup is much more fan  friendly, and I didn't see mobs of Reds fans hounding their prospects for autographs or distracting anyone from the games.  I really don't see why the Indians can't have a similar setup on their side of the complex.  But I digress...

Kyle Blair got the start for Lake County, and had a solid outing.  He induced a lot of fly ball outs, and worked mostly in the upper-80’s with his fastball, touching 91.  His changeup was inconsistent, and he left a couple of them up in the zone that got hit hard.  He did a nice job with runners on base, varying his delivery to the plate to keep the runners off balance.  He shows an advanced feel for pitching, and could move quickly through the system.

LeVon Washington started in CF and hit leadoff for the Captains, and had a nice day.  He hit a sharp single to RF in his 2nd at-bat that was misplayed by the rightfielder, and Washington wound up on third base when it was all said and done.  He made a couple of nice plays in the OF, showcasing his speed and ability to come in on balls to the OF.  I didn’t see anyone test his arm, but in warmups you could tell that his arm strength is still below-average.

Clayton Cook threw three innings for Kinston, and they were action-packed to say the least.  Cook’s stuff was there, as he sat consistently between 91-94 MPH with his fastball and his 79-81 MPH curveball had a lot of movement.  But his changeup was inconsistent, and his fastball was up in the zone.  He gave up four consecutive hits to start off his first inning of work, including a double and a triple.  But from there, he settled down and struck out the next hitter, then picked a baserunner off of second.  The next hitter reached on an error on 3B Gio Urshela, but was erased by Roberto Perez when he foolishly tried to steal 2B.  Cook then settled down to face just 7 hitters over his next two innings and did not give up another run.

Perez_catch4_800x679Speaking of Roberto Perez, he gunned down two more runners trying to steal second base. His pop time on the first runner was an outstanding 1.87. The second I didn’t get a time on, but he picked a pitch that was in the dirt on his glove side, came up and threw a perfect strike down to second to catch the runner by a healthy margin. I really cannot overstate how talented of a defensive catcher Roberto Perez is. I would pay money to watch Roberto Perez catch. He will likely never hit enough to be an everyday catcher in the major leagues, but I have absolutely no doubt that he is good enough to catch in the show right now.  Anyone who steals on him is really stealing on the pitcher, because Perez makes a perfect throw nearly every single time.

Lake County 1B/DH Jesus Aguilar hit a home run on Saturday that the players and coaches were still talking about yesterday.  Even the Reds coaching staff had heard about the gargantuan blast, and when Aguilar was digging in for his first AB I heard them ask each other if Aguilar was the guy who hit the long HR. In his 2nd AB yesterday, Aguilar hit another mammoth HR deep over the LF wall. He doesn’t really have a position as he’s a below-average 1B, and he’ll probably never hit for a very high average, but man does he have some raw power.  Aguilar is a massive kid, as he’s listed at 6’3/240 but looks both taller and heavier than that. He’s only 20, and doesn’t turn 21 until the end of June. If he can stay in shape and become a better defender, his bat has a chance to play at the major league level.

Defensive phenom Gio Urshela gave everyone a bit of a scare in the Kinston game, as he took a bad hop grounder off of his left wrist.  HeUrshela4_678x800 immediately grabbed the wrist and winced in pain, and the K-Tribe trainer had to come out and check him out.  Fortunately, Urshela was able to stay in the game and showed no ill effects from the injury.  He turned a very nice 5-3 doubleplay on a high bouncer behind the bag at third, and also made a spectacular diving play on a hard smash down the 3B line. Urshela is one of the best defensive infielders in the system, and it will be interesting to see what he does with the bat in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League this year for the K-Tribe.

I had a chance to talk to Lake County SS Tony Wolters before the game, and it’s clear that he is really itching to get back on the playing field.  He flies back to Cleveland today to get the stitches removed from his surgically repaired hand, and it can’t come soon enough for him. He’s really excited to get the procedure over with, although he looked less than thrilled when I told him what the weather was like in Cleveland right now compared to Arizona.  That was only temporary though, as he quickly perked up and explained “They gave me four jackets, I’ll be ok!” Wolters looks stir crazy in the dugout, and did everything from shagging foul balls to coaching first base for the Captains.  He really, really wants to get back out and playing baseball.

Last year's 1st round pick Drew Pomeranz pitched yesterday for Akron, and had a dominating start.  He went four innings, gave up one run and struck out NINE batters.  Pomeranz has been everything expected and then some since he started pitching this year, and has a chance to fly through the system if he keeps missing bats anywhere close to the rate he has been.  He should still start at High A Kinston, but should be in Akron by midseason and has an outside shot at pitching in Columbus this year.  Keep in mind that he will likely be on an innings cap similar to Alex White's 150 IP last year, but regardless he could set himself up for a shot at the big league rotation as early as mid-2012.  With rotation spots 2-5 still a question mark in Cleveland, the door is wide open for Pomeranz, and he's making the most of his opportunities so far.

Today is my last day in Goodyear, and it is only a half-day. I should be able to at least take in batting practice before the 1pm games. It’s been a great trip filled with a ton of baseball, and I’m going to be really sad to leave.  I’m already looking forward to next year, and can’t wait to spend more time in AZ watching players throughout the Cleveland Indians system.

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