The rookie level Arizona League Indians wrap up play on Wednesday, so this is as good a time as any to check in and see how prospects have done in this very low level 56-game league.
Just the Facts
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With just three games to go, the AZL Indians (28-25 overall, 15-10 in second half) have clinched a playoff berth as the second half division winner. The 56-game season is broken up into two halves where the first half winner and second half winner each make the playoffs. Six teams qualify, with the two top overall record teams earning a bye. All playoff rounds are single game elimination, so the league champion should be decided by this weekend.
The way things look at the moment, the AZL team will be the only Indians minor league affiliate to make the playoffs.
Offensively, the AZL Tribe ranks 6th out of 13 teams in hitting (.259), 4th in runs (287), 3rd in doubles (100), 5th in triples (24), 5th in home runs (24), 4th in total bases (693), 5th in walks (209), 7th in strikeouts (456), 6th in stolen bases (62), and 4th in OPS (.720).
They have struggled on the pitching front as they are 12th in ERA (4.90), 10th for most hits allowed (455), 2nd for most home runs allowed (25), 2nd for most hit batters (43), 1st for most walks allowed (239), 5th in strikeouts (459) and 12th in WHIP (1.48).
A very promising beginning to the career of 2013 first round pick Clint Frazier – you really could not ask for more in a pro debut, especially from an 18-year old. He’s impressed everyone with his work ethic, and his bat speed has been everything it was hyped up to be. Plate discipline issues are a concern, but that will be his primary focus with his development the next few seasons. He’s a prospect to get very excited about.
As impressive as Frazier has been on the hitting side, Brady has had an equally impressive pro debut as a pitcher. The sample size is small (32.0 innings) but he’s been consistent in each of his ten outings. That consistency at an early age (19) is what is intriguing and often times the separator. He is a higher round pick and a high priority guy, considering the big bonus he was signed to, and should be aggressively pushed to Low-A Lake County next season.
One of the bigger disappointments this year is the stalled development of McClure. He came in as a high round draft pick last and was a very toolsy and raw player, but to date the Indians have been unable to mold him into a baseball player. He has pure athleticism, but is raw with his approach and will continue to be a project this offseason. He will need to make considerable strides next season to stay relevant as a prospect.
Pannone is a top ten round pick from this year’s draft and has not gotten off to the best of starts with his pro career. However, it is hard to get too caught up in any performance because the sample size is very small and offensive numbers are inflated in the Arizona League. That said, he needs to be more consistent and avoid the big blow ups – 15 of his 16 earned runs game came in just four outings, while he was lights out in the other nine outings.
– First baseman Grant Fink has made a solid transition to a full time first base role as he played third base in college before being drafted by the Indians this season. At 22-years old he is an older player for rookie ball, but nonetheless he has had a solid pro debut hitting .265 with 2 homers, 23 RBI and .789 OPS in 43 games.
– 17-year-old catcher Francisco Mejia has had a sensational pro debut, hitting .297 with 4 homers, 23 RBI and .867 OPS in 29 games. He was a guy that caught my attention in spring training and is a high upside catching prospect that is on the rise with the Indians because of his very good arm, developing receiving abilities, and potent bat.
– Right-hander Kieran Lovegrove has had another solid season in the Arizona League where in 12 starts he has compiled a 1-6 record and 5.01 ERA, and in 55.2 innings allowed 60 hits, 4 homers, 28 walks, and has 48 strikeouts. He just turned 19 years old last month and he continues to make incremental progress in his development. The big thing for him this year is his velocity is up to the mid-to-upper 90s.
– Right-hander Casey Shane just turned 18 years old over this past weekend, and in 10 appearances he is 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA (24.0 IP, 29 H, 13 BB, 20 K). Even though the numbers are not very good for a 6th round pick out of high school this year, the inexperience and rawness his shown. He’s a guy that will get a ton of work with the player development staff this fall and into next spring, and is a guy where if everything clicks can really be a very good pitching prospect for the Indians.