This week we jump down I-77 to Double-A Akron, where the Indians have some of the hottest prospects in their system. There are a lot of players in Akron that could be part of the Indians roster in the near future, or who could be used as trade bait.
Just the Facts
Akron (51-53) sits in fourth place in the Eastern Leagues Western Division, 5.5 games out of first place and 2.5 games out of the wildcard. They have lost two in a row, but have still won six of their last ten.
Akron continues to be the best hitting team in the 12-team league. They rank 1st in batting average (.272), 3rd in runs (496), 1st in doubles (207), 2nd in triples (31), 8th in home runs (72), 1st in total bases (1465), 8th in walks (364), 12th in strikeouts (684), 2nd in stolen bases (110), and 2nd in OPS (.749).
Pitching is where Akron has struggled - the lack of consistency on the mound is the primary reason they are two games under .500 this season. They currently rank 10th in ERA (4.40), 2nd for most hits allowed (.937), 3rd for most home runs allowed (86), 4th for most walks allowed (362), 2nd in strikeouts (865), and 8th in WHIP (1.40).
Francisco Lindor (Shortstop).414 AVG (12-for-29), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 10 BB, 0 K, 5 SB, 1.092 OPS
That line above is also Lindors season to date at Akron - nine games since being called up last week. He is off to an exceptional start at the Double-A level and proving why he is highly regarded as a prospect. What has been so impressive is how the transition from High-A to Double-A has been seamless and how his approach has remained - 10 walks to zero strikeouts is stunning. He is on the fast track to the big leagues, and looks like he will be in Cleveland by this time next year, maybe even by May.
Brett Brach (Right-handed pitcher)1-1, 2.57 ERA, 2 GS, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 6 R (4 ER), 2 HR, 1 BB, 13 K
Brach has continued to be a solid performer this season, something he has done his entire minor league career. He is not considered much of a prospect because the stuff is average at best and he lacks put away stuff, but he is having a fine season - 7-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 appearances (15 starts) between Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He is what they call a depth pitcher in the upper levels of the minors, a pitcher that can fill multiple roles and give innings, something that is very valuable to a team even if they are not on the major league radar.
Jesus Aguilar (First baseman).220 AVG (9-for-41), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 11 K, .597 OPS
Aguilar is a tough prospect to figure out. He is a hulking menace at 63 and 250 pounds, but after a breakthrough year in 2011 with 23 homers he has gone backwards each season with 15 homers last season and just 10 so far this season. He has racked up a ton of RBI (77) which is nice, but big RBI numbers do not mean much when evaluating prospects other than to show he has some clutch ability. His approach has not improved much from last year, so he needs to continue to refine it and work on getting those power numbers up to where everyone thinks they should be.
Paolo Espino (Right-handed pitcher)0-2, 18.41 ERA, 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 24 H, 19 R (15 ER), 3 HR, 2 BB, 5 K
For those that have followed Espinos career, he has been a good organizational soldier filling numerous roles at Akron and Triple-A Columbus the past few seasons and been a good performer each season. He is the same kind of pitcher as Brach, a depth guy that is versatile and gives an organization innings but lacks the stuff to make him a legit prospect (although he does have a very nice curveball). He looks to have bottomed out this season with the organization, and considering he is a minor league free agent this offseason his time with the organization looks to soon be coming to an end.
- Right-handed pitcher Austin Adams continues to blaze a trail to a promotion to Columbus which could come any day. In his last 10 appearances he is 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA and has 16 strikeouts in 11.2 innings, and overall is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 31 games this season (38.1 IP, 30 H, 20 BB, 52 K). He is all the way back from shoulder surgery, and only an incredible amount of relief pitching depth in Columbus has prevented him from being promoted already.
- Right-handed pitcher Shawn Armstrong has had a disappointing season, mostly due to a hand injury which he suffered early in the season and forced him to miss a considerable amount of time. He has since been trying to find that consistency and momentum he had last season. In 19 total appearances between Akron and rookie level Arizona he is 0-1 with a 5.31 ERA (20.1 IP, 21 H, 11 BB, 25 K), which is a solid year, but he will look to finish the season strong to give him the foundation for what he hopes is a big bounce back year for him next season.
- Catcher Alex Monsalve was recently added to the Akron roster. He had spent the first three-plus months of the season in Arizona rehabbing from a shoulder injury that he suffered in the spring. He is one of their best prospects and arguably their best catching prospect, so the Indians have eased him back into action. In seven combined games between Akron and Arizona he is hitting .217 (5-for-23) with 0 homers, 4 RBI, and .511 OPS.
- Outfielder Carlos Moncrief is having an MVP caliber year at Akron hitting .308 with 13 homers, 58 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and .890 OPS in 97 games. He ranks 5th in the league in hitting (.308), 3rd in runs scored (64), 3rd in hits (112), 11th in RBI (58), 2nd in total bases (185), and 4th in OPS (.890). His spike in performance this season has raised his prospect value dramatically.