My calendar says it's July, so apparently June has come and gone. Despite the frustrations in Cleveland in June, every Cleveland affiliate (including Cleveland) except for Mahoning Valley currently sits in 1st place in their division/league. Here are some of the highlights of the farm teams as we enter July (sorry, full-season teams only).
46-35, 1st place
Part of what's gone right in Buffalo is evident by the players who are no longer in Buffalo; Gutz, Francisco, Perez, and sometimes Mujica. None of these guys were given spots in Cleveland by Shapiro/Wedge to begin the season but they've all played well enough to force their way onto Cleveland's roster. That's what minor league systems are supposed to do and that is the only way Cleveland will ever be able to contend. The other positive development in Buffalo this past month were new arrivals to Buffalo, Aaron Laffey, Jensen Lewis, and Jon Van Every. Laffey's emergence as a top prospect has been discussed elsewhere on this site, so I'll just provide his June line in Buffalo. 6 starts (one technically followed an inning by A. Miller), 41.1IP, 30H, 4ER, 1HR, 7BB, 38K, 2.44GO/AO, and a .199BAA. He's probably been a little lucky this month, but those are good numbers. Jensen Lewis has also been discussed elsewhere here. Lewis was pretty dominating out of the pen in Akron and has carried that forward in the early going in Buffalo. I doubt we'll see him in Cleveland for more than coffee this year, but I bet he gets a long look with Mastny-like opportunity in Spring Training next season. Van Every is back in Buffalo, doing a good impersonation of the recently departed Ben Francisco.
Shin-Soo Choo continues to have a disappointing season. He hasn't seen any game action since June 9th because of elbow problems has missed out on a golden opportunity to once again insert his way into the Cleveland lineup. Jeremy Sowers is still struggling to regain his 2006 magic. His numbers in Buffalo are disturbingly like his numbers from Cleveland. Brian Slocum also remains on the DL.
Hector Luna...remember when he had some value? Not anymore. He's hitting .259/.308/.356 with 20 errors in the field. If we needed a temporary replacement for Rouse/Barfield/Peralta, who here would rather use Luna than Luis Rivas or Joe Inglett?
50-31, 1st place
Jordan Brown has had a pretty steady season in Akron and caught fire in June (.352/.418/.574 for the month). His 6 homers seem low for a 1B/OF, but notice that he's got 25 doubles already. Doubles are often used as an indicator of power to come in younger guys (Brown's 23) and given Canal Park's tendency to suppress home runs (here are its 2003-2005 numbers), Brown's numbers probably bode well. Chris Gimenez has begun his Akron tenure in similar fashion to his Kinston stint. His 17 HRs and .601 SLG% this season are tops for the Tribe organization. Gimenez is old, but his ability to play multiple positions (including catcher) could make him an interesting 25th guy eventually.
Chuck Lofgen is officially in a slump. Don't get me wrong, he's still doing pretty well and still striking out more than a batter an inning, but he allowed at least 2 walks in every start he made in June. He also allowed more than a hit an inning in all but one of his June starts. Hopefully his luck will improve and he'll improve his control this coming month. Ryan Goleski, one of last season's leading minor-league sluggers for the Tribe, has been terrible all season. His June was a little better, but his .463 SLG% for the month is a far cry from the .636 number he put up in Kinston last season. Maybe that wrist injury which nixed his Rule 5 hopes is having an effect.
Trevor Crowe. Actually, this one is meant as a gleam of hope. Since being re-inserted into the leadoff spot, Crowe has gone 12-30 with four walks and no strikeouts.
6-3, 1st place (2nd Half)
Max Ramirez is ready to be promoted to Akron. He hit .328/.432/.656 for June, with 6 doubles and 5 HRs. He's maintained his discipline and upped his power, only one short of his 2006 HR season-total. Wes Hodges is also displaying prowess at adjusting to professional ball. Here are his lines for April (.286/.311/.607), May (.271/.373/.400), and June (.405/.457/.527). He made a lot of adjustments in May cutting down his K-rate and improving his BB-rate...now it looks like he's receiving the benefits and hitting the snot out of the ball. Good for him. A pitcher who hasn't gotten much attention but is worth looking at during the second half of the season is Sung-Wei Tseng. This is the first US season for the Taiwanese righty and his peripherals have been pretty good.
The Bad (and Ugly)
Jared Goedert's still injured :-(
7-3, 1st place (2nd half)
Nick Weglarz has been talked about by mcrose elsewhere, so I thought I'd mention Adam Davis. Drafted last season, Davis is a speedy 22-year old middle-infielder who hit under .200 for the month of April and produced at an even lower level in May. In June he rebounded in a major way with a .321/.416/.585 line, including 8 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 HRs. His season line is now .270/.383/.415. We don't have a lot of middle-infield prospects of note right now, so it would be nice to see Davis continue to improve and possibly get a promotion to Kinston. Paulo Espino is one of the very young Latin American guys on the Captain's roster and continues to put up great numbers (52.1IP,13BB,62Ks). He's mainly come out of the pen, but made his first two starts in June. Beau Mills had a dramatic debut for the Captains, including his first professional homerun.
The Bad (and Ugly)
With his promotion to Kinston, Matt Whitney no longer displays his skills on the East side of Cleveland. Whitney saw 866 plate appearances for the Captains, striking out in 207 of them.
[editor's note, by Ryan] Moved to front page.