After three weeks of fantastic salmon and crummy internet service in Alaska, I'm back in the lower 48 and ready to return to a little Indians minor-league action. I thought I'd look at a few of the guys who have had mid-season promotions in the system and how they have fared.
Buffalo: Jonathan Van Every
Asdrubal Cabrera's stint in Buffalo was shortened by his unexpected promotion to Cleveland. Even without that, he and fellow Akron alum Brian Bartonhaven't put in enough time at Buffalo to say too much. Buffalo has seen relatively few promotions from Akron this season, instead providing much more back and forth with the big league club. The one guy who did make a mid-season jump is Van Every. To be fair, this is the second season in a row Van Every has made the leap and the results are pretty similar. After putting up an OPS of .999 in his 170 Akron PAs this season, Van Every has followed with a decent, but hardly spectacular showing in Buffalo (.261/.363/.458, 8HR, 23BB, 55K, 208PA). Last season at Buffalo Van Every put up a similar .258/.339/.444 line. He's improved his BB% a bit this year, but it's pretty much the same. And at 27, this might be about as good as it gets. He's got some pop, some speed, can play all the OF positions, and strikes out a ton. Could probably serve as a 4th or 5th OFer for a team that needed him, but we've already got better and younger guys (Francisco, Choo, Snyder, Barton) ready to fill that role.
Akron Aeros: Jeffrey Stevens
Excluding injuries and minor organizational trades, Akron has also had a fairly stable roster. Recently demoted back to Kinston, super-utility guy Chris Gimenez had continued to provide some pop during his stay in Akron (6 HRs, 22 on the season) but at the expense of just about everything else in his batting line. Stevens on the other hand has put up very good numbers since his promotion. Acquired from the Reds for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Stevens might actually be turning into a decent relief prospect. In almost 40 innings of relief work in Akron he has struck out 51 batters, walked 11, and given up 4 HRs. Stevens has been strong against right and left-handed hitters, but particularly so against the latter group (27K, 6BB, 15.1 IP). With continued success, I would imagine Stevens would begin to enter into bullpen discussions on the big-league roster around this time next season.
Kinston: Matt Whitney
I'd love to look at Jared Goedert, but he's been injured much of the time since his promotion and only in the last week seems to be getting back to where he was in Lake County. There are also a couple of relievers to look at (Neil Wanger, Matt Meyer...), but I can only muster so much enthusiasm for A-ball relievers. So instead it's old faithful, Matt Whitney. We all the know the story...high expectations, injuries, terrible performances, blah blah blah. This season, with 103 games under his belt, is the first season of professional ball Whitney has topped the 100 game/400 bat mark. And he's finally doing something with those ABs other than strike out. He put up an OPS of .919 in Lake County, and since his promotion to Kinston has put up a .271/.321/.488 line while raising his season HR-total from 16 to 23. His BB:K rate has declined from about 1:2 with the Captains to 1:3 with Kinston (owing to a decline in his BB% and slight increase in his K%). His ISO has remained a respectable .216. Still only 23, if Whitney can bring his peripherals back in line with what he was doing in Lake County and thereby set himself up to begin next season in Akron, Whitney might be able to bring himself back to the fringes of being a minor prospect. If. Might.
Lake County: Beau Mills
There are not too many guys receiving mid-season promotions out of the short-season leagues into A- ball, but 1st-round pick extraordinaire Beau Mills is one of them. His 8 games in Mahoning Valley were unremarkable, but he seems to be finding his swing of late on Cleveland's East side. In 145 PAs with the Captains he's put up a .279/.338/.449 line. Over the past 10 he's been at .378/.465/.581. His BB:K ratio hasn't been good (and is inflated as it is, somewhat, by a 5-walk game last week), but he's shown a little bit of the power and hitting ability he was drafted for. It would be nice to see him continue his recent success throughout the remainder of this season and set himself up for a solid placement next year. Another guy to watch out for in Lake County for the remainder of the season is Ryan Morris. The 19-year old, LH-starter, began the season in the complex league (maybe rehabbing?) but has put in 4 starts for the Captains now. The numbers aren't good so far, but he's a nice tall lefty to keep an eye on.