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Farm Fresh: 5/1/2011

Everything seems right in the baseball realm of Cleveland these days...

Columbus Clippers: Luis Valbuena

The return of Jason Donald and Josh Rodriguez has created a small battalion of infielders in Columbus. It seems as if someone is going to need to go soon. After a hot week (9-24, 3 HRs), none of them are hitting better than Valbuena at this point (.300/.355/.543). Valbuena, who is 25, is younger than Donald and Rodriguez, but older than Phelps/Chisenhall/Kipnis, and seems the most uncertainly positioned within the organization. Valbuena's chance at occupying a role in Cleveland seems to exist only in the narrowest of cracks between the current Cleveland roster and the more organizationally valuable guys right behind him.

Akron Aeros: Chun-Hsiu Chen

2010 breakout Chun-Hsiu Chen has not made much noise in 2011. And yet, if you look at his line, .288/.316/.493, it isn't so bad for a 22-year old AA catcher. Most of this has come in the past week, as Chen has caught fire, 8-21 with 4 HRs, raising his line to a respectable level. Chen has not yet found the strong plate discipline he displayed the past two seasons, just 3 walks against 19 Ks, but his line is certainly encouraging. The catching depth in the organization right now, particularly from an offensive standpoint, is impressive.

Kinston Indians: Giovanni Soto

A year ago Kevin Goldstein said this about Soto:

Fantastic command and good secondary pitches; if velocity projects like some scouts think it will, he could turn into something.

This week he said this:

19-year-old precision lefty with sink, but sits in the mid-to-upper 80s; if he can fill out and gain some velo, the Indians might be on to something here.

Reports out of Kinston this year are that Soto has indeed increased his velocity. Soto put up his first scoreless outing of the season on Wednesday, going six strong innings (3 hits, 1 walk, 6 Ks). Soto's been a bit up and down in his four starts thus far, but his overall line 15 hits, 7 walks, 20 Ks in 20.2 IP is worth watching.

Lake County Captains: Jesus Aguilar

I almost gave this slot to Aguilar last week after a 3-HR game. He followed that performance up with two more HRs this week, giving him 6 already on the season. Last year's Lake County HR leader hit a whopping 13, meaning as of May 1st Aguilar is well on his way to topping that number. Aguilar's overall line, .253/.341/.532, shows a nice combination of power and patience, despite having some contact problems (20 Ks) and a sub-par BABIP (.264). Aguilar is a 20-year behemoth Venezuelan (6'3", 240), whose defense is never going to be anything, so he needs a great bat to make his way up the organization.