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Cleveland Indians minor league weekly review and daily updates (May 11-17)

What's happening down on the farm? A weekly guide to the Tribe's 2015 farm system, incorporating daily roster and game updates in the comments.

Columbus catcher Adam Moore
Columbus catcher Adam Moore
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Collectively, this was another poor week for the affiliates, with the RubberDucks (1-6) and Hillcats (1-7 on the week, but actually now 1-11) slumping badly. However, the Clippers won all of their six games and there were some very encouraging individual performances across the farm, as we shall see below.

Current team records:
Columbus Clippers: 17-13 (individual 2015 stats)
Akon RubberDucks: 13-17 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 10-21 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County: 15-15 (individual 2015 stats)

Angling for position players

Columbus (AAA)

The Clippers have been on a tear in the past week, perhaps inspired by the return of Tyler Holt and Jerry Sands from MLB duty. They did lose Nick Swisher and Zach Walters to the MLB team, but the whole line-up has been chipping in with hits here and there to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Surprisingly, journeyman catcher Adam Moore has been leading the way with a .366/.403/.563 line, but Holt and Sands have been good and Francisco Lindor also fairly consistent, although still not in the kind of form that makes him a consideration for an imminent call-up.

Worryingly, Giovanny Urshela, who has only played eight games so far this season, hasn't appeared since May 5 after his back injury flared up again. Carlos Moncrief slammed two homers last Tuesday, but has slumped again since then and is batting below .200 on the year. His days on the 40-man are looking increasingly numbered.

Akron (AA)

This week the Ducks' line-up was bolstered by the addition of Destin Hood, following his demotion from Columbus (with Yonathan Mendoza sent back to extended ST to make room for him). Hood was a winter MiLB signing and now faces a real uphill striggle to establish himself in a deep organizational outfield containing fringe MLB players Holt, Sands along with prospects Ramsey, Moncrief, Naquin, Zimmer and Frazier.

Three of the high minor's lesser well-known everyday players, 3B Yandy Diaz (.368 OBP), 2B/OF Todd Hankins (.712 OPS) and OF Jordan Smith (22 walks in 28 games), have been keeping the offense going this year, but the fact that SS Erik Gonzalez leads the team with two of the team's five(!) homers is a clear indication that team power is sadly in very short supply. Tyler Naquin has hit really well so far (.315/.424/.389) but the fact that he has only played 13 games after missing so much of 2014 is a concern, especially since he has just missed the last two games after being pulled from Friday's game due to "mild cramping".

Lynchburg (A+)

This week was most notable for two things: a rare bad week for Bradley Zimmer (6-32), and a long-awaited power surge for Clint Frazier (9-29 with two doubles and a homer). If those two ever manage to get in synch then the Hillcats should start scoring runs in bunches.

Luigi Rodriguez (.884 OPS) has probably been the team's most consistent performer, while Mike Papi (just 13 hits in 95 ABs, .459 OPS) continues to look like he lacks a hit tool at this level of baseball. Mention should also be made of 19yo SS Ivan Castillo, who despite continuing struggles with plate discipline (just one walk in over 100 ABs), went 10-29 with a double and two triples this past week.

Lake County (A)

The return of 1B prospect Bobby Bradley last Saturday should provide a very welcome boost for a solid rather than spectacular Captains' offense. In Bradley's absence, the infield of 2B Claudio Bautista (.753 OPS), SS Yo-Cheng Chang (.723 OPS) and 3B Taylor Murphy (.718 OPS) has kept things going, whereas the outfielders and catchers have been generally struggling to get bat on ball.

State of the rotation

Columbus (AAA)

Many of us were surprised (and disappointed?) that it was Bruce Chen who received the call to Cleveland at the weekend, especially Shaun Marcum since then promptly turned in a 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO display for the Clippers on Friday.  Actually, it was a great week for the Clippers rotation, with brilliant performances from Michael Roth (8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 SO), Jordan Cooper (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO) and Totu Murata (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, WP in his second outing of the week), with Nick Maronde also chipping in with a decent outing. All-in-all, a fine tribute to outgoing pitching coach Carl Willis, who has just taken a job as pitching coach with the Red Sox .

Akron (AA)

Remarkably, after 30 games, the Ducks have only used five starters, splitting the workload evenly with six appearances each. Cody Anderson (1.20 ERA) has been the star of the show, but Mike Clevinger (who is leading the team with 33 strikeouts) has been a revelation and Shawn Morimando (30 strikeouts) very promising as well. Ryan Merritt isn't finding things so easy as they were for him at Carolina last year, but he still leads the team by some margin in innings pitched (38 IP), conceding only four walks but hitting five batters. The veteran of the team Will Roberts is the only one who is really struggling.

Lynchburg (A+)

Good news this week with the return of Luis Lugo after missing a couple of starts due to injury. Lugo struggled last night, lasting just three innings, but at least he's back. In the meantime, although Adam Plutko continues to dominate, the rest of the rotation has been struggling. No-one else apart from Dylan Baker (injured after one games) has an ERA below 4.50.

With Mike Rayl now on the 7-day DL, the promising Dace Kime is being promoted to the Hillcats, according to his Twitter account.

Lake County (A)

The promotion of Dace Kime to Lynchburg will obviously have ramifications for the Captains, and it will be interesting to see whether they bring someone up from extended ST.

Justus Sheffield (4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R/0 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) and Anderson Polanco (5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO) both had very good outings this week, while Sean Brady was also good apart from giving up a couple of homers. Jordan Milbrath (7.61 ERA) appears to be the weak link in an otherwise promising group.

Writing 'pen

Columbus (AAA)

The big bullpen news of the week was the MiLB signing of former top closer Carlos Marmol, who has been sent to Goodyear for evaluation/extended Spring Training activity.

Anyhow, with the rotation going so well, the Clippers didn't require much work from the bullpen this week. Austin Adams and Kykle Crockett had a better week after their recent struggles, but Giovanni Soto finally gave up an earned run, dropping his ERA to a still highly outstanding 0.75 after 12 IP.

Akron (AA)

Closer Jeff Johnson (who is yet to allow an earned run after 12.1 IP), long reliever Josh Martin (0.90 ERA after 20 IP) and Louis Head (1.88 ERA after 14.1 IP) continue to excel in the overworked RubberDucks' bullpen. It wouldn't be a great surprise of one (or more) of them were to make an appearance for the Tribe in 2015.

Lynchburg (A+)

The Hillcats' bullpen received a couple of reinforcement this week in the form of Mason Radeke and Antonio Romero (both of whom weren't scored upon on their debuts). Radeke was once a promising starter, but he has only thrown 12.1 innings since 2012 due to injury, whereas Romero filed his emigration papers in 2012, was signed last August and played a little winter ball in the DWL (5 G, 4.0 IP, 3 H, 6 BB, 4 SO). Here’s his Cuban bio.

With Benny Suarez having been recently promoted, Justin Brantley (2.45 ERA in 18.1 IP) has been by far the pick of a rather dodgy-looking bullpen, although the fact that Casey Weathers has only issued four walks in his last 7.2 IP is fairly encouraging.

Lake County (A)

J.P. Feyereisen continues to deal for the Captains — the 2014 16th rd pick has now gone 28IP without conceding an earned run as a pro. Although they are somewhat in Feyereien's shadow right now, Cameron Hill (0.69 ERA with 16 SO) and David Speer (1.76 ERA with 17 SO) have also been excellent.

Minor league players of the week (as voted by LGT)

Week 1 (Apr 9-19): Bradley Zimmer (72% of the vote)

Week 2 (Apr 20-26): Dace Kime (33%)

Week 3 (Apr 27-May 3): Tyler Naquin (76%)

Related articles

Tribe minor league weekly review/updates: Apr 9-19, Apr 20-26, Apr 27-May 3, May 4-10

LGT community top 20 prospects

"Fringe five" and other intriguing prospects

Dark horses on the farm — the hitters

Dark horses on the farm — the pitchers

2015 prospect write-ups: Bradley Zimmer, Michael Clevinger