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June 30, 2004  


(What I wrote last night)

I am speechless.

I am without speech.

Jose Jimenez cannot pitch again for the Cleveland Indians.


Option him to Buffalo (does he have any options?), stick him on the disabled list with a strained forearm (or some other vague injury), sell him to Japan, or just outright release him, but get him the hell out of here.

Three game-winning two-run homeruns in the last week.

How impossible is that?

First, it was Jose Valentin last Tuesday in the 10th inning (11-9 loss), then it was Larry Walker in the 10th inning on Friday (10-8 loss), and last night it was Dmitri Young in the 11th inning (9-7 loss). If Jimenez enters the game with the score tied 6-6 on Friday, bet the house that it's going to be an 8-6 final. And that's not even mentioning the trouble he had in closing out the Reds back on June 12 when he picked up the save despite allowing two runs in the 9th or the two homers he served up earlier in the homestand to the Marlins in a 7-5 loss.

And what the heck does Jimenez have against Ben Broussard? If Gentle Ben comes through with a big knock, like he did on Friday against the Rockies with a three-run blast or last night with a two-run blast off German in the 9th, Jimenez ends up blowing it in the late innings. Dude's been struggling at the plate and comes through in a big way and he can't even enjoy the heroics. That's harsh, man.

Jimenez is now 1-7 with a 8.42 ERA.

He's 5-27 over the past three years.

What are they waiting for?

David Riske has been nothing short of sensational over the past month and a half. Since giving up four runs to the Orioles on May 9, Riske has a 1.00 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 27 innings with just 16 hits and 9 walks allowed. That is the David Riske we saw last year. That is the David Riske who should be closing games for the Indians right now.

Can't put Riske back in the closer role?

Fine, bring up Bob Wickman. I don't care if he's still in "his" spring training. The man's a pro, he's pitched in five games with another one scheduled for tonight, and what do we care if we jeopardize the rest of his career? He's gone after this season anyway, right? Slide him into the closer or setup role and let's move on. The sooner we find out whether or not he can help us, the better.

No Wickman?

Fine, let's make a deal.

Eric Crozier for Jose Mesa? Done.

No, Mesa, senor Vizquel?

Fine. Alex Escobar for Shawn Chacon.

No, Chacon?

Fine. Brandon Phillips or Jhonny Peralta and Jake Dittler for Eddie Guardado. That's the guy I'd want anyway.

This team plays hard every night, fighting their way back into ballgames, and they deserve better. A move needs to be made and it needs to be made now. No more "in two or three weeks we'll know" because that's what was said two or three weeks ago (remember when early July was the "know" date). It's also likely what we'll hear after the All-Star break, in "two or three weeks we'll know" which just happens to push us up into the trade deadline. Of course, by then we still won't know so we'll be talking about the possibility of waiver deals in August. And then finally, we'll all be looking back at the games that were lost in April, May, June, and July because of the lack of a closer and left to wonder what could have been if only "we'd known" sooner that we needed to make a move. These games lost cannot be made up. They are lost and if the Indians are going to contend, they cannot continue to lose anymore of them.

Ok, that's enough for now. I'm going to bed, but...

I still believe.

(What I wrote this morning)

See the above. Who are we kidding, my feelings haven't changed. Jimenez has to go.

As for Jose, he may have an option (or two left) as the media guide just shows him using an option in 1999. I'm not sure when he was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster back in the late 90s but he's been in the bigs full-time since '99 so if he used up any other options it would have likely been in '97 or '98 with the Cards. Optioning him to Buffalo to get straightened out could be an option. I still question whether he's completely healthy. A complete collapse like he's been suffering through the past two years is usually best explained by injury.

Bob Wickman threw a scoreless inning last night for the Bisons. No hits, no runs, no walks, no strikeouts.

I threw those three trades out there in the heat of the moment but I would have to think long and hard about trading for either Mesa or Chacon. Guardado, on the other hand, is certainly someone who could serve in the Indians bullpen for the next two and a half years at a fair price.

The question I would really like to see answered (or even asked) is not "when will we know" but what will tell Mark Shapiro and company that "they know" one way or the other. Is it a specific won-loss record? Is it a specific number of games back by a certain date? Is it a specific amount of performance from certain players? Is it that the asking prices of teams with closers needs to come down? What event(s) or piece of information is going to make the Indians management suddenly "know" that it's time to make a move. That's what I would love to hear. It's too bad, though, that we'll probably have to be a fly on the wall to be privy to that information (and rightly so).

In other news...

CC Sabathia has a mild irritation in the anterior part of his shoulder and will make his next start on Monday against the Rangers. That should set him up for an outing the following Saturday against Oakland and then back again in the first game after the All-Star break in Seattle. It's strictly a mechanical thing caused by the big fella getting his spikes caught in the dirt. Even so, I would expect to see the Indians reign in his pitch counts at least for this next two starts just to be on the safe side.

Bob Howry debuted with a scoreless, albeit somewhat shaky, inning in which he allowed two basehits.

Grady Sizemore is number 19 on the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

The Reds sold the contract of Mark Watson to the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. The left-hander pitched in the Tribe organization from 1998-2001, including six games with the big league club in 2000 where he posted a 8.53 ERA. Originally acquired from the Brue Crue in '98 for Ben McDonald (remember him?), Watson was claimed off waivers by Seattle in mid-2000 but returned to the organization in 2001 before beginning a tour of triple-A cities the last few years. Sayonara.

The White Sox designated LOOGY Vic Darensbourg for assignment to clear room for Ben Davis and Freddy Garcia on the roster. Darensbourg had pitched in just two games for the Sox since being recalled on June 21 (1.1 scoreless innings) but had a 2.64 ERA in 24 appearances for triple-A Charlotte (30.2 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K). He had a pretty good run (alright, he got some guys out) in the late 90s with the Marlins as a lefty specialist but has struggled getting major league hitters out the last few years. Still, given the lack of lefties in the upper reaches of the system, he may be worth a look. notes that Darensbourg is making $1.4 million this year. Doesn't that seem a little high?

BUFFALO (42-36): Kyle Denney tossed seven strong innings but it wasn't enough as the Bisons fell to Indianapolis 3-2 in 12 innings. Denney (3.21) allowed just one run and two hits through seven frames while striking out five and walking three before giving way to Bob Wickman who worked a scoreless innings. Kane Davis eventually took the loss when he allowed two runs in the bottom of the 12th. Russ Branyan belted his 17th homerun while Alex Escobar doubled and Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Phillips singled.

AKRON (35-43): Fausto Carmona suffered through what was likely the worst outing of his career as he was blitzed by Binghamton for five runs in the first and two in the second before giving way to the bullpen in the Aeros 7-3 loss to the B-Mets. Carmona (1-3, 4.98) was reached for seven hits and a pair of walks in his two frames on the bump. Kyle Evans turned in a sensational effort in relief as he tossed four innings of one-hit ball while striking out five and walking no one. Carl Sadler likewise was superb with two scoreless frames. Joe Inglett had three hits, including a double. Michael Aubrey (.257) reached base three times via a single and a pair of walks. Jason Cooper (.247) stayed hot with a pair of hits while Tyler Minges doubled and Brandon Pinckney and Nate Grindell singled. The Aeros had their chances as they left 12 runners on base.

KINSTON: Carolina League All-Star game last night.

LAKE COUNTY: Kevin Kouzmanoff belted a solo homerun in the North's 4-2 loss to the South in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game last night. Ryan Goleski won the homerun derby.

MAHONING VALLEY: Couldn't find a boxscore but they lost 9-6 to Auburn.

BURLINGTON: Lost 3-2 to Pulaski.


June 29, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Little and Howry promoted  
The Indians added Mark Little and Bob Howry to the active roster, designated Jack Cressend for assignment, optioned Cliff Bartosh to Buffalo, and moved Aaron Boone to the 60-day disabled list. Could Howry have needed to be called up by July 1? It's interesting that Escobar didn't call the call. Can we infer by this move that he's being showcased in Buffalo? Even if the official spin is that "we want him to play everyday" doesn't that by nature allow you to showcase him? More in the next CIR.


The Tribe couldn't have a better pitcher on the mound tonight in Detroit as they attempt to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season. Jake Westbrook has been nothing short of dominating in two outings against the Tigers this year, the first coming on April 19 when he relieved Jeff D'Amico with no outs in the first inning and set down the next 21 batters in order, and the second coming in his first start of the year on April 25 when he tossed a complete-game two-hitter against the Motown bunch. In 16 innings against Detroit, Westbrook has allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out ten.

So Aaron Boone is a Cleveland Indian after signing a two-year deal on Saturday that includes an option year for 2006. Contract details varied from source to source but it looks like he'll earn anywhere from $350k to $600k this season and a base salary of $2-3 million in 2005 with incentives that could earn him an additional $2 million. I believe that the 2006 option could vest automatically based on his 2005 performance (plate appearances) and is worth a $4.5 million base salary with an additional $1 million in performance incentives. I also saw some reports that tied his incentives to attendance which is kind of interesting.

Boone is expected to return to his home in Arizona to continue rehabbing his knee before joining the Indians in early August for "baseball-related" activities. A lengthy rehab assignment (50+ at-bats) will follow (and essentially serve as his spring training) and it's possible that he could be ready to join the Indians in late August or early September. Note that a late August return would make him eligible for the post-season roster. Depending on his health, Boone may be limited to DH duties at the major league level this season although, if the knee is sound, he could man the hot corner and allow Casey Blake to move over to first base. The odd man out in this scenario would be Ben Broussard (note the trade possibilities) with Travis Hafner entrenched as the DH.

That positioning is likely how Boone and Blake will be used in 2005 with Boone at third and Blake at first. For Boone, third is his best defensive position although he can also play second which provides the Indians with flexibility in allocating their off-season dollars. Given that it's his knee that has sidelined him for the entire season, you have to wonder how much the injury will affect his range at second which is likely one reason why we haven't heard much talk about him potentially playing there next season. Range is less important at third where reflex and the initial reaction and first step are more paramount. Still, he's played second before and it could remain an option if the knee is sound.

Originally drafted by the Reds in the 3rd round of the 1994 draft out of USC, the 6'2", 200 pound Boone made his major league debut (.245, 12-for-49) in 1997 following a breakthrough year in triple-A where he hit .290 and slugged .508 with 30 doubles and 22 homeruns. He spent the next two years bouncing back and forth between Cincy and Indianapolis before solidifying his spot as the Reds starting third basemen in 1999 when he hit .280/.330/.445/.775 with 14 homeruns. A couple of injury-plauged, but solid, seasons followed in 2000 and 2001 when he hit .285/.356/.471/.827 with 12 homers in 2000 and .294/.351/.483/.834 with 14 homers in 2001. The following year, Boone was a rock in the lineup as he played in all 162 games for the Reds and delivered the best power numbers of his career in bashing 38 doubles and 26 homeruns but his average suffered in the process as he fell to .241/.314/.439/.753 (note the low OPS despite the increased power numbers). This was also the first season in which Boone really stretched his legs on the bases as he swiped 32 bags in 40 attempts. Last year, the right-handed hitter moved over to second to make room for "phenom" Brandon Larson but soon returned to third when Larson struggled and was banished to triple-A. Dealt to the Yankees in mid-season, Boone hit a combined .267/.327/.453/.780 with 32 doubles and 24 homeruns for the Reds and Yankees last year before ripping up his knee (ACL) in an off-season pickup basketball game that resulted in surgery on February and a termination in his Yankees contract that reportedly paid him $1 million. Whew.

Of course, what everyone remembers about Aaron Boone is the game-winning homerun he hit off of Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of game seven of the ALCS which has earned him a place in Yankee, Red Sox, and baseball lore. What people tend to forget, however, is, aside from that blast, Boone was pretty awful in the playoffs last year, hitting .200 in the ALDS, .176 in the ALCS, and .143 in World Series for a combined 9-for-53 (.170) performance with 15 strikeouts and just one walk. But, he hit the homerun, and that's what we'll all be telling our children and grandchildren about 40 years from now.

That walk to strikeout ratio, while not nearly as bad in the regular season as it was in the playoffs last year, has been what has prevented Aaron Boone from moving from an average to good player or a good player to a great player. He strikes out twice as much as he walks (in only one season as a regular has he averaged less than two strikeouts per walk and that was in 2002 when he had a 1.98 ratio with 111 strikeouts versus 56 walks) and has a career OPS of .780. Solid? Sure. Good power numbers? Sure. But his career OBP of .332 and that BB/K ratio would be a lot more palatable if he was hitting 30-40 homeruns a year and slugging closer to .500. Keep in mind also, that part of Boone's value the last two seasons has been the running game. Over the past two years, he's stolen 55 bases in 66 attempts (83% success rate) but I would expect his stolen base attempts to decrease given the knee injury. For the record, his career numbers are .270/.332/.448/.780 with 92 homeruns, 91 stolen bases, 202 walks, and 458 strikeouts.

Still, Boone should be able to help the Indians. Assuming the medical staff has done their homework regarding his knee, Boone's at the stage of his career where it should pretty much be "what you see is what you get" and with Boone that means a batting average between .270 and .280 with 20-25 homeruns along with a lot of strikeouts and a low OBP. His versatility fills a hole at third (where it's tough to find players) or potentially even second (where the Indians could be looking at an essentially all-rookie middle infield of Brandon Phillips and Jhonny Peralta next year) and it allows Casey Blake to man first for a season before Michael Aubrey is ready for a crack at the show in 2006 (if not next year).

The only problem, or concerns, I have with this signing is did we pay him too much? Or, rather, will we be paying him too much in 2005 and 2006? With Boone likely forcing Blake to first next year and in 2006, the question that needs to be asked is could a more productive player have been found for either third or first that would have provided more value for the dollar? Would (or could) the Indians have been better served by keeping Blake at third and signing a first basemen or outfielder for "Boone" money? That's something we won't know (or may never know) until the off-season market develops and then shakes itself out.

Please note in the above that I didn't say less expensive. I'm talking about value for the dollar. A stud $7 million player can return a lot more value for the dollar than an average $5 million player or "cheap" but crappy $1-2 million player. Case in point, if Matt Lawton were performing closer to his career average of .272/.372/.425/.797 would be all be grumbling that he was overpaid even though he might be posting solid numbers? Absolutely. But since he's in the midst of a career year and mashing at a .325/.398/.479/.877 clip, the "outrageous" contract we were all so desperate to dump this past off-season is no longer an issue. Similarly, if Boone performs at his career norms (solid but not spectacular numbers) will we all be grumbling that he's overpaid?

Moving on, this signing shouldn't have any impact on whatever the Indians financial ability may be to make a deal this year for the stretch run but I also wonder how much the $3-5 million the Indians now have budgeted for Boone in the 2005 payroll will impact their ability to spend this offseason, during the 2005 season, and into 2006. At a mimimum, the $9-17 million (yes, I know that's down from the $15-25 million that was mentioned last December) the Indians have claimed they'll have available to spend this off-season is now likely reduced to $6-14 million. I also wonder if we bid against ourselves a little bit considering that Boone told his agent "I want to be an Indian" and they reportedly did not hold serious talks with any other team. For a player coming off a serious knee injury in a down market, Boone landed himself a pretty good deal in my opinion.

Overall, though, I like the signing if only that it signals the Indians shift from prospect acquisition to major league player acquistion which is a major step in the transition of this franchise into a perennial contender. I just wish the dollars involved were a little bit less. Certainly, Boone's going to post numbers if he's healthy, I just wonder if those numbers are going to justify the $10 million dollars he's reportedly going to earn the next two years. And whether you like it or not, money, or more importantly, the proper allocation of money, is a necessary discussion point in every Indians move. For you Dolan bashers out there, consider this the first step in the Indians fulfilling their promise of spending when the time is right (and yes, I realize they're just spending money that's coming off the payroll in the likes of Gutierrez, Vizquel, Wickman, etc., but it's a first step).

One quick note on Casey Blake: He's on pace for a .280/.363/.486/.849 season with 31 doubles, 28 homeruns, and 66 walks. That would be career highs in OPS, homeruns, and walks for Aaron Boone.

Paul Hoynes does some "window shopping for Mark Shapiro in the Plain Dealer this morning. Among the interesting items, the Tribe inquired about Miguel Batista and Ted Lilly with the Blue Jays (not available) and the Red Sox tried to interest the Indians in Kevin Millar during their failed efforts to acquire Carlos Beltran.

Bud Shaw, meanwhile, wants the Tribe to bring back Jose Mesa. I can't see that happening.

Rotoworld speculates that the Indians may be willing to offer Alex Escobar for Shawn Estes. Why do I have the feeling that fans of both teams would be complaining "is that all we can get for him" if this deal were to go through.

Correction from yesterday: Jeff D'Amico was released from his contract, not designated for assignment.

Mark Shapiro is in Buffalo today, according to Bud Shaw's column in the Plain Dealer. I would think he's there to check out the progress of the two bullpen Bobs, Wickman and Howry, as well as talk with Marty Brown and Ken Rowe about which of the Bisons starters is most ready for recall should CC miss a couple of starts. And while he's there he might as well check out the hot bats of Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and company as well as evaluate what kind of trading chips he has in Eric Crozier and Alex Escobar. Sounds like a busy couple of days.

(Late Note: Kyle Denney starts tonight for the Bisons)

Speaking of Howry, Andy Call noted in the Canton Repository yesterday that Howry can elect to become a free-agent if he's not promoted to Cleveland during July. I'm not sure if we've heard that before.

With four more hits last night, Grady Sizemore has raised his average to just south of the .300 mark at .299. Over the past 37 games, Sizemore has hit .365 (58-for-159) and has raised his average a remarkable 67 points from .228.

Brandon Phillips pushed his average over .300 (.302) with two hits last night. Over his last 12 games, Phillips is raking at a .447 clip (21-for-47) with seven doubles.

Jeremy Guthrie is enjoying a nice three-game stretch in Buffalo, posting a 1.29 ERA in his last three starts with 17 just 17 hits and 6 walks allowed in 21 innings.

Gerson Mercedes made his US debut a memorable one on Saturday as he tossed five innings of one-hit ball in leading the B-Tribe to a 7-1 victory over Bristol. The right-hander struck out nine while allowing just one walk and a solo homerun. For Gonzalez, this marks his fourth season with the Indians but his first "off the island' as he's spent the previous three years pitching in his native Dominican Republic. Last year, Gonzalez was 7-3 with a 1.46 ERA and allowed just 69 hits in 92.1 innings for the DSL Indians. The 6'1", 170 pounder turns 23 in July so he's old for the Appy League but an impressive debut like the one he fashioned is definitely worth a mention.

The Indians signed 1B/DH Mario Matulich as a non-drafted free-agent out of Oklahoma State. Matulich hit .274/.346/.357 with no homeruns for the Cowboys this season after undergoing offseason arm surgery. He fared much better as a junior in 2003 when he hit .305/.357/.497 with nine homeruns and was named as an honorable mention All-Big 12 designated hitter. Matulich has reported to the Valley.

Did I ever mention that the Tribe traded left-hander Matt White to Kansas City a few weeks ago? Well, they did. For the fabled PTBNL. Mr. Rule 5, as he has become to be known, was 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA in 13 appearances for the Bisons. Why the Indians continued to bring him back via the Rule 5 but never gave him a shot at the big leagues is both amusing and confusing to me.

Tony Sipp (45th round) is unscored upon in 13 innings for the Cotuit Kettlers in the Cape Cod League with a nifty 19 punchouts and just six hits and two walks allowed. Sipp is expected to return to Clemson for his senior year.

Tervor Mortensen (43rd round) is hitting .229 (8-for-35) with the Alaska Goldpanners but also has eight walks and five stolen bases. He's expected to join the new College World Series champions, Cal-Fullerton, in the fall.

The Pine Journal (hey, I wrote for the Pine Times in 5th and 6th grade) offers this update on 50th round pick Tim Battaglia. Among the highlights noted, Battaglia would have been drafted higher but could not commit to baseball. His worked with the Cowboys involved three other D1 receivers and was watched by Jerry Jones, Bill Parcells, and Drew Henson. UM-Duluth coach Scott Hanna says that Battaglia throws in the low 90s but lacks movement because he has not concentrated on being a pitcher.

Ellis Burks is moving closer to re-joining the Red Sox as he's expected to begin a rehab assignment in Pawtucket today.

David Bell hit for the cycle yesterday, going double, longball, single, and triple in order against the Expos. The final three-bagger was not without controversy, however, as the Expos argued that a fan touched the ball in the outfield. Bell is in the midst of a solid season, hitting .278/.362/.473/.835 with 18 doubles and 9 homeruns for the Phils after a disastrous 2003 campaign in which he hit .195 in 85 games and missed considerable time with a herniated disk.

Karim Garcia (wrist) and Ricky Ledee (hemmoroids) were placed on the DL by the Mets and Phillies. Garcia was hitting .238/.276/.407/.687 with seven homeruns for the Mets while Ledee was hitting .312 with six longballs in a backup role for the Phils.

Jerry Spradlin signed a minor league contract with the Orioles and reported to double-A Bowie. He had been pitching for Camden of the independent Atlantic League and had a 0.40 ERA in 22 innings for the Camdeners. I figured he was a pitching coach somewhere.

With ESPN airing the 25 greatest sports movies of the "ESPN generation" tonight, I thought this bit of information from the Hall of Fame's Inside Pitch newsletter seemed rather timely...

Fifteen years ago, the release of the movie Field of Dreams, a classic baseball film mixing history and fiction, brought to light the story of Archibald "Moonlight" Graham. Ninety-nine years ago this week, Graham made his one and only major league appearance.

The real-life Archibald Graham was born Nov. 9, 1876, in Fayetteville, N.C. After receiving his bachelor's degree in 1901, Graham, a natural athlete, played several seasons in a semi-pro league in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before he pursued a medical degree at the University of Maryland. While in school, Graham continued to play on the Scranton team, supplementing his meager student income, and perhaps lending a hint to the origin of his nickname.

The legend of Moonlight Graham stems from his short jump to the major leagues as a member of the New York Giants in 1905, and his even shorter debut during a game on June 29. With a comfortable lead over the Dodgers, the Giants inserted Graham to replace George Browne in right field in the bottom of inning. After what the New York Evening Telegram deemed "two glorious innings in the garden," Graham stepped off the field and off a major league roster forever.

His stint with the Giants ended in the fall of that same year. While Graham continued to play organized baseball for several more years, first in Scranton and then in Memphis, Tenn., he eventually left the game to become a full-time physician and husband, residing in Chisolm, Minn., until his death on Aug. 25, 1965.

FWIW, my sports movie top ten would include (in order): Caddyshack, Hoosiers, Field of Dreams, Bad News Bears, Major League, Bull Durham, The Sandlot, Bad News Bears Breaking Training, Blue Skies Again, and BASEketball.

BUFFALO (42-35, 3rd, 5.5 GB): It may have only been a spot start but Kinston left-hander Keith Ramsey made the most of his temporary assignment to Buffalo by tossing six shutout innings in the Bisons 7-0 victory over Indianapolis. The southpaw did not walk a batter and struck out three while allowing five basehits. Jake Robbins worked the final three frames in one-hit fashion to close out the game. Grady Sizemore (.299) had four hits and drove in a pair of runs. Eric Young (.316) belted his 17th homerun and singled. Brandon Phillips (.302) and Chris Clapinski had a pair of hits apiece. Jhonny Peralta tripled and Franklin Gutierrez doubled.

AKRON (35-42, 5th, 12.0 GB): The hits were few and far between in Binghamton yesterday as the Aeros won a rain-shortened five inning affair 1-0. Both Dan Denham and B-Mets starter Juan Diaz flung one-hitters and struck out six. Denham issued one more free pass (tres vs Diaz' dos) but Michael Aubrey drove in Scott Pratt with the games only run with a sac fly and that was enough for the win.

KINSTON: All-Star Break

LAKE COUNTY: All-Star Break

MAHONING VALLEY (5-6, 2nd, 3.0 GB): The Scrappers lost 4-3 to Brooklyn. Chris Gimenez (.286) drove in all three Scrappers runs with his first homerun and a single. Argenis Reyes and Tim Montgomery added two hits apiece. Richard De Los Santos struck out five in 4.2 innings of two-hit ball. Kyle Collins took the loss in relief.

BURLINGTON (4-4, 3rd, 4.0 GB): The B-Tribe lost 6-2 to Pulaski. Daniel Guzman (0-1, 6.75) took the loss after allowing five runs in four innings on seven hits and four walks while striking out five. Jason Denham, Derrick Peterson, Chad Longworth, and Julio Garcia singled. Juan Valdes walked and stole his 5th base.

The AP quotes Mark Shapiro as saying that "Mark (Schickendantz) determined that C.C. had a milder aggravation of his left biceps tendon than he previously experienced on April 22 versus Kansas City" The article also notes that Saturday's MRI did not reveal any damage in Sabathia's shoulder.

From Jim Ingraham quoting Mark Shapiro..."He (Schickendantz) and (Tribe trainer Lonnie Soloff) met (Monday) with Dr. James Andrews to determine the best course of action to strengthen his anterior shoulder region and avoid future occurrences."

Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus says that "it appears that Sabathia is once again dealing with mechanics-induced bicipital tendinitis. This is the same condition that he had earlier this season"


June 28, 2004  


CC Sabathia will have his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews today in Birmingham. This follows an MRI on Saturday night and an examination by Indians team physician Dr. Mark Schickendantz on Sunday afternoon, both of which checked out fine and "were consistent with the MRI we had on CC on April 22" according to Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff. Regardless, you NEVER want to hear that a pitcher is going to be examined by Dr.Andrews. Soloff also told the Morning Journal that "CC said he caught his foot on the mound (in the first inning on Saturday) and his arm got behind him as he delivered the pitch and he felt a pinch in the shoulder area". Is that all it is, or does it have also have anything to do with the ten straight starts over 100 pitches, the four straight starts over 110 pitches, and the 123 pitches that CC threw against the White Sox a week ago Monday? Let's hope for the former, all signs point in that direction, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the Tribe reel CC back into the 100 pitch range for his next couple of starts.

Speaking of which, CC was next scheduled to start on July 1 against the Tigers and then again on July 6 against the Rangers and July 11 against Oakland in the final game before the All-Star break. If he misses a start, as he did back in April with (hopefully) a similar injury), Jason Davis could step in a day early (still on four days rest) and then the Indians wouldn't need another starter until July 3 (Saturday) against the Reds and then again on July 8 against the Rangers. Kyle Denney is scheduled to start for the Bisons tomorrow night which would put him on three days rest for a potential July 3 start in Cleveland. It will be interesting to see if a) he takes the hill tomorrow night, and b) if he does, how long he pitches.

(OOPS...I forgot that Cliff Lee is serving his 6-game suspension and assumed that the probables on were accurate. JD will likely start now on 6/30 with a replacement for CC needed on 7/1 and Cliff Lee rejoining the rotation on 7/2. Replacements for CC would also be needed on 7/6 and 7/11 before the break if Sabathia misses more than one start).

I'll talk about Aaron Boone tomorrow. Too much other stuff to get to today.

To make room for Boone on the 40-man roster, Jeff D'Amico was designated for assignment. In three rehab starts for the Bisons, D'Amico had a 10.45 ERA and had allowed 18 hits in 10.1 innings. That followed a seven start stint with the Tribe in which D'Amico posted a 7.63 ERA and allowed 45 hits in 30.2 innings, although he did turn in one of the more memorable performances of the year when he relieved CC Sabathia ten minutes before game time on April 22 and held the Royals to just two runs in 5.1 innings, including the first five scoreless. Bothered by a lower back strain, D'Amico had been on the Indians disabled list since May 14. If he clears waivers, it's possible he stay with the organization and assume a spot in the Bisons rotation but I have a feeling he's headed elsewhere.

Rafael Betancourt was placed on the 15-day DL with right biceps tendinitis and was replaced on the active roster by Jeriome Robertson from Buffalo. Betancourt had a 4.50 ERA and .291 BAA in 36 innings for the Tribe this season but had allowed four runs in his last 4-2.3 innings pitched. Included in those 4.2 innings were four walks which compares very unfavorably to the excellent control he had exhibited over the previous 31.2 innings in walking just four batters. That makes me think that the biceps was messing up his mechanics which account for the recent struggles. Robertson has pitched better of late but his overall numbers with the Bisons are still far from impressive, posting a 7.27 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) and being hit at a .340 clip (91 hits in 64.1 innings). He also had served up 10 longballs to triple-A hitters. Robertson will work in long relief for the Tribe.

Jack Cressend was called up yesterday but his stay in Cleveland could be extremely short-lived as his presence was needed only dud to back-to-back extra inning games on Friday and Saturday and, more specifically, Kaz Tadano's superlative six inning (4H, 1R, 1BB, 9K) performance on Saturday. With 13 pitchers currently on the active roster, it is expected that a hurler will be sent down tomorrow to make room for another outfielder. There's only three on the active roster right now as Raul Gonzalez was designated for assignment to make room for Cressend on the 40-man roster. Gonzalez had just one hit in 11 at-bats since joining the Indians in mid-June as an extra outfielder for inter-league play. Cressend has pitched fairly well for Buffalo since he was demoted on May 18, posting a 2.60 ERA in seven apperances covering 17.1 innings. Most impressively, he did not allow a homerun and walked only four compared to 13 strikeouts which were two problems (walks and homeruns) that plauged him during his month and a half in Cleveland (15.2 IP, 10 BB, 4 HR, 6.32 ERA).

Candidates in Buffalo for recall? Alex Escobar seems the likeliest candidate considering that he is already on the 40-man roster and can play all three outfield positions. Since being sent down two weeks ago, Escobar is hitting .326/.404/.542 with two homeruns, four walks, and 11 strikeouts for the Bisons. Grady Sizemore has been red-hot for Buffalo, raising his averages to .290/.362/.452/.814 but it doesn't make much sense to bring him up to sit on the bench. Russ Branyan (.271/.365/.560, 16 HR), Ernie Young (.314/.373/.601, 16 HR), and Mark Little (.314/.348/.566, 11 HR) are not on the 40-man roster but could be considered. All have been stinging the ball in Buffalo.

On the rehab front, Josh Bard is hitting .071 (1-for 14) with four walks in five games for Akron. Ryan Ludwick is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with two doubles for the Aeros. Bob Wickman has a 23.14 ERA in three appearances for Buffalo.

Francisco Cruceta was moved up to Buffalo and tossed five innings of one-run ball yesterday despite allowing nine baserunners in the form of five hits and four walks. I've seen mixed reports as to whether or not this is a permanent move but the Bisons could use another starter with Scott Elarton and Robertson up in Cleveland and D'Amico released.

Keith Ramsey (6-2, 4.83) will jump from Buffalo to Kinston to make a spot start for the Bisons tonight.

Chris Cooper was promoted from Kinston to Akron. In 39.1 innings for the K-Tribe this year, the left-hander had struck out 44 with just 10 walks while posting a 1.60 ERA in 25 appearances. reports that Shaun Larkin (.271/.328/.383, 4 HR) is day-to-day with a strained abdominal muscle with makes for perfect timing with the K-Tribe enjoying a few days rest thanks to the Carolina-California All-Star Game being played tomorrow. The paper also notes that Ivan Ochoa is expected to re-join the lineup shortly after the break.

Hey, is that Brian Tallet scheduled to make a rehab start for Mahoning Valley on Wednesday? Andrew Brown, another pitcher on the mend, is listed as the Aeros starter on Wednesday.

The Indians signed left-handed pitcher Josh Kite from East Tennesse State and he debuted with two scoreless innings for the B-Tribe on Sunday. Kite was 3-3 with a 5.46 ERA in 29 appearances for the Buccaneers this past season, striking out 50 in 56 innings with 71 hits and 26 walks allowed. Kite follows Reid Casey as ETSU hurlers signed by the Tribe as non-drafted free-agents.

Ricardo Rodriguez was called up by Texas. He tossed a one-run complete game (9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 W, 2 K) on Monday in his last start for Oklahoma City.

The White Sox acquired Freddy Garcia from the Mariners yesterday for catcher Miguel Olivo and a pair of prospects in outfielder Jeremy Reed and shortstop Michael Morse. From the Mariners standpoint, Reed was the key to the deal as he was the White Sox #1 prospect (#25 overall by BA) and was hitting .275/.357/.420 with 14 doubles, eight homeruns, 12 steals, and a nifty 36 walks to 30 strikeouts for triple-A Charlotte. That follows a 2002 campaign in which Reed hit .409 in 200+ at-bats in AA and combined for 35 doubles, 11 longballs, and 45 steals between single and double-A. Reed compares to Grady Sizemore (.290/.362/.452, 17-7-6, 31BB, 56K) in that they're both advanced hitters who can control the strike zone, run, and project to hit 15-25 homeruns in the big leagues although Sizemore is generally regarded as the better of the two prospects (no Cleveland bias in that statement, huh?). In fact, a trio of Sizemore, Josh Bard, and a lower-level prospect would have been a very comparable package to what the White Sox put together but as much as I would have loved to see Freddy Garcia in a Tribe uniform, I would not have parted with Sizemore in this type of deal this year. "This year" is the key to that sentence as is the fact that Garcia will be a free-agent at the end of the year. Unfortunately for the Tribe, however, the White Sox got a lot better yesterday and depending on how their rotation breaks, Garcia could face the Tribe in a Sox uniform three times in the second half.

BUFFALO (41-35, 3rd, 6.5 GB): The Bisons put a five-spot on the board in the third inning and went on to a 8-3 victory over Durham. Francisco Cruceta (1-0, 1.80) picked up the win after allowing one run in five innings of work, striking out five, walking four, and surrendering five basehits. Grady Sizemore (.290) led the offense with three hits, including a double. Chris Clapinski (.279) belted his third salami of the year (#7) and also singled. Franklin Gutierrez and Sandy Martinez had two hits apiece. Brent Abernathy triped while Alex Escobar (.326), Brandon Phillips (.299), and Eric Crozier (.284) added baseknocks.

AKRON (34-42, 5th, 12 GB): It was Palo Alto East yesterday at Canal Park as former Stanford Cardinal teammates Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Cooper combined to lead the Aeros to a 9-2 victory over Bowie. Guthrie (6-3, 3.75) dominated on the mound as he limited the BaySox to just one earned run (two total) through eight innings, striking out three while walking one and giving up seven basehits. Cooper (.245) needed only a single for the cycle as he drove in four runs thanks to his seventh longball and a double and triple. Corey Smith (.218) pitched in with a pair of hits, including a double. Ben Francisco (.266) doubled while Brandon Pinckney (.339) singled. Scott Pratt reached base four times thanks to three free passes and a double. Josh Bard walked twice.

KINSTON (0-4, 4th, 4.0 GB): The K-Tribe managed only four hits and were shutout by Salem 3-0. JD Martin (6-7, 4.84) went the distance after allowing a pair of runs in the first inning and finishing with three runs allowed in eight innings while striking out one, walking three, and giving up five hits. Eider Torres (.290), Ryan Garko (.323), Pat Osborn (.307), and Dennis Malave had the Kinston hits.

LAKE COUNTY (4-2, T-1st): The Captains lost 9-5 to Hagerstown as the bullpen allowed four runs in the final three innings. Jim Warden was the primary culprit as he allowed three runs in 1.2 innings of work. Four walks contributed to his problems. Scott Roehl started for the Captains and was reached for five runs in 3.1 innings. Matt Whitney (.241) and Ricardo Rojas (.257) had a pair of hits. Micah Schilling (.225) belted his fifth homerun.

MAHONING VALLEY (5-5, 2nd, 2.0 GB): The Scrappers won in Brooklyn 6-5. Chris Clem (#1) and Tim Montgomery (#2) each went deep for the good guys. Brian Finegan, Chris Gimenez, and Brett Parker chipped in with a pair of hits apiece. Kyle Collins (1-1, 4.05) picked up the win in relief as he struck out five in 4.2 innings of two-run ball.

BURLINGTON (4-3, 3rd, 3.0 GB): Reid Santos was strong for the second consecutive outing as the B-Tribe knocked off Bristol 5-1. Santos (1-0, 0.82) struck out five without a walk in limiting Bristol to just one run on five hits in five innings of work. Josh Kite and Jesus Soto tossed two scoreless frames apiece in relief. Jose Ortega and Mike Woodson doubled while Juan Valdes (.300), PJ Hiser (.500), Derrick Peterson (.143), Jason Denham (.273), and Julio Garcia singled.


June 27, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: CC headed to Birmingham  
CC Sabathia will have his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on Monday. This follows an MRI on Saturday night and an examination by Indians team physician Dr. Mark Schickendantz on Sunday afternoon. Due diligence or cause for concern? Trainer Lonnie Soloff says that Saturday's MRI "was consistent with the MRI we had on CC on April 22." Even if everything checks out all right (keep your fingers crossed), I would think there's a good chance we won't see CC on the mound again until after the All-Star Break.


June 25, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: AP confirms Boone signing  
The Associated Press is confirming that the Indians have signed Aaron Boone to a tentative two-year contract pending Boone passing a physical this weekend. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Boone signs with Tribe?  
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting through big brother Bret that Aaron Boone has signed with the Indians. No further details were provided and there's been no announcement from the Indians. We've talked a lot about Boone over the last few months so I'll reserve further comments until the official word comes down from the Tribe and we learn about the contract details.


June 24, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Tribe plays at 2:00  
Just a reminder that the Indians finish out their series in Chicago at 2:00 PM ET this afternoon. Good thing I scheduled a meeting for that time, huh? Sometimes I am as dumb as I look.

CIR UPDATE: Tribe back in the Haven for '05  
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Indians will return to Winter Haven for spring training in 2005 but they're not exactly being welcomed back with open arms. I love this quote from Mayor Mike Easterling: "They don't want to be here. I don't want them here." as well as this one... "We're not going to sit back and wait for the Indians to leave to start making plans for that property" and this one... "Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya." Ok, maybe I threw that last one in myself but Honest Mike certainly tells it like it is (and that's probably a good thing).


June 23, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: K-Tribe and Captains on radio  
Both the K-Tribe and the Captains are playing afternoon games today that you can listen to by following the links from their respective team pages (just click above). Brian Slocum is slated to start for the K-Tribe while Edward Mujica takes the mound for the Captains. Nick Pesco will start the nightcap for Lake County as rain yesterday has the Captains and Shorebirds playing a double-dip today. Brad Snyder just led off the game with a double.

Note: Captains lost 2-0 in G1 and it looks like the K-Tribe was rained out.


I believe.

I don't care that they lost in the bottom of the 10th.

I believe.

I can't fathom any reason why this team would come back from eight down while being no-hit, but they did.

I blame last night's loss squarely on the shoulders of B. "Walla Walla Washington" K. and Captain Sweatpants. You shouldn't have left the bar fellas. If Crash Davis has taught us anything, it's that you never mess with a winning streak (or comeback).

I don't see how Joe Torre can possibly leave Victor Martinez off the American League All-Star Team.

I should probably say the same thing about Matt Lawton.

I wonder how you say "you can't challenge Frank Thomas with an 89 mph fastball" in Japanese.

I think there is something about this team ($1 to Big Daddy).

I believe that the biggest need on this team right now is another starting pitcher, although another arm for the pen and a bat would be nice.

I see that Kris Benson has a 3.10 ERA in three June starts while holding opposing hitters to a .159 BAA with 19 strikeouts in 20 innings.

(I meant before last night)

I believe the most immediate need in Buffalo right now is to get Scott Stewart straightened out. Not Bob Wickman. Not Bobby Howry. Not Jeff D'Amico. Not Sizemore, Phillips, or Peralta. The left arm of Scott Stewart.

I will vomit if I hear anyone in the front office say that the return of Wickman, Ryan Ludwick, or Josh Bard is like acquiring someone via trade for the stretch run. It's not. Please save the spin.

I like big butts and I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny...

I believe.

I wonder how much longer it will be before David Riske is inserted back into the closer role.

I am looking forward to seeing Todd Helton on Friday night, if only to get a glimpse of what Michael Aubrey may look like in two years.

I think we have something in Matt Miller.

I question whether we have seen the last of Scott Elarton, although it would be an easier decision if Kyle Denney was throwing the ball well.

I thing we may have seen the last of Kaz Tadano for awhile, although he will definitely be back.

I am glad we did not sign Curtis Leskanic.

I wonder if Fausto Carmona is on a Jason Davis-like path to the big leagues.

I wish Coco Crisp would smile.

I can't believe there will be people calling talk shows tomorrow complaining about Eric Wedge.

I can't say enough about how impressed I am with CC Sabathia and how well he has thrown this season with all the personal tragedies he and his family have had to endure.

I have no idea what a Sasha Pavlovic is but I like the fact that he can shoot the rock.

I fully expect Cliff Lee to shut down the White Sox tomorrow night.

(I meant tonight)

I think I am going to sleep-in this morning.

I believe.


June 22, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Bisons win, Bisons win, T-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-e Bisons win  
Chris Clapinski just belted a three-run jack (#6) in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bisons a 12-11 victory over Indianapolis. This follows yesterday's comeback in which they scored eight unanswered runs and seven in the last three innings, including four in the bottom of the ninth, to rally past the I-Indians. Unbelievable. Eric Crozier had another huge game, all five balls hit "on the screws" as the announcers put it. Jeff D'Amico did not fare too well on the mound. That's 14 of 16 and 6 of 7 now for the Bisons.


Just a minor league update today...

Michael Aubrey had two hits in five trips to the dish in his double-A debut for the Aeros yesterday. Aubrey was also named to the U.S. team in the Futures Game where he could face his fellow newly-promoted teammate Fausto Carmona who was named to the World Team. Former Indian Willy Taveras (traded to the Astros for Jeriome Robertson at the end of spring training) was also named to the World team. Taveras is leading the Texas League in hitting at .356 and in stolen bases with 29 but has only five extra-base hits and a slugging percentage of .401 which is pretty amazing considering that he's hitting .356.

Speaking of Aubrey, Peter Gammons put together a list of pure hitting skill prospects who have more extra-base hits and walks than strikeouts (there were only two) but left Aubrey (25 XB, 27 BB, 26 K) off the list of players who were close.

Jake Dittler was placed on the Aeros disabled list with lower back spasms. He was removed from his last start with spasms and also missed almost the entire month of May with a strained lower back. In 10 starts for the Aeros, Dittler is 2-6 with a 4.00 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 54 innings (54 H, 15 BB).

Eider Torres was named to the Carolina League all-star team. The second basemen is hitting .296/344/.399 with 10 doubles and 23 stolen bases for the K-Tribe. Replacements were needed for the all-star squad due to the promotions of Aubrey and Dan Denham to Akron.

Javi Herrera and Armando Camacaro were the catchers sent down from Akron to Kinston. Brian Luderer and Dave Wallace are now the catchers in Akron. Caleb Brock (.254, 2 HR) was sent from Kinston to Lake County.

Mark Little and Kenny Rayborn were named International League Player and Pitcher of the Week for June 14-20. The veteran Little mashed with a .550 average and three homeruns and 12 RBIs while the former Indy Leaguer Rayborn tossed back-to-back six inning, one run outings to fashion a 1.50 ERA in twelve innings of work with just five hits allowed.

Andy Call reports in the Canton Repository that seventh round pick Mark Jecmen has agreed to terms with the Tribe. Jecmen will likely report to Mahoning Valley to begin his pro career. Only Jeremy Sowers (1st), Justin Hoyman (2nd), Chuck Lofgren (4th), and Reinaldo Alicano (10th) remain unsigned amongst the Tribe's top ten picks. Overall, the Indians have now inked 17 of their 50 selections.

Jason Grimsley was dealt from Kansas City to Baltimore for prospect Denny Bautista. This analysis from rotoworld says it all..."Is this good news or bad news? Well, it's good to see that the Orioles aren't blind enough to think that giving up Denny Bautista for three months of Grimsley was a good idea. On the other hand, they're committing to a 36-year-old who has posted WHIPs of 1.42, 1.65 and 1.46 the last three years. Grimsley's ability to get groundballs gives him some value, but we still really dislike this move. Bautista's stock has dropped a bit this year, in part because he was found to be two years older than his listed age of 21. Still, he throws in the mid-90s and has a quality curveball. If he fails to develop as a starter, he'll probably be a great reliever." Couldn't have said it better myself. From an Indians perspective, if this is what Grimsley brings in return, what will be the asking price for a good reliever? Just a thought as we enter the trade rumor season.

The Tigers released Jimmy Haynes who had a 8.78 ERA with 19 hits allowed in 13.1 innings for their triple-A affiliate in Toledo. Buffalo could use another arm but let's just say no on this one.

BUFFALO (37-34, 3rd, 6.5 GB): Ernie Young delivered a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bisons a 8-7 victory over Indianapolis. For Young, it was his only hit in five at-bats and the single capped a furious rally from the Bisons in which they scored seven times in the last three innings, including four in the final frame. Mark Little belted his 11th homerun and singled to drive in three runs. Alex Escobar (.208) and Grady Sizemore (.285) added a pair of hits. Brandon Phillips (.286) and Sandy Martinez doubled. Bob Wickman was charged with four runs allowed in two-thirds of an inning as he walked one and gave up three this. Jake obbins shined in relief as he tossed three scoreless frames while Scott Stewart picked up his second win with a scoreless final inning.

AKRON (31-39, 5th, 9.5 GB): The Aeros lost 5-4 in 10 innings in Altoona. Jose Vargas (2-2, 2.68) took the loss in relief of Francisco Cruceta who allowed four runs on 10 hits in seven innings of work. Eight of Altoona's twelve hits went for extra-bases (five doubles and three homers). Michael Aubrey had two hits in his double-A debut. Corey Smith (.212) belted his 10th homerun. Ben Francisco (.263) singled twice, drove in a pair, and stole a base. Brandon Pinckney (.373) had two more hits.

KINSTON (0-0): First half complete.

LAKE COUNTY (0-0): First-half complete

MAHONING VALLEY (2-2): The Scrappers lost 7-6 to Auburn. I couldn't find a boxscore but Wyatt Toregas belted a grand slam for the Scrappers.

BURLINGTON (0-1): Danville rallied for a pair of runs in the late innings to defeat the B-Tribe 2-1. Two 2004 draft picks, Dustin Roddy (8th) and Adrian Schau (9th), both allowed a run in relief of Reid Santos who was sensational over the first six innings. Santos struck out seven and limited the D-Braves to just one hit and one walk before giving way to Roddy for the start of the seventh. The B-Tribe managed just three hits with Juan Valdes singled and stealing a base, Domingo Vasquez adding a single, and Evandy DeLeon reaching base twice via a single and walk.

CIR UPDATE: Bisons on the radio this afternoon.  
You can listen to Jeff D'Amico and the Bisons take on Indianapolis this afternoon over at

Oh boy, D'Amico just gave up a first-pitch, leadoff homerun to Peter Bergeron.


June 21, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Futures bright for Aubrey and Carmona  
Michael Aubrey and Fausto Carmona were selected to play in the 2004 Futures Game which will be played Sunday, July 11 in Houston. Aubrey will play for the U.S team while Carmona will suit up for the World team. Fellow Indian Grady Sizemore was the MVP of the 2003 team.


Nice weekend for the Tribe in Hotlanta in taking two of three from the Braves. Even better was the performance turned in by Jason Davis yesterday in limiting the Braves to two runs over seven innings.

Mark Shapiro told the local papers that he hopes to know by July 4 where this team stands in terms of contention. The next four games against the White Sox, who lead the Tribe by 4-1/2 games, will likely go a long way in determining that knowledge. At a minimum, they need a split. Looking ahead, the Tribe catches a bit of a break as they return home for three games against the last place Rockies before heading back out on the road for three games against the fading Tigers and three games against the thirsty for revenge Reds. That runs sets up the Indians for the final homestand of the first-half with seven games against the Rangers and A's from July 5-11.

(OOPS...I meant trail the Sox by three games who trail the Twins by a game and a half).

Cliff Lee was suspended for six games and fined $1000 for throwing behind the head of Ken Griffey Jr. He's appealed and will keep pitching for the Tribe until the Indians can find the optimum time for him to serve his suspension without disrupting the rotation too much. Lee's son Jaxon has come down with the chicken pox but it doesn't appear that Cliff has been infected, which was a concern since he has never had chicken pox.

The bare-hand finally caught up with Omar as he bruised a finger on his right hand while making a bare-hand grab on Saturday. Omar sat out yesterday's game and is listed as day-to-day.

The Bisons had their 4-game winning streak snapped yesterday by Indianapolis but that does nothing to diminish the remarkable run they enjoyed in winning 12 of their last 14 games to move two games over the .500 mark. The Bisons now lead the IL in hitting at .286 with Jhonny Peralta third at .340 and leading the IL in hits with 91. Grady Sizemore has been red-hot, raising his averages to .283/.360/.453 with 15 doubles, a league-leading seven triples, and six round-trippers. Brandon Phillips (homered yesterday) is at .286/.346/.411 with 12 doubles and five dingers. He also has a solid 21 BB / 25 K plate discipline ratio which is a nice improvement from last year. And finally, don't forget about Eric Crozier who has very quietly (but loudly with the bat) raised his averages to .276/.364/.557/.921 with 10 doubles and 13 homeruns. Unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft this past December, the 25-year old Crozier, blocked by Travis Hafner ahead with Michael Aubrey coming fast behind, could be turning himself into an attractive trade chip at the bargaining table this summer.

One quick note about Peralta, the lack of power (two homers) and propencity to strike out (63 whiffs) are a concern. Strange to talk that way about someone hitting .340 in mid-June but it needs to be noted.

Sandy Martinez cleared waivers and has re-joined the Bisons.

Bob Wickman makes his second rehab appearance tonight in a "start" for the Bisons in Buffalo. Jeff D'Amico will follow Wickman to the mound in the parade of rehabbers with a start tomorrow night for the Bisons. Additionally, Stephanie Storm reports in the ABJ that both Josh Bard and Ryan Ludwick begin rehab assignments with the Aeros today.

Bard and Ludwick won't be the only new faces headed to Canal Park as David Hall reports in the Kinston Free-Press that Michael Aubrey, Dave Wallace, and Dan Denham have all been promoted from Kinston to Akron. Aubrey has been nothing short of sensational in his first full-season in the pro ranks as he dominated Carolina League pitching to the tune of .339/.438/.550 with 14 doubles, 10 homeruns, and an impressive 27 walks to 26 strikeouts in establishing himself as one of the top hitting prospect in the minor leagues. Wallace, who sat out the early part of the season with a strained oblique muscle, was hitting .206 with a homerun for the K-Tribe. He had also struck out 45 times in 136 at-bats. Denham joins Jake Dittler and Travis Foley as the third member of the 2001 "Big Four" group of right-handers to advance to double-A. In 13 starts for the K-Tribe, he was 7-4 with a 4.18 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 71 innings (73 H, 29 BB, 6 HR). Denham needs to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason so it's good that the Indians will get a long look at seeing how he fares against more advanced competition.

Leaving Akron will be utility infielder Rodney Choy Foo who has really struggled this year, hitting just .194 with 40 strikeouts for the Aeros. He's headed back to Kinston where he'll be joined by an unnamed catcher (likely either Armando Camacaro or Javi Herrera with Brian Luderer likely headed back to Akron with Sandy Martinez back in Buffalo) as well as Todd Pennington, who tossed 2-2/3 scoreless innings for the Scrappers as he continues to recover from a strained oblique muscle.

The above moves come as Kinston concluded the first-half of Carolina League yesterday with a win over Myrtle Beach. The K-Tribe had previosly wrapped up the Southern Division earlier in the week and finish the first-half with a 45-24 record. In the South Atlantic League, the Captains also concluded the first half portion of their schedule, finishing with a 36-34 record which was good for 4th place in the Northern Division.

Sean Smith allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in his Kinston debut on Saturday.

Fausto Carmona fared a little better in his non-spot start Akron debut as he limited Harrisburg to one run over 6-1/3 innings in leading the Aeros to a 6-4 victory on Saturday. The right-hander struck out five, walked none, and scattered six hits.

The B-Tribe kicks off their season tonight with a game against Danville. Returning to Burlington for the second straight year is outfielder Juan Valdes (5th, '03) who is the subject of an interesting article by Jeff Wirick in the Times-News. First of all, Valdes is the cousin of Royals superstar Carlos Beltran who communicates with Valdes on an almost daily basis. That's cool. More intriguing, though, is that Valdes says that "a lot of people have said to me that when Carlos was my age, right now I’m ahead of him" while Burlington skipper Rouglas Odor says "with his defense, his bat speed, his (foot) speed, once he puts everything together, he’s going to be just like his cousin.” High praise indeed. Heck, I'd settle for 75% of his cousin.

Dan Cevette tossed five scoreless innings in his season debut in the Valley, striking out seven while holding Auburn to just three hits and a walk. It would not surprise me to see the former third round pick ('02) moved up to Lake County sometime during the summer. Also in that Saturday game, former infielder Matt Knox made his official pitching debut by tossing 2-1/3 scoreless innings. I say "official" because Knox did do some mop-up duty for Kinston last year which ultimately led to him converting to the mound this spring.

The Warren Tribune reports that 9th round pick Chris Niesel has signed with the Tribe and will report to Mahoning Valley to begin his pro career.

Lou Pote signed a minor league deal with the Padres. Robbie Alomar was activated by the Diamondbacks.

I think I throw harder than Paul Byrd but he can change speeds more effectively.

BUFFALO: The Bisons lost 4-2 to Indianapolis. Chad Durbin (1-2, 2.050 took the loss after allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned) in six innings of work. Brandon Phillips (.286) went deep (#5) while Grady Sizemore, Russ Branyan, Ernie Young, and Sandy Martinez all doubled. Fernando Cabrera tossed two scoreless innings of relief.

AKRON: The Aeros lost a heart-breaker to Harrisburg in 15 innings, falling 6-5. The bullpen turned in a spectacular effort in relief of starter Kyle Evans, who was charged with five runs (three earned) in 4-1/3 innings, as Oscar Alvarez (four innings), Lee Gronkiewicz (three innings), and Carl Sadler (2-2/3 innings) combined for 10-2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Derrick Van Dusen ended up being charged with the loss after allowing a run in the top of the 15th. Brandon Pinckney (.366) blasted his first Aeros homerun and also singled to drive in three runs. Newly acquired Scott Youngbauer reached base four times with a pair doubles and a pair of walks. Ben Francisco (.260) banged out three this. Joe Inglett doubled while Jason Cooper (.231), Scott Pratt (.307), and Rodney Choy Foo added basehits.

KINSTON: JD Martin threw seven scoreless innings in leading the K-Tribe to a 3-1 victory over Myrtle Beach. Martin (6-6, 5.00) limited the Pelicans to just four hits while walking four and striking out two in notching his sixth win of the season. Jonathan Van Every (.286) belted his 9th homerun and singled to drive in a pair. Shaun Larkin (.266) banged out three hits. Michael Aubrey (.339) doubled and singled while Nathan Panther (.259) and Pat Osborn (.304) doubled.

LAKE COUNTY: The Captains lost 8-2 to Hagerstown. Aaron Laffey (2-6, 7.01) was roughed up for five runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings. He did record six his eight outs via the whiff but served up two gopherballs. Bo Ashabraner was strong in relief with 3.2 scoreless innings. Ricardo Rojas (.249) doubled while Chris De La Cruz (.279), Mike Conroy (.263), Matt Whitney (.195), and Clayton McCullough added basehits.

MAHONING VALLEY: The Scrappers fell behind 7-0 but their late rally fell short as they lost to Auburn 8-5. Teodoro Encarnacion, who flew out to end the game with the bags juiced, led the offense with three hits and two RBIs. Fernando Pacheco singled and drove in three. Argenis Reyes added a pair of hits while Brett Parker, Mike Butia, and Brian Finnegan added basehits. Matt Haynes took the loss after allowing three runs (all in the first) in two innings on the bump. Todd Pennington worked a scoreless 1-2/3 innings of relief.


June 20, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Happy Fathers Day!  
Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there. Hope you have a great day!


June 19, 2004  


If there were any doubts whether the lingering of a possible suspension for throwing a pitch behind Ken Griffey Jr last Sunday would affect Cliff Lee, he silenced them on Friday night with seven strong innings against the Braves in Turner Field in leading the Tribe to a 4-2 victory. It sure didn't start off that way, however, as Lee allowed back-to-back singles in the first followed by a sac fly and Chipper Jones double to place runners at second and third with just one out before he settled down and retired Andruw Jones and Julio Franco to get out of the frame with just one run crossing the plate. Save for a Rafael Furcal homer in the third, Lee was masterful after that in limiting the Braves to just three more hits through seven innings total. Most impressively, he needed only 89 pitches to work seven complete and likely would have had a shot at a complete game if not for the ridiculousness of the pitchers having to bat in the senior circuit. Lee did not walk a batter and threw 69 of 89 pitches for strikes. Hey, he also picked up his first hit with a single to left off Mike Hampton. All in all, another excellent outing for the southpaw.

Is it just me or do you also believe that Victor Martinez is going to hit the ball hard every time he steps up to the dish. Regardless of where the pitch may be located, if he makes contact, it's going to be hit hard somewhere. The man is a machine.

Jason Stanford is still about six weeks away from returning to the Indians according to a recent report in the ABJ. Stanford was expected to begin a throwing program this past week.

Josh Bard and Ryan Ludwick could both begin rehab assignments next week.

Jeff D'Amico threw four innings of one-run ball for the Bisons on Thursday, striking out four while walking one and surrendering three hits. He's still a couple of starts away from being ready to re-join the Indians rotation.

How about that start from Scott Elarton the other night in New York? Four scoreless innings of one-hit ball with four punchouts and just one walk. The only thing that could (and did) knock him out of the game was Mother Nature. An encouraging outing even if it was against the Mets. Elarton will have a much tougher assignment when he faces the White Sox next week.

Bob Wickman threw a scoreless inning last night in Akron as he begins his rehab trek back to the Indians bullpen. Wick needed 24 pitches to retire the side as he struck out the first batter he faced, induced the second batter into a grounder to short, walked the next two, and then finally closed out the inning with a fly ball to left. Most importantly, he said that he felt strong afterwards.

Franklin Gutierrez put together a string of four straight three-hit games for the Aeros in which he went 12-for-19 (.632) with 10 RBIs. He singled last night in the Aeros 5-3 loss to Harrisburg.

Scott Youngbauer was acquired from the Phillies as the PTBNL in the Rob Ellis trade. He's a 25-year old middle infielder who was primarily playing second base for double-A Reading this year and was hitting .272/.358/.452 with 10 doubles and nine homeruns. Youngbauer was originally drafted by the Phillies in the 10th round of the 2000 draft out of Georgia State. He'll report to double-A Akron and will assume the roster spot of Oscar Salazar, who was released. The veteran Salazar was hitting just .221/.269/.368 with six homeruns for the Aeros.

While we're talking about the middle infield in Akron, note that Brandon Pinckney hasn't stopped hitting since being promoted from Lake County last week. In seven games with the Aeros, Pinckney is hitting .385 (10-for-26) and doing his best to turn a temporary assignment into a permanent one.

Andrew Brown was placed on the Akron DL on Friday with right arm fatigue. Right arm fatigue just sounds so vague, doesn't it? In his last outing (Tuesday 6/15), Brown gave up six runs in just two-thirds of an inning so, hopefully, this is nothing more than a precautionary move on the Indians part. In five starts with the Aeros, Brown has a 5.85 ERA in twenty innings, striking out 24, walking 14, and allowing just 10 hits.

Congratulations to the Kinston Indians on wrapping up the first half Southern Division title the other night with a double-header sweep of Lynchburg. The K-Tribe has one of the best records in baseball at 44-23 (.657) and conclude the first half of the season this weekend against second-place Myrtle Beach.

Ryan Garko returned to the lineup for the first time since May 30 (oblique muscle) and picked up right where he left off as he blasted his 12th homerun and also singled in the K-Tribe's 5-2 loss to Myrtle Beach. Garko's .347 average leads the Carolina League and he's also tied for fifth in homeruns and sixth in runs batted in. He played first base last night for the K-Tribe.

Garko, Michael Aubrey, Dan Denham, and Ryan Prahm were named to the Carolina League All-Star Team that will square off against the California League All-Stars on Tuesday, June 29 in San Bernardino, California. That could be the last single-A appearance for both Aubrey and Garko who are both headed for Akron in the immediate future.

Mahoning Valley opened their season with a 3-2 victory over Auburn last night. Mike Butia debuted with a bang for new skipper Mike Sarbaugh (see the recaps below). Note that Cafaro Field has been re-named Eastwood Field to match the park with the surrounding mall complex.

Todd Pennington made his 2004 debut for the Valley last night, striking out a pair and allowing one hit in an inning of relief. He's listed as being on a rehab assignment with the Scrappers.

Brett Parker was sent from Kinston to the Valley. He was hitting .174 in a limited utility role for the K-Tribe.

Justin Hoyman (2nd round pick) was named a 2nd-team All-American by Baseball America.

Scott Lewis is now the Indians highest signed draft pick after he and the Tribe agreed to terms yesterday. Looks like Lewis' MRI turned out fine over the weekend. Paul Hoynes reported in the Plain Dealer that Lewis will receive a $460k signing bonus. That's pretty much right in line with what last years #77 overall pick Aaron Marsden (LHP, U-Neb, $462.5k) received from the Rockies. Lewis should begin his pro career with Mahoning Valley and he will likely be on a tight pitch count as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.

The Indians also signed two non-drafted free-agents yesterday. Jose Ortega was a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection this year for the University of San Diego after hitting .364/.457/.451 for the Toreros. The senior shortstop also displayed good command of the strike zone as he drew 22 walks versus just 13 strikeouts. It's likely he went undrafted due to a lack of power as he managed just 10 extra-base hits this year, all doubles. Ortega also played two seasons for Riverside CC which he helped lead to back-to-back state championships. The other signee, Garrett Alwert, is a fifth-year senior left-hander from Washington State who had an unspectacular career with the Cougars. This past season, Alwert posted a 5.17 ERA in 20 appearances, allowing 98 hits in 76.2 innings. 35 of those 98 hits went for extra-bases. Alwert was also drafted by the Reds out of high school in 1999 (41st round). He must have some LOOGY potential.

Patrick Barnes was released by the Indians. He signed a minor league contract in the off-season but did not appear in a regular season game for the Tribe.

Nerio Rodriguez signed a minor league contract with St.Louis. He had most recently been pitching in Japan.

Former Indian David Weathers and Avon Lake native Jermey Griffiths were traded by the Mets to the Astros for outfielder Richard Hidalgo. If the Mets buyout his $15 million option for 2005 as expected, Hidalgo could be an interesting player for the Indians to pursue in the free-agent market this off-season. He's struggled this year (.251 with just four homeruns) but, when healthy, he's been a very productive player who can play all three outfield positions well with a cannon for an arm, as evidenced by last season when he hit .309/.385/.572/.957 with 28 longballs for the Astros. Of course, the two years prior to that, Hidalgo struggled, so the up and down nature of his career would definitely need to be factored into any signing. Still, given today's market, I could see Hidalgo falling into the Indians price range if things break right in the offseason (and depending on how well he plays in the second half) and he would definitely be a player I would hope the Indians take a look at this winter.

Ricky Stone was designated for assignment by the Astros. He's a right-hander who pitched pretty well out of the Houston bullpen the last two years. Given the way the Tribe has been stockpiling relievers this year, he may be worth a look. Of course, with the improvement the big league bullpen has shown the last few weeks, the major league arms already toiling in Buffalo (Stewart, Cressend, Howry, etc.) and Bob Wickman on his way back, the stock-piling of arms may be over unless they find someone they really like.

(Late Note: The Padres claimed Stone off waivers)

The White Sox traded former closer Billy Koch to the Marlins for a minor leaguer on Thursday. Given Koch's struggles this year (5.40 ERA, 1.710 WHIP), it would have been nice to see him in the Sox pen when the Tribe rolled into town next week. More relevantly, this move could also free up some dollars that the Sox could use in pursuit of Mariners starter Freddy Garcia, who is expected to be the best starting pitcher available on the trade market this summer and who could be in the Indians sights as well (dare we hope?). The Yankees are also expected to be interested in Garcia and Newsday reported yesterday that the Bombers have moved double-A prospect Robinson Cano to third base to draw interest from the Royals who are looking for a third basemen as part of any Carlos Beltran deal. The Mariners are also in the market for a third basemen and Newsday included Seattle in the Cano speculation the day before.

Is anyone else really tired of the relentless promotion of Ken Griffey's quest for 500 homeruns already? I wonder if Fred McGriff will receive the same treatment when he nears the 500 mark later in the summer.

BUFFALO: The Bisons won for the 11th time in 12 games as they jumped on top of Louisville early en route to a 9-5 victroy. Ernie Young drove in three runs with his 15th homerun and a double. Eric Crozier also went deep (#12) and doubled as he drove in a pair. Brandon Phillips (.291) had two hits, including a two-bagger. Mark Little singled three times. Kyle Denney (6-1, 3.59) went five innings for the win but did not have his best stuff as he allowed five runs on six hits (two longballs) and four walks while punching out five. Scott Stewart worked two scoreless innings of relief.

AKRON: The good news is that Bob Wickman worked a pain-free, scoreless inning. The bad news is that the Aeros then went on to lose to Harrisburg 5-3. Jake Dittler gave up four runs in 3-2/3 innings on seven hits. He walked none but struck out only one. Brandon Pinckney (.385) had a pair of hits and drove in a run. Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco, Javi Herrera, Scott Pratt, and Nate Grindell added baseknocks. Corey Smith committed his 22nd and 23rd errors of the season.

KINSTON: The K-Tribe lost 5-2 to Myrtle Beach. Dan Denham, with numbers remarkably similar to Kyle Denney's in Buffalo, took the loss after allowing five runs on six hits and dour walks while punching out four. The only difference between the two outings were Denham keeping the ball in the park and Denney being credited with a "win". Chris Cooper, Dan Eisentrager, and Ryan Prahm combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Ryan Garko returned to the lineup and picked up right where he left off as he blasted his 12th homerun and singled. Nathan Panther added a two-bagger as did Pat Osborn while Eider Torres and Mayobanex Santana singled.

LAKE COUNTY: Rafael Perez turned in his second straight strong outing in leading the Captains to a 6-4 victory over H-Town. Perez (2-5, 6.94) struck out seven while allowing just one run to cross the plate in seven innings of work, scattering five hits and issuing only one free pass. TJ Burton was reached for three runs in 1.1 innings of relief before Jim Warden recorded the final two outs. Luis Cotto belted his first homerun and singled to drive in a pair. Kevin Kouzmanoff (#8) also went deep. Chris De La Cruz had a pair of hits as did Josh Noviskey, who doubled and singled. Brad Snyder added a two-bagger while Ricardo Rojas, Ryan Goleski, and Big Bill Peavey singled.

MAHONING VALLEY: The Scrappers opened the 2004 season in fine style as they knocked off Auburn 3-2. Richard De Los Santos worked five strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk while striking out three. Mark Harris was credited with the win in relief despite allowing a run in two innings. Chip Southerland and Todd Pennington finished with a scoreless inning apiece. Mike Butia made his pro debut a memorable one as he banged out four hits and drove in two runs. Brett Parker doubled and singled while Argenis Reyes, Chris Clem, Teodoro Encarnacion, and Fernando Pacheco added baseknocks.


June 18, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Andrew Brown placed on DL  
Andrew Brown was placed on the Akron DL today with right arm fatigue. In his last outing (Tuesday 6/15) Brown gave up six runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Right arm fatigue just sounds so vague, doesn't it? Hopefully, this is nothing more a precautionary move on the Indians part. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Scott Lewis signs  
Scott Lewis is now the Indians highest signed draft pick after he and the Tribe agreed to terms yesterday. Looks like Lewis' MRI turned out fine over the weekend. Paul Hoynes reported in the Plain Dealer that Lewis will receive a $460k signing bonus. That's pretty much right in line with what last years #77 overall pick Aaron Marsden (LHP, U-Neb, $462.5k) received from the Rockies.

The Indians also announced the signings of non-drafted free agents Garrett Alwert (LHP, Washington State) and Jose Ortega (SS, U-San Diego). More on these two in the next CIR.


June 16, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Tribe signs 11 more picks  
The Indians announced the signing of 11 more draft picks today:

OF Michael Butia, 5th Round, James Madison
LHP Justin Pekarek, 8th Round, Nebraska
OF Jason Denham, 13th Round, Deer Valley HS (CA)
INF Brian Finegan, 15th Round, Hawaii
OF Chris Gimenez, 19th Round, Nevada-Reno
INF Derrick Peterson, 20th Round, Eastern Michigan
RHP Adrian Schau, 27th Round, Villanova
RHP Kyle Collins, 32nd Round, San Diego
RHP Jose Amaya, 38th Round, San Jose St.
RHP Dustin Roddy, 40th Round, Nicholls St.
RHP Joshua Harris, 42nd Round, Lamar

No big surprises here. All but Denham were college juniors or seniors. Most will start their pro careers with Mahoning Valley although Denham for sure, and maybe a few of the later round picks, will start off at Burlington.

CIR UPDATE: MInor Rotation Changes  
Buffalo 5-day rotation: Robertson, D'Amico, Denney, Rayborn, (they forgot a day).

Akron 5-day rotation: Cruceta, Guthrie, Wickman/Dittler, Evans, Carmona, Brown.


What is up with Jason Davis? Aside from his pitches, I mean. Or maybe, that is what I mean. Davis struggled through another rough outing last night in New York as he was pounded for seven runs on 11 hits and three walks in just four innings of work, lowering his record to 1-5 and raising his ERA to 5.72. Davis had actually thrown pretty well in three of his last four starts (5/25: 2 ER in 7 IP vs Sea, 5/30: 1 ER in 6.1 IP vs Oak, 6/10: 3 ER in 7 IP vs Fla) so hopefully this is nothing more than a poor outing. It's certainly tough to feel that way, however, when you consider his body of work for the season in which he has allowed 106 hits in 78.2 innings with 35 walks and just 42 strikeouts. Additionally, opposing hitters are ripping him at a .321 clip with both lefties (.320) and righties (.326) equally feasting off his table. When you look at the numbers a little closer, however, there is a large difference in the OBP between lefties (.415) and righties (.358) as Davis has walked 27 lefties in 153 ABs versus just 8 free passes in 175 ABs to right-handers. The low K/BB ratio and K/IP ratios are also very concerning especially for a guy who throws in the upper 90s, sinker-baller or not.

Davis may be best served with a stint in triple-A to regroup and refocus but when you look at the available options, can the Indians really afford to go that route? Scott Elarton is the current fifth starter and the options in Buffalo include a rehabbing Jeff D'Amico, a rehabbing Joe Dawley, Jeriome Robertson (4-5, 6.95, 55.2 IP, 78 H, 18 BB, 22 K), Chad Durbin (1-1, 1.13, 16 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 12 K), Kenny Rayborn (3-1, 2.89, 46.2 IP, 38 H, 14 BB, 23 K), and Kyle Denney (5-1, 3.12, 57.2 IP, 51 H, 15 BB, 55 K). I don't know about you but I'm not terribly excited about any of those options although it would be nice to see Denney get a shot at the major league level someday. With the Tribe attempting to climb back in the race and facing a challenging schedule through the All-Star break, I'd just as soon keep Davis out there and hope he and Carl Willis can work through his problems. When you start talking about trading for help (and we hopefully will over the next two months), make sure you include another starter on your wish list.

Fosters influenced post-softball scouting report on Kaz Tadano: "Couldn't finish off Glavine"

Joe Dawley is scheduled to make a rehab start in Buffalo on Friday. Bob Wickman is scheduled a make a one-inning rehab "start" on Friday in Akron with Jeremy Guthrie "relieving" him.

Alex Escobar doubled in four at-bats in his first game back in triple-A.

The Aeros lost yesterday (see the recaps below) but Franklin Gutierrez shined at the plate as he drove in five of the Aeros six runs and banged out three hits, including his 5th homerun of the season. The trio of hits raised his average back over .300 and he now sits at .302/.370/.461/.831 with 22 doubles and five homeruns. On the downside, he's also struck out 69 times in 232 at-bats which is almost one whiff for every three trips to the dish which is the second most in the Eastern League. Gutierrez isn't alone in piling up the big strikeout numbers in Akron as the Aeros lead the circuit in whiffs with 476. Corey Smith (66 in 215 AB, 4th in EL), Jason Cooper (60 in 228 AB, 9th in EL), and Ben Francisco (51 in 229) are generating enough hot air between them to fill up the Spirit of Akron. For Cooper (21 BB / 60 K) and Francisco (19 BB / 51 K) the increased strikeouts represent a large drop from their previous levels in single-A. The above is a major reason why the Aeros, despite a lot of talent, are 10th in the EL in hitting at .243 and 9th in runs scored.

Michael Aubrey is "In the team photo" on this weeks Prospect Hot Sheet from Baseball America.

Brian Finegan (15th, Hawaii) signed with the Tribe for a $1,500 bonus and will report to the Valley. I love this quote "The scout who signed me told me, 'It's $1,500 with a chance to make millions".

Justin Pekarek (8th, Nebraska) also signed with the Tribe according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Pekarek will work out of middle relief for the Scrappers.

Second round choice Justin Hoyman is weighing his options according to Once the emotions of being eliminated in the College World Series fade, I suspect Hoyman and the Indians will come to an agreement in relatively short order.

Adam Cox is on the comeback trail once again as detailed in this article by Jeff Warick in the Burlington Times-News. Cox was the Tribe's 4th round pick in the 2000 draft but has been limited to just 51-2/3 innings as a pro and just 5 innings the last three years thanks to three surgeries on his left shoulder. Ouch. Warick notes that Cox is still throwing in the upper-80s and that his pitch count will be the same as everyone else on the team this year. You have to admire his determination in returning to the mound. It'd be a great story if he can someday make it to the show.

Aussies Matt Haynes and Chris Clem are the subject of this article in the Warren Tribune-Chronicle. Both will suit up for Mahoning Valley whose first game is scheduled for Friday. Haynes is in his third year with the Indians and posted an impressive K/IP (57 K / 36 IP) for Burlington last season thanks to a "nasty curve ball" which he talks about in the article. Clem is in his second season with the Indians and hit .273 with a homerun for the B-Tribe last year.

In a somewhat surprising move, Kansas City released reliever Curtis Leskanic yesterday. Yes, he had a 8.04 ERA in 19 appearances for the Royals but he also had allowed just two earned in his last 10 appearances which covered 8-1/3 innings. Apparently, Allard Baird tried to trade him but found no takers. His $1.15 million salary might have had something to do with that in combination with his performance. Leskanic was originally drafted by the Tribe way back in the 8th round of the 1989 draft but never pitched for the big league Indians as he was dealt to the Twins, along with Oscar Munoz, at the end of spring training 1992 for Paul Sorrento. Not a bad deal for the Tribe as Pauly had a solid four-year run in Cleveland.

Replacing Leskanic on the Royals roster? None other than former Indian Rudy Seanez who was 2-1 with a 1.57 EA and 41 strikeouts in 34-1/3 innings for triple-A Omaha. Seanez was drafted by the Tribe in the 4th round of the 1986 draft (or the Greg Swindell draft, as I like to call it) and pitched for the Indians from 1989-1991 before embarking on a baseball odyssey that has seen him journey through six big league cities and countless minor league towns. FWIW, other products of that draft include Swindell (1st), Kevin Wickander (2nd), Joe Skalski (3rd), Seanez (4th), Bruce Egloff (5th), Tommy Hinzo (7th), Tom Lampkin (11th), and Kevin Bearse (28th). Are you laughing, crying, or feeling sick right now? Myself, I'm a little nostalgic for an empty stadium, some cold hot dogs floating around in a tub of lukewarm water while the vendor manhandles a bun with his grubby hands, and uncomfortable wooden seats that you'd stick to during the summer. Good times.

Todd Dunwoody signed a minor league contract with the Twins. Luther Hackman signed a minor league deal with the Pirates (he better be up by July 17). Dave Elder was released by the Braves. Benji Gil and David Cortes were loaned to the Mexican League by the White Sox and Tigers respectively and will spend the rest of the summer in the happiest place on earth....TIJUANA! ($1 to Krusty the Clown)

Condolences to longtime Indian Luis Issac and family on the passing of his mother.

BUFFALO: The Bisons had their eight-game winning streak snapped as they lost 2-1 in 10 innings to Louisville. Dave Lee took the loss as he allowed a run in the 9th to send the game into extras and then the game-winner in the 10th. The blown save wasted a strong effort by Chad Durbin who tossed six scoreless innings in limiting the bats to four hits and two walks while punching out six. Bob Howry fanned two in a scoreless inning of relief. Mark Little had a pair of hits and drove in the Bisons only run, Alex Escobar doubled in his first game back in Buffalo and Grady Sizemore and Eric Young added basehits.

AKRON: Andrew Brown suffered through his worst outing of the season as he could not make it out of the first inning in the Aeros 8-6 loss to Binghamton. Brown struggled with his control as he walked four and gave up two hits that eventually led to him being charged with six earned runs. Kyle Evans (one run in 3.1 innings) and Victor Kleine (one run in 4 innings) pitched well in relief. Franklin Gutierrez (.302) enjoyed a big day at the plate as he drove in five of the Aeros six runs thanks to three hits, including his 5th big fly of the year. Scott Pratt had two hits, including a double.

KINSTON: The K-Tribe lost to Lynchburg 4-2. JD Martin (5-6, 5.54) allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings to take the loss, he struck out six, walked three, and gave up seven basehits. Kieran Mattison followed with three scoreless innings of relief and Chris Cooper struck out the side in the 9th. Anthony Lunetta led the offense with a pair of safeties.

LAKE COUNTY: The Captains fell 9-8 to Lakewood. Ryan Goleski (.302) belted his 15th homerun and singled twice. Chris De La Cruz (.275) and Ryan Mulhern added two hits apiece. Aaron Laffey allowed seven runs (five earned) in three innings. Scott Roehl struck out five in three innings of one-hit relief. Bo Ashabraner took the loss when he allowed a two-run homer in the 8th.

CIR UPDATE: Bill Madden on Tribe  
Bill Madden compares the current state of the Tribe and Mets in the New York Daily News.


June 15, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Raul Gonzalez returns to Shea  
As expected, the Indians purchased the contract of outfielder Raul Gonzalez (thus adding him to the 40) and designated catcher Sandy Martinez for assignment.

In other news, Lou Pote declined his assignment to the minor leagues and is now a free-agent. Joe Dawley is listed as Friday's starter for Buffalo.

CIR UPDATE: Shameless Plug #2  
If you still have to shop for Father's Day, here's three books that any Tribe Dad would love to add to his library: Best of Hal Lebovitz: Great Sportswriting from Six Decades in Cleveland by Hal Lebovitz, Saving the Pitcher: Preventing Pitching Injuries in Modern Baseball by Will Carroll, and The Neyer / James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches by Rob Neyer and Bill James. If you purchase these books by clicking on the links above, the CIR will receive a small referral fee from (at no additional cost to yourself) which makes for a nice Father's Day gift for myself as well as helps to keep the CIR website and newsletter free of charge. As always, your support is greatly appreciated.

CIR UPDATE: Shameless Plug  
I'll be on Reality Check with Ron Glasenapp and Rick Morris on at 8:30 PM tonight to talk about the Indians draft.


For the third consecutive year, the Indians used their first pick on an advanced college player, selecting Vanderbilt left-hander Jeremy Sowers with the number six overall pick in the draft. Sowers follows Jeremy Guthrie (2002, Stanford) and Michael Aubrey (2003, Tulane) as fast-track college players who are expected to move through the system quickly en route to Cleveland.

The pick did not come as much of a surprise as most draft observers had long pegged Sowers as the Indians likely first-round selection for most of the spring. But he was not the number one player on the Tribe's draft board as that honor was bestowed upon Old Dominion right-hander Justin Verlander who went number two overall to the Tigers.

In addition to missing on Verlander, the Indians also passed on the two players who were generally regarded as the top pitching and position player prospects in the draft in Long Beach right-hander Jered Weaver (brother of Dodgers right-hander Jeff Weaver) and Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew (brother of Braves outfielder JD and Braves pitcher, and former Indians #1 pick, Tim Drew). Both players fell to the mid portion of the first round (Weaver, #12, Anaheim) (Drew, #15, Arizona) due to signability (bonus) issues as well as concerns that they were not the consensus best players in the draft. Both have enlisted Scott Boras as their advisor/agent and pre-draft rumblings had Weaver asking for "Mark Prior" money which is essentially $10 million between the signing bonus and major league contract while Drew was reportedly asking for "Rickie Weeks" money which is essentially $5 million and a major league contract.

The concerns with both of these guys is that while they may have been the majority choice for best pitcher and position player in the draft, there was far from a consensus on their abilities and draft stock. Neither was regarded as a sure-fire number one overall selection and future All-Star type of player. Weaver, while posting ungodly numbers for the DirtBags (best team nickname in college baseball), does not have the same quality of stuff as Prior as he typically works in the 91-92 mph and does not possess the advanced secondary pitches that Prior brought with him out of USC. Drew was compared to a more athletic Todd Walker and while Walker is a solid major league player, keep in the mind that the Indians wouldn't pay him more than $2 million this off-season (and ended up losing him in the Manny-ARod mess) so is Drew worth $5 million? Teams were also worried about how much he really enjoys the game and wants to play, which are concerns that his brother JD has carried with him throughout his career.

That said, both are still very good prospects, but they also have question marks and were not viewed as "sure-things" by most draft observers. This draft class was also viewed as one of the worst ever in terms of impact players and keep in mind that just because a player is viewed as the "best" in the draft doesn't necessarily mean that they're equal to the "best" or even second or third best in prior drafts. As a case in point, LeBron James and Emeka Okafor will both likely be number one overall selections in the NBA draft by the end of the month but I don't think many people are going to believe that they are equal players (or equal draft prospects) even though Okafor's agents will likely spin it that way to their clients favor. Likewise, Weaver and Drew do not compare to previous "bests" in the draft although they would like to be paid as such.

If the perceived bonus demands for both Weaver and Drew are accurate (and we'll find out over the summer), spending that much on one player would likely have severely limited what the Indians could do in the rest of the draft. It's likely the Tribe would have been placing all their draft eggs in one basket which would have only worked out in the long-term if they developed into Hall of Fame players and, even then, the farm system would have taken a pretty severe hit in the lack of additional prospects moving up the chain from this draft.

I know, I know, Dolan is cheap. Except for the fact that the Indians shelled out above slot money and a major league contract to Jeremy Guthrie in 2002 and did not draft strictly for signability (like Oakland in the Moneyball draft) the last three years when they had multiple picks in the early rounds. So, no, I don't think the Indians are cheap when it comes to the draft. Keep in mind also that the Angels did not have a second or third round pick this year which gives them an additional $1.5 million (or so) to allocate towards signing Weaver.

So, in regards to Weaver and Drew, am I disappointed the Indians were apparantly unwilling to spend the cash needed to sign them? Sure, but at the same time, I'm not sure there was enough additional value between those two and who they eventually drafted (Jeremy Sowers and on down the line) to justify spending that extra money. As with all drafts, we'll see how it all shakes out three-to-five years from now. If Jeremy Sowers is entrenched in the Indians rotation, all will be good.

Speaking of Sowers (and why the heck aren't we talking about him?), the left-hander is widely regarded as one of the most polished pitchers in the draft and viewed as someone who could rise through the minors very quickly. He compares himself to White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (finally someone other than Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer) and works with a 87-90 mph, throws strikes, and has excellent pitchability. More details on the southpaw follow below but I like the pick.

After Sowers, the Indians drafted two more college pitchers in Justin Hoyman (RHP) and Scott Lewis (LHP). Like Sowers, neither throws particularly hard, but they throw strikes and know how to pitch. Lewis is coming off Tommy John surgery and only pitched 20 innings this year but has a lot of upside, which is a trend you'll find evident throughout this draft.

The Tribe snagged their first high-schooler in the fourth round in left-handed pitcher Chuck Lofgren from Northern California who was projected as a potential first or second pick. Value and upside in the fourth. It was back to the college ranks for the next five picks where they landed a potential late-blooming power bat in the 5th (Mike Butia), an unknown JUCO power right-hander in the 6th (Cody Bunkelman), a hard-throwing but rarely used Stanford Cardinal in the 7th (Marc Jecman), a fifth-year senior who essentially missed three years of college ball due to injury in the 8th (Justin Pekarek), and a highly regarded sophomore who struggled as a junior in the 9th (Chris Niesel). The recurring theme among all these picks? Upside (and risk). Hey, you can't have one without the other at this point in the draft, right? But it's probably not a bad strategy when you're dealing with a draft crop that is regarded as among the worst in the past 20 or 30 years. Go for the high rewards instead of the known mediocrity. Of course, I say that now with the expectation that a few of these guys will develop into something. If they don't, well, in three years, we'll be questioning what the heck were the Indians thinking back in June 2004. But that's the beauty of hindsight.

This years draft also continued a trend for the Indians of moving away from the HS and JUCO ranks and towards college players. Whether this is an organizational shift in thinking or just a reflection of the current years draft strengths is not clear but the numbers clearly indicate the trend.

2004: 30 College, 13 High School, 7 JUCO
2003: 23 College, 18 High School, 11 JUCO
2002: 22 College, 22 High School, 10 JUCO

Now, I'm not saying that the Indians are adopting the Moneyball philosophies of the A's and Blue Jays because I think that's most relevant in the early rounds and the Tribe has not shied away from taking high school players early if the player they like is available. What I'm talking about is a move away from the DFE and HS Flyer picks. After a year in which the Indians had a ton of DFEs (Draft and Follows) and did not sign any, it doesn't look like the Tribe will have much more than 10 DFEs this season and that number may be generous. And while they certainly have their share of fliers (high school kids committed to a 4-year school who they have a slim chance of signing), that number is down from years past as well.

So what's with all the college kids? It could be that the Indians looked at their returning group of rookie-level players and felt they were going to be short at either Mahoning Valley or Burlington and needed to load up on signings to fill out their rosters. Along those lines, eleven of the college picks were seniors and should be easy signs if they want to play pro ball. The other nineteen were college juniors or draft-eligible sophomores and the interesting thing about this group is that several of them could potentially be viewed as fliers (i.e., guys who went later than expected and plan on returning to school for their senior year). Players whom the Indians can monitor their progress over the course of the next three months in the summer collegiate leagues and potentially extend offers to before classes start in August and September. Jeff Sues (14th), Jeff Kamrath (36th), and Tony Sipp (45th) are three specific players who fell because of injury and/or bonus demands and fall into this category.

As with any draft, there are plenty of later-round guys with great stats (Trevor Mortenson, #43), great honors (PJ Hiser, #29), and great draft stories (Chris Gimenez, #19). While they all look great on paper, keep in mind that only 50-60% of these guys will sign with the Tribe (that may be up with all the college picks), 70-80% will not come close to sniffing the big leagues, and 90-95% will not turn out to be long-term major leaguers. But on draft day (or one week after the draft), it's ok to be optimistic and dream big.

As for an overall grade, let me just say that this draft is definitely not as sexy as the last couple of years but that doesn't mean it won't turn out as good or better that those classes. The Tribe drafted a lot of value and upside throughout the draft (early, middle, and late) but those picks also come with a fair degree of risk (injury, rawness, signability, etc). In a draft that was so perceived as so weak, it was an interesting approach to try and bring some potential impact talent into the organization. We'll find out whether it was a good approach over the next three-to-five years. Following are the 50 members of the Indians 2004 draft class.

As expected, the Indians selected left-hander pitcher Jeremy Sowers from Vanderbilt with their first selection in the 2004 draft. Sowers is a 6'1", 175 pound left-hander from Vanderbilt who was ranked as the #1 left-hander, #7 pitcher, and the #10 overall prospect in the draft by Baseball America. In eighteen starts for the Commodores this season, Sowers posted a 9-5 record with a 2.75 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 111 innings and 93 hits and 21 walks allowed. Sowers was recently named second-team All-SEC for the second consecutive season and he was also named SEC player of the week two times this year. He had three games of double-digit strikeouts and six games of eight or more strikeouts.

As a sophomore in 2003, Sowers went 7-5 with a 2.50 ERA in eighteen appearances, limiting opposing hitters to a .223 BAA while striking out 123 in 115 innings with just 94 hits and 29 walks allowed. He lead the SEC in ERA, strikeouts, and innings pitched and was named second-team all-SEC. In his freshmen year, Sowers, was 6-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 15 appearances, striking out 88 in 101 innings with 104 hits and 31 walks allowed. Sowers is a native of Ohio, born in St.Clairsville (near the Wheeling border) which makes me wonder if he's a Tribe fan. He graduated from Ballard HS in Louisville, Kentucky and was a first round pick of the Reds (number 20 overall) in 2001 but chose to enroll at Vandy. He was a high-school All-American and Mr.Kentucky baseball while tossing four no-hitters. He has a twin brother Josh who pitches for Yale and went 3-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings for the Bulldogs (59 H, 17 BB, 54 K, .266 BAA). Josh was not listed among the top 15 Connecticut/Rhode Island prospects by Baseball America.

You have to love this advice from Sowers to young pitchers on the Vandy website..."Be like Steve Perry, don’t stop believing." ranked Sowers as the number one college prospect in their pre-season ranking and had him as the #1 left-hander heading into the draft.

"I always find it humorous when I get compared to (Tom) Glavine. My changeup is light years away from his. His changeup is his No. 1 pitch. Mine, I still need to work on. I'd say that I'm more like Mark Buehrle. I might not throw quite as hard, but I like to pitch inside like he does, and then go away." - Vanderbilt left-hander
Jeremy Sowers, Cleveland's first-round draft pick.

MLB.COM: Body Similar To Tom Glavine. High Windup, High 3/4. Short Arm. Slight Hand Pump At Top Of Jerky Delivery. Slight Across Body Delivery. Most Fb'S 87-89, Slight Arm Side Run. Slurve-Cb Tight, Flashes Down Rot. Good Arm Speed Fade Change . Locates All Pitches, Especially Fb. Quick Arm W/ Deception Delivery. Confident In A Quiet Way. Goes After Hitters.

Justin Hoyman is a 6'3", 200 pound right-hander from the University of Florida who was the ace of the Gators staff this season. In sixteen starts, Hoyman went 11-1 with a 2.71 ERA and held opposing hitters to a stingy .215 BAA. In 132.2 innings, he allowed only 106 hits while walking 37 and striking out 86. Almost a quarter of those hits (24) went for doubles. Hoyman was recently named as a second-team All-American by Sports Weekly, tabbed as the SEC Pitcher of the Year by SEC coaches, and is one of 10 finalists for the Roger Clemens award (college pitcher of the year). Hoyman recently tossed eight innings of one-run ball against Central Connecticut State in the opening round of the College World Series. The Gators advanced to their first-ever super regional and it likely be Hoyman facing the University of Miami on Saturday (7 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3K, 2E).

Hoyman was ranked as the #24 prospect in the country and #3 in Florida by Baseball America which projected him as a potential first-round pick and called him a workhorse with a heavy sinker which usually runs 88-91 but can reach the low-to-mid 90s. He also has a curve and is developing a changeup. A scouting report from TeamOneBaseball noted that Hoyman experienced back problems earlier this season until it was discovered that an old football injury left his right leg shorter than his left inning which Hoyman fixed by affixing an insert to his cleat.

Hoyman has never been drafted, choosing to attend Brevard Community College out of high school in 2001-2002 (redshirting one year?) and then joining the Gators as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2003 where he went 8-6 with a 3.31 ERA in 111.1 innings (110 H, 30 BB, 77 K) last year.

My initial thoughts are that he sounds a lot like Jake Westbrook and relies on the sinker to induce a lot of ground balls, which explains the low K/IP ratio. That ratio, however, is a concern and I wonder how well his stuff will translate to the pro level if the sinker is not working, i.e., can he survive when he has to rely on his other pitchers?

The Indians have drafted several players from Florida in the last few years, inking Pat Osborn, Keith Ramsey, and Aaron Davidson in 2002 but losing Ben Harrison back to campus in 2003. Obviously, they feel that is not going to be an issue this time around. Given this is Hoyman's first time being drafted, I would think he'd be pumped to be picked and ready to start his pro career but his eventual advisors may feel otherwise. Post-draft and post-CWS comments make it seem likely that Hoyman and the Tribe will agree to terms. When he does sign, Hoyman will likely begin his pro career at Mahoning Valley and his innings may be limited due to the workload he assumed as the ace of the Gators staff.

MLB.COM: Tall, Wiry Build. Long Arms. Good Lower Body Strength. Has Added 20 Lbs Since Last Spring. Andy Ashby Type Build. 3/4 Delivery. Arm Works Good, Easy Arm Action. Late Sinking To Fb. Hard, Effective, Slurve-Cb. Around Plate, Works Quick & Stays Ahead. Good Deception On Change. Good Pitchability. Will Compete On Every Pitch.

Scott Lewis is a 6'0", 185 pound left-hander out of Washington Court House, Ohio (home of former Indian number #1 pick Jeff Shaw) and THE Ohio State University. Lewis enjoyed a dominating 2002 season for the Buckeyes in which he posted a 9-1 record with a 1.61 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a filthy .160 BBA. In 83.2 innings, he allowed just 48 hits and 24 walks while punching out an amazing 127 hitters. He struck out 20 against Iowa in April and followed that up with a 16 strikeout outing later in the season. These were numbers that made him the Big 10 Pitcher of the Year as well as a First Team All-American (Louisville Slugger). But then, in his last regular season start against Minnesota, Lewis blew out his elbow and went under the knife in late May for Tommy John surgery performed by Dr.James Andrews in Birmingham (man, that guy has a lot of business).

Lewis returned to the mound this April and pitched in five games for the Buckeyes, posting a 3.48 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 20.2 innings (20 H, 6 BB, 2 HR). BA noted his fastball was in the 87-89 mph range which was slightly off from last season. BA also had him ranked as the #3 prospect in Ohio and the #140 overall prospect in the draft.

Lewis was also drafted out of high school by the Angels in 2001 (33rd round) and his Dad pitched in the Dodgers farm system. He also enjoyed a stellar freshman season with the Buckeyes in 2002, earning first team all-Big 10 and freshman all-american honors when he went 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 appearances, holding opponents to a .248 BAA with 91 strikeouts in 92 innings.

The Tribe had Lewis undergo an MRI this past weekend to determine where his elbow stands in his recovery. This should be viewed as a cautionary move as the Indians expressed little concern that he was not in complete health in comments after the draft. Aside from his elbow, my concern with Lewis is his signability but I'll assume that the Indians validated that prior to the draft. Lewis' stock is obviously going to be down because of the injury so it stands to reason that he could make more money if he returns to school and has a strong senior season. Of course, if he returns to school, he'll have little leverage in negotiations as a college senior but even a low-ball first round offer would likely be worth more than a third-round offer this year. If he signs, it's an interesting pick with potential upside.

MLB.COM: Solid, Compact Build. Strong, Muscular Legs. Similar To Jamie Moyer. No Wind Up, 3/4 Delivery. Good Arm Speed. Quick, Compact Motion. Arm Works. Fb Occaisional 89 Early Innings, Comfort Zone 86, Tailing Run Fb, W/Late Life At Times. Cb Shows Tite, 3/4-Downward Rotation, Occaisional Sharp Break. Change Up Shows Potential. Works Plate. Shows Arm Strength , 3 Pitches. Pitchability A Strong Plus. Good Competitor. Plus Make-Up, Good Kid.

Chuck Lofgren is a 6'4", 200 pound left-hander from Serra HS in Burlingame, California who was almost as highly regarded as a hitter as he was a pitcher entering this season. The Indians wanted him listed as a pitcher and TeamOneBaseball had him ranked as the #4 left-hander in the draft (#1 was Sowers) while Baseball America had him ranked as the #62 overall prospect as a hitter and #2 prospect in NoCal. TeamOne notes that Lofgren throws a 90-94 mph fastball with a body that can add size and strength but is inconsistent with the breaking stuff (like most power high school pitchers and which BA confirms) but he has the makings of a plus curve. A Zito curve from other reports. Sounds intriguing.

Lofgren has a commitment to Santa Clara and was generally regarded as being a potential first or second round pick with the college commitment and perceived bonus demands dropping him into the fourth round. Once drafted, however, Lofgren told Bay Area newspapers that he's ready to play pro ball and the Indians have made him an offer with a lot of options (likely college money plus a good bonus). It wouldn't surprise me if he gets more than 4th round slot money and while that might upset Bud Selig and the MLB heirarchy, that's fine with me. Lofgren was also at Jacobs Field this past Thursday as it was the next stop on his graduation present of a tour of big league ballparks (how cool is that?).

MLB.COM: Tall Frame. Rounded Shoulders. Solid Legs. Long Arms. Body Similar To Ryan Klesko. Over Head Arm Slot, Short Arm On Backside. Fb 88-91, Best 92 & Hard. Cb 1 To 6 W/ Tight Rotation, Good Depth. Changeup W/ Some Late Tailing Action. Quick Arm. Good Poise & Mound Presence. Loves To Play. Good Looking Athlete. Good Bb Skills. Good Pick-Off Move.

The Indians selected outfielder Michael Butia from James Madison. Butia is a 6'2", 215 pound, left-handed hitting outfielder who we'll forgive for being a native of Pittsburgh. Never drafted out of high school, Butia showed steady improvement throughout his Dukes career as he progressed from hitting .333 with five homeruns as a freshman to .362 with eight homeruns as a sophomore to .373/.466/.782 with 17 doubles, 4 triples, and 18 homeruns this past spring as a junior. Butia also reversed his BB/K ratio to an impressive 31 BB /23 K's this past year. BA notes that he added 20 pounds of muscle this season which explain the improved power numbers and that he shows decent skills in the outfield. They also had him ranked as the #5 prospect in Virginia and #87 overall.

Note that this is the round last year where Trish and James surprised me with the news that "there's another baby in Mommy's tummy". For that reason, Juan Valdes will always hold a special place in my Tribe player heart. As I look at Jennifer, now 4-1/2 months old and sleeping angelicly about five feet away from me, I wonder where the year went? Needless to say, regardless of what type of player Valdes turns out to be, I think that we had a better draft. As for this year, the only surprise I received in the 5th round was the news that Trish has put together 90% of the picnic table we bought this morning. Hey, I think I did pretty good this year too :-). I just hope that Butia has a longer career than our picnic table.

MLB.COM: Strong, Muscular, Athletic Build On Large Frame. Long, Muscular Arms. Thin Waist. Firm, Developed Lower Half. Body Similar To Darin Erstad. Straight Away Stance. Hands Pinched, Shoulder High. Quick Bat Through Level Hit Plane. Loft In Finish For Plus Pwr Potential. Shows Pwr To All Fields. Aggressive Approach. Makes Routine W/ Playable Arm. Bat Is Plus Tool. Knows K Zone & Likes To Hit. Enough To Play Corner Outf. All Other Tools Playable. Offensive Potential.

In the first real surprise of the Indians draft, the Tribe selected a relative unknown in 6'3", 200 pound right-hander Cody Bunkelman from Itasca Community College in Minnesota. Tribe scouts brought Buklelman to the Jake on the Saturday (June 5) before the draft and he lit up the radar gun, throwing 94-95 mph and topping out at 97 mph. The Indians weren't the only team in on Cody, however, as the Duluth News Tribune reports that Bunkelman threw threw at the Metrodome for the Twins on Tuesday, June 1 where Cody says that he topped out "only' at 94 mph. The Chippewa Herald goes onto note he also turned down workout offers from the Cubs and Brewers. The Herald notes that the Tribe told him they would select him in the 12th round but that ended up being six rounds too low. Stats may be incomplete, but in 54 innings for Itasca, Bunkelmand struck out 79 with 38 walks and a 7-1 record and 2.24 ERA. He was also a football player but lasted only two games before a concussion sidelined him for the rest of the freshman season. Cody also has a brother who is a Marine on duty in Iraq. Bunkelman sounds very raw but with a lot of upside. I love guys like that at this point in the draft.

Signed with the Indians on June 12. He should start his professional career in Burlington.

MLB.COM: Solid Frame. Strong, Sloped Shoulders. High Waisted. Potential Curt Schilling Build W/ Development. No Wind Up, 3/4, Crossfire Delivery. Raw, Pwr Arm. Touches 94 When Stays Up, Lets It Go. Heavy Fb, Good 2-Seam Sink, Run Near 90, Bat Breaking Movement. Sharp, Lateral Bite Slider, Proper Velocity. Flashes Good Sink, Circle Change. Control, Raw Delivery. Has Worked Hard To Get To This Point.

The Indians selected right-handed pitcher Mark Jecman from Stanford. In 16 appearances for the Cardinal this season, Jecman had a 6.64 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 15 walks in 20 innings. Despite his numbers, BA had him ranked as the #9 prospect in NoCal and noted scouts remain enthralled with his arm (94 mph and making of four quality pitches) and note that his control problems may be mental more than physical. Also drafted by the Cubs in the 42nd round of the 2001 draft. Somewhat typical pick at this point in the draft. Potential far outweights the safe picks at this point. Could make more money if he returns to school but maybe not if he can't throw strikes and get on the mound for the Cardinal.

MLB.COM: Extra-Large Frame. Lean & Slender. Well Developed. Broad, Rounded Shoulders & Back. Long Arms. No Wind Up, High 3/4 Release. Cross Fire Delivery, Some Elbow Hitch. Easy Fb, 88-90 W/ More There. Good Downhill Plane W/ Arm Side Run & Occaisional Heavy Sink. Avg, 12-6 Cb Occaisional, Tilt & Velocity Varies To Hard Slurve. Straight Change Upsinks, Deception.

The Indians selected left-hander Justin Pekarak from the University of Nebraska. Pekarak is an interesing pick as he's a 5th-year senior who only threw 30some innings in his first four years at Nebraska due to elbow problems (TJ surgery in 02 and an ongoing stress reaction). When he returned this season, he pitched well, posting a 3.16 ERA in 74 innings, striking out 75, walking just 17, and allowing 66 hits for a .231 BAA. Still, the age (23) and injury history make this a risky pick. BA notes that Pekarak (ranked #4 prospect in Nebraska) tossed 33.1 consecutive scoreless innings this season and can throw in the low 90s with a sharp slider. They also correctly forecast that due to his elbow, he might be better off pitching out of the bullpen at the pro level. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Indians go that route. As a 5th-year senior, Pekarak should be an inexpensive sign (I mean, really inexpensive) since he has no contract leverage. He also made the honors list numerous times at Nebraska and is getting married in October. Ok, that's enough.

Chris Niesel from Notre Dame was the Indians choice in the 9th round. He's a 6'0", 205 pound right-handed pitcher who went 8-3 with a 3.62 ERA for the Irish this season. Niesel gave up a lot of hits, 123 in 102 innings, and walked 20 while striking out 84. Pitched much better as a sophomore when he went 9-1 with a 2.54 ERA (98.1 IP, 86 H, 19 BB, 87 K) and was named Big East Pitcher of the Year and earned second-team All-American honors. Niesel was ranked among the top college prospects entering this season but his struggles in 2004 left him off the BA top 30 Illinois prospects list, let alone any national list. A TeamOne scouting report showed that Niesel throws in the 88-90 mph range with a good curve. Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri told the South Bend Tribune that he expects Niesel to turn pro as the Indians have "offered quite a bonus".

MLB.COM: Stocky, Medium Build. Wide Shoulders. Barrel Chest. Strong Legs. Long Arms, Large Hands. Strong, Mature Look. No Wind Up, 3/4 Delivery, Good Extention. Medium Kick Wind, Slide Step From Set. Mostly Avg Fb, Changes Speeds. Moderate Sink & Tail Down In Zone. Fair Bite Downer Cb. Occaisional Late, Small Bite Slider Effective. Around Plate W/ 3 Pitches. Knows How. Competes Well.

Reinaldo Alicano of Puerto Rico was ranked as the #2 prospect in Puerto Rico and #121 overall by Baseball America. Compared to Juan Gonzalez at a similar age and build, they also noted that Alicano is very raw, his power is batting practice power, and that he is regarded as an easy sign. Comparisons to Juan Gone make this an intriguing pick.

MLB.COM: Long Frame. Lean, Wiry Build. Broad Shoulders. Long Extremities. Strong Hands. Room To Get Stronger. Slight Open Stance. Sets Up Deep To Hit. Short Stride. Proper Hitting Approach. Slight Long, Level Swing, Occasional Lift W/ Extention To Generate Power. Aggressive W/ Bat, Reliable Fielder. Playable Arm For Rf. Proper Turns On Bases.

Brian Logan is a smallish lefty (5'11", 185) from Varina HS in the Richmond, Virginia area. Baseball America compared him to Mike Hampton when they ranked him as the #16 prospect in Virgina. Has a commitment to Louisburg College. Note that the Indians have signed recent mid round high school picks from the mid-Atlantic (Chad Longworth, 12th, 2002 and Aaron Laffey, 16th, 2003).

MLB.COM: Athletic Build On Medium Frame. Strong Upper Body, Tapers To Firm Lower Half. Body Similar To Mike Hampton. No Windup, High 3/4 Delivery. Fb Tailing Life Into Lhh. Cb Best Pitch, Gets On Top For Down 3/4 Type Rotation, Late Bite In Zone. Good Command For Hs Pitcher. Throws W/ Confidence. Good Athlete, Also Plays Outf. 4.2 Runner From Left Side. Would Rather Pitch. Potential Set Up Type, Tough On Lhh.

Jordan Chambless is a 6'2", 210 pound right-hander from Calallen HS in Corpus Christi, Texas. Ranked as the #20 prospect in Texas and #173 overall by Baseball America, Chambless was regarded as a potential second-to-fifth round pick but slid due to signability concerns as he signed with Texas A&M as a dual-threat uarterback. BA noted that his stats were 10-0 with a 0.33 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 63 innings while KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi reports that Chambless finished with a 13-1 reocrd and a 0.45 ERA. The station also noted that he threw four no-hitters and four one-hitters this season. John Mirabelli told the ABJ that he thought Chambless was signable even with the possible expense of buying him out of his committment to A&M. It's unknown whether the Indians would allow him to play college football if he signs with the Tribe.

MLB.COM: Large Frame. Sloped Shoulders. Lean, Muscular, Well Defined, Athletic Body. Strong Overall Build. Mature, Very Slow, Deliberate Full Wind Up, High 3/4 Delivery. Raw Arm Strength W/ Quickness. Comfort Zone 90-91, Occaisional Run. Flashes Downer Cb W/ Tight Rotation & Quick Break. Feel For Change Up W/ Fade. Big, Strong, Athletic Rhp W/ Arm Strength & Ability To Spin Ball.

Jason Denham is a 6'0", 170 pound outfielder from Deer Valley HS in Antioch, California. If the name sounds familiar, that's because he is the younger brother of current Kinston Indian, and 2001 first round pick, Dan Denham. Jason has a commitment to the University of San Francisco but the Contra Costa Times seems to indicate that Denham plans on signing and being with the B-Tribe when thet suit up for their first exhibition game on June 19.

Jeff Sues out of Vanderbilt was the Tribe's choice in round 14. Sues is a big right-hander (6'4", 220) who went 4-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 44.1 innings this season (43 H, 25 BB, 44 K, .253 BAA). Injured his elbow on March 5, 2003 when he worked a career-high 8 innings against Central Michigan, striking out 12. Sat out the rest of the season after that game with an elbow injury. Baseball American ranked Sues as the #16 prospect in Tennessee and notes that he can reach 94 mph with a decent slider when healthy. Since he red-shirted last season (medical due to the elbow injury), it's a little more uncertain than with fellow Commodore Jeremy Sowers on whether or not Sues will begin his professional career this season. He could decide to return to school with the hopes of improving his draft stock and bonus money and the Tennessean says that indications are that he will return to Vanderbilt for his junior year.

MLB.COM: Body Similar To Steve Trachsel. High Windup, High 3/4. No Glaring Flaws. Leg Being Slightly Longer Than Right. Good Arm Speed On Nasty Changeup, Good Bottom-Out Life, Throws It Anytime. Fb 86-88 W/ Fairly Easy Delivery. Creates Movement By Cutting & Turning It Over. Slurve-Slider Flashes Late Bite. A Pitcher, But Must Pick Up Fb Velocity. Body, Arm Action & Delivery Will Allow More Velocity.

Shortstop Brian Finnegan is a 6'0", 190 pound senior from the University of Hawaii who hit .339/.412/.443 with two homeruns and 13 stolen bases for the Rainbow Warriors this season. He also attended Cuesta College in California for one year. That move from Honolulu to Youngstown this summer could be a tough one.

Right-hander Josh Williamson from Columbia Basin CC in Washington pitched only 18.1 innings this season (by my stats) but struck out 23 while allowing just 11 hits and 8 walks in eight appearances. Williamson had offers to attend four-year schools but chose to enroll at Columbia Basin. At 6'6", 240 pounds, he also plays basketball. Andy Call noted in the Canton Repository that he's one of the Indians two prime DFEs this year.

Marshall Szabo is a 5'10", 180 pound junior second baseman for the Georgia Bulldogs. The all-SEC second-team selection hit .304/.359/.458 with 15 doubles and six homeruns for the Bulldawgs this spring. He was also named as a freshman All-American in 2002 by Collegiate Baseball. Szabo's double-play partner Justin Holmes was selected by the Indians in the 26th round and the two have combined for 70 double-plays this year which are the second-most in school history. Note that lists him as a 3B but his size (5'10", 180) suggests second base.

Hutchinson CC (Kan) right-hander Danny Calvert posted a 2.78 ERA in 55.1 innings this season with 52 strikeouts and 47 hits and 14 walks allowed. He's a big, wiry kid (6'5", 190) who was also drafted by the Cubs out of high school in 2003 and he's the other prime Tribe DFE in this years draft crop.

Chris Gimenez is a junior outfielder from Nevada-Reno who was a 2nd-team all-WAC selection this year when he hit .314/.445/.589 with 14 homeruns for the Wolf Pack this season. A bit of a free-swinger, Gimenez struck out 59 times this year to just 23 walks but his OBP looks good thanks to the unbelievable 26 times he was plunked this season. Gimenez is a converted catcher and Baseball America notes that he may have to move back behind the plate in the pros although the Wolf Pack website says that Gimenez is an outstanding defensive outfielder. BA had him ranked as the #15 prospect in Nevada and noted that he hurt his arm and has been rebuilding strength in the outfield. All-WAC 1st Team in 2002 when he hit .340 with 12 longballs, Gimenez was also drafted by the Rockies in 2001 (34th round) out of high school.

Interesting story from the Morgan Hill Times on how Gimenez ended up an Indian. I'll provide the Cliff's Notes version...

The Rangers and Pirates made offers to Gimenez in the 15th and 16th rounds respectively but were only offering $20,000 plus college expenses. He passed but then the Indians and Blue Jays called three round later. The initial offer was the same ($20k + college expenses) but both teams accepted his counter-offer of $40,000 and paid college expenses. The Indians picked before the Blue Jays (10 spots later) and landed Gimenez. Interesting, huh? The article also quotes Gimenez as saying "I’ve never played centerfield before this year. I like it because there is more room to roam around and you’re the boss out there”.

Eastern Michigan senior third basemen Derrick Peterson hit .336/.422/.620 with 17 doubles and 16 homeruns for EMU this season while maintaining a nice BB/K ratio at 37 BB and 39 K. The power numbers were a big improvement over 2003 when he only hit five homeruns. Peterson was named the Team MVP for the second consecutive season and was also a 2nd-team all-MAC selection this year. A three-year starter, the 6'3", 195 pound Peterson should be a quick sign. The Indians had some luck when they snagged fellow EMU alum Ryan Goleski (tearing up at Lake County) in the 24th round last season so let's see if good fortunes will smile upon us again. Oh yeah, Peterson is a Toledo native.

Right-hander Carlton Smith from Piscataway, NJ is an athletic pitcher who throws in the low-90s but needs help on his breaking pitches. Wait a minute. C.Smith? Athletic? New Jersey? Yup, this is the younger brother of Aeros third basemen Corey Smith. BA had Carlton ranked as the number six prospect in New Jersey and #185 overall after he posted some absolutely filthy numbers his senior year, going 6-3 with a 0.84 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 59 innings with just 23 hits and 15 walks allowed. Signed with Old Dominion but coach Tony Guzzo's contract was not renewed (polite term for (pause) "You're Fired") and that may affect how firm of a commitment Smith has to the Virginia school. Also considering junior college, let's hope his big brother can put in a good word for the organization.

MLB.COM: Well Proportioned, Tapered Frame. Strong Upper Body. Excellent Condition. Flexible. Near Full Maturity. Resembles Esteban Loaiza. No Windup, High 3/4 Arm Slot. Good Hip Rotation. Drop & Drive Delivery. Brother Of Corey Smith, 1St Rd Pick 20Oo Draft. Live, Quick Arm W/ Good Front & Rear Extention. Fb Flirts 90, Most 87-88. Some Sink & Fade To Circle Change. Pitches Aggressively. Durable. Fields Position. Helps W/ Bat. Has The Arm, Body & Work Ethic To Succeed.

For the second consecutive year, the Indians grabbed a Gator outfielder. Last year, it was right-fielder Ben Harrison (who was re-drafted by the Rangers in the 7th round this year). This year, it's 5'11", 190 pound junior center-fielder Jeff Corsaletti. Ranked as the #35 prospect in Florida by BA (Harrison was ranked #30), Corsaletti hit .328/.411/.455 with 12 doubles and 5 homeruns for the Gators this year. He also drew 30 walks and stole 11 bags. BA notes that he's the best athlete on the Gator squad, runs a 4.2 down to first, and is a scrappy player in the Lenny Dykstra mode. Corsaletti was an honorable mention freshman All-American in 2002. If he signs, it sounds like he'll be a fan favorite in the Valley this summer.

Michael Storey is a left-hander out of Bellevue HS in Nebraska who, yup, you guessed it, is a University of Nebraska recruit. BA had him ranked as the #6 prospect in Nebraska and noted that he he's a "projectable" 6'3", 185 with a 85-88 mph heater and a promising curve.

Wyatt Toregas is a 5'11", 200 pound, junior catcher from Virgina Tech who entered the season as a potential early round pick but struggled at the plate this year which caused his stock to drop in the eyes of scouts. Toregas hit .280/.329/.422 with four homeruns for the Hokies which was a drop from the .319 with 10 dingers he hit in 2003 and the .347 with 8 longballs he hit as a freshman in 2002. The Roanoke Times notes that the agreed to terms with the Indians shortly before being selected. BA had him ranked as the #7 prospect in Virginia and #180 overall so it looks like the Tribe got some pretty good value this late in the draft. BA also notes that he has solid catch-and-throw skills.

MLB.COM: Strong, Well Proportioned Frame. Broad Shoulders. Solid Legs. Room To Add Weight In Future. Quick, Strong Arm, Throws On Target. Glove Will Improve. Short Stroke, Line Drive Contact. Runs Better On Base Paths. Hard-Nosed. Leadership Qualities. Coachable. Controls Game.

Signed with the Indians on June 12 and will likely begin his pro career in the Valley.

David Newmann is a 6'0", 192 pound lefthander from San Jacinto JC (Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite are alums) in Tejas. Incomplete stats show that he posted a 3.10 ERA in 20.1 innings with 23 punchouts. Tossed a seven-inning complete game against Dixie State in the NJCAA world series in which he allowed just one hit but walked nine while punching out eight. That's called being effectively wild. Told the Galveston Daily News that he intends to return to San Jacinto for his sophomore season. Classic DFE.

Justin Holmes is a 5'10", 175 pound senior shortstop from the University of Jawga. An All-SEC second team selection, Holmes hit .327/.383/.516 with 12 doubles, 8 homeruns, and 53 RBIs for the Bulldogs this season. He also enjoyed a 16-game hitting streak during which he hit a Williamsesque .406. Holmes began his college career at the South Florida before transferring to Athens for his sophomore season. He's the double-play partner of 17th round pick Marshall Szabo. Like Trammell and Whitaker, they shall rise through the system.

What I said last year: "Adrian Schau is a 6'1", 195 pound junior righthander/outfielder from Villanova (same school as Brian Slocum) whom the Indians drafted as a pitcher. Schau posted a 4.83 ERA in 12 appearances for the Wildcats this season (31.2 IP, 32 H, 15 W, 35 K, .262 BAA) while hitting .238/.366/.287 and one homerun. Coach Joe Godri said on the Villanova website that "(Schau) had some outstanding performances early in the year and I know the Indians were very high on him. He hit a bump in road with a couple injuries late in the year which may have kept him from going a lot higher. We are looking for him to come back for his senior year, have another outstanding season, and get drafted much higher next time around."

What I'll say this year: "It's deja vu all over again for senior Villanova RHP/1B Adrian Schau who was also popped by the Indians in the 40th round last year. Schau returned to school for another season (and to graduate with a finance degree) and went 1-3 with 6 saves and a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings (23 H, 8 BB, 26 K) as the Wildcats closer. He also hit .330/.422/.506 with six longballs as the Wildcats first basemen. BA had him ranked as the #21 prospect in Pennsylvania. Named the Villanova senior male Student-Athlete of the Year.

Chris "Doodle" Hicks is a 5'11", 165 pound left-hander from Virginia HS in Bristol, Virginny. He finished his high school career with a 24-4-2 record and a 0.71 ERA with 325 strikeouts in 186-2/3 innings. Not too shabby. May attend Walters State CC making him a DFE. Cool nickname.

If you're looking for a sleeper, look no further. Well, at least he has the stats to pique your interest. PJ Hiser is a 6'1", 195 pound junior outfielder from the University of Pittsburgh who was named Big East Player of the Year and a first-team All-American by Louisville Slugger after he hit .354/.430/.758/1.188 with 21 homeruns and 67 RBIs for the Panthers this season. He also was successful in all 19 of his stolen base attempts. A converted pitcher, Hiser also went 5-1 with a 4.40 ERA for the Panthers this season in 61 innings with 49 strikeouts, Hiser sat out most of 2003 with a hand injury and was a third-team All Big East selection as a pitcher as a sophomore in 2002. He was also drafted out of high school by the Giants in the 42nd round of the 2000 draft and spent his freshman year at Hagerstown CC. What's not to like? How about a 28/54 BB/K ratio? But that's somewhat understandable considering last year was his first full season as a hitter. There's a reason he fell so far but let's hope the Tribe has a later bloomer here. At a minimum, he should post some impressive numbers in the Valley this summer.

MLB.COM: Strong, Compact Build. Solid Upper Body Strength, Thick Back, Broad Shoulders. Good Athletic Look. Quick Bat, Aggressive, Line Drive Swing. Can Take You Deep. Avg, Accurate Arm, Throws Carry. Glove Will Improve. Hard Runner On Base Paths. Comes To Beat You. Hustles, Converted Rhp.

Signed with the Tribe on June 12 and will likely begin his pro career in the Valley.

Alfred Ard is a 6'0", 180 pound junior outfielder from Southern University who also is a WR on the Southern football team. In limited duty (58 ABs) for the Jaguars this season, Ard hit .379/.422/.603 with three homeruns and 18 RBIs. In 2003, he hit .349 in 44 games.

Doug Pickens was named the Michigan High School Player of the Year after hitting .556 with 13 homeruns for Brother Rice High School this season. Named as a pre-season All-American by Baseball News, Pickens has signed with the University of Michigan. Baseball America ranked him as the #11 prospect in Michigan but noted that he lacks the size (6'0", 185) and tools for catching and a position switch may be in his future. He should be athletic to move out from behind the plate as he's also an all-state quarterback and hockey defensivemen according to the Detroit Free Press.

Kyle Collins is a 6'1", 165 pound senior right-hander from the University of San Diego. A first-team All-WAC selection, Collins went 7-1 with a 3.69 ERA in 18 appearances for the Toreros (92.2 IP, 100 H, 31 BB, 51 K). Collins was a JUCO All-American while at San Jose City College after not pitching in high school.

When it doubt, select a Bulldog. That's what the Tribe did for the third time this draft as they selected senior left-hander Paul Lubrano from the University of Georgia. The Dawgs team captain went 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA in 17 starts, holding opposing hitters to a .266 BAA in 91.2 innings (91 H, 34 BB, 60 K). Lubrano is a roommate of 26th round pick Justin Holmes and they'll likely have the opportunity to room together in the Valley this summer.

Ashton Shewey is a 6'3", 190 pound left-hander from Payson, Arizona who has signed with the University of Arizona.

LOOGY alert. Ryan Knippschild is a 6'1", 195 pound, senior lefthander from the University of Kansas who went 7-8 with a 5.25 ERA for the Jayhawks this past season. His H/IP numbers were remarkably similar the last seasons as he allowed 134 hits in 111.1 innings this year and 134 hits in 113.1 innings in 2003. He served up 15 ongballs this season and 34 doubles in 2003. Knippschild is a Sacramento native and spent two years at American River Community College before transferring to Kansas. Numbers are not impressive so LOOGY potential must have made him draft-worthy.

Signed with the Tribe on June 12 and will likely begin his pro career in the Valley.

Jeff Kamrath is a 6'3", 210 pound Virginia right-hander who sat out all of 2004 after an injury cut short his 2003 season. Let's hope elbow rather than shoulder. Prior to the injury, Kamrath was enjoying a strong junior season, posting a 2.72 ERA in six starts and holding opposing hitters to a .236 average and striking out 44 in 39.2 innings while walking only 14. That included a complete game four-hitter against Maryland in which he punched out 11 Terrapins. Kamrath was named second-team All-ACC in 2002 when he went 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 96 innings (81 H, 44 BB, 67 K). Note the nice improvements in his K/IP, BB/IP, and K/BB ratios from 2002 to 2003. He red-shirted this season and could return to Virginia as a fifth-year senior in 2005.

Back to the SEC for catcher/infielder Blake Gill from LSU. Gill is a 5'10", 190 pound junior who hit .344/.407/.500 with five homeruns and an impressive 25/15 BB/K ratio this past season for the Tigers. Drafted as a catcher by the Indians, Gill has spent most of his LSU career in the infield and, specifically, second base. Gill was second-team All-SEC in 2003 and was recently named the Most Outstanding Player of the Baton Rouge Regional last weekend after hitting .455 (5-for-11) in three games with one double, one triple, one homer, seven RBI and two runs. Gill told The Advocate newspaper that he was unlikely to sign with the Indians and will return to LSU for his senior year.

Jose Amaya is a 6'2", 205 pound senior left-hander from San Jose State. Amaya spent two season at San Jose City College before moving to the four-year San Jose school in 2003. In 21 appearances for the Spartans this year, Amaya was 1-6 with a 5.20 ERA in 62.1 innings pitched (71 H, 34 BB, 55 K). His stats were much better in 2003 when he went 4-6 with a 3.02 ERA.

Preston Clark is a 5'9", 195 pound catcher from Rockwall High School in Texas whom Baseball America had projected as a second-to-fifth round talent and ranked as the #23 prospect in Texas and #194 overall. Clark hit .346 with seven homeruns this season and will attend the University of Texas in the fall.

MLB.COM: Medium Hight. Strong, Thick Body. Well Defined Muscular Legs. Actions Like Ivan Rodriguez. Straight Away, Upright Stance. Good Bat Speed Through Zone In Compact Pwr Swing. Uses Hands Well. Quick Wrists, Extention. Quick, Soft Hands. Moves Well Behind Plate. Proper Mechanics, Makes Accurate, On-Line Throws. Outstanding Prospect W/ Good Intangibles.

Hopefully, the third time will be the charm for Dustin Roddy as the Indians mark the third organization that has drafted the 6'2", 190 pound junior right-hander as he was previously selected by the Red Sox in 2002 (JC) and the White Sox in 2001 (HS). Roddy played both ways for Nicholls State this season as he hit .293 with a pair of homers and went 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings (24 H, 11 BB, 12 K) on the mound.

David Coulon is a 6'1", 165 pound left-hander from the Fresno area who sat out his senior year of high school after he tore his ACL in a preseason basketball game in December. Surgery followed in February and he's currently in the middle of a nine-month rehab program. Coulon emerged on the prospect scene after turning in a strong performance in the Area Code games (premier high school showcase) last year where he flashed a 90 mph fastball, curve, and change according to the Fresno Bee. He's the second member of the Tribe class draft, along with #34 pick Ashton Shewey, who is expected to enroll at the University of Arizona this fall.

Josh Harris is a 6'0", 206 pound, senior right-hander from Lamar University who went 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 19 appearances for the Cardinals. He held opposing hitters to a .227 average while striking out 48 in 53.1 innings. Harris previously played for Texas A&M-Kingsville.

This one is interesting. Trevor Mortenson is a 5'10, 190 sophomore outfielder from Santa Ana College who posted some monster numbers this year for the Dons. The OEC Player of the Year led the league in seven categories as he hit .503/.580/.886/1.466 with 14 doubles and 13 homeruns. He also stole 18 bases in 20 attempts. Mortensen's been at Santa Ana for one season as he actually spent 2002 as a freshman at Cal-Fullerton where he got into six games and went 1-for-4. I'll assume that he red-shirted in 2003 before transferring to Santa Ana for the 2004 campaign. Mortenson will spend the summer playing for the Alaska Goldpanners in the Alaska Summer league which is the same team for which 2003 draft pick Tim Montgomery (who signed with the Tribe late in the summer) played last season. Mortenson was also a high school teammate of 2003 first round pick, fellow Fullerton alum, and new Expos closer Chad Cordero. Mortenson was not listed on any prospect lists but those numbers are incredible and I have to believe that his league was pretty competitive as juco leagues go. I could not find any info on whether or not Mortensen has signed with a four-year school but it wouldn't surprise me if a return to Fullerton is in the works.

Phil Shirek is a 6'3", 215 pound junior right-hander from the University of Nebraska who went 5-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 15 appearances for the Huskers this season (70.1 IP, 70 H, 34 BB, 43 k) Baseball America ranked him as the #1 prospect in the state but noted that he was down in velocity (86-88 mph) from his stint in the Cape Cod League (92-93 mph) last summer. Shirek pitched extremely well on the Cape, striking out 43 in 32.1 innings while posting a 1.67 ERA in 10 appearances. His younger brother Charlie was ranked as the #1 prospect in North Dakota by BA but was not drafted and will enroll at Nebraska like his older bro. Phil told the Fremont Tribune that "It (the pick) was a little disappointing because I thought I was going to go higher, but I can't complain because there were a lot of kids out there who didn't get drafted." I would be surprised if Shirek didn't choose to return to school and spend a year pitching with his brother while hoping to improve his standing for the 2005 draft.

MLB.COM: Tall, Strong, Well Built Frame. Broad Shoulders. Strong Legs. Minimal Potential Strength Gains. No Wind Up, 3/4 Angle. Fb, Armside Run, Occaisional Sink, Most 87-89. Decent 3/4 Tilt Slider, Tight, Sharp Action. Attacks Hitters, Not Afraid To Pitch Inside. Feel For Change Up, Makes Fb Look Better. Projectable Pitchers Frame. Can'T Ignore The Arm & Body.

Tony Sipp is an intruiging junior left-handed pitcher/outfielder from Clemson. As the Tigers main leadoff hitter this season, Sipp hit .280/.360/.393 with 26 walks and 20 stolen bases. On the mound, Sipp worked mainly out of the bullpen, posting a 4.69 ERA in 48 innings but striking out 59 while walking 17. He excelled in the ACC tournament, hitting .471 with four doubles, five walks, and six runs scored while also striking out six in 3.2 innings of one-run relief. Baseball America had Sipp ranked as the #10 prospect in South Carolina and noted that he throws 90-92 mph with a slider and splitter and that he could go as high as the 8th round if a team saw him command all three of those pitches. Sipp told that he intends to return to school for his senior year after etting his bonus demands at $150,000. Recognizing that his professional future resides on the mound, Sipp intends to be a weekend starter for the Tigers in 2005. Based on this table in the June 9 edition of Ask BA, Sipp would have to go in the first four rounds of the 2005 draft as a college senior to receive a $150k bonus.

MLB.COM: Medium Frame, Slender Athletic Build. Loose, Live Body. Wiry Strong, Cut Body. High, Small Waist. Some Physical Projection. Similar To Bobby Jones. No Wind Up. Near Overhead Delivery. Compact, Smooth Start, Then Gets Loose. Better Fb In Short Stint, Chance Future Plus. Deceptive Delivery W/ Occasional Downhill

Angle, Small Tail, Sink When Down. Control In Spurts. Flashes Avg Slider Tilt, Enough Velocity. Change, 3Rd Pitch. Visibly Aggressive. Regular Outf, Hurt By Dual Position Role. Chance In Bullpen W/ Best Fb & Slider Put In Quality Location More Frequency.

Chris Sosa is a freshman outfielder from West Hills Community College in California. A smallish (5'8", 185), Sosa is a definite DFE.

Tyler Beranek is a big high school first baseman (6'5", 215) from Waukesha, Wisconsin who has committed to UNLV as part of one of the top recruiting classes in the country. BA has him ranked as the #2 prospect in Wisconsin and says that he looks better in batting practice than he does in games. They also had him ranked as the #71 high school prospect entering the 2004 season.

Brian Winings is a 6'2", 195 pound junior right-hander from the University of Pennsylvania. Converted to a starter this season, Winings struggled for the Quakers, posting a 7.42 ERA in 11 appearances (43.2 IP, 49 H, 32 BB, 31 K). The Indians likely drafted him based on his performance in the Clark Griffith summer collegiate league in 2003 when he did not allow a run (0.00 ERA) in 18 appearances and tied a league record with 10 saves. Winings was also a 1st-team Ivy League selection in 2003 when he saved eight games for the Quakers and posted a 4.70 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15.1 innings. Coach Bob Seddon told the Penn student newspaper that he expected Winings to go in the late 20 - mid 30s in the draft with the Mets showing the most interest in the right-hander. BA had him ranked as the #14 prospect in Pennsylvania. I'd be surprised if he did not return to school.

MLB.COM: Muscular, Compact Build. Very Strong Across Back & Shoulders. Strength In Legs. Loose, 3/4 Delivery. Fb Runs Into Rhh Hands. Other Pitch, Split, Signs Of Locating. Mixes In Tight Rotation Cb For K'S. Movement When Keeps Ball Down. Tough Make-Up. Type Of Arm That Could Learn Slider. Action On All Pitches. Pwr Pitcher.

Jose Chavez is a 5'10, 170 pound, switch-hitting freshman infielder from Santa Ana College. In limited duty for the Dons this season, Chavez hit .222 in 18 at-bats. Definite DFE.

Tim Battaglia is a 6'3", 200 pound senior right-handed pitcher/outfielder from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In 40 games for the Bulldogs this season, Battaglia hit .404/.484/.676 with 7 homeruns and became the first player in school history to finish with a career .400 average (.410). Battaglia also pitched in 10 games, going 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA covering 56.1 innings (62 H, 19 BB, 43 K). The Indians listed him as a pitcher when drafted so that's likely where he'll start as a professional. Battaglia was named all-conference for the second straight year and was also the league's 2003 position player of the year. An excellent athlete, Battaglia had a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys as a wide receiver four days before the MLB draft.

19 Coll JRs, 11 Coll SRs, 13 HS, 7 JUCOs
18 RHP, 13 LHP, 9 OF, 3 C, 3 SS, 2 2B, 1 1B, 1 3B


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