The Cleveland Indians have officially informed Major League Baseball that they would like to terminate their Player Development Contract with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
On Sept. 15, MLB will inform the club of available minor league
clubs/locations for a Triple A Affiliate. Cleveland will then have a 14-day window to negotiate a deal.
The announcement has been long expected and the Indians will more than likely pony up with the Columbus Clippers, who open up a new stadium in downtown Columbus for the 2009 season. It is also expected that the Blue Jays and Bisons will collaborate.
The Indians low Class-A Lake County Captains will transfer from the South Atlantic League to the Midwest league for the 2010 season. The club formerly known as the Columbus Catfish, who will start playing in Bowling Green, Ky. at the start of the 2009 season, will also be transferred.
According to a news release, “the transfer of clubs addresses concerns over travel and provides better geographical alignments for the two Class A Leagues.”
– Andrew Gribble
The awards just keep coming in for Wes Hodges.
Just days after he was named to the Eastern League Season Ending All-Star team, Hodges was named the league’s Rookie of the Year on Wednesday. Reading (Phillies) catcher Lou Marson and New Hampshire (Mets) second baseman Scott Campbell finished tied for second in the voting.
Hodges’ performance this season for the Double-A Akron Aeros certainly merited the award. After 128
games, he is batting .285 with 25 doubles, three triples,
91 RBIs (second-best in the EL) and 16 home runs.
Earlier in the season, the slugging third baseman collected the Bank of America Eastern League Player of the Week award for the week ending June 15. He was also named to the Southern Division roster for the 2008 Northeast Delta Dental Eastern League All-Star Game and, in July, Hodges — along with the recently acquired Matt LaPorta — represented the Indians in the 2008 Futures Game.
Hodges was the Tribe’s second-round selection in the 2006 draft out of Georgia Tech. On Tuesday, it was announced that Hodges, along with six other Indians Minor Leaguers, will play for the Arizona Fall League’s Surprise Rafters.
– Andrew Gribble
Scratch Wes Hodges off the list of potential September callups to the big leagues. The 23-year-old third baseman is headed to Arizona.
Hodges is one of seven Indians Minor Leaguers who will join the roster of the Arizona Fall League’s Surprise Rafters. Class A Lake County pitching coach Ruben Niebla will be a coach for the Rafters, whose season starts Oct. 7.
Here’s a look at what Hodges and the other six players have done this season for their respective Minor League clubs.
Hodges – AA Akron Aeros – 3B – Recently named to the 2008 Eastern League All-Star team, Hodges had a breakout season with the Aeros. After 127
games, he is batting .285 with 25 doubles, three triples,
91 RBIs and 16 home runs. In July, Hodges — along with the recently acquired Matt LaPorta — represented the Indians in the 2008 Futures Game.
Beau Mills – A Kinston Indians – 1B – The Tribe’s 2007 No. 1 Draft selection leads the Carolina League in RBIs with 90 and has slammed 21 homers — also good for the league’s best — along with 34 doubles. He is batting .293 and his 58 extra-base hits ranks second in the CL and his 141 hits ranks third.
Josh Rodriguez – AA Akron Aeros – SS – The 23-year-old is batting .248 with 70 runs, 21 doubles, 10 triples — good for second in the Eastern League — seven home runs and 49 RBIs.
Chuck Lofgren – AA Akron Aeros – LHP – The 22-year-old lefty has bounced between the ‘pen and starting rotation in a full season at Double-A. He is 2-5 with a 5.25 ERA in 26 appearances (14 starts). He has struck out 71 while walking 47 batters.
Tony Sipp – AA Akron Aeros – LHP – The 25-year-old has gone 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA out of the bullpen in limited action this season. Sipp, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season, has thrown just 17 2/3 innings since returning to action.
Erik Stiller – AA Akron Aeros – RHP – The 24-year-old is 6-5 with a 4.36 ERA in 32 appearances, all out of the bullpen. In 53 2/3 innings, Stiller has struck out 52 while walking 21 and has a 1.25 WHIP.
Neil Wagner – AA Akron Aeros – RHP – The 24-year-old spent most of his 2008 season with the K-Tribe, but was recently promoted to Double-A. He is 0-1 with 5.06ERA in five appearances for Akron. With Kinston, Wagner went 3-6 with a 4.50 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 21 walks.
Carlos Santana didn’t even need a full season in the California League to earn its highest honor, as he was named the Cal League’s MVP on Monday.
Before the Indians acquired him in a deal that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers, Santana batted .323 with 34 doubles, four
triples, 14 home runs and collected 96 RBIs for the Inland Empire 66ers. The
22-year-old switch-hitter hit
.411 with runners in scoring position and .500 with the bases loaded. He
reached base safely in 91 of his 99 games and had more walks (69) than strikeouts
Santana still leads the league in on-base percentage (.431)
and is in the top five in slugging percentage (.563) and runs scored (88). He could still win the league’s batting title as well because Lancaster’s Daniel Nava, who currently leads the league with a .337 batting average, is
on the disabled list and would not qualify if the season ended today.
Since he arrived at Class A Kinston, Santana has not let up, batting .333 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games.
– Andrew Gribble
The Indians’ most struggling farm team, the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, got a big boost of power and experience this week when Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Josh Barfield joined the Herd for their home series against Lehigh Valley.
And the results have been positive, from both the Tribe’s perspective and the Bisons’, who are now riding a mini two-day winning streak since Barfield and Hafner arrived Monday night (Martinez played his first game with the Bisons on Tuesday).
Hafner showed no ill effects from his puzzling sore shoulder, which has kept him out of the lineup since May 25, as he went 2-for-3 with a double. Barfield has looked solid also, playing a good second base and chipping in with a sacrifice fly Monday. Same goes for Martinez, who caught six innings and drove in two runs in the Herd’s 10-1 win Tuesday at Dunn Tire Park.
But the Tribe’s trio of rehabbers won’t be there long, and, as the Minor League season winds to a close, many others won’t be in Buffalo much longer, either. A few players from Double-A Akron may also be on their way out.
September call-ups are upon us. Here are a few players that may make their way up to Progressive Field for the final month of the regular season. (No, Matt LaPorta will not be on this list.)
Rich Rundles – The Herd’s lone representative to the International League All-Star squad, Rundles has been the steadiest arm out of the bullpen (Mostly because he’s one of the few that has been there all season). The left-hander is 5-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 49 appearances this season. Over his last 10 appearances, he has been more impressive, not allowing a run, striking out 10 and walking just two over 7 1/3 innings.
Aaron Laffey – It’s somewhat surprising that Laffey didn’t get called up when Paul Byrd was traded, which makes it almost a lock that he will be back to the Majors in the upcoming weeks. After a rough first start back in the Minors, the young lefty has been nearly unhittable, not allowing a run in his past two starts. He has give up just seven hits over 14 innings and has struck out an uncharacteristic 14 batters.
John Meloan – The Indians will likely want a look at Meloan at the Major League level to dictate whether or not he belongs in the bullpen or starting rotation. Meloan, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Casey Blake trade, is in the Buffalo bullpen for now, but it would not be out of the question for him to come back next year as a starter. Meloan’s ability to get batters out with four pitches convinced the Dodgers that he could start, but the numbers didn’t back it up. Look for him in Tribe ‘pen before the season wraps up.
Jeff Stevens – The young right-hander certainly has made a case for himself to be called up before the season ends, but the Indians could be timid to bring him up because of the hectic August he has had and continue to has. Stevens has served as the back-end bullpen guy for Team USA in the Olympics. Before he blew town for Beijing, Stevens was 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA and six saves for both the Aeros and Bisons.
Trevor Crowe – Recently promoted to the Bisons, the Tribe’s No. 1 selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft has been a spark plug for the Bisons. Playing primarily at center field, Crowe is batting .271 with 18 runs, four homers and 11 RBIs in his first 23 games in Triple-A.
Todd Linden – The outfielder is batting .276 with 18 doubles, 12 homers and 45 RBIs this season for the Bisons. He has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and has hit .291 since the All-Star break.
Wes Hodges – The infielder has had a breakout season with the Aeros and could be the one player that makes the jump from Double-A to the big leagues come September. Hodges is batting .280 with 23 doubles, a team-high 13 homers and 87 RBIs, which is also good for a team-high.
Bryan Bullington came into the big leagues with overblown expectations. Now, with the Triple- A Bisons, there are none.
It’s safe to say, the former Pirates No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft is OK with that.
“Obviously, there’s expectations in that situation, as anybody who is in that situation will tell you,” Bullington said. “There’s certain expectations you have to live up to.
“It was kind of a weird experience for me in Pittsburgh.”
It has been reported that the Pirates chose Bullington over the likes
of Prince Fielder, BJ Upton, Scott Kazmir and Nick Swisher because they
believed he would be easier to sign. And, though it was also reported
that Bullington projected to be, at best, a No. 3 starter when he made
it to the Majors, he hasn’t even lived up to that.
Bullington, who pitched at Ball State for two years, breezed through the early levels of the Minors before landing in Triple-A Indianapolis for the 2005 season. After going 9-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 18 starts, Bullington was dealt the worst news of his professional career: He had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
Bullington had to go back to the basics and learn how to throw a baseball again.
“When you start your throwing program,” he said, “you can’t throw the ball 40 feet.”
Bullington eventually regained, what Bisons manager Torey Lovullo describes as a “big-league slider,” and made his return to the Pirates in 2007. He didn’t regain his old form, however, as he compiled an 11-9 record in 2007 and a 4-6 mark with a 5.52 ERA this season before the Pirates designated him for assignment early in July.
The Indians didn’t have much to lose when they picked up Bullington off waivers. With players such as Jeff Weaver, Morgan Ensberg and John Halama trying to rejuvenate their careers with the Bisons, the 27-year-old right-hander seemed like an easy fit on Lovullo’s helter skelter roster.
Since he arrived in Buffalo, Bullington has been shaky, but showed signs of hope in his last start Thursday against his former team. He tossed seven innings without giving up an earned run in a no-decision. He starts Monday against Lehigh Valley.
“Maybe he lost a little confidence and placed too much pressure on himself,” Lovullo said. I just know that him coming over here was probably a breath of fresh air with a new set of eyes and a new set of expectations.
Scotty too hotty
Akron’s Scott Lewis was named Bank of America Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Aug. 10. He went 1-0 with a no-decision in two starts, allowing just one run and five hits over 13 1/3 innings. He struck out 15 batters and walked just two.
Look for him to be in Lovullo’s rotation, wherever that rotation may be located, at the beginning of next season.
General manager Mark Shapiro was pretty giddy about acquiring catching prospect Carlos Santana in the deal that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers. The early returns have likely taken that giddiness to a whole new level.
Santana, who came to the Tribe leading all Minor Leaguers in RBIs, is batting .398 (21-for-53) with six RBIs, six extra-base hits (two homers) and 18 runs in just 13 games with the K-Tribe (Kinston Indians).
Look for him to stay there the remainder of the season and become the everyday catcher with the Aeros next season.
– Andrew Gribble
Anthony Reyes, acquired from the Cardinals on July 26 (the same day the Indians shipped Casey Blake to the Dodgers), tossed eight innings and allowed just one run in the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons’ 2-1 win on Sunday. Reyes, who feuded with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan before his departure, has posted a 2.77 ERA over his first two starts, adding eight strikeouts and four walks.
With Matt Ginter struggling in his fill-in role as Aaron Laffey looks to work out some kinks with the Bisons, Reyes could be on a fast track back to the big leagues. A former Baseball America Top 100 prospect in both 2005 and 2006, Reyes won Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. Thereafter, he struggled to maintain consistency, something the Indians and general manager Mark Shapiro will return with his change of scenery.
Speaking of Laffey, the lefty gets the start tonight against Indianapolis.
The gem of the Blake deal, Carlos Santana has continued his big year at Class A Kinston. He has hit safely in his past six games, batting .400 (10-for-25) with eight runs, a double, triple and a homer to go along with four RBIs.
As the Crowe flies
Trevor Crowe, recently promoted from Double-A Akron to Buffalo, is batting .286 (12-for-42) with 10 runs, a triple, four home runs and seven RBIs in his first nine
games with the Bisons.
At least that’s what the three players, along with the dubious player to be named later, will always be known as among Tribe fans.
Now that the former Tribe ace has stolen Indians’ fans hearts once again, as he took out a $12,780 full-page ad in the Plain Dealer to thank the fans for all their support, it seems appropriate to check in on the three prospects Milwaukee forked over.
Zach Jackson – Considered a throw-in, the right-handed starter, who came to Triple-A Buffalo toting a 1-5 record and 7.85 ERA has been dominant — albeit in just six appearances (two starts). The 25-year-old right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .155 off him.
Matt LaPorta – The reason general manager Mark Shapiro felt justified in the Sabathia trade, the right-handed slugger hasn’t necessarily lived up to his billing so far at Double-A Akron. But let’s give LaPorta the benefit of the doubt. It’s been a whirlwind month, which has included a trip to The Futures Game in New York, the death of his grandfather and an upcoming trip to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. The outfielder/first baseman notched the game-winning single Tuesday night against Binghamton. He is currently batting .212, a homer and seven RBIs.
Rob Bryson – The hard-throwing reliever seemed was doing well with the Class A Lake County Captains, but was just placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain. He is expected to miss the next several weeks. In six appearances, Bryson tossed 11 and 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking out nine. A troubling sign, perhaps, is that Bryson walked six batters before he went on the DL.
– Andrew Gribble
In their last year as the Indians Triple-A club, the Buffalo Bisons have had, well, an interesting season.
Not once have the Bisons finished below .500 since their affiliation began with the Tribe in 1994, but they’ll need quite a turnaround (48-60) to avoid going out with a thud.
The reason for the Bisons struggles has certainly been well-documented. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has acknowledged the dry Tribe farm system, particularly at the Triple-A level, by trying to grab as many prospects as possible in the recent trades of CC Sabathia and Casey Blake. For the time being, though, the Bisons are left with a few potential prospects and a surplus of rehab projects for manager Torey Lovullo and his staff to tackle.
Here are a few of them:
Bryan Bullington – RHP – 27 – The former No. 1 draft pick from Ball State has struggled to amount to the potential the Pirates thought he had when they used the first overall pick in 2002 on him. The Indians are hoping he can find that magic with the Bisons. So far, not so good. In three starts, he is 0-1 with a 8.25 ERA.
Brendan Donnelly – RHP – 37 – The former lights-out reliever with the Angels landed with the Indians after Tommy John surgery knocked him out of baseball in 2007. Now finally with the Bisons, Donnelly has made two appearances, each an inning a piece.
John Halama – LHP – 36 – A 10-game winner with the Mariners from 1999-2001, Halama landed with the Bisons early in the season and has been impressive, compiling a 7-2 record and 4.15 ERA thus far.
Anthony Reyes – RHP – 26 – Acquired Saturday for Double-A reliever Luis Perdomo, Reyes will look to settled down in Buffalo, where he will become a full-time starter as the Indians hope to have him up with the big league club by the end of the season.
Jeff Weaver – RHP – 31 – Weaver’s sudden downward spiral from stardom landed him in Buffalo earlier this month. It was speculated that he would be immediately brought up in a spot start when Sabathia was dealt, but he wasn’t, and with the acquisition of Reyes and the emergence of David Huff, it looks like he shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Morgan Ensberg – 3B – 33 – The player who combined to hit 59 home runs and drive in 159 runs over the 05-06 seasons with the Astros has been nowhere to be found. Picked up on the fly in early June, Ensberg has continued to struggle with the Bisons, hitting .179 with a homer and eight RBIs.
Tony Graffanino – 2B – 36 – The veteran second baseman, now with his seventh big-league club, underwent surgery in August for a torn meniscus and later in December for a torn ACL. He will now get more time in the lineup in Buffalo as everyday second baseman Andy Gonzalez was called up in the wake of Blake’s departure.
– Andrew Gribble
Meloan, who was dealt to the Indians with Class A Advanced Inland Empire catcher Carlos Santana, will join former University of Arizona teammates Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe — who was promoted on July 25 from Double-A Akron — in Buffalo.
The Cleveland farmhands were college teammates for three years, helping put the Wildcats back on the map by keying Arizona’s 2004 run to the College World Series and providing the backbone of a club that ranked in the top 10 of the nation much of their junior year of 2005. All there players were top-five-round picks in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Meloan has said he’s still “best friends” with many of his former teammates and has even shared a place in Oro Valley, Ariz., just north of Tucson, Ariz., with Brown and Padres catcher Nick Hundley, another former classmate, while working out at their old school in the offseason.
Meloan, a strikeout pitcher who Baseball America ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 8 prospect at the beginning of the season, has gone 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA this year as a starter. Last season he was much more effective as a reliever, the role the Indians have in store for him, going 7-2 with a 2.03 ERA and 20 saves while splitting time between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas.
That earned him a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in September in which he struggled, giving up runs in four of five appearances while compiling an 11.05 ERA by yielding nine runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
He has not sniffed the Majors this year although Clayton Kershaw, Cory Wade and Ramon Troncoso have all made their Major League debuts, and even journeymen pitchers Brian Falkenborg and Jason Johnson have gotten calls.
“John Meloan in some ways with the advancement of Wade and Troncoso and with [Double-A pitcher and former first-round pick] Scotty Elbert healthy and throwing well, he’s been bypassed by a couple guys who are up here right now,” said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.
The more important player to the deal is likely Santana, who led all Minor Leaguers with 96 RBIs at the time of the deal. He also was hitting .323 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 10 more walks than strikeouts.
Organizational depth at the position, particularly 25-year-old All-Star catcher Russell Martin at the Major League level, made him expendable.
“Santana’s a very good hitter,” Colletti said. “Whether he stays at catcher, that’s Cleveland’s call. [Double-A catcher] Lucas May is a step ahead of him. With Russell here I thought we had just a touch of depth there where we could do that, and in our mind there might be a position change down the road for [Santana].”
— Michael Schwartz
As of Saturday morning, Anthony Reyes’ time in St. Louis is over.
The Cardinals traded Reyes to the Cleveland Indians for right handed reliever Luis Perdomo and cash. Initially viewed as one of the top arms in the Cardinals’ farm system, Reyes’ abilities never translated to the Majors as his career fluctuated between the Cardinals and Triple-A Memphis for four years.
“I think everyone agreed that a change of scenery was probably best for Anthony,” General manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “Hopefully this will benefit him and it adds depth to our minor league system, as we not only remain focused on the Major League team, but continue to look to the future.”
During the 2008 season, Reyes made two short stints with the Cardinals but spent most of his time in Memphis. In 10 appearances, Reyes went 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA for the Cardinals. He was supposed to make a start in the Majors earlier in the year but went to the disabled list instead.
Last year, Reyes went 2-14 with the Cardinals before he was optioned to Triple-A for Todd Wellemeyer.
Perdomo was named to the Class-A Carolina League All-Star team after starting the year with a 3-1 record and 0.92 ERA to go along with 18 saves. He was moved to Double-A Akron and went 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA in nine games. Perdomo will be assigned to the Cardinals Double-A affiliate in Springfield.
Carpenter starts at Triple-A Memphis
Chris Carpenter made his second rehabilitation start on Friday night when he pitched for Triple-A Memphis against Portland.
Out the entire 2008 season, Carpenter threw 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs to go along with five strikeouts. Carpenter was encouraged by the start and given how Mitchell Boggs struggled against the New York Mets on Friday, Carpenter may be close to joining the Cardinals in St. Louis.
A lengthier version of this story can be found on the Cardinals Web site and was written by Matthew Leach.
Wallace in a rut
After beginning his year in Class-A Quad Cities to a hot start, Brett Wallace has cooled off of late.
The Cardinals No. 1 pick in the 2008 First Year Player Draft has seen his batting average drop 70 points to .309 in 19 games. Wallace has seven extra base hits, including two home runs and a triple, to go along with his nine RBIs. His on-base percentage is still faring well (.427) and Wallace’s OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is a strong .912