After collecting the first-half division crown, the Lake County Captains fell victim to the 2nd-half of the season (much as a result of many of the key players being promoted to Kinston). Their first-half record was 41-29 while the second-half record was 34-36. They look to rebound next season with a fresh set of faces, many coming from close-by Mahoning Valley.
As stated in my post below, barring any players jumping a level of the minor league system, here’s the lineup I expect to see to start the year in Lake County.
1) Isaias Velasquez – SS
2) Tim Fedroff – CF
3) Cord Phelps – 2B
4) Lonnie Chisenhall – 3B
5) Jeremie Tice – 1B
6) Juan Valdes – DH
7) Ryan Blair – RF
8) Robert Alcombrack – C
9) Ramon Hernandez – LF
* While I expect Chisenhall to still get a good amount of games at SS, and Tice to get a decent amount of games at 1B, I expect both to be making position changes at some point next season. Not only will it help them with versatility, it might help accelerate them throughout the minor league system. Phelps will be playing exclusively at 2B, and looks to be the Indians best prospect at that respected position, and if he contributes early, he might be fast-tracked through the minors.
After failing to make the postseason, the K-Tribe looks to rebound with a new set of faces in Kinston this year. The likely promotion of Mills, Weglarz, etc. will put a lot of young players in Kinston who many of the fans have yet to hear about. Even though there are players with great potential in the likes of Lonnie Chisenhall, Tim Fedroff, and Cord Phelps who could potentially skip Lake County and head straight to Kinston, the history of this organization moving players slowly through the ranks will likely have them starting in Lake County. Barring any players skipping a system or two, here is what I think the normal lineup will be for the Kinston Indians.
1) Karexon Sanchez – 2B
2) Matthew Brown – RF
3) Matt McBride – LF
4) Richard Martinez – C
5) Todd Martin – 1B
6) Roman Pena – CF
7) Brock Simpson – DH
8) Dustin Realini – 3B
9) Ron Rivas – SS
* With the lack of impact players in the lineup above, Chisenhall, Fedroff, Phelps, Tice, Valdes, etc. could make a quick jump to Kinston. If the K-Tribe expects to be in contention with the players above, they’re going to have to really breakout this year. We won’t hear much about most of these players except from the Minor League Magazine show on STO as the K-Tribe is the only team affiliated with the Indians not stationed in Ohio.
Now that the Brewers have indeed made the postseason, the Indians should have their choice of the PTBNL in the CC Sabathia trade. In hindsight, it looks like the Indians made the right deal with trading Sabathia when they did. We would have received two first-round picks in return for Sabathia walking, but they would have been low enough in the draft that we likely couldn’t have received anyone as productive as LaPorta. Couple that in with a fireballer in Bryson, the PTBNL, and Jackson who has been very solid for us in the last couple months. In the end, Shapiro looks to have made out okay. Fans who were expecting another Colon-type deal were definitely dreaming, as the Expos were looking for any way to go all out that season… deals like that just won’t happen anymore.
For long it has been speculated that the Indians were scouting between two players. The speedy outfielder Michael Brantley who was named the minor leaguer with the best strike-zone discipline in the Brewers system by Baseball America, and the Milwaukee Brewers 2007 MiLB player of the year, third basemen Taylor Green.
Statistically both players put up good seasons, again. Brantley was at AA – Huntsville alongside former teammate Matt LaPorta, and other minor league superstars in the likes of Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel. Green was at High-A Brevard County and showed high enough power to compete in the A+ home run derby, finishing second. The Indians choosing to wait until the end of the season to pick the player ended up being a good plan, as both players were injured for small portions of the season.
Brantley’s stat line is as follows…
In 106 games he batted .319 with 17 2B, 2 3B, and 4 HR with 40 RBI. He also stole 28 bases while only being caught 8 times. The most impressive stat of Brantley’s was that he struck out just 27 times in those 106 games, and walked 50 giving him an OBP of .395. He turned 21 on May 15, and would likely start the season at AAA Columbus if he were the player.
Green’s stat line is as follows…
In 114 games he batted .289 with 19 2B and 15 HR with 73 RBI. He stole 4 bases being caught 2 times. He also showed good plate discipline striking out 59 times, but walking 61 times for a .382 OBP. Green will turn 22 on November 2, and would likely start the year at AA Akron if he were the player.
In my opinion, both are very solid players, but my gut tells me Taylor Green would work better in our system. He reminds me quite a bit of Chase Utley in his swing, and the way he plays the game. If he can’t play 2nd base, then I think we’d have to pass on him. However, if he can indeed play 2nd base, I think he’s our guy hands down. The other players in our system at 2B are Nuiman Romero and Jared Goedert. Goedert broke through last season, but struggled mightily this year at Kinston and will 23 soon. Romero broke through this year, but looked to be playing above his head. Green has had back-to-back very good seasons and would give us some solid offense out of a position we usually don’t get offense from. With our glut of OF in our minor league system, Brantley might be just another face in the crowd.
However, Brantley does bring something to our team that we aren’t used to seeing. He’s a legit leadoff hitter who puts the bat on the ball, draws walks, and doesn’t strike out. I still feel Crowe is a better option than Brantley, but maybe our front office isn’t sold on Crowe and think Brantley would be a good insurance plan.
According to Peter Gammons, the Indians will take Michael Brantley.