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10.12.2010

Season Wrap-Up 2010: Lake County Captains

Nino Colla | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
LAKE COUNTY CAPTAINS
Level: Low Class A
League: Midwest (Eastern Division)
Finish: 77-62 Overall (44-25 1st Half Champions, 33-37 2nd Half)
Playoffs: Won Midwest League Championship

POTY Feathers: SP Matt Packer


Packer W/LC: 8-5, 13 GS, 95 IP, 1.60 ERA, 92/13 SO/BB, 0.94 WHIP
Packer Overall: 9-7, 18 GS, 132 IP, 2.04 ERA, 123/22 SO/BB

Matt Packer didn't pitch must last season, in fact he only made five appearances for the Scrappers after being drafted in the 32nd round out of Virginia.

But this season, Packer debuted in Lake County's bullpen and soon enough, he was dominating in the rotation. Packer put on a show for Lake County while he was a Captain and the left-handed ended up being so dominant, the Indians moved him to Akron rather than Kinston.

At first it was out of need, but Packer showed that the move to Double-A wasn't too much too soon and he finished the year with the Aeros.

But with the Captains, he made 13 starts and was lights out. He showed great control and helped the Captains to their fast start.

OVERVIEW

The Lake County Captains made their Midwest League debut and boy was it something. In their first half of action, the Captains sprinted out to a commanding lead.

Unfortunately, that lead evaporated, not so much because of the Captains, but the hot-streak of Great Lakes. The Loons caught Lake County and made a bid to ruin the Captains first half by taking away the title and automatic playoff spot. The Captains went on a three game win streak to end the first half however and took home the first half title.

The Loons carried that hot-streak into the second half while the Captains fell back thanks to the promotions of a few important pieces like Chun Chen, Jeremie Tice, Bo Greenwell, Austin Adams, Marty Popham, and Packer.

But the Captains caught fire when it mattered most and when the playoffs rolled around, they had a few reinforcements of their own and they marched on to the Midwest League Championship series. They started by winning the three game series against West Michigan, clinching the series on home turf.

Then they welcomed in juggernaut Great Lakes for a big time Eastern Division heavyweight series. After dropping the first game at home, the Captains did the improbable and went on the road to win the final two games and advance to the championship.

The Captains and LumberKings of Clinton went back in forth until gave five where the Captains clinched their first Midwest League title with a 3-1 victory. Not bad for their first season in the league.

As always, the Captains did it with pitching. They carried the third best team ERA in the Midwest League and were tops in team WHIP. Their offense left much to be desired, but the Captains have always been a team that had more stellar pitching prospects than hitting prospects and this year was no exception, especially in the second half.

PITCHING

The pitching was good all year, regardless of who the club put in the rotation or the bullpen. They started with names like Austin Adams, Marty Popham, Trey Haley, and Clayton Cook, but ended with the likes of Giovanni Soto and Jason Knapp.

Trey Haley, Clayton Cook, and Brett Brach

This threesome pretty much stuck around in the rotation for the entire season. Haley made the most starts, but due to his continued control issues, didn't lead the club in innings pitched. Haley was probably the one down spot of a pitching staff that was very good.

He's still young and still trying to figure things out, but year two in Lake County has left much to be desired. In 10 more starts his ERA actually went up and he carried a very concerning 1.79 WHIP. The Indians paid a big price to get Haley to sign out of high school, so they most certainly would have liked to see him make this his last year in Lake County with positive results. The good news is it was believed that being in Lake County last year was a rush, but still, with a year already under his belt, you'd expect more.

Cook and Brach meanwhile were a part of that Mahoning Valley four-some of 2009 that was so good and they continued their progression. Cook's season ended on a down note with an injury but he was one of the anchors to the Captains rotation all season. He had a below .500 record, but he held hitters to a .244 average and in 118 innings he boasted a 3.35 ERA

Brach was just as good and he too suffered through the lack of offense with a below .500 record. But in 119 innings he struck out 90 hitters and had a 3.46 ERA in 22 starts.

Giovanni Soto

The Indians traded Jhonny Peralta to kick off their deadline deals and in return they received one of their future playoff opponent's crown jewels, Giovanni Soto. The former Tiger prospect was lock down for the White Caps going 6-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts.

It was a rougher transition when Soto came over to Eastlake but he showed a lot on the mound that isn't seen in the stat sheet. He's a projectable young arm with a lot of upside and he gave the Captains valuable innings down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Jason Knapp


Last season, Jason Knapp made four starts for the Captains after coming over in the Cliff Lee deal. Knapp was injured and at the end just completely shutdown for surgery.

This season he spent most of his time rehabbing from surgery and he actually made more starts for the Rookie League squad in Arizona than he did for the Captains in the regular season. However when Knapp arrived in Lake County, he was downright dominant. In 16 innings he struck out 29 hitters... Yes he almost doubled his innings pitched with strikeouts. Freak.

Knapp was big time in the playoffs for the Captains as well and it would seem as if he is ready to take on a new challenge in Kinston next season.

Francisco Jimenez

The Captains wins leader was none other than Francisco Jimenez who won eight and lost just one game. The lefthander has spent a few years in the system after signing with the club out of the Dominican Republic.

Jimenez was a workhorse reliever for the Captains, not only winning games but showing a great ability to get the strikeout.

Jose Flores and Preston Guilmet

The majority of the closing duties after Cory Burns' promotion belonged to Jose Flores and Preston Guilmet. Flores carried an impressive 2.14 ERA through 28 appearances and he struck out 51 hitters through 42 innings. The Venezuelan product is still young and one of the lesser talked about arms within the organization.

Preston Guilmet has made the transition from starter with the Scrappers to reliever for the Captains. In 30 games he carried a 2.25 ERA and down the stretch became the go-to-go in the ninth and even eighth inning for Ted Kubiak. Guilmet saved 11 games and was downright nasty striking out 79 hitters in 52 innings of work.

Vidal Nuno

One of the other pieces of that great Scrappers team in 2009 was 48th round pick Vidal Nuno. The lefty played a big part in the club's postseason success this year as well.

Nuno was part of the cavalry for the Captains that was needed when call-ups occurred. He switched between starter and reliever but the majority of his work came in the rotation where he was much better. In the end he finished with a 6-8 record and a 4.96 ERA, but he still racked up the strikeouts and was a productive arm.

POSITION PLAYERS

As is the case with most Captains teams, their success is largely due to their pitching. And while that was certainly the case again this year, the club sent some very talented hitting prospects to Kinston after a quick start that was largely due to some potent offense. Still there were some key offensive players for this club that were there from start to finish, they just aren't the high-end major league potential players that the club lost early.

Delvi Cid

Last year, Cid was one of the players I highlighted in this Lake County review and this year he is back with a full season under his belt. Cid is pure speed and some would say that's how he gets his stolen bases, rather than being a smart and heady base stealer. At this level, you can't argue with that idea.

But 71 stolen bases led the entire universe! Eury Perez was the next closest in all of the minor leagues with 64 for Hagerstown in the Sally League and Juan Pierre was the closest major leaguer with 68 in Chicago. Cid has some serious speed and even though that's probably what a majority of his stolen bases came off of, that's special.

Cid's on-base percentage isn't exactly anything to write home about for a guy hitting at the top of the lineup, but he scored 83 runs and hit .253, which isn't too terribly bad.

Adam Abraham and Casey Frawley

Frawley and Abraham settled in for the Captains and were two of the more important parts of the middle of the lineup. Casey was a 17th round pick last year and Adam was a 13th round out of Michigan back in 2008. This was Abraham's second year in Lake County, playing ten more games and showing a significant boost in his numbers.

Frawley is the more remarkable situation as he's a shortstop that does a little bit of everything. If you could probably pick one player on offense as an MVP, it would most likely be Frawley. He knocked in a team high 74 runs and tied the team lead in home runs with 13. He shows some great extra-base abilities with 25 additional doubles and 9 triples.

Abraham was tied with Frawley and Chris Kertsen for the team lead in home runs, but while he didn't have as many extra base hits as Frawley, he showed some great discipline at the plate. Abraham only struck out 75 times compared to 34 walks and he had a respectable .330 on base number.

Abraham's versatility was going to keep him in the organization for awhile, but if he can put up some decent numbers, he may continue to move up and help some teams out.

Frawley meanwhile could have a lot of potential worth watching. He hit .326 in the postseason for the Captains after a second half in which he struggled. His average and doubles dipped while his homers and strikeouts went up, so perhaps he fell in love with hitting for more power. But he is one worth keeping an eye on.

Roberto Perez

You will look at the .217 average, six home runs and 38 RBI and say to yourself.... Damn

But Roberto Perez had a decent season at the plate. That may sound a little crazy, but Perez's value isn't his offense.

His value is his defense, which is simply some of the best defense in the organization. He's probably the best defensive catcher the club has in the organization and the good thing is, he's still progressing, so give him a chance.

Perez is still 21 years old, so he's green and has room to grow as a hitter, but while he hit only .217, that makes his on-base percentage all the more remarkable. A guy that hit just .217 also had a on-base percentage of .360... .360!!! With a horrible average, that is downright amazing. He struck out 88 times, but had only eight less walks.

If Perez can work on upping his average even just slightly and still maintain that great eye for the walk, he'll increase his value.

Argenis Martinez and Kyle Smith

Argenis Martinez and Kyle Smith look like nothing more than reserve middle infielders. Martinez is still young, so there is time and perhaps another season in Lake County will do him good.

But it was a little rough for him at the plate this season. Smith meanwhile was a little better, but he's a little older. Smith knocked in 24 runs this season and scored 31. He struck out near 100 times in 353 at-bats.

Martinez struck out 79 times and hit .219. He did steal 22 bases, but he get caught nine times. If anything there is hope in Martinez that along with being young, he was like Perez in the aspect of carrying a good on-base percentage despite not hitting very well.

Greg Folgia

Greg Folgia is interesting. He hit .230 this season in 104 games a year after hitting .272 for the Scrappers in 65. He had a very impressive 33 walks with a .383 on-base percentage last season, but this year, he only beat that walk number by two.

He doesn't show much pop with just six home runs and his speed is minimal.

What Folgia does do really well is defense. He was one of the better outfielders and has a great arm, which is why he patrols right field.

Hey may not be much of a hired gun offensively, but Folgia is a nice defensive depth player for the organization to have around.

Jason Smit

The Aussie survived a spring in which he was on the fence in terms of staying around and a few years of short-season teams, Smit got an opportunity with Lake County. He battled through some injuries, but he did play in 86 games and he did hit eight home runs. He is carrying some decent numbers for how much he played, but injuries continue to be the name of the game for him.

He's going to strike out a lot and with some of the pop he shows, moving him to the outfield was probably the best move for him and the organization.

Chris Kersten and Ben Carlson

Ben and Chris aren't guys who stand much of a chance at being with the club next year, if that, playing a major role. But they are good guys and an experience such as winning a league title has to be rewarding for players like them who will probably spend a few years in baseball before moving onto other things.

The club drafted Carlson in the sixth round, Kersten in the 33rd last year. Well wait, Carlson was a sixth rounder, Kersten may have been a 33rd rounder, but he hit 16 home runs this year!

Problem, they're playing in Lake County and Kersten will be 25 next season, Carlson 23. They're a bit older for this level and neither played a huge part in the Captains' success. Carson hit .171 in 73 games a year after he hit just .228 in 62 for the Scrappers last year. He's looking like a major reach in the sixth round while Kersten, despite the 16 home runs between Lake County and Kinston, may just be an older player taking advantage.

Both good guys, both contributed, Kersten a little more than Carlson, but neither stand to do much with the Indians in the future.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Usually you can look at Mahoning Valley and see what kind of team the Captains will field next year. Last year a lot of those Scrappers infused Lake County and a big reason for them winning the Midwest League was due to some of those draft picks in 2009.

Don't look at Mahoning Valley and think 2011 will be rough for the Captains. The Indians had a stellar draft and a lot of their picks signed late, so not only does that mean the Captains will get some of the higher-end talent that has yet to debut, they'll get some players that quite aren't ready to make a move to Kinston yet.

They may not see Drew Pomeranz, but having a pitching staff with Kyle Blair, Cole Cook, and maybe a few of the higher-tiered Latin prospects isn't out of the question.




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