"Minor Happenings" covers the important developments and news in the Indians farm system. Information in this report is collected from the various news outlets that cover each team, some national news, and in some cases from private sources connected to the Indians organization.TheClevelandFan.com Minor League Player of the Week(for games from May 17 through May 23)Shawn Nottingham (LHP - Akron)1-0, 2 starts, 1.32 ERA, 13.2 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 KProbably one of the most consistent pitchers in the Indians system to date that many people do not hear about is Akron left-hander Shawn Nottingham. Nottingham takes home the Player of the Week hardware for the second time this season, and is in the midst of a breakout season. Nottingham's start to the season is starting to make the Ben Broussard deal that Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro pulled off with Seattle last year look like grand larceny. To think the Indians got Shin-Soo Choo and Nottingham for Broussard is stunning, and may turn out to be one of Shapiro's best trades.In his two starts this past week, Nottingham put up outstanding efforts. Here are his pitching lines for both starts:Thursday 5/17: 6.2 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 KTuesday 5/22: 7.0 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K
During bullpen session between starts, Nottingham continues to fine tune his mechanics and has been working on repeating his delivery. Nottingham is a fundamentally sound pitcher with a fastball that sits in the low 90s, and he compliments it with a curveball and changeup. On the year, in eight starts he is 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA and has allowed 39 hits and 22 walks while striking out 32 in 50.2 innings pitched. (By the way, that is my son pictured with Shawn.)Honorable Mention:Asdrubal Cabrera (SS - Akron): .389 AVG (7-18), 4 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SBJ.D. Martin (RHP - Akron): 0-0, 1 start, 0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 KMichael Aubrey (1B - Kinston): .429 AVG (6-14), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIBen Francisco (OF - Buffalo): .435 AVG (10-23), 4 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SBPrevious Winners:5/10 to 5/16: Matt Whitney (1B - Lake County)5/3 to 5/9: Chuck Lofgren (LHP - Akron)4/26 to 5/2: Adam Miller (RHP - Buffalo)4/19 to 4/25: Shawn Nottingham (LHP - Akron)4/12 to 4/18: Jason Stanford (LHP - Buffalo)4/5 to 4/11: Matt McBride (C - Lake County)Director's CutsIndians Farm Director Ross Atkins is in Akron this week taking in the action, and offered these thoughts on some of the players in the Indians system:On Chuck Lofgren- While he is not on pace to match his outstanding statistical season last year when he won 17 games and had a sub-3.00 ERA, he is showing all the signs he showed last year from a projection standpoint. He is an exciting power left-handed arm who is at an advanced level given his age and the fact he is in Double-A.On Shawn Nottingham- He is having a breakthrough season, although if you look at his minor league career he has always been a consistent pitcher. He is "definitely making friends in the organization" with his play to date, especially at 21 years old and already being in Double-A. He has a good delivery, an average fastball, and a good feel for all four of his pitches.On Michael Aubrey- Aubrey's season was delayed because of an unfortunate hamstring injury he suffered at the end of spring training. They took it slow with him in his recovery and didn't push him, and when he was finally 100% running the bases in extended spring training games, they moved him to Kinston this past week. They know he can hit, but it is a matter of him staying healthy.Cabrera Getting OffensiveThe Indians sent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera down a level to Akron this year to work on his issues offensively, and to date he has been the rave down in Akron. Prior to coming to Cleveland in a trade last June for Eduardo Perez, Cabrera had been rushed through the Seattle system, and in fact had skipped Double-A completely. Cabrera's glovework is unquestionably good, but it is his bat which needs the most attention, which is why the Indians started him this year in Akron.Things could not have worked out better for Cabrera, as to date Cabrera is playing at an all-star level not only defensively, but offensively as well. On the season, Cabrera is hitting .324 with six home runs and 20 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and has walked 21 times while striking out only 18 times in 139 at bats. The home runs and stolen base production have been a surprise, as both are career highs and we are barely are only seven weeks into the season. Cabrera's high average and increased extra base hit production is a result of his hard work with his offensive approach, and the stolen bases are a result of him having deceptive speed and being an intelligent baserunner.
More impressive, is his batting average (AVG), on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), and OPS this year compared to his career numbers coming into the season:
2007: .324 AVG, .411 OBP, .532 SLG, and .943 OPSCareer: .273 AVG, .334 OBP, .402 SLG, and .736 OPS
Affiliate NotebookBuffalo Notes- Jason Stanford pitched seven innings in his last start and did not allow a run while allowing XX hits. ... Buffalo infielder Hector Luna committed three errors in Saturday's game, and now has committed 12 errors on the year. ... Buffalo was shutout for the first time on Saturday night. ... Buffalo catcher Mike Rose was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and catcher Yamid Haad was activated from extended spring training. ... Outfielder Ben Francisco is hitting .348 with 3 HR, 13 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and has a .902 OPS in 138 at bats. ... Outfielder Brad Snyder is hitting .280 with 3 HR, 17 RBI, 7 stolen bases, and has a .833 OPS in 107 at bats.Akron Notes- After consecutive starts where he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, left-hander Chuck Lofgren was roughed up on Friday in giving up six runs on 11 hits and five walks in just 3.2 innings pitched. Yuck. ... Five members of the Indians front office were in attendance for Akron's game at Canal Park on Wednesday night, possibly to get a firsthand look at Lofgren who started the game. ... Outfielder Trevor Crowe continues his Joe Charboneau-esque slide and is now hitting .170 with one home run, 15 RBI, and has a .520 OPS in 159 at bats (41 games). He is currently in a 2-for-23 slide and was finally removed from the leadoff spot in the order and moved to the bottom third of the lineup to try and spark him. ... Right-hander Nick Pesco was added to the roster from Buffalo. ... Outfielder Brian Barton is hitting .276 with 4 HR, 23 RBI, 7 stolen bases, and has an .818 OPS in 145 at bats.Kinston Notes- Kinston's seven-game winning streak which was snapped earlier in the week was the longest regular season winning streak for Kinston since they started the 2004 season at 10-0. ... Right-handed pitcher Chris Niesel and infielder Brian Finegan left this week for the Indians spring training complex where they will rehab from their injuries. Niesel is out because of a shoulder impingement, and Finegan has a broken thumb on his left hand and both are expected to be out for another five weeks or so. ... Catcher Max Ramirez is hitting .307 with six home runs, 25 RBI and has a .942 OPS in 127 at bats.Lake County Notes- Right-hander Josh Tomlin may be ready to step into the struggling starting rotation in Lake County. On Saturday, Tomlin made a spot start and went five innings and gave up one run on four hits with no walks and stuckout ten. ... Catcher/First baseman Felipe Garcia retired, and catcher Argenis Tavarez was called up from extended spring training to replace him on the roster. ... Right-handed pitcher Austin Creps was called up from extended spring training and added to the bullpen. ... Outfielder Ramon Hernandez was placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, and Cirilo Cumberbatch was called up from extended spring training to replace him on the roster. ... First baseman Matt Whitney is hitting .318 with 10 HR, 39 RBI, and a .945 OPS in 170 at bats.Parting ShotsBuffalo right-handed reliever Brian Sikorksi was sold to the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League. The Indians have had a working relationship with the Yakult Swallows the past several years, and Sikorski had pitched in Japan for four and half years prior to last season. Sikorski had an 0-1 record and 3.52 ERA with two saves at Buffalo.Akron infielder Shaun Larkin has been on the disabled list all season, but has been a coach in training with the Aeros this year. The Indians approached Larkin about serving in a player/coach role, where he is handling first base coaching duties, sitting in on in-game decisions made by Aeros manager Tim Bogar and his staff, hitting fungoes to infielders in practice, and throwing batting practice.