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2008 Buffalo Bisons Preview (Part 2)
2008 Buffalo Bisons Preview (Part 2)
Jason Cooper (Outfielder):
The Indians selected Cooper in the 3
round of the 2002 Draft out of Stanford University.
At 6'2" and 210 pounds and a left-handed hitter, Cooper is hanging on by a thread in the organization.
Cooper has very good power, but since a breakthrough campaign in 2003 at Lake County and Kinston when he hit over .300 with 21 HR and 72 RBI, he has struggled to stay consistent and has become more of an organizational player.
This will be Cooper's fifth straight season in Buffalo (third full season), and along the way this year he should set many Buffalo records (or near records) for things such as games played, hits, home runs, RBI and more.
Scott Elarton (Right-handed pitcher):
Elarton, 32, was signed to a minor league contract by the Indians in August last year after being waived by Kansas City, and was resigned this past February to a minor league contract.
Elarton had signed a multi-year deal with the Royals before the 2006 season, but shoulder issues cropped up and he never performed as expected.
Elarton is now strictly a reliever and is transitioning into the role nicely.
Last year at Buffalo, in nine games he was 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA and in seven games this spring was 0-1 with a 1.74 ERA.
Jeff Harris (Right-handed Pitcher):
Harris, 29, was signed in December 2006 to a minor league contract and was re-signed this past November.
Harris is a Quad-A pitcher who has spent virtually his entire career in the minors as he has pitched in only 14 games in the majors while pitching in 411 in the minors.
Last year at Buffalo he was 6-9 with a 4.68 ERA in 27 appearances (22 starts) and owns a career record of 81-48 and a 3.51 ERA in the minors.
Harris will provide veteran leadership to the Bisons staff, and be used as a swing guy where he gets a lot of spot duty as a starter.
Aaron Herr (Third baseman):
The Indians signed Herr, 27, to a minor league contract in December 2007.
Herr is the son of former St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr.
Last year at Triple-A Louisville, Herr hit .274 with 19 HR and 84 RBI in 132 games and finished second in the International League in total bases (237), third in RBI, and 4th in extra base hits (55).
Herr fills an organizational gap at third base in the upper levels and can also play second base.
He will be one of the veteran leaders among position players.
Tom Mastny (Right-handed pitcher):
The Indians acquired Mastny from Toronto in December 2004 in exchange for John McDonald.
Mastny has done nothing but win and put up consistent numbers his entire career in the minors and majors.
In his four year minor league career Mastny is 28-9 with a 2.20 ERA in 111 career games, and in two seasons in the major leagues is 7-3 with a 4.86 ERA in 66 games.
While he lacks an over-powering fastball, Mastny creates good deception with his delivery and arm action and is a strike-thrower.
Mastny lost the battle for the final bullpen spot in Cleveland this spring, and is likely to be the first callup to Cleveland when a need in the bullpen arises.
Eddie Mujica (Right-handed Pitcher):
Mujica was signed by the Indians as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in October 2001.
Mujica features a mid 90s fastball and locates it well, and also has a good mid-to-high 80s slider and a nasty split-fingered fastball he just started throwing a year ago and is still developing.
After breaking through with great seasons in 2005 and 2006, last year Mujica struggled when he was sent back to Buffalo to start the season.
On the year, in 34 appearances at Buffalo he went 2-1 with 14 saves and a 5.02 ERA.
Ryan Mulhern (First Baseman):
Mulhern was taken in the 11
round of the 2003 Draft out of the University of South Alabama.
Last year at Buffalo he hit .290 with 16 HR and 76 RBI.
Mulhern has very good power, but lacks good plate discipline.
For his career, he averages a strikeout every 3.7 at bats and also does not draw a lot of walks.
Last season, the Indians worked with Mulhern on his shaky defense and he responded well to the additional instruction and showed improvement by seasons end.
With Jordan Brown getting the lion's share of playing time at first base, Mulhern is expected to split time in the outfield, first base and at designated hitter.
Rich Rundles (Left-handed pitcher):
Rundles was signed as a minor league free agent in January 2007.
After being a starter for most of his career, when the Indians signed him last year they moved him to the bullpen and he performed well.
In 40 combined appearances at Akron and Buffalo last season, the side-arming Rundles was 5-4 with a 2.21 ERA and in 61 innings allowed 55 hits, 26 walks, and had 48 strikeouts.
Reportedly, Rundles had a great camp with the big league club this spring and may have opened some eyes for a potential callup as a second left-hander in the bullpen at some point.
Brian Slocum (Right-handed Pitcher):
The Indians drafted Slocum in the 2nd round of the 2002 Draft out of Villanova University.
Slocum throws a lively low-to-mid 90s fastball, and compliments it with a changeup and slider.
He has had a hard time staying healthy, most recently last year as he made only five starts at Buffalo (2-2, 4.15 ERA) and then was sidelined with irritation in his elbow in May and never returned.
Slocum has shown the versatility to where he can be a starter or reliever, and will start the season in the Buffalo rotation.
Jeremy Sowers (Left-handed pitcher):
The Indians selected Sowers in the 1
round of the 2004 Draft out of Vanderbilt University.
Sowers enjoyed early success in Cleveland in 2006, but fell on hard times in 2007 and we optioned to Buffalo for most of the second half of last season where he went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts.
Sowers is a former high profile prospect who throws a fastball around 88-92 MPH, but has exceptional command and intelligence on the mound.
Sowers re-found himself as a pitcher late last year, and the Indians want to see him continue to regain his confidence.
He is starting depth being stockpiled in Buffalo.
Rick Bauer (Right-handed pitcher), Yamid Haad (Catcher), Matt Ginter (Right-handed pitcher), Andy Gonzalez (Utility), Danny Sandoval (Shortstop), Jason Tyner (Outfielder).
The final preview of the full season affiliates posts tomorrow on advanced Single-A Kinston.
All photos courtesy of Carl Kline
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