"Minor Happenings" covers the important developments and news in the Indians farm system. While most of the information in this report is from my own research and through interviews I have conducted with organizational personnel, some information in this report is collected and summarized from the various news outlets that cover each team.
A shorter update today, mostly because things have been hectic of late. I'll chime in with a short piece tomorrow or early in the week on my blog sort of taking a look at the first half of the season and how the system overall is doing and run down how my pre-season Top 20-30 have done so far (by the way, my Indians 2009 Top 100 Prospect book is still available).
Be sure to check out and follow my Twitter page to get up-to-date info as it happens in the Indians minor league system.
In case you missed it, on our radio show Smoke Signals, Paul and I this week talked to 2009 first round pick right-handed pitcher Alex White. We talked for about 15 minutes about where he is in the signing process, his experience in the College World Series, and lots more.
Also, I was in Mahoning Valley on Wednesday, so will have some pictures, video, and a few articles from that visit soon, though I have some stuff from recent visits to Lake County and Akron I have to get out as well. Anyway, I talked to right-handed pitcher Clayton Cook and infielder Jason Smit, so expect future feature pieces on them at some point this season.
I'm off to Columbus today, so hope to see many of you at the game tonight.
Onto the Happenings...
Indians Minor League Player Of The Week(for game from June 18 through June 24)
Nick Weglarz (Outfielder - Akron).429 AVG (9-for-21), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K
After admittedly trying to do too much at the plate in the first month of the season, Double-A Akron outfielder Nick Weglarz has been on fire for the last two months and to date is hitting .265 with 11 HR, 52 RBI, and has a .902 OPS. The numbers really become eye-popping when you look at his numbers since May 1st as he is hitting .327 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in just 49 games over the last two months. Weglarz has also collected 13 doubles in that span, scored 24 runs, and has more walks than strikeouts while notching a .628 slugging percentage.
Weglarz was widely considered one of the Indians top five prospects going into the season (#2 by me), and so far he has lived up to that ranking. Weglarz was at his best in a three-game series against Trenton that concluded earlier this week as he hit .700 (7-for-10) in the series, homered in all three games, drove in eight runs, and collected his first four-hit game of the season Wednesday before becoming just the 12th player in franchise history to draw four walks in a game on Thursday.
Weglarz has collected hits in 12 of his last 14 games and raised his batting average to .265 which is the highest it has been at this season. On the season, he leads Akron and is tied for second in the Eastern League with 52 RBI.
Eric Berger (LHP - Kinston): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 game, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 KNick Kirk (LHP - Mahoning Vy): 2-0, 1.42 ERA, 2 games, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 KJohn Allman (OF - Mahoning Vy): .455 AVG (10-for-22), 3 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 3 KJared Goedert (3B - Akron): .429 AVG (9-for-21), 1 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 KJordan Brown (1B - Columbus): .346 AVG (9-for-26), 1 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 KJuan Aponte (1B - AZL Indians): .462 AVG (6-for-13), 4 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
06/11 to 06/17: Trey Haley (RHP - (Lake County)06/04 to 06/10: Michael Brantley (OF - Columbus)05/28 to 06/03: Donnie Webb (OF - Lake County)05/21 to 05/27: Jordan Brown (1B/OF - Columbus)05/14 to 05/20: Paolo Espino (RHP - Kinston)05/07 to 05/13: Lonnie Chisenhall (3B - Kinston)04/30 to 05/06: Nick Weglarz (OF - Akron)04/23 to 04/29: Matt McBride (1B - Kinston)04/16 to 04/22: Eric Berger (LHP - Kinston)04/08 to 04/15: Kelvin De La Cruz (LHP - Kinston)
First off, Low-A Lake County outfielder Abner Abreu was lost for the season last weekend when he dove for a ball in the outfield and ended up separating his shoulder. He has been put on the disabled list, and they are still evaluating him to determine whether or not he will have surgery on the shoulder. In any case, he is expected to be out the remainder of the season. In 63 games with the Captains, he hit .305 with 7 HR, 30 RBI and had an .839 OPS. The injury is very unfortunate for him as he was really coming into his own, but now the focus is getting him healthy and using his successful first half of the season this year as a building block to next year.
That said, I was able to talk to a scout who has recently seen Lake County play - ironically the night before the injury occurred - and he came away glowing after seeing Abreu play. Those who have been reading Minor Happenings the past year know that Abreu is a guy the Indians are very high on, so it is good to hear it coming from someone from outside the organization with no bias toward the players in the Indians system.
"Seriously, body and actions-wise, at least defensively, he reminds me of when I saw Vladimir Guerrero back when Vlad was in the Eastern League at Harrisburg like a gazillion years ago," said the scout. "Same kind of tall, gangly body, crazy range in right field - he tracked a ball to the right field line to make a huge catch at a crucial time in the game in foul ground, then later glided into the right-center gap to run down a ball that would have gone for extra bases with almost anybody else playing right field. I'm not saying he's Vladdy, but that's who he reminded me of defensively and the fact that he was easily the best player on the field from either side."
The Guerrero comp is interesting as this is the same comp Ross Atkins used about a month back. Now, obviously, they are not saying he is Vladimir Guerrero today, but his tools and physical build really resemble the kind of player Guerrero was back when he was in the minors. And, this is what comps are for, to give people an idea of what a player could become or what he looks like to give a mental picture in their head what the scout is seeing.
The scout went on to talk about the rest of Abreu's game.
"That's what he does - he glides," said the scout. "Glider runner on the bags, but more so in the outfield. He's more raw at the plate, but shows ability to make contact with pitches all over the zone. The speed doesn't play as well on the bases, but he's aggressive as hell in all phases of the game. He's going to get bigger and stronger, which will probably limit the ridiculous range he has now, but should also give him more power. I think he recognizes pitches extremely well at the young age he is now, and that'll get better as he moves up. Just a guy who's obviously dripping with tools."
Get well and see you next year Abner.
Checking In On Meloan, LaPorta
As I mentioned in the intro above, I'll be travelling to Triple-A Columbus tonight, and my hope is that I see right-handed reliever John Meloan get some work. While he has struggled some this season with a 5.79 ERA in 23 appearances, it is still somewhat of a mystery why he is not in Cleveland and has been passed over time and time again by journeyman relievers. According to one scout I spoke to recently: "He has decent stuff, but doesn't command the strike zone well at this time. Since he's not very athletic overall, the adjustments take time. Given his delivery, I trust they are trying to simplify it." I hope to find out more from Columbus Manager Torey Lovullo or Pitching Coach Scott Radinsky while I am there and will report what I find out (if anything).
Another thing to watch tonight in Columbus will be Matt LaPorta and his continued play at first base. Indians Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti and others have been following him around recently to watch him and see him play at first base to evaluate whether or not he can fill the need right now at the major league level. With Mark DeRosa currently in left field and Grady Sizemore back in center field, there are no regular at bats available for LaPorta. The Indians want to get him to Cleveland now, and the only option at the moment to get him there is at first base since they can slide Victor Martinez back to a more full time catching role to relieve the struggling Kelly Shoppach. LaPorta still plays some outfield, but the Indians have really focused on him more at first base lately. To date, in 48 games at Columbus he is hitting .315 with 9 HR, 30 RBI and a .930 OPS.
Indians Bid Adieu To Aubrey
Earlier this week, the Indians traded first baseman Michael Aubrey to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a player to be named later. At Triple-A Columbus Aubrey was hitting .292 (62-for-212) with 27 runs scored, 16 doubles, a triple, 5 HR and 29 RBI in 57 games. In his seven years in the Indians system, the former 2003 first round pick out of Tulane played in 397 games and hit .295 with 53 HR, 260 RBI, and a .831 OPS. He also played in 15 games last year at the major league level, hitting .200 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and a .613 OPS.
A few years back Aubrey was one of the up-and-coming players in the organization, but as it happens to so many injuries are the great equalizer and unknown and they ultimately took him off his perch as a can't miss prospect and made him into just another player. Once considered a gold glove potential defender and an excellent hitter, numerous back and leg injuries from 2004 through 2006 eroded his skills as a hitter and defender and went from potential future big league all star to a depth option in the Indians organization.
With Matt LaPorta and Jordan Brown needing most of the reps at first base, and a spot needed for Stephen Head who has returned from the disabled list this week after a leg injury, the Indians no longer had a place to get Aubrey regular at bats. Aubrey was going to be a six year free agent at the end of the season and would have been lost anyway, and with the focus on LaPorta and Brown at first base in Columbus and potentially getting them up to Cleveland, Aubrey was deemed expendable. This deal likely will not be for a player in return, but just for cash. It also was a good gesture by the Indians to send Aubrey to a team where maybe he may have a better chance to crack the big league roster this year or get regular playing time at Triple-A. Good luck with your new team Michael, and with your future baseball career.
Putnam Hurt, But Not Bad
On Wednesday night, Double-A Akron right-handed reliever Zach Putnam left the game with what was termed as right biceps soreness. He had trouble getting loose while warming up, came into the game in the eighth inning and retired the first batter he faced before allowing a home run, and then departed in the middle of an at-bat with two on and two out.
At this point it is unclear how long he will be out of commission, but he is not expected to be put on the disabled list and will likely just be shut down for a week. This injury is very reminiscent of the one right-hander Hector Rondon suffered in a start on June 4th. When Putnam comes back he will probably be on the same kind of restricted pitch program Rondon has been on for the last two weeks, though being a reliever this means he may be limited to an inning an outing for a few weeks. In 19 combined appearances at Kinston and Akron, he is 3-2 with a 4.94 ERA, and in 47.1 innings has allowed 47 hits, 13 walks, and has 41 strikeouts.
Greenwell A Hit In The Valley
Short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley outfielder Bo Greenwell is off to a good start to his season as in seven games so far he is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with 0 HR, 4 RBI and a .816 OPS. This is his third professional season since being drafted in 2007, but as a high school draft pick he has spent the last few years at the Indians spring training complex working on adapting to the professional game, maturing, and improving his skills and growing physically.
Greenwell is a very good athlete, one who was highly sought after as a quarterback and safety in football by college scouts, but an ACL injury his senior year ended those dreams and instead he focused on baseball. He had a scholarship to the University of Miami lined up before deciding to turn pro and sign with the Indians.
He played first base in high school, but since joining the Indians he has been moved to the outfield and has taken to it well. He still has a ways to go, but because of his above average speed and outstanding work ethic he has become a solid outfielder with a lot of room to grow. At 20-years of age, his game on the offensive side is still growing as well. He plays hard, and though he is not expected to be a big power threat it has improved since he was drafted to where he now can pound the gaps and be an average power hitter down the road. The ball jumps off his bat and he uses the whole field well.
Obviously, with the last name of Greenwell, some may wonder if there is any relation to the former Red Sox all star outfielder Mike Greenwell. Yes, there is, as Bo happens to be his son. His dad Mike was in town last weekend to take in his son's first action as a player at Mahoning Valley, his first experience in a real baseball environment.
Weglarz, Santana Named To Futures Game
Double-A Akron outfielder Nick Weglarz and catcher Carlos Santana will represent the World Team in the 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game as part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Weekend Sunday, July 12th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Last year, third baseman Wes Hodges and outfielder Matt LaPorta played for the U.S. Team and right-hander Hector Rondon pitched for the World Team.
"This is a very prestigious honor for both myself and Carlos," Weglarz shortly after receiving the good news he and his teammate were selected. "It's one of the biggest honors I've received personally, along with playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics."
Santana, rated by many as the #1 prospect in the Cleveland minor league system, was the centerpiece of the Casey Blake trade between the Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 27, 2008. The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was named the California League MVP last season despite only playing 99 games prior to the trade. In 130 games total with Inland Empire, Kinston and Akron, Santana batted .326 with 21 home runs, 39 doubles and 117 RBI, which ranked second in all of minor league baseball.
This season Santana is batting .263 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI, and leads the Aeros with a .401 on-base percentage and a .507 slugging percentage. He is tied for first in the league with 46 runs scored and tied for fifth in home runs, and his 50 walks are the most in the Eastern League and the seventh-most in minor league baseball. Santana has also been tremendous defensively, as he has thrown out 35% of opposing base stealers and the Aeros are 32-15 when he starts behind the plate.
Weglarz's very good season so far has already been touched on above, but this is yet another prestigious honor being thrown his way. The big redhead from Canada has really taken off of late in Akron, and we are starting to see performance as well as projection from him and there is no telling how impressive of a season he could end up having. Triple-A Columbus Manager Torey Lovullo has also been selected to be a coach on the US Team.
High-A Kinston third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall got Tuesday's All-Star game festivities off with a bang, defeating five other sluggers to take the All-Star Home Run Derby before the Carolina League vs. California League All Star Game. Chisenhall is the first player to win the contest since current Cleveland Indian Chris Gimenez won it in 2007. Chisenhall was also the Carolina League's starting third baseman in the game and kept the bat going with a single in his first at bat, finishing 1-for-3 on the night.
The Carolina League fell to the California League in Tuesday night's All-Star game 2-1 in 10 innings. In addition to Chisenhall, the other two players who were part of Kinston's All-Star trio shined brightly. Second baseman Cord Phelps drove in the only Carolina League run in the game with an RBI grounder (he reached on an error) in the top of the eighth inning and finished the night 0-for-2. In a game dominated by pitchers, left-hander Eric Berger pitched a scoreless third inning, giving up no hits, walking one and striking out none.
In the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, the Indians Low-A affiliate Lake County sent two players to the contest in second baseman Karexon Sanchez and right-handed pitcher Alexander Perez. Sanchez and Perez helped guide the Northern Division to an 8-7 victory over the Southern Division. Sanchez was named the game's MVP after he went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Perez was roughed up in his one inning of work, yielding three runs on three hits, no walks, and one strikeout.
After the flurry of signings following the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, things have cooled down on the signings front since the rosters for the short season leagues at Mahoning Valley and Arizona have been filled. The Indians are still actively trying to sign players, but most are summer draft-and-follows that they plan to watch play this summer and then try to sign near the August 15th signing deadline. Dennis Nosco will have an update tomorrow on my blog on what some of the guys who have yet to sign are up to and where they are playing this summer.
Here is a quick rundown of the signings from the past week:
- 7th round pick OF Jordan Henry (Ole Miss)- 13th round pick RHP Jeremy Johnson (Washington St)- 17th round pick OF Casey Frawley (Stetson U)- 18th round pick C Dwight Childs (Arizona)- 26th round pick RHP Antwonie Hubbard (Oklahoma)- Undrafted free agent LHP Ryan Anthony (Emporia St)- Undrafted free agent infielder Dan DeGeorge (Princeton)
17 of their top 19 picks have signed, and the only unsigned in the top 19 are 1st rounder RHP Alex White and 2nd rounder OF Jason Kipnis, though talks are already underway with both or will begin shortly. White is expected to be a late signing, though Kipnis could be signed, sealed and delivered soon. We will try and get Kipnis on our radio show this coming week or the following week.
Columbus Notes (34-41, 3rd place, 6.5 GB): Through the first 11 games of June, first baseman Jordan Brown hit .175 (7-for-40) without any multi-hit games to bring his average down to .300 on June 14th (his lowest since hitting .222 on April 14th). In the 12 games since, Brown is hitting .375 (18-for-48) with four multi-hit games and is back in the top 10 in the International League in hitting at 6th (.316). He also ranks 4th in hits (78) and 3rd in doubles (20). ... On Thursday night outfielder Michael Brantley stole at least two bases in a game for the third time this season. He now has successfully attempted 12 straight steals, and he ranks tied for 2nd in the league with 25 steals, two behind Louisville's Drew Stubbs for the lead. Of the four players in the league with at least 20 steals, Brantley's 92.6% success rate is the best. On the season he is hitting .259 with 3 HR, 22 RBI and a .677 OPS. ... Catcher Wyatt Toregas is quietly having a solid season in Columbus, and really could figure into the Indians backup catcher plans soon if Kelly Shoppach is traded before the July 31st deadline or this offseason. Toregas is a very good defensive catcher, but he has been very consistent at the plate all season hitting .282 with 6 HR, 21 RBI and a .792 OPS. ... On Thursday, the Clippers had two relievers receive a blown save (Frank Herrmann and Masa Kobayashi) for the second time this season (4/20, Ryan Edell and John Meloan). It was the Clippers' first blown save in nearly a month (5/27 Kobayashi), and they are now 2-5 when not converting a save opportunity and their nine blown saves which rank 3rd in the league. ... Left-hander Chuck Lofgren has been very good with the Clippers so far. He's eating innings, having gone six or more inning four times, and he has pitched even better than his numbers show. In six starts he is 2-4 with a 4.71 ERA and in 36.1 innings has allowed 39 hits, 11 walks, and has 21 strikeouts.
Akron Notes (48-23, 1st place, 8.0 GU): Last night (Friday), right-hander Hector Rondon delivered 5.2 innings of two-hit baseball for his first win since May 25th, and in his past three starts has now worked 14.1 consecutive scoreless frames with just six hits and three walks while recording 13 strikeouts. On the season in 14 appearances (12 starts) he is now 7-4 with a 2.59 ERA and in 66.0 innings has allowed 56 hits, 15 walks, and has 65 strikeouts. ... Left-hander Ryan Edell is another guy who is quietly putting together a solid season. He has thrown two straight quality starts and has a quality start in four of his last six starts. In 10 starts for the Aeros, he is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA and in 49.1 innings has allowed 47 hits, 13 walks and has 52 strikeouts. He has rebounded well from his short stint early in the season in the Columbus bullpen where in nine appearances there he was 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA (14.1 IP, 23 H, 5 BB, 15 K). ... Right-handed reliever Carlton Smith has been very hot of late. The native of Piscataway, New Jersey has run his scoreless streak to 14.0 consecutive innings spanning his past seven outings. In 18 appearances out of the bullpen, he is 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA and in 43.1 innings has allowed 39 hits, 13 walks, and has 23 strikeouts. He also has a better than 4:1 ratio of groundouts to fly outs this month. ... With the victory yesterday, Akron remained in a tie for the best record in professional baseball this season and the team is in line for the best season in recent Eastern League history. Thursday's game marked the halfway point in the season, and the Aeros are on pace to win a franchise-record 96 games. The last team in the Eastern League to win 96 games was Reading in 1983, although Akron would have to win 97 games to surpass Harrisburg's .681 winning percentage in 1993. On the individual side, Nick Weglarz (52 RBI) and closer Vinnie Pestano (21 saves) also are on pace to break the record-setting 2008 seasons of Wes Hodges (97 RBI) and Randy Newsom (28). ... Right-handed reliever Steven Wright is 5-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 18 combined appearances between Akron and Columbus. In 46.2 innings he has allowed 43 hits, 11 walks, and has 34 strikeouts. ... Catcher Carlos Santana is hitting .268 with 11 HR, 47 RBI and a ,914 OPS. He still has an incredible 50 walks to 35 strikeout ratio.
Kinston Notes (0-2, 4th place, 2 GB, 27-43 overall): At the start of play on May 10th, Kinston was 17-13 and in first place in the Southern Division of the Carolina League. Since then, they have been decimated by promotions, injuries, and poor performances and have gone an astonishing 10-30. ... Left-hander Russell Young had a solid performance on Sunday, his third straight quality outing, and in the process he earned his first win of the season. He managed to go a season high 6.2 innings and allowed two runs on five hits, one walk, and had five strikeouts. In 13 combined appearances between Kinston and Lake County, he is 1-4 with a 5.31 ERA and in 61.0 innings has allowed 70 hits, 15 walks, and has 42 strikeouts. ... Outfielder Roman Pena returned to action on Thursday night, going 1-for-4 in the game. He had been out since going on the disabled list on May 15th with a hand injury. On the season he is hitting .254 with 2 HR, 15 RBI and a .745 OPS. ... Highly touted right-handed starter Bryce Stowell has had a rough go of it since coming to Kinston about a month ago. In five starts he is now 0-4 with a 6.61 ERA, and in 16.1 innings has allowed 17 hits, 10 walks and has 16 strikeouts. ... Right-handed relievers Santo Frias and Dave Roberts were recently promoted from Lake County to Kinston.
Lake County Notes (2-0, 1st place, 0.0 GU, 33-36 overall): Left-hander T.J. House has been on a roll the past month. He has allowed two runs or less in all of his last seven starts covering 39.1 innings, and has allowed 31 hits, 7 earned runs, 11 walks, and has 35 strikeouts during that span. Amazingly, even with how effective he has been during this stretch (1.60 ERA) he is only 1-3. On the season, in 14 starts House is 2-7 with a 2.64 ERA (75.0 IP, 62 H, 24 BB, 63 K). Hitters are only batting .224 against him and he has allowed just two home runs. ... Right-hander Alexander Perez is 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 starts. In 71.2 innings he has allowed 54 hits, 19 walks and has 72 strikeouts. So far in June in four starts he is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, allowing just 5 walks while striking out 30 in 24.0 innings and holding batters to a .133 average. ... Right-handed reliever Matt Langwell has had a very nice season coming out of the Captains bullpen. In 22 appearances he is 0-2 with a 2.23 ERA and in 32.1 innings has allowed 29 hits, 12 walks, and has 39 strikeouts good for a 10.9 K/9 rate. ... Not to be out done, right-handed closer Steve Smith has also had a good year to date and is 2-2 with 11 saves and a 3.08 ERA in 22 appearances. In 26.1 innings he has allowed 25 hits, 7 walks, and has 35 strikeouts good for a 12.0 K/9 rate. ... Another reliever, right-hander Eddie Burns, has also had a very good season. In 12 appearances he is 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA, and in 24.1 innings has allowed 26 hits, 6 walks, and has 33 strikeouts good for a 12.2 K/9 rate.
Mahoning Valley Notes (6-2, 1st place, 1.0 GU): Like many other Scrappers, 2009 8th round pick right-hander Cory Burns made his professional debut earlier in the past week. Being new to the system, somewhat surprising has been his Luis Tiant-like delivery where he hesitates with his back completely showing to home plate before following through and firing the ball. The delivery creates some deception to where it disrupts the hitter and can throw off their timing. It has been effective for him, though he was roughed up last night. In three relief appearances he is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA (5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K). ... Left-hander Ryan Anthony only lasted three innings in his start on Wednesday giving up two runs on five hits, two walks and had two strikeouts. He was an undrafted free agent signing out of Emporia State (KS), and may just be filler until some of the other recent arms from the 2009 draft make it to The Valley. His fastball was only topping out at 81 MPH on Wednesday and it consistently sat in the 78-80 MPH range. Yeah, that's not gonna keep him employed professionally long. ... Second baseman Lurvin Basabe is only 19-years old and as a result is a little young and reckless. The Indians are working with him on how to play under more control as the game at times does speed up on him. He's one of their Latin prospects they like, and to date in eight games is hitting .300 with 0 HR, 3 RBI and a .767 OPS. ... Right-hander Marty Popham returned to action on Tuesday night after a bout of strep throat kept him from making his start on opening night. He rebounded well, and toss five strong innings allowing just one run on six hits, one walk, and had four strikeouts. ... On Monday, the Scrappers' 18-inning scoreless streak was snapped in the sixth inning.
Arizona League Indians Notes (3-2, 3rd place, 1.0 GB) and Dominican Summer League Notes (8-16, 11th place, 9.0 GB): For those wondering why big left-hander Elvis Araujo has not made an appearance yet for the Arizona League Indians, well I have bad news which explains why. Apparently, he has a left elbow strain and has been shutdown. No word on how serious it is, but "elbow strains" are always something to be very concerned about. Get well Elvis. .... Another young prospect who is missing from the scene in Arizona is the young defensive gem at shortstop Kevin Fontanez who is out with a lower back strain. He could be back in action sometime in July. ... Right-handed reliever Carlos Moncrief has been dominating in his two appearances going 3.1 shutout-hitless innings and allowed one walk while piling up 10 strikeouts. ... Keep an eye on right-hander Francisco Valera in Arizona. I saw him pitch a few times in spring training and like what I saw. In two appearances so far in Arizona he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (6 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K). ... Out in the DSL, catcher Alex Monsalve - a big signing last year - is hitting .316 with 0 HR, 11 RBI and a .761 OPS in 19 games. ... Remember third baseman Kelvin Diaz? Well, as reported back in the spring his visa issues were not cleared up and likely never would, and apparently the Indians gave up on him as he is missing from the DSL roster.