2019 ended on a down note for the Captains as they fell to the Great Lakes Loons in the 1st round of the Midwest League playoffs. Lake County the lost rubber match of the best of three series. The Loons are the Low A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the same club that Lake County took 3 out of 4 from to start the campaign.
Lake County was one of only two Cleveland Indian minor league teams to qualify for the playoffs, the other being the Triple A Columbus Clippers who have made it past the first round in the International League.
The Captains qualified for the playoffs by securing the wild card spot for the first half in the Eastern Division of the MWL however they struggled to perform as well during the second half.
Rightfully so, the goal of every minor league team and its’ players is to improve and to get promoted up the ‘corporate’ ladder. That indeed happened to Lake County as they lost several of their top performers from the early season like Will Benson, Mitch Reeves and Tyler Freeman who moved on up to Cleveland’s High A team, the Lynchburg Hillcats.
The MVP of the 2019 season is Jose Fermin, the 20 year old from the Dominican Republic. Jose finished his 4th season in the Tribe system after signing as an international free agent in July, 2015.
Fermin played in 109 games, splitting time between 2B (64 Games) and SS (39 games). He batted .291 in 405 AB’s with 118 hits, 76 runs scored and drove in 41. Jose’s 28 stolen bases lead the Captains and he had a .371 OBP.
Daniel Schneeman .286 in 231 AB’s along with 26 Runs Scored and a .367 OBP and Jonathan Engelmann .256 with 10 SB’s and 20 Runs Scored and 21 RBI in 180 AB’s also showed some promise for the Captains.
On the pitching side Zach Draper had an 8-4 record in 25 games with 12 starts. Aaron Pinto was 5-0 with an outstanding 1.14 ERA and 2 Saves before moving over to the Hillcats and continuing his fine season.
Manuel Alvarez lead the team with 9 saves before taking his talents to Lynchburg.
Bo Naylor, the Indians’ 1st round draft pick from last year started slow but at 19 years old and in a tough position like catcher came around to bat .243 for the year and had 11 home runs. Bo also drove in 65 runs while scoring 60 himself. Naylor played in 107 games.
Handling the catching duties and learning to hit even minor league pitching at the age of 19 is tough. As mentioned, Bo came around to hit .243 with those 11 HR’s and he was able to throw out nearly 40% of the baserunners trying to steal. There are always places for catchers in the big leagues.
While only achieving a modest 3-4 record, Eli had a 3.66 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Lingos came out of a strong baseball school in Arizona State and has a quirky pitching stance that has him nearly facing 2nd base. That and being a southpaw will give him the chance to move up within the organization and get an opportunity for someone’s bullpen.
Cause for Concern
A couple of the Captains’ outfielders did not fare as well. Hosea Nelson batted only .206 in 74 games and Quentin Holmes struggled for most of the season finishing at .175. To Holmes’ credit he did steal 23 bases while being caught 9 times but both of them will be hard pressed to remain in the system unless they are able to improve their offense.
Most Power: Will Benson
Best Bat: Jose Fermin
Best Wheels: Will Benson
Best Glove: Cody Farhat
Best Arm (Field): Cody Farhat
Best Control: Cody Morris
Best Stuff: Kellen Rholl
Most Likely to be an MLB Hitter: Bo Naylor
Most Likely to be an MLB Pitcher: Eli Lingos