Aaron Laffey has adjusted to Double-A fairly well. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Today, we take a look at some of the arms the Indians currently have at Double-A.
- The Indians, blessed with an excellent collection of young arms in their system, have another one on their hands in 21-year-old lefty Aaron Laffey. Despite being just a 16th round pick out of high school in 2003, Laffey has moved through the Cleveland system fairly quickly. He began the season at High-A Kinston, going 4-1 through 10 games (four starts), with one save. Laffey did not allow a single home run and walked just six through 41 1/3 IP, a nice combination. Promoted to Double-A Akron, Laffey has been used exclusively as a starter with the Aeros, going 3-2, 4.04, through nine starts and 55 2/3 IP, with 14 walks against 30 strikeouts. His adjustment to Double-A has been fairly smooth until a start last weekend when Laffey was shellacked for eight runs (seven earned) and a dozen hits in just 5 1/3 IP.
- Another Indian hurler in Double-A, Jim Ed Warden, has proved to be effectively wild this season. Cleveland’s sixth round pick in 2001, the 6′7″ righty was shifted to relief full time in 2004. This year, in a closer by committee approach at Akron, Warden has saved five games, going 1-1 with just 20 hits allowed and 35 Ks in 38 IP. But he’s walked 24, and that’s going to ultimately stall the progress of the now 27-year-old.
- He may not be a top prospect, but what a name. Edward “Bubbie” Buzhachero is excelling in his second season at the Double-A level. Thanks mostly to a severely reduced home run rate (just one long ball in 51 IP), Buzhachero is showing he’ll soon be ready to move up the ladder. The 25-year-old righty is 6-3, 2.45 through 30 games with four saves and just 19 walks allowed. Buzhachero was originally selected by the Jays, 686th overall, in the 2002 draft, and in January he was dealt to Cleveland in the trade that sent Brian Tallet to Toronto.
- As far as the offense at Akron goes, the team received some bad news recently as it looks like first baseman Michael Aubrey is done for the year. Since Aubrey was taken by the Indians with the 11th overall pick in 2003, it’s been one injury after the other. He’s still just 24, so there’s hope yet for the former Tulane star, but to date Aubrey has been a huge bust thanks to seemingly unrelenting health issues. What’s knocked him out this time is a right knee injury sustained in May when he slid into second base. The injury is just not improving and he still can’t put any weight on it. Diagnosed now as a surface fracture of his knee joint, Aubrey’s ailment will keep him on the shelf a minimum of 12 weeks. Let’s hope he’s healthy enough to play in the Arizona Fall League as it would be a shame if Aubrey, one of the purest hitters from the 2003 draft, fails to deliver on his potential.
- With the parent club, righty reliever Fausto Carmona is moving up the depth chart. He’s now tossed eight straight appearances without surrendering an earned run and since May 20, has trimmed almost a full run off his ERA, down to 3.89. The recent hot streak has earned him more responsibility as a set-up man. Remember, this kid was a top starter in the minors, so there are still questions about where he’ll ultimately wind up. But one thing is for certain: Carmona has opened a lot of eyes in the Cleveland organization this year and has begun to garner Fantasy attention. He’s being scooped up in most AL-only leagues and is even starting to get picked up in deeper mixed leagues. If the Indians make a move at the deadline, or deal one of their starters this offseason, Carmona will move back into the rotation. But another option that’s being floated is that he could ultimately become a closer. Manager Eric Wedge said that he could see that as a possibility and even suggested that should Bob Wickman be unavailable, he hopes to get Carmona a chance to try his hand at closing.
- In other news, Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco drove in three runs tonight to help the Tigers maintain their dominance of the Royals. (Not to take anything away from Detroit winning 11 straight over the Royals, but my slo-pitch team recently beat the Royals in a sparsely attended game that received very little media attention.) Polanco hasn’t exactly been batting at his near-league-leading performance like last season, but with 35 RBI, he’s on pace to pass the 65-RBI mark for the first time in his career.