Prospects Impressive In 'Minor' Matchups
Justin Masterson ... too many walks.
Justin Masterson ... too many walks.
Indians Ink
Posted Mar 24, 2010


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A dozen pitchers registered 90 mph or more on the radar gun during intrasquad games on the minor-league fields today. Justin Masterson came down from the Indians' big-league camp to get in some work and pitched five fair innings for Triple-A Columbus against Double-A Akron. Lefties Kelvin De La Cruz and Nick Hagadone and right-handers Alexander Perez and Joe Gardner impressed.

Masterson, already named to the Tribe rotation by manager Manny Acta, averaged 90 mph for his 92 pitches, which was way too many for only five innings. The right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of 20 batters faced -- but what good is getting ahead of hitters if you go on to walk five, as Masterson did.

He gave up three hits and two runs, striking out two as he continues to work on maintaining his delivery. When Masterson is locked in, he is very, very impressive. When he isn't, he is the reincarnation of Jason Davis.

Tom Mastny, back with the Tribe after a year in Japan, worked two scoreless innings. He was 5-for-9 on first-pitch strikes with a top speed of 88. He looks about the same as when he was with the Indians in 2007 and 2008. He needs to have pinpoint command of his breaking ball to be effective.

Frank Herrmann topped out at 93 mph in his one scoreless inning.

Akron won the game, 3-2. Brian Bixler went 2-for-2 with two walks, Nick Weglarz was 1-for-2, a double, and Jose Constanza 1-for-1 to lead the Columbus offense.

For Akron, Donnie Webb was 3-for-3, with a double, triple, run, two RBI and a stolen base. The fleet outfielder has been very impressive all spring. Matt McBride went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI for the Aeros.

Hector Rondon, as usual, threw strikes. He went 16-for-18 on first pitches in the zone, but he gave up six hits and four runs over three innings. The right-hander hit 92 on the gun and needed 72 pitches, so after getting ahead, he tended to nibble and made too many pitches overall, walking two.

Zach Putnam topped out at 92 and was very efficient in three scoreless innings. He walked one and gave up one hit, fanning one, going 7-for-12 on first-pitch strikes and using only 34 pitches total.

Mike Gosling was 6-for-7 on first-pitch strikes and gave up two hits with one strikeout over two innings. The strikeout was a slow breaking ball on the outside corner that made Beau Mills look foolish in flailing at it.

Kinston beat Lake County, 5-2, in a game that featured some stylish pitching by Hagadone, Perez and De La Cruz.

Hagadone worked three hitless innings, walking two and fanning three. He was 7-for-10 on first-pitch strikes, made 48 pitches, and topped out at 92 mph from a smooth and effortless motion.

De La Cruz was 10-for-17 on first-pitch strikes and gave up two hits and two runs (one earned) over four innings. He worked into and out of jams. He walked speedy Jordan Henry and after Cord Phelps followed with a single, seemed to get rattled by Henry's long leads off second base. He continually stepped off, threw to the bag, and made one overthrow into center, though Henry did not advance because he had slid back, expecting a tag.

De La Cruz got Abner Abreu to hit into a double play, the got Nate Recknagel on a called third strike with a back-breaking curve across the outside corner.

At one point, Perez struck out the side on 10 pitches. The right-hander averaged 90 mph for 45 pitches over three innings, losing his command a little. He allowed three hits, one walk and one run, striking out four and topped out at 91 mph.

Gardner, the Indians' third-round pick a year ago, was quite impressive. He threw a 94-mph fastball with good sink. He was 7-for-11 in first-pitch strikes, averaged 91 mph for 49 pitches and allowed only three hits with two strikeouts over three innings.

Gardner has little windup and comes at hitters a bit from the side. He looks like a future setup man, but John Mirabelli, the Indians' VP of scouting, says they will look at him as a starter.

"He throws in the mid-90s with sink," Mirabelli said. "That's very good. We'll try to stretch him out and see if he can handle a starting role. He started in college. Now, he may become a reliever at some point down the road, but for now, we think he can be a very good rotation guy."

Omar Aguilar worked one hitless inning, topping out at 90 mph and going 3-for-4 on first-pitch strikes.

Brian Grening showed a mean curve, fanning two, but allowing two hits and one run over one inning.

Nick Kirk had good command, but got hit. He was 5-for-6 on first-pitch strikes, but yielded four hits and three runs over one inning -- reaching only 86 mph on the gun.

Casey Frawley played third base for Kinston and went 3-for-3 with a double, triple and run. He's got a short stroke that gets line drives. Don't expect much power from him, but he makes solid contact.

Chris Kersten connected for a long homer to left off Perez and shortstop Kevin Fontanez was 2-for-3 for Kinston.

Mahoning Valley defeated a team of Cincinnati Reds prospects 9-2. Delvi Cid was 2-for-5 with a triple, two runs and two RBI; Doug Pickens 2-for-4 with a double, triple, two runs and one RBI to lead the offense.

Travis Turek was the most impressive of six pitchers used by Scrappers manager Travis Fryman. Turek topped out at 94 mph, was 5-for-6 on first-pitch strikes and needed only 17 pitches overall in two perfect innings.

Bryan Price, Matt Langwell and Mike Pontius all hit 92 mph for the Scrappers.



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