Minor Matters: Any Help On Farm?

The Indians have their worst record at the all-star break in 19 years. Cleveland's 34-54 record is its worst since being 26-53 at the break in 1991. The Indians finished 57-105 that year and had one All-Star, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. This year, right-hander Fausto Carmona is the club's only representative on the American League team. Can Carmona and this downtrodden Tribe become contenders soon?

Remember that Alomar was one of the key parts to a building club that went to the World Series in 1995 and may have made it a year earlier if not for the player's strike that halted the 1994 season. That ushered in the greatest prolonged era of success in Cleveland baseball history -- six division titles in seven years.

The organization doesn't appear to have any players with the power production of Albert Belle, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, nor the overall athleticism of Kenny Lofton. Those four were integral to Cleveland's run of success in the 1990s.

There are some talented young players already in Cleveland, starting with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, catcher Carlos Santana, outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore. Only Santana is playing. The exciting young switch-hitter was recently called up from Triple-A Columbus, while the other three are sidelined with injuries.

Put those three in the lineup full time and the Indians are not as bad as their present record. Mix in pitchers Mitch Talbot, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez along with emerging power hitter Matt LaPorta and possibly young Trevor Crowe, Jason Donald and Jayson Nix -- and the future looks a bit brighter.

There's some help in the farm system, too.

Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and catcher Chun Chen both played in the XM All-Star Futures Game last night in Anaheim. Chen went 0-for-2 and Chisenhall was 0-for-1 with an RBI.

A couple weeks ago, outfielder Bo Greenwell of the Lake County Captains starred in the Class A Midwest League All-Star Game. He went 3-for-4 with a double, stolen base and two runs.

"That's kind of how you want to draw it up," said the son of former Major League outfielder Mike Greenwell. "You just go out there and you leave it all out there on the field, and that's what happened tonight."

Greenwell hit .310 with four homers, 36 RBI and 47 runs with 15 steals in 21 attempts over 66 games for the Captains. Promoted to Class A Kinston, he has hit .353 (18-for-51) in 14 games.

Chen went 1-for-2 with a strikeout in the Midwest League game. He hit .312 with six homers and 39 RBI for the Captains before being promoted to Kinston. In five games there, he has batted .294 with one homer and two RBI.

Three other Captains were all-stars. Reliever Nick Sarianides struck out the only man he faced in relief. Catcher Roberto Perez and pitcher Trey Haley were selected, but did not play.

Kinston left-hander T.J. McFarland (9-2, 1.99 ERA) started for the Carolina League in the All-Star Game, allowing one unearned run and one hit over two innings, striking out two. He did not allow more than one earned run in a start until his eighth outing of the year on May 20.

At Columbus, outfielder Jose Constanza (.303, 47 runs, 1 homer, 19 RBI, 22-for-24 in steal attempts) and right-hander Josh Tomlin (8-3, 2.58 ERA) are on the International League team in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday in Allentown, PA. Michael Brantley (.315, 47 runs, 3 homers, 26 RBI, 11 steals) was elected to start in the game. Tomlin replaced him on the roster when Brantley was called up to Cleveland.

Chisenhall (.267, 8 homers, 37 RBI) is going to the Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday in Harrisburg, PA. Other members of the Akron Aeros going to the game are outfielder John Drennen (.305, 2 homers, 35 RBI) and right-hander Paolo Espino (8-3, 4.02 ERA). Espino replaced teammate Bryce Stowell (1-0, seven saves in 0.00 ERA in 14 games) on the roster. Stowell opened the year at Kinston, going 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 11 games and has been promoted to Columbus.

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