Good News Aplenty In Farm System

Shin-Soo Choo

There's plenty of good news in the Indians' farm system. Kinston shortstop Josh Rodriguez is the Carolina League player of the week and Mahoning Valley right-hander Dan Frega the pitcher of the week in the New York-Penn League, where six Scrappers are headed for Tuesday's All-Star Game. At Triple-A Buffalo, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is back after missing two months with a strained left elbow.

Choo went 0-for-3 with a run Monday night in his first game for the Bisons since June 9. He was sidelined two months after hurting his arm while making a throw. He went 1-for-4 with two RBI for the Gulf Coast League Indians last Thursday, had one more at-bat there Friday, then rejoined the Bisons.

If completely healthy and able to regain his hitting stroke quickly, Choo could be called up to Cleveland, where the Indians are in need of any kind of offensive spurt.

A long-shot possibility to get the call could be outfielder Brian Barton, who had three more hits Monday night in Buffalo's 5-4 loss in 10 innings.

Barton is batting .321 (9-for-28) with one homer and three RBI in eight games at Buffalo since being promoted from Class AA Akron. In 106 games for the Aeros, Barton batted .314 with nine homers, 59 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

After a nine-RBI game on Aug. 2, Rodriguez continued his hot streak last week at Class A Kinston, homering in four consecutive games and five times in seven contests overall. He batted .310 (9-for-29) with a double, five homers, nine RBI, six walks, six runs and a stolen base for an .862 slugging percentage to earn top player honors for the week.

For the season, Rodriguez is batting .252 with 17 homers and 72 RBI. The Indians' second-round draft pick in 2006 out of Rice University also has 17 steals in 24 attempts, 67 runs and 17 doubles.

Kinston keeps rolling along, sweeping a doubleheader Monday night over visiting Salem, 6-1 and 5-2. Frank Herrmann (9-5, 4.36 ERA) pitched a seven-inning complete game in the opener, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, striking out six. Wes Hodges (.296) had a homer and two RBI and Jared Goedert (.250) a homer and three RBI.

In the second game, Hodges hit his 12th homer of the year and Jerad Head (.273) drove in two runs. Ryan Edell (11-6, 3.58 ERA) gave up one hit over three scoreless innings of relief to win it. Starter Josh Tomlin (2.00 ERA) walked four and gave up two runs (one earned) over three innings and Scott Roehl (3.02 ERA) pitched one scoreless inning for his 21st save.

Six members of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers will be part of the 2007 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday, led by Triple Crown candidate Todd Martin.

The Scrappers' first baseman leads the league in batting (.382, 66-for-173), RBI (40) and is second in homers (8). He also leads the league in slugging percentage (.572) and hits (66) in a breakout year for a player who wasn't even drafted out of college a year ago.

Also named to the team are catcher Alex Castillo (.270, 21 RBI); shortstop Jansy Infante (.305, 17 RBI) and three Scrappers pitchers, all drafted by the Indians in June. Right-hander Kyle Landis, taken in the 18th round from the University of Pittsburgh, is 1-0 with an 0.40 ERA and five saves. He has 29 strikeouts in 22 1-3 innings. Lefty Garrett Rieck, picked in the 29th round from Cal-State Chico, is 3-0 with a 1.03 ERA and one save with 24 strikeouts in 26 1-3 innings. Lefty Heath Taylor, a 10th-round pick out of Oklahoma, is 2-2 with a 1.78 ERA in 35 1-3 innings.

Second-year pitcher Dan Frega wasn't named to the All-Star team, but did earn pitcher of the week honors after working five hitless innings Saturday. The right-hander allowed only one walk and struck out nine to raise his record to 5-1 with a 4.22 ERA. In 11 outings, he has 33 strikeouts in 38 2-3 innings.

Frega was drafted in the 12th round a year ago out of Illinois State and split his first pro season between the GCL Indians and Mahoning Valley.

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