Previewing the Mahoning Valley Scrappers

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, New York-Penn League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, finished last season in first place in the Pinckney Division with a 49-27 record.  They will play a three game series with the Connecticut Tigers July 4-6 at Dodd Stadium.

Image courtesy of minorleaguebaseball.com

Tony Lastoria of Indians Prospect Insider joined Connecticut Tiger Den to help preview the 2010 Scrappers.  “The Mahoning Valley roster is almost completely filled out from the recent draft as they assign almost every college draft pick there,” Lastoria said.  “As a result, maybe at most a half dozen extended guys make the Mahoning Valley roster.”  The following is a Q and A about those players in extended spring training who may play for the Scrappers this season.

Stephen Hamel: Alexander Morales had a good strikeout rate in the Arizona League a season ago. What kind of stuff does he have? Considering his size, does he project better as a reliever? Do you expect him to be assigned to Mahoning Valley?

Tony Lastoria: Morales will be used as a starter likely in Mahoning Valley, and he is one of the few guys in EST that they consider has some upside. Had an ACL injury in 2008 which wiped out his season, and came back last year with a solid year. 88-91 with his fastball and complements it with a curveball and changeup. His biggest strength is he is an aggressive pitcher and is not afraid to pitch around the strike zone. I think ultimately he becomes a reliever, but he will open in the Mahoning Valley rotation (though there is an outside chance he goes to Lake County in June to start instead).

SH: Why do you think the Indians gave up on Carlos Moncrief as a pitcher and moved him to the outfield? Will he be ready for Mahoning Valley or do you think the Indians will want to keep him in the Arizona League initially?

TL: Moncrief is just too raw as a pitcher and couldn’t throw consistent strikes. First pitch strike rate and walks were not good. He has an amazing arm, but some guys just have problems mechanically and with throwing strikes. Thankfully, he was just as heralded in the draft as an outfielder as he was a pitcher, so his power bat and plus arm could be a nice find in the outfield. But he is still gonna take a lot of work.

SH: Are you surprised Vidal Nuno was not assigned to a full-season team considering his success with Mahoning Valley last season? Will he be sent back to Mahoning Valley this season?

TL: Nuno actually just got promoted to Lake County in the past week, so likely won’t be in Mahoning Valley. Yeah, he had a lot of success last year at Mahoning Valley, but he is a prime example of how sometime results don’t necessarily don’t make a great prospect. He came out of nowhere and surprised, but some think with him being a crafty lefty and plus strike thrower he took advantage of some very inexperienced bats at the short-season Single-A level. He’s still an interesting guy, but his stuff is nothing special and he will need to continue to put up superhuman numbers to erase the label of being just an organizational guy.

SH: 2009 draftees Kyle C. Smith, Daniel Jimenez and Mike Rayl are all in extended spring training. Who has the most upside of the trio? What roles do you see these three having with Mahoning Valley this season?

TL: Mike Rayl probably has the most upside and is a guy the Indians really like. All three should be a part of the Mahoning Valley opening day pitching staff, though it is possible any of them could go to Lake County as well since lots of mid-season moves are made in Lake County to bring a few Mahoning Valley holdovers there or some college guys from the previous draft. But getting back to Rayl, he is a very interesting lefty with a good pitching frame. He has a low 90s fastball and a changeup and curveball, and most importantly throws a lot of strikes from the left side.

SH: Is there anyone else in extended spring training who may make an impact with Mahoning Valley this season?

TL: Middle infielder Kevin Fontanez is still very young and learning to hit, but is an above average defender who the org likes. Outfielder Trent Baker may move to Lake County first, but if not he will be a key tablesetter at the top of the lineup with his speed. Left-hander Elvis Araujo, if he is healthy, will be the best or one of the best young Latin players in the league when he gets there, though I expect him to pitch in rookie ball to start before going to Mahoning Valley.

I’d like to thank Tony Lastoria for helping me preview the 2010 Mahoning Valley Scrappers.  His work can be found at indiansprospectinsider.com and theclevelandfan.com.

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