With the beginning of September, the baseball's minor league seasons all come to a close. Now that all the finals are in, we can tell you how each Indians affiliate fared in this years season. For more information about individual players, check out the monthly minor league rankings from the 2013 season, available in the archives tab under "This is Next Year."
AAA: Columbus Clippers 71-73
Top Players: Jeremy Hermida (17 HR, 66 RBI, 62 Runs) & Preston Guilmet (1.68 ERA, 20 Sv, 72 K)
The Clippers had a hard time this year, as they were used more like the practice squad of an NFL team than a development team. Rather than a team mostly made of young, up and coming players, the Indians used the Clippers to hold on to all their veteran free agent signings, like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jeremy Hermida. By the end of the year, all these except for Matt Carson, Clay Rapada and Blake Wood were given up on by the Tribe. The players that stayed around managed a second place finish, albeit nine games behind the Indianapolis Indians.
AA: Akron Aeros 68-73
Top Players: Jesus Aguilar (16 HR, 105 RBI, 28 2B) & Jose Flores (2.71 ERA, 87 K, 66.1 IP)
The Indians have an extremely talented class of players, set to be seen in Cleveland in a few years. These players almost all started off with Carolina this season, but finished in Akron. As it was, the Aeros finished fifth in the Eastern League's Eastern Division. This is a big fall back from the Aeros team that won the Eastern League in 2012, but when entire rosters are shifting every single season, it is difficult to remain consistent year after year. If there was a positive note in Akron this year, it was Aguilar and Carlos Moncrief who are the first real power prospects to come up through the Indians system since Matt LaPorta.
Advanced A: Carolina Mudcats 35-35
Top Players: Joe Wendle (16 HR, 64 RBI, .513 SLG) & Cody Anderson (2.34 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 123.1 IP)
The Mudcats started the year off red hot, but were unable to continue their torrid pace as the offense fell off towards the second half. The team did still have a lot of promising young players that could actually see some Major League playing time within the next three years. First round picks Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor especially stood out in addition to the players listed on top.
A: Lake County Captains 31-39
Top Players: Joseph Sever (58 RBI, .272 AVG, .402 SLG) & Dylan Baker (7 W, 3.63 ERA, 143.2 IP)
Poor finishes were a theme with the Indians affiliates this year, something made much easier for Indians to deal with while the parent team is in a Play Off race. The Captains finished sixth out of eight teams in the Midwest League Eastern Division. This is one of the Indians weaker teams, especially considering a pitching staff made of mostly mediocre players. Even highly anticipated short stop Dorssys Paulino had a poor season, batting just .246 and committing 39 errors. After two seasons and a career fielding percent of .905, it may be time for a position change for this top prospect.
Short Season: Mahoning Valley Scrappers 30-44
Top Players: Nellie Rodriguez (.287/.366/.452) & Cole Sulser (1.83 ERA, 60 K, 50 IP)
The Scrappers don't play as many games as the other minor league teams, but still managed to finish six games under .500, in fifth place in the Pinckney Division. From this level down, team results are much less important as recent draftees and international free agents are just getting their feet wet in the professional leagues. A few of those rookie draft picks did have a great season, especially Sulser, Kenny Mathews, Trevor Frank and Matt Whitehouse in the pitching staff. Without their great arms, the Scrappers would have been even worse off.
Rookie: Arizona League Indians 15-13
Top Players: Clint Frazier (.297/.362/.506) & Sean Brady (1.97 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 34 IP)
The AZL Indians who play their games at the Indians Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, were the only affiliate to make any sort of play-offs this year. Of course, in the Arizona League, play-offs are one game elimination and the Indians made it as the second team from the Central and were eliminated in the first game against the Rangers. The good news is that the Indians first round draft pick tore up the league, leading the team in almost every statistical category.
Rookie: DSL Indians 25-46
Top Players: Juan Carlos Moncion (28 RBI, 13 2B, 22 R) & Edward Estrella (2.86 ERA, 52 K, 63 IP)
The Indians Dominican Summer League team was the only affiliate to finish in dead last in their division, bringing up the rear in the SD North. Few players are able to make the jump from the DSL to US, but there are a few every year and some turn out to be top prospects. This year there was little to be excited about offensively, but as always, a couple of pitchers shined. Estrella, Erick Algarin, Daniel Gomez and Francisco Lopez are all worthy of a look at the next level.
Jesus is the future and the future is really big.