Indians farm director Ross Atkins answers questions about players in the Indians minor league system:
Q) What can you tell us about young right-handed pitcher Joe Gardner, who was promoted to high Class-A Kinston this week after a successful month and a half at low Class-A Lake County? At 6-4, 220, he's a big kid. How hard does he throw and what are his pitching strengths ?
A) Joe primarily throws between 90–93 mph, but we’ve seen him up to 95 mph this year. In addition to the hard sinker, he throws a slider and a change – with all three pitches projecting to be at least average in the Major Leagues. Joe has also shown the rare ability to induce a ton of ground balls early in the count, while also getting strikeouts when he needs them.
Q) Can you share some background on Lake County catcher Chun-Hsiu Chen. It's rare to have a catcher of Asian decent, considering how important the backstop is in communicating with each pitcher and typically being a leader in the clubhouse.
A) Chen has all the tools necessary to develop into a Major League catcher. His bat is more advanced than his defense, but we like what he does behind the plate. Since his first year in 2008, his receiving, blocking, throwing and game calling have all improved dramatically. He’s also worked hard to improve his English.
Q) Columbus second baseman Jason Donald is batting .323 in 26 games with the Clippers, including nine doubles, a triple, two homers and 17 RBI. He also has as many walks (17) as strikeouts. In coming over from Philadelphia in the Cliff Lee trade he was crucial in adding depth in the middle infield. With Donald playing so well and Luis Valbuena struggling in Cleveland, is Donald prepared enough to make his major league debut?
A) Jason has really had a great start to the year. At the plate, he has been unbelievable, showing great discipline and hitting the ball hard to all fields. Defensively, he has yet to make an error and has shown good range at short stop and second base. We feel great about the progress he has made thus far and feel he has the tools in place to contribute at the next level in the near future.
Q) What can you tell us about the Akron right-handed pitcher Chen Lee and can you also share some background on his interpreter Jason Lynn ? In addition to serving as an interpreter for players in the Indians system, does Lynn have other roles he serves within the organization? Is Lee taking English classes like many of the Latin players do?
Q) This year will be Lee’s second professional season, after signing out of Taiwan in 2008. Lee has above average arm strength and has been clocked up to 96 this year. He relies primarily on a fastball/slider mix and has backend bullpen potential. Jason Lynn has served as Lee’s interpreter and also has helped to ease his cultural transition. While Lee does not take the same English classes as the Latin players, Jason has helped immensely with his English and Chen also uses Rosetta Stone. In addition to Lynn's role with our Taiwanese players, Jason assists the Player Development staff with various duties. He also has responsibilities within our Pacific Rim Scouting Department.
Q) Right-handed pitcher Frank Hermann is dominating at Triple-A Columbus with a 1-0 mark, two saves and a 0.75 ERA in nine appearances. He has allowed just one earned run over 12 innings and has stuck out eight and walked just one batter. Is he big-league ready and what kind of role would he serve in Cleveland being a former starter who has now done a little bit of everything?
A) At this point, we feel Frank’s best role is out of the bullpen. Frank has been outstanding this year and absolutely devastating against right-handed batters. It’s always tough to say when a player is Major League ready, but Frank has certainly demonstrated the ability to get Triple-A hitters out at a good clip. Ultimately, seeing him on the big stage will determine if he is in fact is ready.