Daily Dish: Aug. 16

See also: Tuesday's Daily Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report

It’s official: the Indians have begun 2005 first-round pick Trevor Crowe’s move from the outfield to second base.

Officials were split last year whether or not to move Crowe, who played infield and outfield in college at Arizona, to the right side of the infield during instructional league, but that plan is in place now.

Crowe has been taking ground balls in early work at Double-A Akron this week, as he prepares to make the switch, which could come as soon as the weekend.

"He’s been working at it, and we’ll probably get him in some games at second soon,” Aeros manager Tim Bogar told the Akron Beacon-Journal. "But at the beginning of this homestand there’s a couple (of) rovers coming in to evaluate his work and determine when he’s ready.”

Crowe, who’s playing in his first full season, has been solid all year both offensively and defensively in center, hitting .318/.428/.459 overall between high Class A Kinston and Akron.

"A couple things have been factored in with that approach," farm director John Farrell said. "One is he was an infielder when he went to Arizona out of (high school in Oregon), and the other is the depth of our outfield and the youth of our outfield at the upper levels and particularly in Cleveland obviously with Grady (Sizemore).

"Our approach has been to really allow him to get his feet on the ground offensively, but (the move) has always been something we’ve considered. And instructional league is the place where we've got time to focus day-in and day-out rather than just throwing him in at second during the middle of a season."

While Crowe will likely see time at second base as the Aeros season winds down, Bogar told the paper he would switch back to center field for the playoffs. Akron currently has a 5 1/2-game lead over Altoona in the Eastern League’s Southern Division.

"There’s no question he's athletic enough to play the position," a scout with an American League club said. "And you know he’ll hit for average, but I also think he’'s a guy who could hit you 20-25 homers a year wherever he plays. With him moving there, that gives them one of the best second base prospects in the game.

"You compare him to a guy like Howie Kendrick and Crowe runs better and probably has better power. It's going to be a wait-and-see on the defense, but this guy’s driven to get there."


Gonzalez, Hankerd Promoted

Diamondbacks outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was promoted from high Class A Lancaster to Double-A Tennessee after tearing up the California League at a .300/.356/.563 clip. The 20-year-old Venezuelan also led the league with 94 RBIs and 60 extra-base hits, including 21 home runs. Cal League managers voted Gonzalez the league's Best Batting Prospect, Most Exciting Player and owner of the Best Outfield Arm in Baseball America's Best Tools survey.

Cyle Hankerd will try to fill those big shoes in Lancaster. Hankerd, a third-round pick in June out of Southern California, was promoted from the short-season Northwest League, where he was clearly too much for pitchers to handle. Hankerd led the NWL in batting (.384) and doubles (17) while ranking in the top five in on-base percentage (.424), slugging percentage (.519) and RBIs (38). The 21-year-old outfielder also had four home runs in 216 at-bats for Yakima after hitting 10 long balls in 230 at-bats for the Trojans this spring.

Hankerd finished his stint in Yakima riding a 16-game hitting streak, during which he compiled 11 multi-hit games.

"I don't really think about streaks, I just try to go day by day," Hankerd told the Yakima Herald-Republic on Sunday, prior to his promotion on Monday. "I put in a lot of work early, before the game. As far as being called up, that's not part of my job. I'm just trying to play well and help my team win."


Kane County Throng Sees Comeback

Low Class A West Michigan has the best record in the minors, and their closer Orlando Perdomo leads the Midwest League with 28 saves. That did little to intimidate Kane County last night as the Cougars overcame a two-run deficit in the ninth against Perdomo to win 5-4 in front of 13,876 fans in Kane County.

With his team leading 4-2, Perdomo came on in the ninth hoping to earn his 29th save. He walked first baseman Steve Kleen to open the inning, and shortstop Justin Sellers followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs.

Left fielder Matt Sulentic, the Athletics' third-rounder pick this June from Hillcrest High in suburban Dallas, then delivered a single to right to tie the game at four.

"It was at a time when we really needed it, so I just had to bear down and fortunately I got the job done," Sulentic told the Beacon News. "You have to go up there with confidence or you have no chance."

Center fielder Chad Boyd promptly drove home Sulentic with a double to left field to send the Cougar fans home happy.

"I was looking for a fastball in that situation because they had been challenging me the entire game," Boyd told the paper. "I love those situations.”

The hit was Boyd’s second of the night, and the 21-year-old is now hitting .362/.421/.514 in 185 at-bats since his promotion from the short-season Northwest League. He was a ninth-round pick in 2004 out of El Camino Real High in West Hills, Calif.

The win was the seventh in a row at home for the Cougars and moved them within a half game of Quad Cities for first place in the MWL Western Division.



• The Pirates promoted Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen--the club’s first-round picks in each of the last two years--to Double-A Altoona for the Eastern League playoff run on Tuesday. Walker, who batted .284/.345/.409 with just three homers in 264 at-bats at high Class A Lynchburg, homered in his Double-A debut. McCutchen, who batted .291/.356/.446 with 14 homers in 453 at-bats at low Class A Hickory, skipped high Class A altogether. He went 1-for-4 with a single.

• Righthander Luke Hochevar will make his Royals pro debut on Wednesday night, when he makes the start for the low Class A Burlington Bees. Hochevar, the top pick in the 2006 draft, has not pitched in a game since late May, when he was working with the independent American Association's Fort Worth Cats.

• It's been a whirlwind summer for Red Sox shortstop Ryan Khoury. The 12th-round pick out of Utah started his career like most signees, as he was sent to short-season Lowell. But when Triple-A Pawtucket needed a middle infielder to serve as a backup, the Red Sox promoted Khoury all the way to Triple-A in early August. As expected, he's struggled at the plate, hitting .176/.250/.176 in limited action, but he's not looked completely overmatched. "He's done a really nice job here," Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson told the Providence Journal. "I've been really pleased. This is a tremendous asset for him as he begins his developmental path. The way this organization is, it's not afraid to take guys to Boston and it's the same thing here. It pays dividends and he's holding his own." Khoury, 22, hit .438 for the Utes this spring, leading the Mountain West Conference in batting and ranking third in the nation.

• Red Sox lefthander Abe Alvarez is done for the season after breaking his right ankle in an off-the-field accident, the Providence Journal reported. Alvarez was 6-9, 5.64 for Triple-A Pawtucket this season. He made it to the majors with the Red Sox in 2005 for an emergency start, but since then, he's struggled, as his plus command has not been enough to overcome his below-average velocity.

• The Royals' struggles are not limited to the big leagues. Triple-A Omaha lost its ninth straight game and its 14th in 15 games on Tuesday night to drop to 45-79 overall. The Omaha World-Herald reported that the club will have to go 13-7 over its final 20 games to not finish with the team's worst-ever record. The club will try to avoid that mark without its cleanup hitter, Chad Allen, who with catcher Matt Tupman left the team after Tuesday's game to play for Team USA in the upcoming Olympic qualifier.

• The Double-A Binghamton Mets lost four pitchers to Olympic qualifying teams, including closer Henry Owens, who will pitch for Team USA. Starter Miguel Pinango may be selected for the Venezuela team, while Puerto Rican lefthander Willie Collazo and righthander Ivan Maldonado will represent their homeland. The Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament begins Aug. 25 in Cuba, and the pitchers will leave the Mets Sunday.

"To put on the Puerto Rico jersey at the World Baseball Classic was so special," Collazo told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "I have no doubt that it will still be special to put on the Puerto Rico jersey and try to qualify for the Olympics. As much as I want to be here and try to qualify for the (Eastern League) playoffs, at the same time I’ve got an opportunity to play for Puerto Rico."

• Orioles righthander Hayden Penn is quietly having a fine season for Triple-A Ottawa, but the 21-year-old suffered his worst August start last night. Despite going 7 2/3 innings and striking out eight, Penn gave up five runs on eight hits, including two home runs. He struggled with his command early and Rochester batters Garrett Jones and Kevin West took advantage by hitting first- and second-inning home runs.

"Those first two innings  . . . maybe I didn’t throw enough in the bullpen," Penn told the Ottawa Sun. "Maybe I didn’t have my mind set. I just wasn't making the pitches in the first two innings."

The loss--just Ottawa’s third home defeat since July 12--dropped the Lynx to 5 1/2 games back in the IL wild card race and Penn’s record to 5-4. Penn is 5-4, 2.72 in 13 starts between Ottawa and Double-A Bowie this season.

Contributing: Matt Eddy