Saturday, April 19, 2014

Teenagers occupying key spots for struggling Lake County Captains

Batting first for the Lake Count Captains...

A 19-year-old.

Batting second for the Lake County Captains...

A 19-year-old.

For the second straight year, the Cleveland Indians have assembled a young team in Lake County -- and it's showing in the results.

The Captains dropped to 5-11 with a 6-1 loss to Burlington on April 19 at Classic Park. The loss was the Captains' 10th in their last 11 games.

One year after an overmatched team finished 54-83, the Captains are once again plummeting in the Midwest League standings.

The lineup the Captains used against Burlington included four 19-year-olds in the top five slots in the batting order. Center fielder Clint Frazier and shortstop Dorssys Paulino batted first and second, and first baseman Nellie Rodriguez and designated hitter Anthony Santander batted fourth and fifth. Catcher Eric Haase batted between the quartet.

Haase, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, is 21 years old. He didn't play college baseball. In fact, only one player in the lineup attended college: No. 6 hitter and third baseman Paul Hendrix (Texas Christian).

A young roster isn't a bad thing. Minor League Baseball is designed to develop major-league players. If a player reaches full-season baseball as a teenager, he maximizes his chances to reach the big leagues.

But a young roster also often maximizes mistakes. The Captains lead the Midwest League with 30 errors and only two teams have fewer wins.

Consider what's happening early season developmental pains. It's becoming a common theme at Classic Park.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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