With the Cleveland Indians' offensive woes continuing, we decided to take a look at what players may be able to help out in minors. Since Travis Fryman retired in 2002, the last five years have seen Casey Blake, Bill Selby, Ricky Gutierrez, John McDonald, Jhonny Peralta, Aaron Boone, Greg LaRocca, Angel Santos, Zach Sorensen, Jose Hernandez, Andy Marte, Ramon Vazquez, Lou Merloni, Hector Luna, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Ronnie Belliard, Mike Rouse, Chris Gomez, and Asdrubal Cabrera man the hot corner for the Tribe.
This spot in the lineup is generally a power position, but as you can see, the Indians have been lacking in this area for most of the decade. Currently, the roster is comprised of free-agent-to-be Casey Blake, and benchwarmer Andy Marte, which makes you long for the days of Brook Jacoby. This seems to be area that needs to be improved in 2009.
To the rescue, (hopefully), is Akron Aeros starting third baseman Wes Hodges. A 2006 second-round pick out of Georgia Tech, Hodges has quickly moved up three levels since 2007. He is currently batting .287, with seven home runs and 34 RBI. Scouts have said that he in a natural hitter, and possesses outstanding athleticism.
His range and arm strength seem above average in the games I have witnessed in spring training. Wes has only made five errors so far, not bad for his relative youth. Hodges's on base percentage (.340) is not quite where it should be, only walking 11 times in 155 plate appearances. As his OBP grows, walks increase, and defense remains consistent, Hodges should be in Buffalo sooner rather than later.
I would not expect to see him in Cleveland this year unless Major-League injuries on the big club arise, as he is not on the 40-man roster. 2009 seems to be Wes Hodges's year to compete for the third base spot in Spring Training. That would be a welcome addition to a team looking to find another solid run-producing staple in the middle of the order for the future.
To read more about Wes Hodges, please visit Cleveland Indians Minor League Insider. The site is like a bible to the Indians' Minor-League system.