Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ready For A Recall: Matt LaPorta

Making news last year as the prized prospect coming from the Brewers in the CC Sabathia trade, we’re sure that the Indians were hoping that Matt LaPorta would be making his mark in the Majors by now.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.  After getting traded to Cleveland in July last season, LaPorta struggled mightily for Double-A Akron, hitting just .212 with a .538 OPS in 52 at-bats.  During that month, he was named to the United States Olympic Team.  On August 18, he sustained a concussion after taking a pitch to the helmet in a game against China during the Olympics.  He returned to action later that month for Akron, getting a handful of at-bats before the season ended.

Rated as the number two prospect in the Indians’ farm system by Baseball America, Matt had an uphill battle to make the club as Shin-Soo Choo and Ben Francisco were slated to start in the corner outfield spots for the Tribe.  Not surprisingly, he started the season with Triple-A Columbus and was really mashing the ball (.333 BA, 1.054 OPS) before getting called on May 2 to help carry some of the offensive load with Travis Hafner on the disabled list.  Now, we here at MLBTFP are all for giving a young buck a shot, but we’re not a fan of calling up a potential franchise player and letting him watch from the bench.  After making only a dozen starts in 24 games, LaPorta was sent back down.  Although he had a weak showing (.190 in 42 AB), Cleveland fans were more upset at GM Mark Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge for the way they handled his playing time.  According to Sheldon Ocker of the Beacon Journal:

“There was criticism galore when Matt LaPorta was called up from Columbus to make his major-league debut and played in only about half the games before he was sent back to Triple-A.

Lots of fans felt that if a touted rookie is summoned to the big leagues, he should play every day rather than sit for half the time. But the Indians had a plan.”

We’ll spare you the plan.  It didn’t really make any sense anyway.  The more important story is that the 24-year-old didn’t let a bad experience mess with his head.  Take a look at what he’s done at Columbus over the past 28 days and overall: (courtesy of,








Last 28 Days














The Indians currently have the worst record in the American League.  Ben Francisco has been terribly inconsistent, putting up an abysmal .398 OPS in 85 at-bats during the month of June.  Though he’s off to a good start in July, we’re advocating that LaPorta get another shot at regular playing time for the Tribe.  If there’s been one hole in his game, it’s that Matt has trouble versus left-handed pitching, hitting just .195 this year and .222 in his minor league career.  Ben Francisco, who hits from the right side, hits lefties slightly better for his career (.267 vs. LHP/.259 vs. RHP).  Can you see where we’re going here? 

We would love to see a strict LaPorta/Francisco platoon coming out of the All-Star break.  Matt has nothing left to prove in the minors and the Indians have nothing left to play for.  In giving their prized prospect a regular job, but nothing he can’t handle, they’ll build-up his confidence and by this time next season, we’ll be marveling at the top of Cleveland’s batting order:  Sizemore, LaPorta, Martinez, Choo, and Hafner.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of the future of the franchise stealing at-bats from Francisco. Regardless of what they decide in that regard, I think if they trade VMart the Indians will instantly call up LaPorta. One because he will take some of VMart's at bats. Two in trading VMart the Indians are basically saying let's get ready for next year.