Tribe's Wolters guides Peoria back from rocky start

Converted catcher leads way behind plate for bullpen's 8 2/3 shutout innings

Tribe's Wolters guides Peoria back from rocky start

Entering Friday, the midway point in the Arizona Fall League season, Peoria was in last place with a 3-10-2 record. The Javelinas had lost four straight games, scoring just four runs during the skid.

Peoria quickly fell behind Mesa on Friday afternoon, as starter Dylan Baker was knocked out of the game after recording one out and giving up four runs. But the Javelinas were undeterred and scored nine unanswered runs to defeat the Solar Sox, 9-4.

Catcher Tony Wolters said the Javelinas have continued to play hard and stayed focused even as the losses have mounted.

Box score

"We have a lot of winners on this team and it's hard on us, but we're getting through it," Wolters said after Peoria's first victory since Saturday. "It's tough losing, but that's baseball though. It's making us better players."

Wolters, the Indians' No. 18 prospect, helped guide five relievers through 8 2/3 scoreless innings after Baker's early exit. Left-hander Daniel Stumpf was the first man out of the bullpen and threw 2 2/3 hitless innings. Zach Cooper and Sam Selman followed with two innings apiece, and Grant Sides and Colton Reavis each threw an inning to close out the victory.

Though they had to get in the game earlier than expected, Peoria's relievers were up to the challenge, Wolters said.

"They came in and picked up Baker," Wolters said. "We established fastball in and out got quick outs and got the momentum on our side. I'm proud of our relievers for doing that."

The Solar Sox jumped out to the early lead as the first five batters of the game all walked or singled. Baker got an out on a sacrifice fly, but after another walk, his third, manager Vance Wilson made the move to the bullpen.

Wolters said Baker, the Indians' No. 15 prospect, has good raw stuff but hasn't been able to get his mechanics in sync at the AFL. He has allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks in three starts this fall.

"He can throw 100 [mph]," Wolters said. "He's just trying to get it back. He's going to be a big leaguer one day for sure."

First baseman Dan Vogelbach and right fielder Jacob Hannemann, who were also teammates at Class A Advanced Daytona, both went 2-for-4 to lead Mesa's offense. Vogelbach, the Cubs' No. 10 prospect, added an RBI and Hannemann scored a run.

The Javelinas didn't trail for long. They batted around and scored five runs in the second off left-hander Felipe Rivero, the Nationals' No. 16 prospect, to quickly take the lead. First baseman Patrick Leonard drove in a run and second baseman Daniel Castro hit a two-run single during the rally.

Peoria built on its lead with two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth. The nine-run output was the second-highest total for the Javelinas this season.

Wolters went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs. Shortstop Raul Mondesi, the Royals' top prospect, finished 2-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and two runs. Left fielder Jordan Smith added three hits and two RBIs.

Wolters has struggled at the plate this fall but said he is starting to feel better. The 22-year old is hitting .167/.259/.208 in seven games.

Aside from improving his offense this fall, Wolters is focused on his defense as he continues to adjust to catching. He moved to the position last year after spending the first three seasons of his career as a middle infielder. The transition to catcher has gone smoothly for Wolters, but he said he knows there is room for improvement.

"I'm really focused on getting better at catching and game-calling and handling a staff I don't really know well," Wolters said. "I keep on getting better at catcher and letting my bat work. There's a lot of things I'm working on offensively. I'm trying to make strides with that. It's going to come back. I just need to stay simple, relax and breathe and get on at it."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.