Lake County was expected to possess one of the best offenses in the Midwest League entering the 2012 season, and the Indians' Class A affiliate lived up to that billing with an 8-0 road win over Great Lakes on Monday.
The club's top four hitters, all of whom are ranked as top 20 Indians prospects, had multiple hits in the team's third victory in its first four games.
No. 15 prospect Luigi Rodriguez led the way with four RBIs as the team's third hitter in the lineup, while No. 11 prospect LeVon Washington set the table with three hits and two walks out of the leadoff spot. Francisco Lindor (No. 1) and Alex Monsalve (No. 9) added two hits apiece as the second and fourth hitters in the lineup, with the latter adding a solo homer for good measure.
All in all, nine of the team's 13 hits and seven RBIs came from the top four men in the lineup.
Monday marked the second game in a row that the Captains won big after the team defeated Fort Wayne, 9-1, two days ago. That kind of offensive potential can be a double-edged sword for Lake County manager David Wallace.
"As a manager, it's really nice and difficult to make the lineup every night at the same time," Wallace said. "There are so many guys we can use, you feel bad having to put a couple them in there under the reserve spot. Up and down, we can put a lot of pressure on defense whether it's driving the ball or using our speed to our advantage."
Rodriguez plated four Monday. The Dominican outfielder has started 5-for-16 (.313) with five RBIs in his first four games. He had only 19 total RBIs last season between Lake County and the Rookie-level Arizona League Indians, but the 19-year-old hopes a simple change in his lineup spot will help him drive in more runs during this year's campaign.
"I didn't have many RBIs last year because I was hitting leadoff," Rodriguez said. "But when they moved to me to third, I'm hitting with more guys on base and have more chances to get RBIs. At the same time, they throw me more curveballs and changeups, so I have to be more selective."
Like his entire lineup, Wallace praised Rodriguez for the flexibility he provides as a hitter.
"Luigi can do so many different things," he said. "He can hit for power, but at the same time, he can drop down a bunt or beat one out for an infield single. He's got a lot of versatility."
Wallace noted he's not entirely sure how his season will play out at Great Lakes, given the potential of upward mobility for his team's top players.
"It'll be interesting to see how this works out as an organization," Wallace said. "The lower levels are filled with quality players. The goal for them is, of course, to move up. But I think we'll have a successful season. Just try to get better every day. If we can do that, the wins and losses should take care of themselves."
Starting pitcher Joseph Colon (1-0) pitched six shutout innings for the Captains, allowing only three hits while striking out four and walking two.
Great Lakes starter Gustavo Gomez (0-1) surrendered five runs on six hits in just two innings of work during his 2012 debut.