Jeremie Tice had his 2009 season curtailed by elbow surgery and missed part of 2011 with a wrist injury, knocking him off the fast track through the Cleveland farm system.
Four years after being taken by the Indians in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, the 25-year-old former Dacula standout has yet to reach Class AA leave along higher. But that may not be the case for long.
Tice is finally healthy and having a breakout first half for the Carolina Mudcats.
The former Southern Conference player of the year with the College of Charleston is the top power hitter in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. Going into the weekend, he had 12 homers, 46 RBIs and a .601 slugging percentage while posting a .282 batting average in 48 games.
As a reward, Tice will be the designated hitter for the Carolina League in its annual showdown with the California League all-stars on Tuesday. The game is in Winston-Salem.
Tice's stats with the Mudcats bring back memories of his final college season, season when he was fourth in the nation with 25 homers and 83 RBIs while batting .393. But he has had setback after setback since signing with the Indians for a bonus of $120,000.
This is Tice's fifth season at some level of Class A, with parts of the last three spent in the Carolina League.
In addition to staying healthy, the key for Tice is mastering some new positions. Drafted as a third baseman, he is playing some at first base and in left field for the Mudcats in addition to serving as the DH.
There is a backlog of hitters in the Indians system, which has worked against Tice's advancement.
"Offensively he's capable of going to AAA right now, and he'd be fine," Carolina manager Edwin Rodriguez recently told the News & Observer of Raleigh. "He's ready. He has no business being here. It's a matter of getting him playing time."
Blackmon still on DL
Charlie Blackmon remains on the disabled list at Class AAA Colorado Springs because of a turf toe injury he first suffered during spring training with the Rockies.
Blackmon played in 17 games with Colorado, but the last was on May 1. He had a .203 average with a homer and five RBIs.
The former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout made his major league debut last season and played in 27 games with the Rockies before breaking his left foot running the bases during a game in Atlanta.
Blackmon, 25, went into this season ranked as Colorado's No. 11 prospect by Baseball America and No. 13 by MLB.com. He was a second-round draft choice in 2008.
Cone flashing power
Former Parkview and Georgia standout Zach Cone had 10 homers and 35 RBIs in his first 60 games for Hickory in the Class A South Atlantic League. He was batting .269.
The outfielder was a supplemental first-round draft pick of Texas last year, going 37th overall. He received a bonus of $873,000.
Cone, 22, struggled last season with Spokane of the Northwest League, batting .201 in 60 games.
Wilkerson keeps on hitting
Shannon Wilkerson had hits in each of his first four games after returning to Salem of the Carolina League after batted .288 in 13 games with Portland in the Class AA Eastern League.
The 23-year-old outfielder from Dacula had stolen 22 bases without being caught this year and was hitting .329 in 42 games over his two stints with Salem.
Wilkerson, who was the NCAA Division II player of the year for Augusta State in 2009, was an eighth-round draft pick by Boston. His progress had been slowed by injuries until this season.
Green red-hot at New Orleans
Veteran infielder Nick Green put together a 10-game hitting streak and was batting .357 for Class AAA New Orleans with seven doubles, a triple, two homers and 13 RBIs in 20 games going into the weekend.
The Duluth graduate, who missed more than a month with a foot injury, had hit safely in all except two of the games in had played in with the Miami farm team. He was 15-for-34 during his hitting streak and had RBIs in five straight games.