2015 Columbus Clippers Season Preview
Ryan Hohman | On 13, Apr 2015
Strong Pitching Performances Highlight Season-Opening Series
The Columbus Clippers opened their 2015 campaign on the road against the Indianapolis Indians last Thursday. Manager Chris Tremie gave the opening day start to veteran lefty Bruce Chen and was rewarded with an outstanding performance. The 38-year-old tossed six scoreless innings (3 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) in his Clippers debut and picked up the win as Columbus beat Indy 4-0. Chen signed a minor league deal with the Indians in February after spending the last six seasons with the Kansas City Royals.
Danny Salazar almost cloned Chen’s start on Friday, hurling six scoreless frames to earn the win and lead the Clippers to a 3-0 win over Indy. Salazar allowed four hits, struck out seven, and walked none.
Indy beat Columbus 2-0 Saturday and 2-1 Sunday to earn a season-opening series split. The Clippers got a strong effort on Sunday from starter Brian Roth, who allowed just one run over five innings, scattering six hits and striking out two.
James Ramsey led Columbus offensively in the series, going 5-17 (.298) with a home run, three RBI, and a stolen base.
Francisco Lindor Opens Season In Columbus
Cleveland Indians top prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor opens the 2015 season with the Clippers after appearing in 38 games with the team last year following a promotion in July. The 21-year-old has progressed each season since being selected eighth overall by the Indians in the 2011 draft. His gold glove calibur defensive, speed, bat, maturity, and natural leadership abilities are just a few of the reasons why he’s the currently the #4 prospect in all of baseball. It’s only a matter of time until he gets the call-up to Cleveland. Until then, Columbus is in for a treat. This kid can play.
DTTWLN’s Mike Brandyberry wrote a great piece on Francisco Lindor a few weeks ago. If you missed it, check it out here.
Tremie Returns to Manage With Two New Coaches
Manager Chris Tremie is back to manage the Clippers for a third season. The Clippers won the International League West Division last year and sent several players to the Indians such as Trevor Bauer, T.J. House, Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez, and C.C. Lee.
Tremie has two new coaches on his staff in pitching coach Carl Willis and hitting coach Rouglas Odor. Willis’ name should ring a bell for Tribe fans. He was the Indians pitching coach from 2003 to 2009 and coached Cy Young winners C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Willis held the same position for the Seattle Mariners from 2010 to 2013 where he had Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez on his pitching staff. Willis is replacing Tony Arnold, who is taking over as pitching coach for the class-A Lynchburg Hillcats.
Odor is in his 27th season with the Indians organization. He was the hitting coach for the double-A Akron Rubberducks in 2014 and replaces Jim Rickon, the organization’s new minor-league hitting coordinator.
Clippers to Watch in 2015
Jesus Aguilar, 1B – The 6’3, 250 pound first basemen was an International League All-Star and Home Run Derby competitor in 2014. He hit .304 with 19 homers and 77 RBIs in 118 games with the Clippers and appeared in 19 games with the Indians.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B – Urshela was regarded as one of the top prospects in Colombia when the Tribe signed him in 2008. Some say Urshela has progressed more than any other player in the organization. In 2014, he hit .276 with 13 home runs and 65 RBIs. Defense has always been the strongest part of his game, though. His arm, glove, and range all make him an above-average defender at third base.
Carlos Moncrief, OF – The Jackson, Mississippi native recorded 22 outfield assists in 2014, tying the International League single season record. Drafted as a pitcher by the Tribe in 2008, Moncrief moved from the mound to the outfield in the spring of 2010. The 25-year-old now opens the 2015 season as the organization’s 15th ranked prospect.
James Ramsey, OF – Acquired from the Cardinals in July for Justin Masterson, Ramsey enters the season as the #5 prospect in the organization. The 25-year-old former first round pick out of Florida State hit .295 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 95 games split between St. Louis’ farm system and Columbus in 2014.
Tyler Holt, OF – Holt, a college teammate of Ramsey at Florida State, opens the season in Columbus after getting his first taste of big league action in 2014. He played in 36 games with the Indians, hitting .268 with two RBIs and two stolen bases. He was a stud in the outfield, producing web gem after web gem. Holt opened the 2014 campaign in Akron before being promoted to Columbus. In 59 games with the Clippers, Holt batted .308 with two home runs, 16 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. No one hustles harder than Holt and we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in Cleveland sooner than later.
Danny Salazar, SP – The tribe’s top pitching prospect hopes to earn his way back to Cleveland after an up and down 2014 season. Expectations were high entering 2014 following a strong 2013 rookie campaign in which he started the Tribe’s wild card playoff game versus Tampa Bay. Salazar was just 6-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 20 starts with the Tribe in 2014, but finished the season strong hurling a complete game eight-hit shutout against the Tigers on September 3.
Next Games and Home Opener
The Clippers head to Louisville on Monday for two games and then to Toledo on Thursday for two more games before returning to Columbus for their home opener on Saturday versus Toledo at 6:35pm ET. Get tickets here and or listen to the games on WMNI-AM (920).
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer