Two very different All-Star games took place on Wednesday with two very distinctly different results as the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League participated in their own midsummer classics.
The Double-A All-Star Game pitted the Eastern and Western Division clubs against one another from Akron’s own Canal Park. The Triple-A contest featured the International League versus the Pacific Coast League from BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina.
As we’ve seen all throughout baseball, the middle of the season is the time for transition. There comes a time when the guys that were signed to minor league deals end up getting released, or maybe a player whose team thought they’d be a big contributor hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Usually it’s just a case of a prospect doing well and has deserved a promotion to the next level, and that’s what we’re seeing with Julian Merryweather in Double-A Akron.
Major League Baseball hosted some of its top minor league prospects on Sunday night for the annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, held at Petco Park in San Diego.
Three Cleveland Indians prospects were selected to the competing teams, including Akron’s Clint Frazier for the U.S. Team and both Lynchburg’s Francisco Mejia and Columbus’ Yandy Diaz for the World Team.
The Akron RubberDucks and the Eastern League of Professional Baseball announced on Sunday the addition of Grant Sides to the Western Division roster.
Sides, 27, a right-handed reliever with the ‘Ducks, will replace Bowie left-hander Jayson Aquino, a former member of the Indians farm system who spent the final month of last season with Cleveland’s High-A affiliate at Lynchburg. Aquino was unable to participate in the contest after his start on Saturday was pushed back until Sunday.
The eight contestants for the 2016 Eastern League Home Run Derby were announced on Friday as a pair of RubberDucks will represent Akron at the contest held at Canal Park on Tuesday, July 12.
The 2016 season may not have started the way that Indians prospect Yandy Diaz would have wanted, but his perseverance and his solid numbers this season were rewarded on Wednesday when he was named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Diaz joins his former teammate in Akron, outfielder Clint Frazier, and Lynchburg Hillcats catcher Francisco Mejia in giving the Indians franchise three players in the prospect exhibition game and three Cleveland players in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game. The 24-year-old Diaz will be teammates with Mejia on the World roster and replaced Chicago Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario.
The game will be played as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend festivities at 7 PM ET on Sunday, July 10, from Petco Park in San Diego, California.
The RubberDucks have endured a lot this season, including a revolving door of players bouncing back and forth between Triple-A Columbus above them and both High-A Lynchburg and Single-A Lake County below them. If you’re having a tough time keeping track of who is on the roster, you aren’t alone.
All of the comings and goings may have hurt the ‘Ducks’ results on the field, but they have the talent to overcome that and may have done just that after a brutal June. After going 8-22 in the month, including a 12-game losing skid against Bowie, Reading, Harrisburg, and Erie, they have started July with a 5-2 mark, including a four-game winning streak this week that included taking the first three against Altoona before dropping the finale on Thursday night. In taking three of four, the ‘Ducks reclaimed the top spot in the Eastern League’s Western Division and will hold onto a half-game lead over the Curve as they head to Harrisburg to play the final three games of the first half against the Senators.
In other ‘Ducks tales…
The Eastern League of Professional Baseball announced on Wednesday four roster additions for next week’s Eastern League All-Star Game in response to several recent promotions around the league.
Two members of Akron’s bullpen, J.P. Feyereisen and Louis Head, were added to the Western Division team, replacing two former members of the RubberDucks, starting pitcher Shawn Morimando and reliever Perci Garner. The pair had been recently promoted to the roster of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
Terry Francona pulled out all of the stops in Friday’s 19-inning marathon against the Toronto Blue Jays, which included using the Indians’ Saturday starter, Trevor Bauer, for five innings of relief in order to claim Cleveland’s 14th straight victory. As every win counts, the move paid off as the Indians won their 49th game of the season, but it left a notable void for the game three pitching probable.
While fans pondered all of the more obvious names on the Columbus Clippers roster, one thing became abundantly clear – the answer was not in Triple-A. Mike Clevinger and Will Roberts had pitched the previous two days and Ross Detwiler, in line for a start Saturday, had been placed on the temporary inactive list. T.J. House, who has Major League starting experience, hasn’t made a start since June 8, working his last seven appearances in relief. Cody Anderson and Ryan Merritt both reside on the disabled list and Adam Plutko, who has made three impressive starts for the Clippers, would be on short rest, which is no way to make a Major League debut.
The eyes then turned to Akron, where one option made some sense – 23-year-old left-hander Shawn Morimando, whose fifth day would be Saturday. Even better, the southpaw has pitched well throughout the season with the exception of two early June starts and he was already on the Indians’ 40-man roster, but the organization has made it common practice to not promote from that deep into the farm system if it does not have to (Jose Ramirez‘s September call-up in 2013 beyond one of the few recent examples).
Ultimately, Morimando got the call up on Saturday and he will have an opportunity to help the Tribe as Zach McAllister makes the start against the Jays. The club wanted to use Morimando as a spot starter, but due to his late arrival in Toronto Saturday morning after travel and passport delays, he will instead help out the bullpen after everyone but Cody Allen worked on Friday. McAllister would be expected to last no more than a couple innings at most.
The RubberDucks’ slide continues in Eastern League play, as the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians has played the opposite of their parent club, putting together an 8-22 month of June after Thursday’s 1-0 loss in Erie.
Somehow, despite the abysmal month, Akron is still right in the thick of things at the top of the Eastern League’s Western Division at 44-37, just a game and a half behind Altoona.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
The Cleveland Indians farm system has been well represented in midseason All-Star Games across the levels and the same will be said for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks later this month.
Six RubberDucks were selected for the Eastern League’s Western Division squad for the July 13 game from Akron’s Canal Park. The players will be coached in the game by their manager, Dave Wallace, hitting coach Tim Laker, pitching coach Tony Arnold, coach Luke Carlin, trainer Jeremy Heller, and strength and conditioning coach Scott Nealon.
Starting pitcher Shawn Morimando, reliever Perci Garner, catcher Jeremy Lucas, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer will stay at home in Ohio to participate in the honor during the Eastern League’s All-Star break. Frazier and Morimando made the club through the fan vote.
Major League Baseball announced the U.S. and World rosters for the upcoming 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and two Cleveland Indians top prospects were selected to participate.
Former Indians first round pick Clint Frazier and catcher Francisco Mejia will represent the organization on Sunday, July 10, in the game from Petco Park in San Diego, California. Frazier is one of six outfielders on the U.S. roster, while Mejia is one of the two catchers selected for the World team.
The exhibition game will feature 15 former first round picks and players from a total of eleven different countries/territories.