The Cleveland Indians, who went from being a bad team in 2010 to an average team 2011, are hoping to make the leap to the next level in 2012. With the major midseason trade for Ubaldo Jimenez and resent acquisition of veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe, Tribe management is showing the desire to win now. The team is even likely to make more of a splash in free agency than in most offseasons.
While trades and free agents have and will add veteran leadership to the club, the Indians are still expected to be young. The Tribe will remain bolstered and built on fresh faces like Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin and Vinnie Pestano, who were all in the minor leagues within the last two years.
The Cleveland Indians gave their fans plenty of reasons to be excited this past summer. They improved their win total from a scant 69 wins in 2010 to an adequate 80 in 2011. That’s reason enough for excitement in looking forward. The Columbus Clippers, Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, have given Tribe brass plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future, as well.
Cleveland’s 2011 campaign was marked with a number of players who made their Major League debuts after promotions from Columbus. From expected superstars in Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, to surprises like Ezequiel Carrera, the pipeline between the Clippers and Indians was quite active. From those players, and several others, Cleveland fans got to see the future appears to be paved with positive things. Even the players who Indians fans did not have the pleasure to see this season are soon to come in the next year and give promise as the back-to-back Triple-A champion Clippers. They have a talented bunch of players waiting and chomping at the bit to contribute to what the Indians hope will be a playoff contender next year and the following several, as well.
Jason Kipnis was named to both the Triple-A and the Minor League All-Star teams by Baseball America on Friday. Kipnis, who also was selected to play in the Futures Game at the Major League All-Star Game, helped pace the Columbus Clippers until he was called up to the Indians in late July.
Kipnis, named the starting second baseman on the Triple-A All-Star team, hit .280 with 12 home runs and 55 runs batted in before his promotion. Zach McAllister was also named to the Triple-A team. McAllister was 12-3, with a 3.32 ERA in 155 innings pitched at Columbus. McAllister has made two spot starts for the Indians this season but has struggled in each.
By Matt Van Wormer
While the Cleveland Indians are battling for a spot in the 2011 playoffs, there is a team just two hours south of the parent club that are looking to repeat as International League and Triple-A National Champions. The Columbus Clippers (77-45) are, once again, tearing up the International League and hold a 12.5 game lead over the Indianapolis Indians. They have eight more wins than any other team in the league with just three weeks left before the Playoffs start.
The Clippers are in just their third season as a Cleveland Indians affiliate, serving the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates in years past. Buffalo used to be home to the Indians’ highest minor league team but moving the team to Columbus just made sense. Not only is Columbus closer to Cleveland, it also gives the Indians another fan base within the state as they root for the players that hope to, one day, make it to the Big League ballclub.