The Columbus Clippers will kick off a special 2018 season on Friday night.
Huntington Park will play host to both the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11 and the Triple-A National Championship Game on September 18, putting the home of the Clippers in the spotlight for some of the biggest games in minor league baseball in 2018. This season also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Clippers move downtown from their old digs at Cooper Stadium.
Last season, the Clippers missed the playoffs, finishing second in the International League’s West Division with a 71-71 record. The team has a lot of new faces for 2018, looking to improve upon that mark under another year of Chris Tremie’s leadership. It will be year 13 as a manager for Tremie in the Indians’ farm system, including his sixth straight season at the helm in Columbus.
The big league diamonds in Goodyear, Arizona, got a little less crowded on Monday as the Cleveland Indians announced several roster moves with just over two weeks to go until their regular season kicks off in Seattle.
Five players – Abraham Almonte, Francisco Mejia, Julian Merryweather, Shawn Morimando, and Adam Plutko – were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Four more – Bobby Bradley, Louis Head, Josh Martin, and Adam Wilk – were reassigned to minor league camp. The most notable names of the nine, however, were those of Almonte and Mejia.
Cleveland prospects getting a little extra time in the sun in the desert of Arizona saw their offseason activity come to a close last Thursday with the completion of the Arizona Fall League regular season schedule.
Tribe players teamed with those from the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates to form the Glendale Desert Dogs roster. Glendale finished with a winning record at 16-14, but landed two games in back of the Peoria Javelinas (18-12) for the top mark in the AFL West Division.
While Major League Baseball is down to its final games of the 2017 season, the Cleveland Indians are, unfortunately, working through the decisions facing the club as the Tribe prepares for the 2018 campaign.
While most players are resting up from what was an exciting, but ultimately disappointing season, a handful of minor leaguers are working their way through fall and winter league activities. Most notably in the mix are two of the club’s top two prospects, Francisco Mejia and Bobby Bradley, who are among eight players participating for the Indians in the Arizona Fall League. Mejia has put up a .400/.405/.571 slash through eight games while working to add third base to his list of defensive skills. He has hit a pair of homers and driven in five. Bradley has provided a little more in the power department, hitting two doubles, two homers, and a triple while driving in six, but the strikeouts have been plentiful for the big slugger, who has gone down on strikes 18 times in 44 at bats in eleven games.
The Indians have been well represented by their prospects in Arizona. Mejia will represent the Tribe and the Glendale Desert Dogs on the AFL West Fall Stars roster and will be joined by reliever Argenis Angulo (High-A Lynchburg) on the team. Bradley is part of the Final 2 vote for the team, as he will need to pull in more votes than Royals shortstop prospect Nicky Lopez and Rangers minor league outfielder Yanio Perez in order to participate in the All-Star Game.
Arizona Fall League play is under way as some of the top prospects around the minor league landscape pair up for competition in the annual six-team offseason league.
Hopeful prospects are a week into the six-week schedule as players work to hone their craft against a collection of some of the best up-and-coming names working their way through the levels of professional baseball. The Indians are well represented in their home-away-from-home in Arizona, where eight of their minor leaguers help make up the roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Those eight Indians prospects have teamed up with representatives from the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates for league action in Glendale this year, after Cleveland players worked with different clubs while playing for the Mesa Solar Sox last October and November.
The Cleveland Indians did something they had never done in their 117-year history on Sunday, completing a four-game sweep over the Tigers in Detroit to win their eleventh consecutive game.
The Indians may be the team to beat in the American League as they won their eleventh game in a row, joining a nine-game streak from the end of July to make them one of the top teams in baseball in the second half. They were backed by a strong return to the mound by Josh Tomlin, who made his first start in over a month, and an incredible game by Jose Ramirez that was also a historic performance in the long history of Major League Baseball.
Game one of Friday’s doubleheader between Cleveland and Detroit came down to an RBI-single in the top of the ninth and a nail-biter finish with the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame in a 3-2 Indians win.
The Tribe made sure game two was nowhere near as close. Two runs in the second, three in the fourth, and five more in the sixth paced starter Mike Clevinger and three arms from the bullpen to a 10-0 victory in the nightcap from Comerica Park as the Indians (78-56) swept their second consecutive doubleheader and increased their winning streak to nine straight games, matching a season-high (July 21-29).
Six members total between the Akron RubberDucks and Columbus Clippers earned the honor of playing in their respective league’s All-Star Games this week and several took advantage of the opportunity on a big stage to shine.
The International League faced off with the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday night from Tacoma, Washington. A four-run fourth inning by the PCL All-Stars would prove to be too much for the IL squad to overcome in a 6-4 contest. Columbus’ Richie Shaffer was one of the players to best utilize his time as his performance for the losing squad earned him the league’s All-Star Game MVP award.
All-Star games are the theme of the week as one day after Major League Baseball hosted its annual Midsummer Classic and several days after top prospects united for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, both the International League and the Eastern League will play their respective games on Wednesday night.
The Indians’ top farm affiliate, the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, have just two representatives in Tacoma, Washington, for the Triple-A All-Star Game between the best of the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Richie Shaffer received the early invitation through voting, but middle infielder Eric Stamets was also asked to participate as a reserve.
The future was now on Sunday, even if most people missed it.
Major League Baseball has done an effective job of hiding the All-Star Futures Game, a collection of some of the best and brightest upcoming stars on the minor league stage. With a great opportunity to get the names of these young budding prospects out on a national level, the game was stashed away in the middle of the day Sunday while the big boys in the Majors wrapped up the first half of the 2017 playing schedule.
Francisco Mejia has proven himself to be quite the player to watch over the last season and a half as he has blossomed into a potent hitter while working his way through the Indians farm system. He put some of that prowess to the test last week, and with an incredible hitting effort in a five-game span, earned himself the praise of the Eastern League as the Akron catcher was named the Player of the Week.
A streaky May has turned into a very even month of June for the Akron RubberDucks, who won their last two games over the weekend to take their series in New Hampshire against the Fisher Cats, ending a six-game road trip.
At 5-5 in the month and 28-30 on the season, the ‘Ducks sit in fourth place in the Eastern League Western Division, three and a half games in back of the Altoona Curve. They have been as close to even across the splits this season, putting up a 13-16 record at Canal Park, a 15-14 record on the road, and a 15-15 mark within the division.