While plenty of focus has been given to the big name free agents departing the Cleveland Indians organization this offseason, there has been plenty of movement down on the farm for the club’s minor league free agent class.
The names are nowhere near as big as Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, and Joe Smith, who have all signed lucrative contracts in Philadelphia, Colorado, and Houston, respectively, nor are they as big as Jay Bruce, who is still testing the free agent waters while waiting for the right deal, but the moves cut into some of the existing depth in the team’s minor league system.
The Cleveland Indians’ season may be over and the World Series nearly half way complete, but competitive baseball continues to be played at spots across the globe.
Eight different Tribe prospects are in Glendale, Arizona, working in Arizona Fall League play. Four more have headed to South America to work in the Venezuelan Winter League, while nine more have taken up temporary residence in the Caribbean while participating in the Dominican Winter League.
Three different Tribe position prospects and six pitchers are scattered throughout the six-team Liga de Beisbol Dominicano.
The Columbus Clippers’ most recent road trip did not go as planned as the club dropped a pair of series in Lehigh Valley and Buffalo and is marred in a five-game losing streak. The skid is their second streak of three games lost or more already this season.
A rough and heavy road schedule to start the year has put the Clippers (7-10) in the loss column much more frequently than the win one. Already 17 games into the season, they have hosted just one four-game home series this season and they dropped that series in the middle of the month three games to one to Louisville. After going 5-2 in a seven-game trip to start the season, their most recent roadie was far less productive as the club won its opener against the IronPigs last Tuesday before dropping the next two in Lehigh Valley and all three in Buffalo as the Bisons outscored the Clippers by a 19-7 tally in the sweep.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon that the guest list for Spring Training at their Goodyear, Arizona, complex beginning in February has grown by eight.
The Tribe will welcome minor league pitchers Josh Martin and Tyler Olson, infielders Nellie Rodriguez, Ronny Rodriguez, and Eric Stamets, outfielders Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer, and utility man Yandy Diaz to their spring camp on non-roster invites.
The eight will audition for jobs with the Indians while getting a good opportunity to warm up for the 2017 season against other Major League caliber competition.
Gwinnett jumped on Columbus starter Shawn Morimando early and often as the Braves rolled to an easy 11-1 victory over the Clippers from Georgia on Friday night to take a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-five International League’s Governors’ Cup Semifinals.
The G-Braves gave starter Chris Ellis an early cushion on the mound, striking for two runs in the bottom of the first against Columbus’ Morimando. With one down, Mel Rojas Jr. singled and stole second before a walk by Ronnier Mustelier. Blake Lalli singled to right to load the bases and Sean Kazmar lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Rojas Jr. with the first run. A wild pitch from Morimando let a second run score before a fly ball ended the inning.
The team that helped the Columbus Clippers claim the International League West Division crown will not be the same team that tries to advance to the Governors Cup later in the month. The September call-ups have deprived the Clippers of several weapons from their bullpen and several more regular contributors from their every day lineup.
With the division already locked up, the Clippers (80-61) have gone on a bit of a losing skid, dropping three straight, four of their last five, and six of their last eight. Despite the tough stretch with the roster in a state of flux, their lead over Indianapolis and Louisville sits at eleven games heading into action over the weekend. They will wrap up their season with one more at home against Toledo before heading to the northwest corner of the state for two more against the Mud Hens before the playoffs start on Wednesday. In addition to the Clippers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the North Division have locked up playoffs spots, with the South Division completely up for grabs between four teams who will all finish with records below .500.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
On Wednesday, Columbus reliever Cody Anderson struck out the Indianapolis Indians’ Austin Meadows swinging to strike out the side and clinch the International League West Division for the Clippers with a 3-1 win at Victory Field.
Pushing their lead to 14 games, the Clippers became the first Triple-A team to clinch a division crown in 2016 as the club won its third title in the last three years. Columbus will get to relax some prior to the playoffs this season, which is a big change from their late September 7 clinch date last season. Twelve games remain on the Clippers schedule for this season while the team awaits its opponent for their postseason run.
At 78-54, Columbus is riding its hottest streak of the season, as it has now won nine straight games.
After a good start to their season, the Columbus Clippers have entered a tough stretch of play on the field. Their lineup has been a revolving door with players heading back and forth to Cleveland, Akron, and the disabled list. They have lost two-fifths of their starting rotation to stretches on the Indians roster and have played without third baseman Giovanny Urshela and outfielder Michael Choice for long stretches.
After hitting ten games above the .500 mark on May 11, the team has slumped, playing at a 9-12 pace in the last 21 games. They have also been shut out five different times since May 16. They have split a pair of series in the last week, taking two of three in a low scoring series last weekend against Durham, outscoring the Bulls 5-3 with two games decided by shutouts. They followed it by dropping two of three against Buffalo, who has now won five of their last six against the Clippers. Columbus entered the weekend with a 10-3 loss on Friday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to drop to 30-24 on the season, but remains a game and a half in front of the Indianapolis Indians for first place in the International League West Division.
In other Clippers news from the Ohio state capital:
Using a lineup consisting of just four players who began the year in Columbus, the Clippers dropped the finale of their series against Indianapolis on Thursday, giving the Indians a series win with three victories in the four-game set. The Clippers failed to capitalize with runners on base against Jameson Taillon, a top pitching prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After going 15-7 in April, the Clippers are now 9-9 in May. Despite the cold spell and their struggles on the road (9-11), they remain atop the International League West Division with a 24-16 record. The Clippers will wrap up a seven-game road trip with three games over the weekend against Louisville before an off-day Monday. They will then return home to Columbus, where they will play six straight against Buffalo and Durham before hitting the road again.
In other Clippers news from Columbus:
The 21-11 Columbus Clippers have a good thing going in their defense of the Governors’ Cup.
The Clippers improved to 6-4 in the month of May with a 10-2 win on Wednesday after their eleven-game winning streak came to an end on the first of May. They have now won eleven consecutive games at their home Huntington Park and improved to 13-3 playing in Columbus this season.
First place Columbus will continue their seven-game homestand with one more with Lehigh Valley on Thursday morning before hosting the second place Louisville Bats over the weekend. They will also host everyone’s favorite high school principal, Bayside High’s own Mr. Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) from the beloved early 1990’s sitcom “Saved By The Bell” on Friday night.
In other Clippers news from the Ohio state capital:
If you have not paid attention to the results down in Columbus for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A farm club, the Clippers, you have missed out on an impressive stretch of baseball being played right now.
Since a four-game losing streak in the days following four postponements in a five-day span and a pair of early April doubleheaders, the Clippers have sailed away to an incredible start. Since ending their losing skid against Indianapolis on April 16, the club has gone 16-4.
They dropped just two more games in the second half of April, losing a series in Louisville against the Bats. The Clippers then ripped off eleven straight wins before losing the series opener and the rubber match in Charlotte against the Knights. They got back onto the winning path on Friday with a 9-2 victory in Toledo over the Mud Hens in a well-pitched game from Indians pitching prospect Mike Clevinger, who improved to 4-0 in six starts this season with a 3.03 ERA.
While late comebacks and shutouts were the tale for several of the Indians’ minor league farm clubs heading into the weekend, the long ball became the hero for two of the Cleveland affiliates on Saturday and Sunday.
After a tough 3-2 loss in eleven innings in Indianapolis to the Indians on Friday night, the Clippers looked to even things up on Saturday. The home team took an early 1-0 lead as Daniel Ortiz homered off of Columbus’ Jarrett Grube in the second, but a two-out RBI-double in the top of the fifth from Michael Choice scored Anthony Recker, who had reached on a single, to tie the game at one apiece.