While the Indians have four more weeks to chase their playoff spot, the minor league regular season came to a close yesterday and the Tribe has three teams qualifying for postseason. After a disappointing 2013, where no Indians farm team qualified for postseason, getting three teams into the playoffs is a vast improvement. All three teams will begin the playoff journeys on Wednesday evening.
The Columbus Clippers will begin their pursuit of the Governor’s Cup in the International League’s Triple-A playoffs on Wednesday night at Huntington Park at 7:05 p.m. Winners of the Western Division, Columbus enters the five game series against the Durham Bulls with the lesser record. Columbus will host the first two games on Wednesday and Thursday, before playing the final three necessary games in Durham on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Clippers have helped provide aid to the Indians roster all season with players like Jose Ramirez, Jesus Aguilar, T.J. House, Tyler Holt and more, but currently, they are led by James Ramsey and top-prospect Francisco Lindor. Since the Indians acquired Ramsey on July 30, he has hit .288, with three home runs and 16 runs batted in. Lindor, who played the first half of the season at Double-A, has hit .277, with five home runs and 14 runs batted in, while scoring 23 runs. Giovanny Urshela has led the team offensively most of the year, with 13 homers and a .274 batting average. Both Clippers home games will be Dime-A-Dog Night for fans.
What seemed like a certainty months ago, was almost not-to-be in Akron. The Double-A RubberDucks were one of the best teams in all of minor league baseball for the first two months, but promotions of Urshela and Lindor to Columbus and injuries to Tyler Naquin, Joe Wendle and Joseph Colon have left Akron struggling to the finish. Akron clinched on Sunday afternoon despite their ninth loss in the last 10 games. Erik Gonzalez has provided much of the offense since the injuries occurred and Lindor’s promotion. Since replacing Lindor at shortstop, Gonzalez has hit .360 and scored 20 runs. Northeast Ohio born, Anthony Gallas, has hit 16 home runs and hit .293 since his promotion in June. Gallas, Gonzalez, Bryson Myles and Wendle—who has returned from a broken hand—will try to start a fresh season on Wednesday night against the Western Division winners of the Eastern League, the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The two teams will play the first two games at Canal Park on Wednesday and Thursday night at 6:35 p.m., before concluding the five game series in Richmond next weekend.
The Low-A Lake County Captains may be the most improved team in the Indians minor league system this season. After finishing in last place during the first half of the season, the Captains made the most of a clean slate in the second half, going 38-30 and earning a Wild Card spot. The Captains have grown while 18-year old center fielder Clint Frazier and 19-year old Nellie Rodriguez have grown. After slow starts, full of strikeouts, the two have improved and become more polished as the season has progressed. Mitch Brown and Luis Lugo will give the Captains a chance on the mound against the South Bend Silver Hawks. Lake County will receive some extra help with the promotion of this year’s top pick, Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer had a fine season at Short-Season Mahoning Valley and will play right field along side last year’s top pick in Frazier. The opening round of Midwest League play is just a best-of-three series, so Lake County will need to win their opener at Classic Park on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. They’ll bus to South Bend to play the rest of the series on Thursday and Friday.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer