An exciting season comes to a conclusion tonight for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, as they take on the Fresno Grizzlies for the Gildan Triple-A National Championship.
In a decisive game five of the International League championship series on Saturday night, the Clippers defeated the Indianapolis Indians, 3-0, to win their third Governors’ Cup in the last six seasons (also 2010; 2011). It was their tenth cup in the franchise’s 38-year history and also tied them with Rochester for the most championships in league history.
Michael Choice, an outfielder acquired late in the season by the Indians from the Texas Rangers for cash, was named the Most Valuable Player of the IL playoffs.
The Clippers were 83-61 in the regular season and have a 6-4 record in the postseason.
Columbus is led by manager Chris Tremie. On the field, Jesus Aguilar was named an International League Postseason All-Star as the designated hitter. He hit .267 during the season with 19 homers, 29 doubles, and 93 RBI, easily leading the team in the latter three statistics. Outfielder Tyler Holt hit .302 during the season for the Clippers.
As can be the case for any minor league club, they saw their fair share of changes over the course of the year. Holt and Aguilar, two of their more consistent contributors, spent some time in Cleveland. Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall each played an extended number of games for the Clippers midseason before returning to their parent club after slow starts for the Indians. Francisco Lindor, one of the American League’s top rookie of the year candidates, hit .284 with two homers and 22 RBI in 59 games for the club before earning his promotion to the Majors.
Ryan Merritt, who will start the championship game for Columbus, was 2-0 in five starts for the Clippers this season with a 4.20 ERA. He started each of the intro games for the Clippers in the IL playoffs.
Prior to moving to Triple-A for the first time in his minor league career, Merritt pitched at Akron, where he was 10-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 22 games for the RubberDucks. The 23-year-old lefty is on the Indians’ 40-man roster.
Fresno, the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, earned its first ever Pacific Coast League championship over the weekend.
Twenty-four-year old right-hander Chris Devenski will start for the Grizzlies. The number 18 prospect in the Astros organization will be making his first start and third overall appearance at the Triple-A level after spending his season with Double-A Corpus Christi.
The Grizzlies will be without one of their leading offensive weapons, third baseman Matt Duffy, who received the call to the Majors with the Astros for their playoff push. He hit .294 during the season with 20 homers and 104 RBI and was named the PCL’s MVP. First baseman Jon Singleton, like his Columbus counterpart Aguilar, has spent time at the Major League level. He hit .254 this season with 22 homers and 83 RBI.
First pitch of the one-game winner-takes-all finale is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET tonight from the home of the El Paso Chihuahuas. The game can be seen on NBCSN and MiLB.TV and heard on AM920 WMNI in Columbus and on the TuneIn radio app.
Photo: David Monseur/MiLB.com