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 the parent Cleveland Indians have danced all around the .500 mark through the first month of the season, all of their children are performing well at the minor league level.
This very much includes their Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, who won their eighth straight game and second in a row in dramatic fashion with a 5-4 victory at Huntington Park on Thursday afternoon over the Charlotte Knights.
The Clippers finish their homestand with a perfect 8-0 record.
The Indians were not the only team in the organization to see its season and Home Opener spoiled by the weather in the region. The same thing happened to the Columbus Clippers on Thursday night as they tried to usher in the 2016 Triple-A season at Huntington Park.
The Clippers will try again on Friday to host the Indianapolis Indians, their playoff competition in the International League Finals in 2015. The Clippers defeated them in that series to claim the Governors’ Cup, only to lose in the Triple-A National Championship to the Fresno Grizzlies, affiliate of the Houston Astros, in the winner-take-all game.
Postponed home openers are not unfamiliar to those in the state capital. It is the third time in the last four years that it has happened to the Clippers. With the cancellation on Thursday, the team has revised their tentative schedule for the weekend.
You can never have too much pitching. You can never have too much pitching. You can never have too much pitching…
If there is one thing the Cleveland Indians did not seem too concerned about heading into this offseason, it was the status of their starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Danny Salazar solidified positions at the front end of the Indians rotation. Trevor Bauer had some bumps in his road, but has age and stuff both very much on his side moving into the 2016 season. Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson both had impressive stretches in small sample sizes to throw their respective hats into the competition for the limited number of innings available for the remaining Tribe staff moving forward.
After that, though, the picture is a bit murky, at least for the immediate future. While Cleveland has some options at the Triple-A level, the real depth and optimism may lie in some of the arms further down in the farm system. But where the team is lightest – southpaws – they do have an enticing option in the state who is coming off of back-to-back impressive seasons in Ryan Merritt.
Not every pitcher in the league needs to be able to throw 95 mph to be successful. It takes more than just being able to blow it past the batter to get a guy out. Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of control, and a whole lot of commitment. Ryan Merritt is the definition of a guy with impeccable control.
Merritt was drafted by the Indians in the the 16th round in the 2011 draft when he was only 19. He’s spent five seasons in the Indians system thus far and has a career ERA of 3.31. Merritt is one of the Indians’ top left-handed pitchers in their farm system.
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.
With the All Star break over and gone, the Akron RubberDucks are looking forward to September. While this team may not have looked exciting on paper, they’ve managed to put together a solid season thus far through 2015. Through the first half of 2015, the RubberDucks stood at a record of 47-43 and as of July 20, they’re sitting in third place of the Eastern League Western division with a record of 50-44. Going into the second half, and beyond, they’re sporting a higher than .500 record, and have real chances of seeing playing time once September rolls around.
Looking back at the first half, the RubberDucks have a lot they should be proud of, but there are definite parts of their game that need to be improved on.
As a pitcher is growing up, the first skill that they are taught is the ability of how to throw a strike. As time moves on, you begin to move away from just throwing a strike with a fastball, to throwing strikes with a variety of pitches. From there, you begin to take that knowledge and enhance your view of the batter at the plate, and find ways to get them to turn what should be called a ball outside, to a swinging strike by the batter. For some, that takes longer than others to adjust their mentality to this type of approach. For lefty Ryan Merritt, he’s starting to figure out why he needs to make this adjustment.
Merritt, 23, was drafted by the Indians in the sixteenth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He’s been in the Indians system since 2011 where he appeared in four games for Arizona rookie league. He’s spent parts of four season with short season Mahoning Valley, Low-A Lake County, High-A Carolina, and now Double-A Akron. In 2014, Merritt was awarded the Bob Feller award for being the best pitcher in the Indians minor league system. The year before this award was given to current big league starter Cody Anderson.
In 2014, he posted an outstanding ERA of 2.58, a record of 13-3 in 25 games. In those 25 games, he pitched a total of 160.1 innings, racked up 127 strikeouts to only 25 walks. Merritt is kind of a smaller guy. He build is unlike a lot of pitchers. Due to his size, he tends to stay around the 90’s for his fastball, but his ability to control his pitches is what makes him so effective. He’s got a very similar build to fellow Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin. Well, aside from the fact that Merritt toes from the left side of the rubber.
Last season, we saw a lot of changes come to Canal Park. A rebranding of the team name, renovations throughout the park, and haul of new prospects ready to give their all in effort to someday make their way to The Show. After a hot start to the season, the RubberDucks hit some bumps along the way due to injuries to key players, player promotions, and some end of the season fatigue. They still worked their way into the Eastern League playoffs, but were eventually eliminated in the first round, despite their best efforts. Now in their second season as the RubberDucks, returning manager David Wallace looks to continue to compete with a lineup that seems just as deep as it has been in years past.
To start off the season in 2014, there were plenty of household named prospects like Francisco Lindor, Giovanny Urshela, Joey Wendle, and Tyler Naquin. While Naquin is returning this year, starting on the disabled list, the rest of the players listed have either been promoted, or traded to another team. The squad coming into this season is full of guys that many casual baseball fans may not have ever heard of before. Players like Todd Hankins, Bryson Myles, Erik Gonzalez, or Anthony Gallas.
“They might not be as well known outside the organization, but to us they’re right up there…When I’m making out the lineup, and it’s laughable who I’m putting down in the 7-8-9 hole. We’ve got [Tony] Wolters, Myles and [Alex] Lavisky tonight who could be middle of the order guys. It’s a real balanced lineup, but we feel like we could be a threat to score in any inning, with any outs.” Wallace said following Thursday night’s victory against the Binghamton Mets.
It’s understood that the Indians need a right-handed power bat. But, like any want or need, it can’t be the only thing on the list. Batters aside, what else do the Indians need to bolster their organization?
A left-handed pitching prospect, you say?
Oh, don’t worry. They have that.
With the off-season coming to a close, baseball fans everywhere are starting to get excited about the prospect of pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona in less than two weeks and the prospect of prospects themselves. The offseason is a chance for players who have already “made it” to the bigs to continue to improve their stuff and maintain their dominance, and is also an opportunity for younger guys to put together the performances that will prove their worth during spring training. Whether prospects and players in the minor league ranks have invited to big league spring training or not, the Arizona pre-season is still their chance to prove where they should be in the system, and, perhaps more importantly, why they should still be there.
All organizations obviously have those players that they predict will make it far within the system. Whether it is breakout stars like Giovanny Urshela or Ryan Merritt, who recently were awarded the Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller awards, respectively, for their minor league performances, or highly-touted prospects like Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier, there are players throughout the minor league ranks that the Indians are preparing for a career with the big league team. One such step in this preparation is the annual Winter Development Program.