Triple-A Trickledown: Columbus
Good afternoon from gorgeously sunny NBT Bank Stadium, where the Chiefs and Clippers are ready to play the fourth of a four-game set. Syracuse and Columbus are going to play five more times in the next 10 days, so it might be a good idea to get to know the Clippers a little bit with our latest edition of Triple-A Trickledown…
Catcher: Omir Santos, Chris Wallace
There’s good catching depth here with Santos, a 32-year-old veteran of 122 major league games, who’s on the Indians’ 40 man-roster, and Wallace, a 25-year-old acquired from Houston, who’s a .275 career hitter in four minor league seasons. Cleveland, however, is in terrific shape up in the major leagues. Behind Carlos Santana, who might be the best hitter in the American League so far this season, there’s 25-year-old catcher Yan Gomes, an intriguing prospect with six extra-base hits in 15 games. Veteran backstop Lou Marson’s also on the Disabled List with a sore right shoulder.
First Base: Matt LaPorta
LaPorta, the seventh overall pick back in 2007, is with Columbus for at last part of the season for the fifth straight year. He’s got a career .900 OPS in 225 Triple-A games, but he’s scuffled a bit with Cleveland. LaPorta’s posted just a .238 average and .694 OPS in his 291-game Indians career, and he was removed from the 40-man roster this offseason. Since no team claimed LaPorta, he’s back to terrorize the drawn-in fences at Columbus’ Huntington Park.
Second Base: Matt Lawson, Cord Phelps
Phelps, who went 0 for 8 with Cleveland this year, has gotten off to a rough start with Columbus this season. He’s hit just .229 in 25 games with 11 walks to 26 strikeouts. Phelps is a 40-man roster member, but he’s only 18 for 112 in his major league career. Lawson’s a 27-year-old career minor leaguer in his first-ever Triple-A season. Meanwhile, former Clippers standout Jason Kipnis has sported a .775 OPS in 31 games with Cleveland while batting largely out of the #2 spot.
Shortstop: Juan Diaz
Diaz, a 24-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with five Cleveland games last season. He’s started slow in 2013, though, batting .209 in 36 Clippers games with 40 strikeouts to seven walks. The Indians, meanwhile, are in solid shape with Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles at shortstop. Diaz is a bit stuck – he’s not currently a good enough offensive player to work his way onto the major-league roster, and he’s never played a game outside of shortstop in his professional career.
Third Base: Adam Abraham, Lonnie Chisenhall, Ryan Rohlinger
Chisenhall is the big name here, a 24-year-old former first-round pick who sported just a .213/.253/.351 line in 26 games with Cleveland. He was sent down just in time for the start of this four-game series, and he’ll likely be back up at some point this season if he works out some swing issues. The Indians, though, are in fine shape right now with Mark Reynolds and his 11 home runs manning the hot corner. Abraham, a 26-year-old, and Rohlinger, a 30-year-old former major leaguer, provide infield depth.
Outfield: Ezequiel Carrera, Matt Carson, Tim Fedroff, Jeremy Hermida, Cedric Hunter
Carrera’s had a roller coaster ride to begin the season. He was claimed by the Phillies from Cleveland off of waivers and went for 1 in 13 in 13 games up in the big leagues. Philadelphia then designated Carrera for assignment, and the Indians scooped him back up – before later designating him for assignment again. So Carrera’s here in Columbus, but he’s no longer on the Tribe’s 40 man-roster. The only 40-man member in this group, strangely enough, is Fedroff – though he’s the only one of the five outfielders here not to appear in a single major-league game. Fedroff’s a 26-year-old who sported a .325/.393/.517 line in 69 games with Columbus last year. He’s on his way back there thanks to a .365 average to date in May. Fedroff could find his way in the majors with an injury to one of the Indians’ four outfielders – Ryan Raburn, Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs, all of whom are off to solid starts.
Hermida, who’s been a major leaguer for at least some portion of the last eight years, leads the Clippers in most offensive categories at the moment. He’s joined by Hunter, a 24-year-old former top prospect in the Padres’ organization, and Carson, a 31-year-old who got some time last year up in Minnesota.
Starting Pitchers: Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, T.J. House, Joe Martinez, Toru Murata, Danny Salazar
Top prospect Bauer isn’t on the Clippers’ roster that’s in front of me right now, but he’s not on the Indians’ active roster right now, either, and he was only called up for a spot start. So, you figure it out. Bauer could certainly find his way to a regular rotation spot soon enough, considering three-fifths of the Indians’ rotation sports an ERA north of 5.00 (Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber).
The rest of the rotation spells good fortune for the Indians’ future, with a pair of 23-year-olds in House and Salazar and a 26-year-old in Carrasco, all of whom are on the Indians’ 40-man roster. Martinez, a 30-year-old journeyman in his second tour of duty with the tribe, and Murata, a 27-year-old in his third season with the Indians’ minor leagues, round out the group.
Relief Pitchers: Scott Barnes, Jerry Gil, Preston Guilmet, Matt Langwell, Fernando Nieve, Giovanni Soto
Barnes, the lone 40-man member of the group, is a left-handed former starter with a 7.50 ERA in 10 games this season – far and away the worst ERA in a top-to-bottom strong bullpen. Closer Guilmet’s been a stalwart, with a 2.95 ERA and 13-for-14 save success rate in his first Triple-A year. Former big leaguer Nieve has a 0.99 ERA in 10 games, with a crazy 31-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those two might be the first right-handers up if needed. In the majors, though, Cleveland’s well-stocked with right-handers, with Matt Albers’ 4.38 ERA the worst right-handed mark. Left-hander Nick Hagadone sports a 7.20 mark to bring up the rear for southpaws, so a good season from the 22-year-old Soto could find him knocking on Cleveland’s door.
The Chiefs and Clippers take the field tonight at 7:00. Our clubhouse show starts at 6:45 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network. See you there.