Triple-A Trickledown: Columbus

Hello from overcast and drizzly Columbus. The Chiefs started a four-game series with the Clippers – the Triple-A Cleveland Indians – yesterday, and they’ll play all eight of their games vs. Columbus in this month. With that in mind, we decided to dust off Triple-A Trickledown, where we examine a team’s roster and see why these particular playres are here – and where they might go.

Today’s version comes from Daniel Comisi, one of our broadcast interns, and examines the Triple-A Indians…

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Catcher: Roberto Perez, Luke Carlin

There’s good catching depth in Columbus with 25-year-old Perez and 33-year-old veteran Carlin. Perez is the everyday catcher, starting in 21 of the team’s 31 games. A 33rd-rounder from the 2008 draft, Perez has found his stroke, hitting five home runs this season after zero with Columbus last year. Carlin owns more experience here, having played 56 games over four years in the majors. The Indians just designated backup catcher George Kottaras for assignment, meaning converted third baseman Carlos Santana will have to give regular starter Yan Gomes a rest every now and then. Neither Perez nor Carlin are on the 40-man roster otherwise.

First Base: Jesus Aguilar, David Cooper

 

The 23 year-old Aguilar has started all of Columbus’s games this year. He leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBIs, and walks. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Aguilar is seeing Triple-A pitching for the first time in his career after spending the previous two years at Double-A Akron. The backup first baseman, 27 year-old David Cooper, has played 72 games in two years with the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s highly unlikely the Indians will send up Aguilar due to his young age and Nick Swisher holding down first base. However, if anything were to happen to Swisher, Aguilar is on the 40-man roster and can easily be called up to Cleveland. Here’s Terry Francona, on Aguilar, from a few days ago:

He’s doing a really good job. I guess the way he plays would probably [influence a promotion]. I mean, we’re not going to put [first baseman Nick Swisher] on the bench, but you don’t ever know what’s going to happen health-wise. If he ends up being a possibility here, we’d be thrilled, because that means he’s doing really well.

Second Base: Audy Ciriaco, Ryan Rohlinger

30 year-old Rohlinger signed with the Indians in 2013 and has been a starter in the Clippers infield for 27 of the team’s 32 games at either second or third base. With 46 games in four seasons in the majors, he’s the veteran of a young infield for Columbus. Ciriaco is a new addition to the Indians organization after spending his first nine years in the Detroit and Miami farm systems. The path to the majors as a second baseman is slim for both of these players, with Jose Ramirez currently up in Cleveland while All-Star Jason Kipnis is on the disabled list with an abdominal strain.

Third Base: Giovanny Urshela

At age 22, Urshela was called up to Columbus on May 3rd, and he’s started at third base ever since. He’s continued to crush the ball after hitting .300 with 5 home runs and 19 RBIs in 24 games at Akron. He’s 10 for 25 with three home runs so far with Columbus. Urshela may very well spend a year or two with Columbus for seasoning with the large number of corner infielders in Cleveland, including Santana, a former All-Star, and Lonnie Chisenhall, a former top prospect batting .338 through 24 games.

Shortstop: Justin Sellers

Sellers, a 28-year-old, is the everyday shortstop for the Clippers, having played 21 of his 26 games this year at short. He has some major-league experience, having played 82 games in three years with the L.A. Dodgers. With Asdrubal Cabrera currently struggling in the majors last year and to start off this year, a good stretch of productive hitting and good defense from Sellers could propel him back to the big leagues.

Outfield: Matt Carson, Tim Fedroff, Carlos Moncrief

There are only three outfielders on the Clippers roster this year, with 25-year-old Moncrief the only newcomer to the gang. Moncrief spent last year with Double-A Akron, batting .284 with 17 homers and 75 RBIs. Carson and Fedroff both spent their 2013 season with a Columbus jersey on their backs. Carson, age 32, played 92 major league games in four seasons with Oakland, Minnesota, and Cleveland. Fedroff, meanwhile, spent last season on the 40-man-roster, but he’s yet to make his major-league debut and was removed from the 40-man in September. If the injury bug strikes in Cleveland, only Moncrief is on the 40-man roster, meaning he’d be most likely to have his number called.

Starting Pitchers: Travis Banwart, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Cloyd, Kyle Davies, T.J. House

Top prospect Trevor Bauer is the big name here of this bunch. The 23 year-old right-hander has been long-heralded as one of the top prospects in the Cleveland organization. However, he’s bounced between the Clippers and Indians as he works to get better command of his pitches. Entering the 2014 season, Bauer had started nine games for the Indians with an ERA above 5.50. But this year he seems to be turning a corner at Columbus, throwing 40.1 innings with a sparkling ERA of 1.12 and 40 strikeouts.

Taking a look at the rest of the Clippers rotation: 28 year-old Banwart is now in his sixth year at AAA and his first with Columbus after spending the first seven years of career with Oakland. 26 year-old Cloyd has started 17 games in the majors with the Phillies, sporting an ERA of 4.76 in the bigs.  24 year-old House is in his second year with Columbus after starting 24 games last year, owning a 4.17 ERA in 164 innings. And Davies, a former Royal and Brave starter recovering from injury, threw seven innings of two-run ball in his first Columbus start. House owns a 1.77 ERA in six starts and is on the 40-man roster, but Bauer’s likely the first man up in Cleveland’s future.

Relief Pitchers: Austin Adams, Scott Barnes, Brett Brach, Nick Hagadone, Frank Herrmann, Mark Lowe, Vinnie Pestano, Blake Wood, Mike Zagurski

This is a terrific Triple-A bullpen with a bunch of live arms. Does it translate to the majors? Maybe not, as the Indians’ bullpen has been outstanding this year. Both Pestano (13.50 ERA in three games) and Wood (7.11 in seven games) have been up to Cleveland this year, with Adams, Hagadone and Barnes also on the 40-man roster. Those three, however, all sport ERAs in between 4.91 and 5.17 with Columbus, so there’s no clear front-runner out of that pack if the Indians need a reliever.

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The Chiefs and Clippers take the field at Huntington Park tonight at 7:05. Our pregame coverage begins on The Score 1260 at 6:50 PM.

KB

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