Hello from Huntington Park, a beautiful downtown ballpark in Columbus, Ohio. The Chiefs and Columbus Clippers meet for the first of eight times this season – with all eight games between the two teams coming in the next 13 days. Here’s a look at the Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, in our latest “Triple-A Trickledown”…
Catcher: Luke Carlin, Matt Pagnozzi
Carlos Santana has a firm grip on the starting catching job in the major leagues for Cleveland, but Lou Marson’s just 2 for 21 as the Indians’ backup. If there’s a spot to be had in the majors, Carlin, who’s hitting .265 and has major league experience, would likely take it over Pagnozzi, who played in the majors for a bit last season but is currently hitting .215 with Columbus. Veteran backstop Michel Hernandez is also waiting in Double-A if needed.
First Base: Beau Mills, Matt LaPorta
LaPorta, a one-time top prospect who was acquired as the centerpiece of Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia deal, has had some trouble adjusting to major league pitching to date. But Triple-A’s been a vastly different story, with LaPorta mashing IL hurlers this season to the tune of a .333/.408/.658 slash line with 10 home runs in 31 games. Meanwhile, full-time big league starter Casey Kotchman is at .198 with three home runs, so LaPorta may soon get another chance to prove himself. Mills, a 25-year-old who’s a former first-round pick, has been solid but not spectacular to date, and is likely to spend the season with Columbus since he’s not on the 40-man roster.
Second Base: Cord Phelps
Phelps has started 36 of the Clippers’ 37 games at second base this season with decent offensive numbers, but a former Clipper’s right ahead of him in the major leagues. Jason Kipnis, who’s started all 35 games for the Indians, has excelled in the bigs with a .281 average and six home runs. A backup spot could be open with veteran Jose Lopez off to a sub-.200 start, but the organization may want to give the 25-year-old Phelps regular at-bats and keep him in Triple-A.
Shortstop: Gregorio Petit, Justin Toole
Cleveland’s likely filed this position under “don’t worry unless there’s an injury”, because 26-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera has turned into one of the Indians’ best players in the major leagues. The switch-hitter’s posted a .316/.414/.500 line, with 17 walks to just 9 strikeouts and 12 doubles on the season. Petit’s hitting just .213 with limited power and patience, while the just-promoted Toole was hitting .196 with Class A-Advanced Carolina. At Double-A Akron, shortstop Juan Diaz is hitting just .234, but he’s a 40-man roster member who was promoted for last season’s Triple-A playoffs.
Third Base: Lonnie Chisenhall, Andy LaRoche
Jack Hannahan’s been above-average as Cleveland’s starting third baseman this year, but Chisenhall’s lying in wait in case of a slip-up or injury. The 23-year-old (who’s currently on the Disabled List) was a first-round pick of the Indians in the 2008 draft and has quickly shot up the minor league system, splitting time between Triple-A and the major leagues last season. This year, Chisenhall’s batting average and slugging percentage are second on the team, only behind Matt LaPorta. LaRoche, a 28-year-old major league veteran, is likely here to provide organizational depth for the Indians – though it’s comforting having someone who’s played in the majors for parts of each of the last five seasons.
Outfield: Russ Canzler, Ezequial Carrera, Ben Copeland, Chad Huffman
Canzler – last year’s International League MVP – and Carrera are the two 40-man roster players here, but neither is off to an especially hot start with Columbus. However, Cleveland’s major league outfield is somewhat of a mess, with none of the Indians’ five main outfielders posting a batting average higher than .261 or an OPS above .700. And former star center fielder Grady Sizemore, who’s struggled in each of the last two seasons, is out until at least June after knee surgery. All of that begs the question – what in the world are Tim Fedroff and Jared Goedert doing in Double-A? Fedroff – 25 years old – is hitting .339 with a .430 on-base percentage after hitting .338 with Akron and .272 with Columbus last season. Meanwhile, Goedert, who’s hit 35 home runs in the last two seasons with Columbus, is hitting an astronomical .362 with 12 extra-base hits and 20 walks. Huffman’s having a solid season, but the 28-year-old Copeland hasn’t played or hit much so far. Seems like the winds of change could be blowing soon…
Starting Pitchers: Eric Berger, Paolo Espino, David Huff, Corey Kluber, Chris Seddon, Kevin Slowey
Huff, Kluber and Slowey are the three 40-man starters on Columbus’ roster, with Kluber’s 2.58 ERA in seven starts providing the standout mark of the bunch. However, the right-hander’s only pitched in three career major league games, with an 8.31 ERA, and he’s yet to pitch more than six innings in a game this season. Huff, a 2006 first-round pick, posted a solid 4.09 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) with Cleveland last year – and he’s left-handed – while Slowey, a major league veteran, has struggled with a near 6:00-ERA this season. There’s probably not an open spot in Cleveland’s rotation in the moment, especially with Zach McAllister temporarily called up after an injury to Josh Tomlin. But down at Akron, 22-year-old left-hander T.J. McFarland is going to be hard to ignore for much longer, at 6-1 with a 2.18 ERA in seven starts.
Relief Pitchers: Cody Allen, Hector Ambriz, Scott Barnes, Frank Herrmann, Matt Langwell, Chris Ray
The two 40-man players here are Barnes and Herrmann, a pair of left-handers who have been solid but not overwhelming statistically. The fact that they’re left-handers could help, with the worst ERA in the bullpen belonging to Tony Sipp’s 6.94 mark. However, Sipp sported a 3.03 mark last season, so he’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt for some time. A perhaps-familiar name to casual fans in this bullpen could be Ray, a former Orioles closer who saved 33 games with the O’s in 2006. But injuries set back Ray, who missed nearly all of 2008, and he’s now on his fifth organization in four years. However, the right-hander’s 2.08 ERA this season could mean that he’s back on the right track.
That’s all for now – as always, your thoughts are welcomed at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Saturday to everyone. Today, in the third part of our ongoing 72-part series, we analyze the Rochester Red Wings roster, because you can’t spell “Rochester” without “roster”. Actually, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Never mind. Let’s move on.
Catcher: Rene Rivera, J.R. Towles
The first two times that Syracuse played the Red Wings, Rochester had three catchers on its roster, with Drew Butera joining Rivera and Towles. But with Joe Mauer banged up, Minnesota’s brought up Butera for some extra catcher insurance. Both Rivera and Towles have plenty of big league experience, but each player’s hitting south of .200 to date with the Wings this season. Butera’s also the only 40-man player of the three, so he’ll likely be the man on the move this season.
First Base: Aaron Bates, Matt Rizzotti
With Justin Morneau still on the DL, Chris Parmelee and his .195 average have been inhabiting first base for Minnesota for most of this season. However, the answer to the Twins’ problem likely won’t come from within. Bates, despite a .380 OBP, has just four extra-base hits (all doubles) this year. Rizzotti also had just four doubles, but his OBP sits at .258. Bates has played just five career games in the major leagues (2009 Red Sox), while Rizzotti’s never played above Triple-A.
Second Base: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Thurston
Second’s been an offensively challenged position for the big league club this season, with Alexi Casilla posting a .250/.277/.300 slash line. Nishioka, signed last season to be the starting second baseman, had a tough season with the Twins in 2011 and has been with Rochester all this year, though he’s currently on the disabled list. With a hot streak, he could easily find his way back in the major leagues thanks to the Twins’ need for infielders. Thurston just provides organizational depth at this point after being released by the Phillies a few years ago.
Shortstop: Pedro Florimon
Brian Dozier was in this spot until about a week ago, when Minnesota promoted him to the major leagues. He’s started just 4 for 21, but he’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt with no other great offensive options. Veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, who’s started 27 games this year at shortstop, is hitting just .212. Meanwhile, the new Red Wings shortstop has impressed in five games. He’s 7 for 21 with two home runs and has sparkled defensively after being called up from New Britain. Florimon, who made his major league debut last season with Baltimore, isn’t on the 40-man roster, but if his newfound power sticks, he could certainly find his way there.
Third Base: Sean Burroughs, Ray Chang, Danny Valencia
Valencia’s just been sent down after starting as the primary third baseman in Minnesota all season long. He hit just .190 in 27 games before the Twins before Minnesota made the move, though things aren’t much better for the team. Trevor Plouffe’s the only player currently on the roster to have started at third in the major leagues this season, but he’s hitting just .137 in 19 games this year. (In case you haven’t figured out, Minnesota’s having some trouble offensively this year.) The 28-year-old Chang has had a nice season for Rochester, hitting .303 with a .384 OBP, though he’s never played in the major leagues before, while Burroughs was also just sent down from the majors recently. The former Padre is hitting just 2 for 12 and is no longer on the 40-man roster after being designated for assignment.
Outfield: Matt Carson, Bene Revere, Clete Thomas, Rene Tosoni
Josh Willingham has been tremendous and Denard Span’s had a solid season for the Twins this season, though the third outfield spot is a revolving door for Minnesota right now. Darin Mastroianni was just called up to the major leagues and Erik Komatsu’s recently been signed, so the Twins will likely see what they have from those two relatively young players. Thomas was removed from the 40-man roster after a 4-for-28 start with Minnesota, while Tosoni, a 40-man players, is off to a difficult start at .128 with the Red Wings. Revere, who’s already been up to the big club this season, might be a logical choice to return. He’s posted a .319 average and .359 OBP with Rochester, and despite a lack of power, is one of the Twins’ best base stealers. But maybe Carson, the former Oakland A, will get his shot soon, since he’s leading the team in OPS. With a hot streak, any of those four could theoretically head up…though they might want to watch out for former Detroit Tiger Wilkin Ramirez, who’s tearing the cover off the ball in Double-A (.356, 7 extra-base hits in 10 games).
Starting Pitchers: Cole DeVries, Luke French, Liam Hendriks, Daryl Thompson
Yes, that’s only four starting pitchers litsed, and no, that’s not a typo – with P.J. Walters’ promotion to the major leagues two days ago, the Red Wings had to throw reliever Jeff Manship into a spot start. Hendriks, the only 40-man player of the bunch, was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four games, so he’s been essentially replaced by Walters in the major league rotation. While DeVries and Thompson have been good, not great, that might just be enough thanks to a Twins rotation that’s struggled tremendously all season long. Scott Diamond was recently called up to the majors, where he threw seven shutout innings, and he might be there for a while. Carl Pavano (5.02 ERA), Nick Blackburn (7.18), Francisco Liriano (9.45) and Jason Marquis (6.26) have all had a rough go of things this season.
Relief Pitchers: Casey Fien, Deolis Guerra, Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertston, Anthony Slama, Esmerling Vasquez, Brendan Wise
For the most part, Minnesota’s bullpen has been very good this year with four relievers posting a sub-3 ERA and five at 3.75 or better. But there’s always room for improvement, and that improvement could come from Guerra. If that name sounds familiar, it’s likely because Guerra was one of the four players traded for Johan Santana in the Mets/Twins blockbuster from way back in 2008. Guerra’s only 23 years old, and as one of three 40-man relievers, he could find himself in the major leagues before long. In four Triple-A games, he’s allowed six hits and no runs in nine innings while striking out nine. Manship and Tyler Robertson are the only other 40-man players, but the name to watch here is Anthony Slama. The right-handed reliever has struck out a staggering 27 batters in 15.2 innings, allowing nine hits and 10 walks. Though the walk numbers are a bit high, you’d have to imagine Slama will be in the major leagues soon with these types of numbers. The Red Wings could likely be welcoming a new face soon, though, with 40-man member Lester Oliveros tearing up Double-A to the tune of a 1.42 ERA.
Look forward to seeing everyone out at the park today on Armed Forces Day. It’s a great event to celebrate our military and an absolutely gorgeous day to do so. As always, we’d love to hear from you with thoughts and comments. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are the places to do so.
In part two of our series where we look at the rosters of Chiefs opponents and analyze why each player is here, we meet the Durham Bulls for the first time. The Bulls come in at 11-20 – but after a 13-game losing streak, they’ve actually won five of their past seven games. Let’s have a look at the nuts and bolts of Durham’s roster…
Catcher: Craig Albernaz, Stephen Vogt, Nevin Ashley (DL)
This isn’t a tremendous position of strength for the Rays – at least offensively – with Chris Gimenez at .229, Jose Molina at .204 and DL-ed catcher Jose Lobaton 2 for 10. Lobaton’s on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder and Robinson Chirinos is on the DL with a concussion, so the Rays’ depth has been thinned out considerably at the position. And Ashley – probably the best hitting catcher Durham had – just broke a bone in his right hand. Neither Albernaz or Vogt is hitting north of .167, and there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of immediate help in Double-A Montgomery, so upward movement doesn’t seem too likely for the Bulls at catcher.
First Base: Juan Miranda, Leslie Anderson
Up in the majors, Tampa Bay’s starter is set, with Carlos Pena’s .845 OPS fitting just fine into the Rays’ lineup, and Ben Zobrist or Matt Joyce could likely fill in if need be in times of injury. However, immediate backup Brandon Allen, who’s 1 for 18 in the majors this year, could be in jeopardy of losing his spot. If Anderson, who’s hitting .347/.420/.429, keeps up his performance, the Rays might have something to think about. Anderson, a free agent from Cuba, is in his third year with the organization, and he’s played almost as much outfield as first base. Miranda, a former Yankee and Diamondback, is hitting just .192 and likely just provides organizational depth at this point.
Second Base: Shawn O’Malley
Tampa Bay’s doing just fine at second base with a combination of super-utility-guy Ben Zobrist (.191, but a .342 OBP) and Jeff Keppinger (.311, despite a .328 OBP). O’Malley, the only current Bull with more than three starts at the position, is hitting just .205 with a single extra-base hit. The Rays could also slide over Sean Rodriguez in a time of need. That’s good for Tampa Bay, because the only other infielder on the 40-man roster is…
Shortstop: Reid Brignac
Brignac actually doesn’t have the most starts at shortstop for Durham this year – that honor belongs to Tim Beckham. However, Beckham, the top pick in the 2008 MLB draft, was recently suspended 50 games for a second violation of the Minor League drug policy. So it’s up to Brignac, just 6 for 45 (.133) in Durham, to shoulder the Bulls’ load. The Rays’ top hitting prospect, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, is one level below in Double-A, but he’s only hitting .237 with limited power. With Rodriguez at .210 with just four extra-base hits in the majors, the Rays may juts have to hope that good defense and the occasional offensive burst will be enough at shortstop this season.
Third Base: Cole Figueroa, Matt Mangini
Evan Longoria’s now out four to eight weeks after a partially torn harmstring, leaving a gaping hole for the Rays at third base. Will Rhymes was called up to fill the void, leaving Mangini and the recently promoted Figueroa to fill the void for Durham. Mangini – who has a bit of a major league time – is hitting .257 with one home run, while Figueroa was just called up and had never previously played above Double-A. Longoria’s replacement will likely come from within the major league club or via a trade.
Outfield: Jesus Feliciano, Brandon Guyer, Kyle Hudson, Jeff Salazar
Guyer’s the unquestioned offensive star of Durham, a 40-man roster member who made his major league debut last season with the Rays. If there’s an outfield injury, he’ll likely return to the majors after three separate stints with the big club last season. Salazar’s played in 168 major leagues – but none since 2009. Hudson was 4 for 28 in his first 14 major league games with the Orioles last season, while Feliciano’s 54 games in 2010 with the Mets were his first and only. So the rest of the major league experience here is limited at best, with Guyer the only 40-man member. Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton and Zobrist have the outfield covered for now in the major leagues, and the Double-A outfield is a largely veteran group as well.
Starting Pitchers: Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jim Paduch, Lance Pendelton, Matt Torra
Cobb might be the next in line if Tampa Bay needs a starting pitcher. A 2006 fourth-round pick, he’s pitched to a 3.38 ERA in six starts. Archer, another 40-man member, is only 23 years old. But at 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA and 23 walks in 30 innings, his time has likely yet to come. The other three starters are likely just organizational depth for Tampa Bay – which, by the way, has as good of a rotation as just about anyone in baseball. Matt Moore – thanks to two bad starts out of six – has been the only subpar Rays starter to date. As the organization’s top prospect, he’ll likely get plenty of chances before he’d get sent back down to Triple-A.
Relief Pitchers: Dane De La Rosa, John Gaub, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Jhonny Nunez, Ryan Reid, Romulo Sanchez, Alex Torres
A jam-packed relief staff features five 40-man players – De La Rosa, Gaub, Gomes, Lueke and Torres. Of the five, only Gomes has a sub 4-ERA, with five scoreless outings to date. Lueke and Torres are both north of 9:00 in ERA. The Rays, with a 3.81 team ERA, aren’t likely to make too many changes, if any, due to performance. As for Double-A, the Biscuits have a team ERA north of 5.00, without many individual standouts, so Durham’s relief corps could stay the same for quite some time.
Hope to see you tonight – weather permitting – for the premiere of the new scoreboard. We’d love to hear from you as well – send any story ideas or feedback to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today marks the beginning of a new series where we’ll take a look at each opposing team’s roster and examine why they’re here – the “trickledown” effect of sorts from who’s in the major leagues. With the Chiefs in Buffalo, it’s time to examine the roster for the Bisons – the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Catcher: Jean Luc Blaquiere, Lucas May
This group looked 50% different just a few days ago, with Rob Johnson starting two of the three games the last time the Bisons played Syracuse. But the veteran backstop’s been placed on the disabled list after suffering a left knee sprain. May’s a 27-year old with 37 big league at-bats in 2010, so he’d likely be the next catcher in line over Blaquiere, who hit just .229 with Double-A Binghamton last year and has all of two at-bats this season.
Up in the major leagues, Josh Thole’s got a firm grip on the starting job with a .317 average, and backup Mike Nickeas is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Outside of an injury, this isn’t likely to change much.
First Base: Valentino Pascucci, Josh Satin
Ike Davis had a solid 2010 and strong 37 games before an injury in 2011 – but with a .185 average through 22 games, there’s room for improvement for the Mets’ major league first baseman. It might not come from the Bisons’ primary first basemen, though. Satin’s been turned almost exclusively into a first baseman with Buffalo this year, but he’s hitting .275 with just a .294 on-base percentage through this season. Satin shot through the Mets’ system last year and got some experience with the big club at the end of the season, but he’s likely not enough of a power hitter to make the jump.
Pascucci, on the other hand, is more than enough of a power hitter. But the Triple-A veteran isn’t on the 40-man roster and doesn’t have much major league experience. He played with the Bisons throughout Buffalo’s entire season last year – heading to the majors after the Triple-A season ended – and seems likely to stay with the Herd for the duration of 2012.
Second Base: Bobby Scales, Michael Fisher
Daniel Murphy’s been playing a solid second base for the Mets, with Justin Turner providing versatility as his primary backup. There likely won’t be a change from Triple-A, since neither Scales nor Fisher is on the 40-man roster. Scales, a longtime minor leaguer with a few big league games sprinkled in, seems likely to provide Triple-A depth for the Mets. Fisher’s in his second Triple-A season after hitting .259 with four home runs in 65 games last year.
Shortstop: Omar Quintanilla
Quintanilla’s played 227 games in the major leagues between 2005 and 2011, but after a 1-for-22 output last year and a .172 average in 2009, he’s not on the 40-man roster for the Mets. If the mets needed a utility infielder in a pinch, Quintanilla could be an option, but he’d have to overtake 40-man players Satin and Zach Lutz. Quintanilla hasn’t been in Double-A since 2005, so expect to see a good chunk of the veteran with Buffalo.
Third Base: Zach Lutz, Brad Emaus
Lutz just returned from a brief trip to the Mets, where he was 1 for 8 with five strikeouts in five games in his first time on a major league roster. The third baseman played just 72 games in 2010 and 63 in 2011 due to a number of different injuries, but he’s provided pop when healthy – 47 home runs in 286 career minor league games. As a 40-man player, he could certainly see some time in the bigs again, though David Wright won’t ever be in trouble of losing his job this season.
Emaus started last season with the Mets after New York claimed him in the Rule V draft from Toronto. Since then, it’s been a rocky road. Emaus was designated for assignment after 18 days in the major leagues and sent back to the Blue Jays, who promptly traded him to Colorado the next day. This January, Emaus was traded to the Red Sox, who released him in early April. Two weeks later, Emaus signed with the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is apparently a real thing. And then a week later, the Mets re-signed him.
(Hang on, let’s pause for a moment to take a breath now…)
Emaus has posted great numbers in Triple-A in his career, and that’s likely where he’ll stay for the duration of 2012.
Outfield: Fred Lewis, Dustin Martin, Vinny Rottino, Matt Tuiasosopo
This is a relatively easy group to figure out for Buffalo. Outside of a few rehab games for Lewis, none of these four outfielders played in Double-A last season, and none of them are on the 40-man roster, either. With Scott Hairston, Andres Torres, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Mets are set in the outfield, with Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin, both up from Buffalo, as backups. Jason Bay’s on the disabled list, so either Baxter or Valdespin is likely to return to Triple-A at some point, and outfielders Adam Loewen and Corey Wimberly are sitting on the Bisons’ disabled list – meaning this is a Bisons group that could get very crowded very quickly. The only other two outfielders on the Mets’ 40 man roster are in Double-A (Juan Lagares) and Single-A (Cesar Puello), so don’t expect a ton of upward movement here.
Starting Pitchers: Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Garrett Olson, Dylan Owen
Familia and Hefner are the two 40-man starters here, with Harvey – one of the Mets’ most prized prospects – not far behind. New York’s rotation so far has been mostly good, with four of the five spots in no danger of being replaced – Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. #5 starter Dillon Gee’s sporting a 4.85 ERA in four starts, but that’s mainly due to a single poor start. Unless there’s an injury, this staff is likely set.
As for the current Bisons hurlers, Hefner, Olsen and Owen have all posted strong numbers and have past Triple-A success. Harvey and Familia have been up and down, but both pitchers are prized prospects who should get every chance to prove their worth at this level. Owen will likely be bumped to the bullpen when Chris Schwinden returns from the major leagues. Schwinden, a 2011 IL All-Star, is currently up in the majors with Mike Pelfrey on the 15-day DL.
Relief Pitchers: Fernando Cabrera, Josh Edgin, Jack Egbert, Justin Hampson, Brad Holt, Chuck James, Jeff Stevens
The Mets’ bullpen certainly has some room for improvement, with Manny Acosta (9.00 ERA) and Miguel Batista (7.84) off to slow starts. But – as you might be able to guess by now – none of these seven Buffalo relievers are on the 40-man roster. But in case there’s a move to be made, the Bisons have a few strong options. Cabrera – the team’s closer – sports a Bisons-best 0.87 ERA in nine games, while former major leaguer James has a 1.17 mark in eight games. With a 3.04 team ERA, there are plenty of options in Buffalo for the Mets, should New York need them.
Check back tomorrow for a profile of new Chiefs infielder and Buffalo native Jim Negrych. And please send us your ideas for segments you’d like to see or players you’d like to hear about at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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