Columbus Clippers: Season Success and Promising Young Talent

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Columbus Clippers: Season Success and Promising Young Talent

The Columbus Clippers’ season is in the books, but the successful 2014 campaign had many bright spots that will continue to trickle into 2015 and offer the Cleveland Indians promising, young talent.

The Clippers’ season ended abruptly by losing three consecutive games to the Durham Bulls after a game one victory in the International League Governors’ Cup playoffs. Manager Chris Tremie summed it up with this quote: “It doesn’t always end up the way you want it to. We ended up not going where we really wanted to go. It happens. It wasn’t for lack of desire or effort. It was a very successful year.” After trailing the first place Indianapolis Indians by 8.5 games on May 30th, Columbus won the West Division title for the first time since 2011. Columbus finalized the regular season with a 79-65 record and a 6 game division lead over second place Indianapolis.

In my opinion, the 2014 campaign was an accomplishment to say the least. Fourteen players were called up to the Cleveland Indians throughout the season, which leads me to believe Tremie did a fantastic job keeping this ballclub on the same page each and every night throughout the year. And as a quick note, that also hints at the fantastic leadership by Cleveland manager Terry Francona to keep the Indians in the playoff race through the entire season at the major league level. Jesus Aguilar, Trevor Bauer, Roberto Perez, Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez, and Zach Walters are among the players who saw time at the major league level. Here’s a short synopsis at some of these players:

“It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever been on. I will always remember this year.”- Clippers infielder Audy Ciriaco

Jesus Aguilar had an impressive season in Columbus and won the team’s triple crown award with a .304 AVG, 19 HRs, and 77 RBIs. Baseball America selected him to the MiLB All-Star team, and his outstanding month of August earned him the International League’s Player of the Month award as well as a September call-up with the Cleveland Indians.

Trevor Bauer went 4-1 with the Clippers with a 2.15 ERA in 46 innings pitched. He saw significant time at the major league level this season. Bauer was labeled as a high-powered pitching prospect back in 2011 but today many see him as being inconsistent. The potential is still there and working with Indians’ pitching coach Mickey Callaway should continue Bauer’s outlook in the right direction.

Sep 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Perez was drafted in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians and has become the backup catcher behind Yan Gomes. He batted a respectable .271 in 85 ABs with the Tribe. In Columbus, Perez was in the top 5 of the roster in batting with a .305 AVG and 43 RBIs. He has a chance to solidify a spot as the backup catcher to start the 2015 campaign in Cleveland.

Tyler Holt participated in 39 games with the Akron Rubberducks at the AA level and moved up the ladder to Columbus and eventually Cleveland. With the Clippers, Holt had a .308 AVG in 227 ABs. Holt was most recently called up to the Tribe to replace Ryan Raburn who was placed on the DL in mid-August. Holt has had four stints in MLB this season. He may have a difficult time making the Indians’ roster in 2015 but he will definitely fight for a spot.

Jose Ramirez played in 60 games with Columbus this year. He reeled in 29 RBIs while hitting .302 and finished the year with the Tribe wrapping up the 2014 season. Numbers generally drop once a minor leaguer hits the major league, and Ramirez was no exception to the rule, however, he has been a key piece to Cleveland’s playoff run. Ramirez does not have much power but hit .262 in 68 games with the Indians. If Francisco Lindor moves up to the Indians next season, Jose Ramirez could find himself competing with Jason Kipnis for secondbase.

Zach Walters has been a tremendous addition to the Clippers during the month of August. He earned a spot as a utility player with the Cleveland Indians but in Columbus, he batted .387 with 8 RBIs in 31 ABs. He was acquired in the deal for Asdrubal Cabrera in late July with the Washington Nationals. Walters came to the Indians and started with a bang, hitting 6 HRs in his first couple weeks, 4 of which either won the game for the Indians or gave them the lead. His power is something to keep an eye on in the spring of 2015.

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Two other up-and-coming prospects who made an impact on the Columbus Clippers are Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor. Urshela and Lindor were both named as honorable mentions to Jeff Passan’s all-minor league team, and both will be closely watched in the off-season and will most likely have an invite to spring training to try-out for the Tribe.

Giovanny Urshela is personally one of my favorite up-and-coming players in the Indians’ farm system. His defense at third base has been improving and his offense has picked up. He finished the last ten games of the season hitting .317 and .276 overall with the Clippers. He has also knocked in 65 RBIs putting him in third place on the team in that category, behind Aguilar (77) and Audy Ciriaco (70). He began the season in Akron and was quickly promoted to Columbus back in May. Cleveland’s current starting third baseman is Lonnie Chisenhall but amidst his defensive struggles and inconsistency at the plate, he has tussled in his attempt to cease the doubters. Urshela may not be on Cleveland’s roster to start 2015, but I would bet that he gets a chance at some point.

Francisco Lindor is without a doubt the most anticipated minor league player with the Indians. While Jose Ramirez has earned his opportunity with the Tribe, Lindor is close behind and will most likely receive an invite to Spring Training in 2015. Francisco is only 20 years old so he is still developing. He has a .355 career AVG in the Minors and hit .307 this season in Columbus. He has recently been rumored in some trade talk, including the possibility of packaging him in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins although no official word has come to fruition as of yet. The Indians desperately need hitters, so one way or another, Lindor will have an impact in 2015.

Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians infielder Francisco Lindor takes part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

In closing, the 2014 campaign for Columbus has been successful. The Cleveland Indians generally have strong farm teams and the Clippers have played their part in continuing that success. Infielder Audy Ciriaco summed up the season stating “It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever been on. I will always remember this year.” As a Clippers fan and baseball enthusiast, I agree with Ciriaco 100%.

Let us know how you feel about the Columbus Clippers, Cleveland Indians and their outlook heading into the offseason!

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