Cleveland Indians Minor League Review: Best of the first half of 2017

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(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Taking a look at the best players at each level of the Cleveland Indians minor league system from the first half of the 2017 season.

July has come and gone, with it plenty of All-Star games, both big leagues and minor leagues. With the unofficial first half of the season over, we take a look at the best players at each level of the Cleveland Indians minor league season.

For the sake of keeping things even, I chose July 11th as the cutoff date for all stats. This not only was the day of the major league All-Star Game, but also was a day that none of the Tribe’s top four affiliates played.

Both Akron and Columbus had their All-Star games the next day while Lynchburg and Lake County had theirs in late June. However, I felt it better to use one date for all players, since many were promoted over levels making it hard to compare. I also did not include short-season Mahoning Valley, as they played less than a month before the cutoff date.

So without further ado, here’s your top position players and pitchers in the Tribe’s minor league season over the first half of the 2017 season.

Best Columbus Position Player: Richie Shaffer

Key 1st Half Stats:  .258 AVG, .495 SLG, .853 OPS, 18 HR, 13 2B, 62 RBI

Honorable Mention
Eric Stamets: .272 AVG, .533 SLG, .863 OPS, 11 HR, 14 2B, 30 RBI
Yandy Diaz: .326 AVG, .429 OBP, .883 OPS, 4 HR, 8 2B, 17 RBI

Richie Shaffer takes the top spot with the Columbus Clippers thanks to some big time power. He led the club with 18 home runs in the first half and totaled 31 extra-base hits. He also led the club with 62 runs batted in before the All-Star break.

In fact, his 62 runs batted in ranked second in the entire International League while his 18 home runs were tied for third-most. While several other players have gotten promotions (or demotions), Shaffer has been a stabilizing force in the middle of the Clippers’ lineup all year.

Despite spending about three weeks at Double-A Akron earlier in the season, Eric Stamets still managed to sneak onto our honorable mention list for the first half of the season. He has had a breakout season in the power department, hitting 11 home runs with the Clippers before the All-Star break. Add in the one he hit with Akron and he had 12 home runs before the break, which nearly doubled his previous career high over an entire season (he hit seven in 2016).

Yandy Diaz is a guy that put up numbers that could have won him top honors; however, he spent time with the big league club early on and spent some time on the disabled list so he only played in 47 games with the Clippers in the first half. He still put up the best OPS in the first half at .833 thanks to a .429 on-base percentage. He also walked almost as much as he struck out (31 walks, 33 strikeouts).

Top prospect Bradley Zimmer also had some great numbers to start the year but didn’t get enough playing time before being promoted to the big league club.

Best Columbus Pitcher: Shawn Morimando

Key 1st Half Stats: 17 starts, 3.29 ERA, 1.33 WHIP,  3 SHO

Honorable Mention

Ryan Merritt: 14 starts, 3.36 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 1 CG
Tyler Olson: 31 apps, 3.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 12.0 K/9

It wasn’t easy picking the top pitcher at Columbus in the first half of the season, and sadly it’s not because there were too many good arms to choose from. Mike Clevinger dominated in April but only started seven games with the Clippers before making his way to Cleveland where he pitched well. Of the remaining starters, Shawn Morimando was the one that did stand out at times and takes the top spot.

Morimando struggled early but posted three complete game shutouts over a four start stretch in late June/early July. It was mostly on this that he took the top spot though he did have other solid starts. He still isn’t striking out a ton but overall had a very solid first half with the Clippers, including a 3.29 earned run average.

Coming in just behind him was fellow left-handed starter, Ryan Merritt. Like Morimando, Merritt hasn’t shown much in the way of strikeouts but has pitched solid enough, posting a 3.35 ERA. He even got a couple stints in with the big league club including one start and a longer look in the bullpen.

Tyler Olson had a strong first half out of the Columbus bullpen, striking out 51 in just 38.1 innings of work. He also led the club with a 0.99 WHIP in the first half and was recently rewarded with his second call-up to the big leagues this season with the Tribe.

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