The Columbus Clippers roster offers little hope for the Cleveland Indians
Since the Columbus Clippers became the triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians in 2009, they have made the Triple-A championship game on four occasions, winning the title twice in 11 seasons played as part of the Cleveland Indians organization.
That team success for the Clippers has been driven by great development of the Indians’ top prospects, as well as astute signings of veteran players to minor league contracts. Both categories of players have made an impact on the big league club over the years, especially during a recent stretch where the Tribe has been perennial contenders for a postseason berth.
But a well, that was once deep, has suddenly run dry as the major league season nears its halfway mark. The many players to have already received a call-up from Triple-A have, on the whole, been a bitter disappointment for the big league club.
Particularly the pitchers: Eli Morgan and Kyle Nelson, for example, both own an ERA over 12.00 in their collective 13 2/3 innings pitched for the Indians. J.C. Mejia recently came off a start where he allowed five runs in the first inning – the second time, out of a total of just four MLB starts, Mejia has allowed four or more runs in the first frame.
As for those who make their living swinging the lumber, only Bobby Bradley has delivered a noticeable contribution to the big league club, batting .300 with four home runs in 12 games played with the Indians in 2021. Although, Bradley Zimmer has brought outstanding defense to the Tribe’s outfield – which had been sorely lacking – and excellent on base skills (.385OBP in his 20 games played).
Despite the spark that the former top prospects have provided the offense in recent weeks, the Cleveland Indians are still in desperate need of reinforcements as they are reeling from a flurry of injuries to their pitching staff. The situation is so dire to point where the rotation has been left with just one healthy, reliable, true starting pitcher.
Unfortunately, for Terry Francona and the coaching staff, the odds are long on the possibility of a magic bullet being found internally to assuage the team’s injury woes. At least that’s the grim assessment when surveying the season numbers of the players left on the Clippers’ roster.
Start with the good. Justin Garza is a pitcher who has had an underwhelming minor league career (4.62 career ERA), and is already 27. (I warned you that the pickings were slim).
But, he is putting together a nice season down at Huntington Park, compiling a 0.44ERA with 27 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings pitched. All his appearances have come out of the bullpen, but he does have 50 starts to his name in the minors. The Indians could look to stretch his arm out if Hentges, Mejia and Morgan continue to stink it up in the rotation.
Among the starters in Columbus the potential for a call-up is bleak. Kirk McCarty, a southpaw who was a seventh round pick in the 2017 amateur draft, is 5-0 with a 4.44ERA in 46 2/3 innings and represents the best performing option in the Clippers’ current rotation. After that it just gets uglier.
Scott Moss‘ name has been mentioned a lot, but he has struggled so far to the tune of a 5.79ERA. He also has just 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A to his name so far. Moss came out of the same draft that gave the Indians the stellar starting triumvirate of Bieber, Plesac and Civale. They could take a chance on Moss, who has had a very good minor league career, overall, and hope they have caught lightning in a bottle for a fourth time in one draft.
Despite the underwhelming performances down on the Triple-A farm, it should be remembered that when the Indians called up Bobby Bradley, he owned a terrible .196AVG at Columbus. Sometimes a change of scenery can do wonders for a player.
On the flipside, Owen Miller was batting .406 when he received his call up, and struggled mightily with the Indians before being swiftly sent back down again. Sometimes the pressure and adrenaline can cause a player to fall to earth with a bang.
The Cleveland Indians, if they do decide to gamble on acquiring help from Triple-A rather than via a trade or free agent signing, will have to hope that there are more Columbus Clippers who thrive on the former, rather than succumb to the latter.