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Cleveland Indians 2013 in Review: Columbus Clippers (AAA)

Finally we reach AAA, the highest level in the minor-league system.

Before joining the Indians, Danny Salazar dominated the International League
Before joining the Indians, Danny Salazar dominated the International League
Jared Wickerham

2013 in Review: Minors

Levels: DSL Indians (R-) AZL Indians (R-) Mahoning Valley (SSA) Lake County (A-) Carolina (A+) Akron (AA)

Players: SS Francisco Lindor • C Tony Wolters • RHP Mitch Brown • SS Dorssys Paulino • OF Tyler Naquin • 2B/SS Ronny Rodriguez • OF Luigi Rodriguez • OF LeVon Washington • RHP Cody Anderson • OF Clint Frazier • RHP Trevor Bauer

Columbus Clippers (AAA)

Roster - Schedule - Scoreboard

Record: 71-73 (2nd IL West, 9.0 GB)

About the International League

AAA is an odd level, as you have there both prospects on the cusp on the big league and washouts trying to get back. AAA managers have a tough job on the people management side because they have to soothe a lot of disappointed players just back from the big leagues, as well as juggle a roster that is always in flux because of the needs of the big league team. AAA is where clubs stash their depth, and after a long game, will swap out arms, leaving the AAA in a bind the next night.

There are two AAA leagues: the Pacific Coast League (west of the Mississippi), and the International League (east of the Mississippi). There used to be three AAA leagues, but in 1997 the American Association was absorbed into the PCL and IL. The winners of the two leagues plays a one-game championship in September to determine the overall AAA champion.

The Indians' AAA affiliate is the Columbus Clippers, an arrangement that has been in place since 2009. Prior to that the Indians had a long and successful relationship with Buffalo. The Clippers won back-to-back Governors Cups (and AAA championships) in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, they moved to a new stadium in downtown Columbus, and are one of the most valuable franchises in minor-league baseball.

The PCL is notorious for its hitter-friendly parks, but the IL is one of the more pitcher-friendly leagues in the minors (9th out of 10 full-season leagues in runs per game). However, Columbus' home park would be right at home in the PCL, as it allows 10.60 runs/game, 19.03 hits/game, and an astounding 2.46 home runs/game, all tops in the IL. So their home park skews a lot of the pitching and hitting stats.

Position Players

(stats to added tonight)

Player Pos.
24 Roberto Perez C 222 .176/.269/.241 .509 12 0 59 22
24 Chun-Hsiu Chen 1B 395 .223/.302/.349 .651 13 11 105 37
26 Cord Phelps 2B 287 .267/.333/.463 .776 16 10 49 27
24 Juan Diaz SS 495 .242/.317/.348 .665 23 8 129 46
29 Ryan Rohlinger 3B 372 .266/.353/.367 .719 17 5 69 36
26 Ezequiel Carrera LF 464 .248/.312/.346 .658 16 10 87 38
26 Tim Fedroff CF 595 .242/.334/.306 .640 13 7 118 72
31 Matt Carson RF 490 .252/.322/.394 .717 16 16 119 39
29 Jeremy Hermida DH 567 .247/.365/.416 .781 23 20 149 88
28 Nate Spears UT 237 .224/.335/.337 .671 8 5 50 32

The position players were a massive disappointment, particularly the three positions who started the season on the 40-man roster (Tim Fedroff, Juan Diaz, and Cord Phelps). Diaz had an awful season, and was outrighted in August, as the Indians chose to bring up Jose Ramirez instead of Diaz to provide some depth in the middle infield. Tim Fedroff likewise was outrighted in September after a poor 2013 season, as the Indians to bring up Matt Carson. And Cord Phelps spent a large chunk of the season on the Disabled List, and ended the year on the 60-day DL. So the Indians got almost no help from the position players here.

Of the players that will remain in the organization (many of these are minor-league free agents), Roberto Perez probably has the best chance to help the major-league club. He's a very good defensive catcher (rated best defensive catcher in the organization three straight years by Baseball America), but has really struggled in his time at AAA. Chun Chen dominated the Eastern, but struggled in his first stint in AAA. With Jesus Aguilar likely getting the promotion from Akron next year, he'll be a DH or a bench player for the Clippers next season. The rest of the players above probably won't be here next year.

It is worth noting that Matt LaPorta played again for the Clippers in what was likely his last season in the organization. Matt hit .238/.310/.476 in 185 PA appearances after spending the first half of the season on the DL.


Age Player Role IP G ERA H/9 SO/9 BB/9
23 TJ House SP 141.2 24 4.32 10.4 7.0 3.4
22 Trevor Bauer SP 121.1 22 4.15 8.8 7.9 5.4
32 Daisuke Matsuzaka SP 103.1 19 3.92 8.1 8.3 3.4
26 Carlos Carrasco SP 71.2 16 3.14 7.4 9.9 2.6
23 Danny Salazar SP 59.1 13 2.73 6.7 11.8 2.1
25 Preston Guilmet RP 64.1 49 1.68 6.0 10.1 2.0
27 Matt Langwell RP 60.1 42 2.24 8.1 7.8 2.8
26 Bryan Price RP 59.0 35 2.44 7.8 11.4 1.8
30 Jerry Gil RP 47.2 31 4.15 7.7 7.7 5.1
27 Nick Hagadone RP 32.1 27 2.51 6.7 12.8 4.7
30 Joe Martinez RP 130.0 24 5.26 11.3 6.2 1.9

In contrast to the position players, the Columbus was outstanding, with a lot of the good performances from prospects. Trevor Bauer and TJ House were the mainstays, while Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar spent a significant chunk of their season in Columbus. All four have already helped the Indians or have the potential of helping them in 2014. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was the big NRI signing of the winter, spent most of his season in the Columbus rotation before ending his season with the New York Mets.

The bullpen, headed by Preston Guilmet, was dominant, with Guilmet, Matt Langwell, Nick Hagadone, C.C. Lee, Blake Wood, Clay Rapada, Scott Barnes, and Fernando "The Snowman" Nieve making appearances with the Indians at some point during the season. Vinnie Persano, who started the season as the Indians' setup man, was sent to Columbus in August before returning to the Indians in September. Bryan Price, who was the one main reliever not to appear with the Indians, had a breakout season after struggling in 2012. Price was part of the Victor Martinez trade in 2009, and could also help the Indians in 2014.

Prospects That Matter

Already included: SP TJ House, SP Trevor Bauer, SP Danny Salazar, RP Preston Guilmet, SS Juan Diaz*

Potential for 2013 review: C Roberto Perez, 1B Chun-Hsiu Chen

*minor-league free agent

Of players who ended the season on the Columbus roster:

On 40-man Roster or 60-day DL: SP Trevor Bauer, SP TJ House, RP Scott Barnes, IF Cord Phelps

Rule 5 Eligible:RP Matt Capps*, RP Bryan Price, RP Giovanni Soto, RP Tyler Sturdevant, RP Francisco Valera, C Roberto Perez, 1B Chun-Hsiu Chen, UT Justin Toole, OF Tim Fedroff

There's several players that the Indians might think of adding (Price, Soto, Perez), but I think they'll be using their roster spots on the Akron eligibles.

*Re-signed with the Indians earlier this month

Minor League Free Agents: RP Paolo Espino, RP Jerry Gil, RP J.C. Romero, SS Juan Diaz, OF Jeremy Hermida, IF Luis Hernandez, 1B Matt LaPorta, 3B Ryan Rohlinger, IF Nate Spears, OF Ezequiel Carrera,