Last week was a superb one for the stateside affiliates, all of whom recorded winning records, highlighted by the Captains' clean 6-0 sweep and the RubberDucks' five wins in a row (to finish 5-1). The Clippers were 5-2, while the Hillcats edged their way towards .500 with a 4-3 week.
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 34-30 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 31-30 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 31-32 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County: 34-28 (individual 2015 stats)
DSL 5-8 (individual 2015 stats)
It was a very busy week transaction-wise, with the Clippers making no less than 16(!) roster changes and seasonal debuts for Ronny Rodriguez (Akron) and Steven Patterson (Lake County). So, without further ado...
Angling for Position Players
Lots of roster turnover this week. Giovanny Urshela, Zach Walters and Francisco Lindor were all promoted to the Indians with Urshela and Lindor making their MLB debuts. Meanwhile, no less than three hitters made their first Clippers appearances of the year: the promoted Tyler Naquin and the optioned Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall. All three hit the ground running with Naquin slashing .292/.414/.458, Ramirez .381/.480/.429 and Chisenhall .333/.444/.600.
With the loss of Tyler Naquin to Columbus, some of the other Akron hitters needed to step up...and Anthony Gallas certainly did, hitting .360 with three homers. Former top prospect Ronny Rodriguez finally returned to action after suffering a wrist injury in Spring Training, and smashed two homers in his first week back.
No less than three of Lynchburg hitters have been named to the Carolina League All-Star team: Bradley Zimmer along with Nellie amd Luigi Rodriguez. However, it was Joe Sever who had the best week of anyone on the roster, hitting .316 with two HRs.
Lake County (A)
The 19yo Bobby Bradley is mashing at the moment — he has now homered five times in the last eight games, taking his season's total to an organization-leading 11. Injuries earlier in the season have cost him a potential place in the MidWest All-Star game, but not surprisingly he was named "Hitter of the Week".
2B Steven Patterson was called up for his full-season debut, while Yonathan Mendoza was brought in as a replacement for Yu-Cheng Chang, who suffered a concussion last week when hit by a pitch.
Claudio Bautista was recently rewarded for his consistently excellent performances with a place on the MidWest League All-Star team.
State of the Rotation
The Columbus rotation continues to do a very respectable job. Cody Anderson has had a cracking start to his AAA career, with a 1.29 ERA/0.79 WHIP after two starts in which he has allowed just two runs in 14 IP.
Jordan Cooper and TJ House swapped places this week, with Cooper back from the DL and House going back on to it again as a result of a strained left shoulder.
The Akron starters have been terrific so far. Newcomer Adam Plutko has made a superb transition (1.59 ERA/0.76 WHIP in three starts), while last time out Will Roberts pitched a complete game shutout that earned him Eastern League "Pitcher of the Week" honors. Shawn Morimando, Mike Clevinger and Ryan Merritt have also all put up consistently good numbers this year.
The starting pitching at Lynchburg has been more miss than hit since Adam Plutko was promoted to Akron. Neither D.J. Brown, Mitch Brown, Luis Lugo nor Michael Peoples has an ERA below 4.40 or a whip below 1.30. However, Mitch Brown did have an "up" week with a line of 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO.
Lake County (A)
Sean Brady has quietly emerged as the most reliable starting option in Lake County, pitching to a 2.88 ERA/1.16 WHIP and deservedly being named MidWest League "Pitcher of the Week" for his last two starts.
Top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield had a terrible outing last week, but still leads the farm with 63 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Thomas Pannone has had four solid starts in a row, albeit for just a combined 17 IP.
Austin Adams returned to the Clippers after another brief stint with the Indians, while CC Lee also had a day trip with the Tribe, making his 2015 debut before being replaced when Scott Atchison was activated from the DL. Enosil Tejeda bounced up and then back to Akron as Lee's fill-in.
Anthony Swarzak was given an unconditional release by the Indians, so that he can continue his career with the Doosan Bears in Korea.
The relieving trio of Enosil Tejeda, Josh Martin and Josh Johnson continue to do a terrific job — each has an ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP below 1.05. Former Yankees farmhand Zach Nuding has also made a promising start to his Tribe career, pitching 4.1 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and two walks.
Justin Brantley is still clearly the most reliable reliever for the Hillcats, and has now gone 10.2 IP since he last conceded an earned run. Since his rocky debut back on May 28, J.P. Feyereisen has now pitched 5.2 scoreless innings.
Lake County (A)
Lake County's relievers have done an outstanding job recently, helping the team to several close victories. In particular, Cameron Hill, Nick Pasquale, Justin Garcia and David Speer have all been consistently good for the Captains all season.
Minor league players of the week (as voted by LGT)
Week 1 (Apr 9-19): Bradley Zimmer (72% of the vote)
Week 2 (Apr 20-26): Dace Kime (33%)
Week 3 (Apr 27-May 3): Tyler Naquin (76%)
Week 4 (May 4-10): Shaun Marcum (45%)
Week 5 (May 11-17): Francisco Lindor (51%)
Week 6 (May 18-24): Bradley Zimmer (42%; the only repeat winner to date)
Week 7 (May 25-31): Cody Anderson (36%)
2015 prospect write-ups: Bradley Zimmer, Michael Clevinger, Bobby Bradley/Yu-Cheng Chang/Francisco Mejia/Justus Sheffield, Giovanni Soto