Despite losing two of their starting pitchers (Cody Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin), the Clippers were the only affiliate to achieve a winning record last week (five wins in a row took them to 5-2).
The short-season teams at Mahoning Valley and Arizona both opened their seasons over the weekend, and some of the 2015 draft picks have already made their debuts. Full previews of the MVS and Arizona Indians seasons will appear later this week.
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 39-32 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 35-34 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 33-37 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County Captains: 36-32 (individual 2015 stats)
Mahoning Valley Scrappers 1-2 (individual 2015 stats)
Arizona Indians 1-1 (individual 2015 stats)
DSL Indians 7-12 (individual 2015 stats)
Angling for Position Players
With Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Ramirez and Zach Walters all having been sent down in the past couple of weeks, the Clippers offense is stacked right now, especially if you consider that Jerry Sands and Tyler Holt have also been up the bigs this year, while the team also has four "LGT 20" hitting prospects: Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey, Jesus Aguilar and Carlos Moncrief. Given that none of them are catchers, there simply isn't room for all those players in the same line-up right now.
Jose Ramirez has actually hit in all 12 of his appearances for the Clippers so far (.383/.442/.426), while Lonnie Chisenhall is also crushing it to the tune of .366/.458/.634. On his way back from a hamstring injury, Tyler Holt also had a very good week and is now hitting .317/.392/.402 in 51 games for the Clippers.
After a belated debut this season due to injury, Ronny Rodriguez has been rapidly making up for lost time with three homers in his first 13 games. Todd Hankins, Anthony Gallas and Yandy Diaz are all averaging over .300 in June, with Gallas putting up a superb .350/.385/.583 line.
It was a rather disappointing week for the bats at Lynchburg, who have been outstanding so far: However, according to MiLB.com, "Lynchburg finished the first half as the league leader in runs scored (319), doubles (134), triples (23), home runs (49), and slugging percentage (.395)." Source.
Former top prospect OF LeVon Washington finally made his 2015 debut, having spent over two months in extended Spring Training, while 2B James Roberts was released last week.
Lake County (A)
The Lake County offense is getting solid contributions pretty much across the board, but Claudio Bautista and Bobby Bradley are the only season regulars with an OPS above .700. Having spent spells with the Ducks and Hillcats this season, Yonathan Mendoza has also made a good start with the Captains, hitting .379/.455/.552 in his first eight games.
State of the Rotation
The Clippers' rotation was decimated this week with the loss of Cody Anderson (to the Indians) and Jhoulys Chacin (who opted out of his contract and signed a MiLB deal with the Diamondbacks), while Jordan Cooper has just gone on the DL.
As a result they have gone back to putting Nick Maronde in the rotation and also signed Jarrett Grube, who (like Maronde) was with the Angels last year but until very recently was pitching in the Mexican League. Having been DFA by the Tribe, Shaun Marcum is said to be "considering his options", but hopefully he will be pitching again for the Clippers in the near future.
After four relief appearances recently, former Yankees farmhand Zach Nuding was given a spot start on Sunday due to a double header and performed well. The Akron rotation looks set right now with Plutko, Morimando, Clevinger, Roberts and Merritt all putting up solid numbers, so it might be a little while before Nuding gets another chance to start.
Unfortunately, the Hillcats' stellar offense continues to be let down by a very mediocre performance by the rotation. Neither Dace Kime, D.J. Brown, Luis Lugo, Mitch Brown nor Michael Peoples has an ERA below 4.50.
Lake County (A)
Although top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield has been hot and cold, the Captains are getting solid contributions from Sean Brady, Anderson Polanco and the surprising Thomas Pannone. Unfortunately, Jordan Milbrath continues to be a weak link, as he hasn't managed to go 5 IP in any of his last five starts.
There have been lots of changes recently in the Clippers bullpen. Kyle Crockett is back with the Clippers after a cup of coffee with the Indians, while Jeff Manship is also up with the MLB team right now. His spot in the bullpen was taken by the former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, while Tyler Sturdevant is also back, having served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines.
After struggling badly with his control in May (13 walks allowed in just 10.0 IP), closer Shawn Armstrong has been terrific this month (10.2 IP/1.69 ERA/0.84 WHIP). He is just beginning to put himself in the mix for the (highly fungible) back end of the Indians' bullpen.
Josh Martin, Enosil Tejeda and closer Josh Johnson continue to do a fine job for the Ducks — each has an ERA below 1.70 and a WHIP below 1.00.
Having recently come off the DL, Grant Sides was sent to the Scrappers (presumably to continue his rehab) while Benny Suarez was released.
Justin Brantley has been the only really consistent performer for the Hillcats' bullpen, although at least he has J.P. Feyereisen as a running mate nowadays.
Lake County (A)
Despite the loss of Feyereisen to Lynchburg, there have still been some terrific relief performers in Lake County, most notably from Cameron Hill, Justin Garcia, Nick Pasquale, David Speer and (recent addition) Caleb Hamrick.
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%)
Week 8 (June 1-7): Nellie Rodriguez (45%)
Week 9 (June 8-14): Bobby Bradley (76%)
2015 prospect write-ups: Bradley Zimmer, Michael Clevinger, Bobby Bradley/Yu-Cheng Chang/Francisco Mejia/Justus Sheffield, Giovanni Soto