After a month or so in the doldrums, the affiliates broke out with a perfect 7-for-7 night on Friday and then a 6-for-6 day on Sunday. Individually, the Clippers, Hillcats, Captains and Scrappers all had terrific 5-2 weeks, and the RubberDucks (3-4) were the only team with a losing record.
Incidentally, quick shout out to the DSL Indians. After a horrific 12-21 start to the season, they have taken 12 of their last 15 games to get back to .500 (update — and actually won again on Monday night).
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 57-45 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 53-49 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 48-53 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County Captains: 49-49 (individual 2015 stats)
Mahoning Valley Scrappers: 15-20 (individual 2015 stats)
Arizona Indians: 12-17 (individual 2015 stats)
DSL Indians: 24-24 (individual 2015 stats)
Angling for Position Players
Although Lonnie Chisenhall has cooled off somewhat of late, the Clippers' lineup continues to provide solid hitting from top to bottom as they mount a strong challenge in the International League.
Jose Ramirez (.324/.385/455) has maintained quality production, while Jerry Sands (.278/ .402/.545) has been a terrific power threat all year long. If the Tribe does have an OF clearout this week, then Sands might be back with the Tribe very soon, but otherwise he'll probably have to wait for the September roster expansion.
The circus that is Nick Swisher's rehab doesn't look like it is headed for Cleveland just yet, as in his first three games he is hitting 0-9 (update — 0-12 after Monday night) for the RubberDucks.
Of the players who are actually producing, Yandy Diaz has had a remarkably consistent year, hitting .312/.415/ .370, while top prospect Bradley Zimmer has a very promising .282/.417/.462 line through his first 11 AA games.
The Carolina League "Player of the Week" was the unheralded infielder Ivan Castillo, who notched up an incredible five triples in six games while going 11-21, and the Hillcats also received some terrific hitting from newly promoted Dorssys Paulino (two doubles and two homers, going 9-27) and reserve infielder Yhoxian Medina (8-16 with a couple of doubles).
Clint Frazier's bat wasn't quite as hot last week, after his terrific run the week before, but with a line of .271/.363/.432 he is well on track for a 2016 promotion to Akron.
Lake County (A)
Anthony Santander continues to thrive on his return to the Captains after injury. After a 9-29 (4 2B, 1 HR) week he is now hitting .298/.342/.413 after 26 games.
Having bounced around to Akron and Lynchburg earlier in the year, versatile infielder Yonathan Mendoza has found his niche with the Captains, hitting .296/.374/.389 through 31 games.
State of the Rotation
Josh Tomlin's rehab continues to go well, as he pitched nine innings last week over two starts, and should be fully stretched out after a couple more appearances. One of his main rivals for the Tribe's "No.6" spot, Shaun Marcum, went 7 IP with nine strikeouts for just one unearned run in his only start of the week.
Lefty Shawn Morimando has been on a remarkable tear lately. The 22yo has now allowed just one earned run in his last three starts (18.1 IP). Given that he has also been at AA longer than Adam Plutko, Mike Clevinger or Ryan Merritt, Morimando has a pretty decent claim to be "next man up" should a spot arise in the Columbus rotation.
Plutko actually had a good week himself. After fading after five scoreless innings in his first start, he bounced back with 7 IP for just one earned run on Saturday.
Mitch Brown has been one of the main disppointments in an overall good year for the Tribe's top prospects. However, he finally showed what he is capable of on Friday with nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
The unheralded Michael Peoples went six scoreless on Sunday in recording his sixth excellent start in the last eight games. After a poor start to the season, Peoples has been a major factor as the Hillcats have gradually turned their season around.
Lake County (A)
Thomas Pannone was arguably the star of the Captains' rotation this week, going six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in his only start, although Anderson Polanco managed an incredible 17 strikeouts in 12 IP (albeit with four earned runs) over his two starts.
After spending nearly three years at AA (since August 2012), the frequently wild Trey Haley has had a typically eventful long-awaited AAA debut, walking six in 4.2 IP over four games so far, but somehow only conceding the one earned run. (Update — he pitched two more scoreless innings on Monday, with two more walks and a wild pitch!).
Former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has been very successful as of late, and with Shawn Armstrong, C.C. Lee and Giovanni Soto all pitching consistently well this season, there are several interesting bullpen options for the Tribe.
Once could certainly make a case that AA closer Jeff Johnson is the most promising reliever on the entire farm. He is a perfect 17-for-17 on saves and boast a 1.17 ERA/0.90 WHIP with 40 strikeouts after 37.2 IP.
Johnson is complemented in the bullpen by the excellent Enosil Tejeda and Josh Martin, while recent roster addition Zach Nuding is proving his value as reliever/spot starter with a 1.75 ERA/1.17 WHIP and Casey Weathers has also had a good run since his promotion at the start of this month.
The Hillcats' bullpen has been something of an Achilles' heel all season long. Justin Brantley and J.P. Feyereisen have been solid rather than spectacular, but at least reinforcements have now arrived in the shape of Trevor Frank and long reliever/spot starter Perci Garner.
Lake County (A)
Despite the loss of J.P. Feyereisen to the Hillcats back in May, the Captains' relievers have done a terrific job as a group, with Cameron Hill, David Speer, Nick Pasquale, Justin Garcia and Luke Eubank all putting up fine numbers.
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%)
Week 10 (June 15-21): Ronny Rodriguez (46%)
Week 11 (June 22-28): Greg Allen (27%)
Week 12 (June 29-July 5): Jose Ramirez (51%)
Week 13 (July 6-12): Ryan Merritt (35%)
Week 14 (July 13-19): Clint Frazier (69%)
Tribe minor league weekly review/updates: Apr 9-19 (season preview), Apr 20-26, Apr 27-May 3, May 4-10, May 11-17, May 18-24, May 25-31, June 1-7, June 8-14, June 15-21, June 22-28, June 29-July 5, July 6-12, July 13-19, July 20-26
2015 prospect write-ups: Bradley Zimmer, Michael Clevinger, Bobby Bradley/Yu-Cheng Chang/Francisco Mejia/Justus Sheffield, Giovanni Soto, Clint Frazier