It was another pretty decent week for the affiliates, with the Clippers bouncing back with a 5-2 record after their recent struggles, and the RubberDucks now having won four in a row (in a 4-2 week). Although neither the Hillcats, Captains, Scrappers nor AZL indians posted a winning record, the DSL Indians won all six of their games to make it seven in a row.
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 68-54 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 65-56 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 61-59 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County Captains: 59-57 (individual 2015 stats)
Mahoning Valley Scrappers: 25-29 (individual 2015 stats)
Arizona Indians: 17-28 (individual 2015 stats)
DSL Indians: 37-29 (individual 2015 stats)
Playoff-wise, there are three stateside affiliates still in the hunt. The Clippers currently have the best record among the three division runners-up, while the RubberDucks are tied for second place in their division, and the Hillcats lead their division in the second half (the Carolina League splits its season into two).
Incredibly, after starting the season 12-20, the DSL Indians have now won 25 of their last 34 games to get to 37-29. However, their only realistic chance to make the playoffs is by winning their division, and they are still three games back with six to play as we enter the final week of the DSL season. [Update —after Monday night's defeat they are now four back with five to play.]
Angling for Position Players
After a couple of weeks in which the offense was decimated by injury and promotions to the MLB, Tyler Naquin, Tyler Holt and Zach Walters are all now back with the Clippers, as they continue their chase for a playoff spot. Considering the fact that five regular players from earlier in the season (Lindor, Urshela, Chisenhall, Sands and Ramirez) are all plying their trade in Cleveland nowadays, the Clippers have done a terrific job, depth-wise.
Another week, another award for Bradley Zimmer, who was named Eastern League "player of the week" after hitting three homers in six games, making it five in the last fortnight. Ronny Rodriguez also blasted a couple of homers on Friday, while Yandy Diaz had yet another solid week.
Having been demoted to the Hillcats last weekend to make room for Nellie Rodriguez, Joe Sever exploded with nine hits, including two homers and a double, in just six games. LeVon Washington also had a nine-hit week, but the big news was an 80-game suspension for Luigi Rodriguez for PED use.
Lake County (A)
The 19yo Bobby Bradley was simply sensational last week, homering on five successive days. Hardly surprisingly, Bradley was the Midwest League "player of the week" and (along with Bradley Zimmer) he was also named to the MLB Pipeline "prospect team of the week". Bradley now has 25 HRs on the season and is just three away from the Captains' season record, despite having missed three weeks with an oblique injury in April/May.
State of the Rotation
As expected, as a result of Josh Tomlin's promotion, it was finally time for another of the stellar AA rotation to make the jump to Columbus. Ryan Merritt got the nod, and a good showing in the next couple of weeks might just propel him to a September call-up when rosters expand (he is already on the 40-man).
Former Mexican Leaguer Jerrett Grube had a terrific week, conceding just one run in 12.2 IP across his two starts.
It was yet another good week for the Akron rotation, highlighted by Mike Clevinger's nine strikeouts in 7 IP for one run, and Shawn Morimando's eight strikeouts in 7 IP for two runs, while Adam Plutko was also pretty solid over his two outings.
With Ryan Merritt and Jordan Cooper now in Columbus, both Duke von Schamann (back from suspension) and D.J.Brown made their 2015 AA debuts.
The Hillcats' rotation went from seven starters to five last week as D.J.Brown was sent to Akron and Rob Kaminsky went on the 7-day DL with lower back tightness. However, the remaining starters all pitched well, Dace Kime over two starts and Jayson Aquino, Mitch Brown and Luis Lugo with one each. Michael Peoples will be taking Rob Kaminsky's spot in Tuesday' game.
Lake County (A)
Jordan Milbrath was outstanding with five strikeouts in six scoreless innings, while Anderson Polanco allowed just one run in 6 IP, as the up-and-down Captains ' rotation had a pretty decent week.
Last week we highlighted former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol as a potential "next man up" from the Clippers' bullpen. Marmol struck out seven in 3.1 IP last week, hasn't conceded a run for over a month (11.1 IP) and now has a seasonal ERA of 1.61. It's hard to imagine that Marmol wouldn't be able to offer some team with a bullpen depth option once rosters expand in September.
Trey Haley had a good week, striking out five in 4.1 IP while allowing just a pair of walks, while Shawn Armstrong has returned to Columbus after a brief but promising call-up to the bigs.
Although FTC ("future Tribe closer") Jeff Johnson finally blew a save the week before last, he has bounced back strongly with eight strikeouts in four scoreless innings (including three saves) since.
Ben Heller has made a great start to his AA career, allowing just one run in 4.1 IP with 11(!) strikeouts, while the 30yo(!) Casey Weathers has also pitched terrifically since his promotion at the start of July, with 15 strikeouts (and remarkably for him, only four walks) in 15 IP for just three earned runs.
With Michael Peoples and D.J.Brown returning to starting roles, the Hillcats' bullpen has lost a big chunk of its depth. Encouragingly, however, Grant Sides, Trevor Frank, Justin Brantley and J.P.Feyereisen conceded just one earned run between them last week.
Lake County (A)
The bullpen core of Cameron Hill, Justin Garcia and David Speer were again highly effective last week, not conceding a run between them.
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 first repeat winner)
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%)
Week 15 (July 20-26): Ivan Castillo (60%)
Week 16 (July 27-Aug 2): Bobby Bradley (38%; the second repeat winner)
Week 17 (Aug 3-9): Yandy Diaz (39%)
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, July 27-Aug 2, Aug 3-9, Aug 10-16