Despite a disastrous combined 0-7 on Saturday, it was a solid week for the affiliates overall, with the Captains (5-2), Hillcats (4-2) and Clippers (4-3) all recording winning records. Unfortunately, the RubberDucks are on a five-game [update — now six-game after Monday's defeat] losing skid that has seriously dented their postseason chances.
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 72-57 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 66-61 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 65-61 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County Captains: 64-59 (individual 2015 stats)
Mahoning Valley Scrappers: 27-32 (individual 2015 stats)
Arizona Indians: 20-31 (individual 2015 stats)
DSL Indians: 40-32 — season completed (individual 2015 stats)
Playoff-wise, there are three stateside affiliates still in the hunt. The Clippers hold the best record among the three division runners-up, while the RubberDucks are now two games back from second place in their division, and the Hillcats lead their division by four games in the second half (the Carolina League splits its season into two).
The DSL Indians have now completed their season. They began poorly with a 12-20 record, but then bounced back strongly in the second half to finish a fine 40-32.
Angling for Position Players
OF Tyler Naquin has bounced back really well since his return from a concussion on Aug 16th, with three doubles and a homer in six games. Having traded cash for the former top 100 prospect last week, the Tribe optioned OF Michael Choice to Columbus where he made an immediate impact with a debut homer on Sunday. To make room for Choice, Anthony Gallas was sent back down to Akron.
The bats were very quiet last week at Akron. Nellie Rodriguez blasted a couple of homers, but otherwise he is still struggling to make the transition to AA, and even Bradley Zimmer could only manage six hits, including three doubles.
The Hillcats put in a collectively decent week with the bat, albeit one with few outstanding individual performances. Clint Frazier turned in another solid week with a pair of homers and five singles in six games.
Lake County (A)
It was yet another ho-hum week for Bobby Bradley, who racked up ten hits including two doubles, a triple and a homer. However, he was actually slightly upstaged by Anthony Santander with three homers and a double.
If the Hillcats do make the playoffs, that might present an opportunity for Bradley and Santander (as well as Justus Sheffield) to extend their season with some cameo appearances in Lynchburg. In particular, Bradley would seem like an ideal fit for the DH role.
State of the Rotation
The current Clippers rotation of Jarrett Grube, Ryan Merritt, Toru Murata, Jordan Cooper and Will Roberts doesn't exactly spring off the page, but collectively they have been performing reasonably well. In particular, former Mexican Leaguer Grube continued his terrific recent form with a scoreless 7 IP. In six games over the past month, he has pitched 34.2 innings for a 1.30 ERA with 25 strikeouts.
The normally reliable Akron rotation took a body blow this weekend when both Adam Plutko and Shawn Morimando were hit hard. With both Duke von Schamann and D.J.Brown having only recently arrived in Akron, they will need strong performances from Plutko, Shawn Morimando and Clevinger if they are to get back in the playoff hunt.
Despite the loss of new acquisition Rob Kaminsky to injury, the Hillcats have been receiving much improved performances from their starting pitchers of late. Michael Peoples was outstanding last week, pitching 13.2 IP scoreless innings across two starts, and the two established prospects, Mitch Brown and Luis Lugo, have also been pitching much better of late.
Lake County (A)
Top prospect Justus Sheffield had another excellent week, allowing just one run in 11.2 IP over two starts. The 19yo has conceded just four earned runs in his five starts over the past month. However, the standout performance of the week was Julian Merryweather's nine strikeout, eight-inning scoreless effort last Wednesday.
It was a good week for Shawn Armstrong and Giovanni Soto, but Carlos Marmol finally gave up an earned run after a long scoreless streak dating back to July 11th.
Since finally blowing a save a couple of weeks back, FTC ("future Tribe closer") Jeff Johnson has bounced back strongly with nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings (including three saves) since.
The recently promoted Ben Heller has made an outstanding start to his AA career, allowing just one run in 6 IP with 15(!) strikeouts, while the 30yo(!) Casey Weathers has also been excellent since he joined the Ducks at the start of July, with 17 strikeouts (and remarkably for him, only five walks) in 17.1 IP for just three earned runs.
The Hillcats' bullpen has been tremendous of late. Neither Grant Sides, Trevor Frank, Perci Garner nor J.P.Feyereisen has allowed an earned run since Aug 1st, while lefty David Speer also made a scoreless debut following his promotion from the Captains.
Lake County (A)
Despite the loss of David Speer to the Hillcats, the Lake County bullpen still has some talent. Cameron Hill, Justin Garcia and Luke Eubank all hold an ERA of 2.70 or less and a WHIP of 1.02 or less.
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%)
Week 18 (Aug 10-16): Bobby Bradley (60%; the first three-peat winner)
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, Aug 17-23