It was another decent week for the affiliates overall, with the Clippers (6-1), Hillcats (5-2) and AZL Indians(3-2) all recording winning records. Unfortunately, the RubberDucks dropped five games out of seven which has seriously damaged their postseason chances.
Current team records (as of Sunday night):
Columbus Clippers: 78-58 (individual 2015 stats)
Akron RubberDucks: 68-66 (individual 2015 stats)
Lynchburg Hillcats: 70-63 (individual 2015 stats)
Lake County Captains: 67-63 (individual 2015 stats)
Mahoning Valley Scrappers: 30-37 (individual 2015 stats)
Arizona Indians: 23-33 — season completed (individual 2015 stats)
DSL Indians: 40-32 — season completed (individual 2015 stats)
As we enter the final week of the regular MiLB season, it's looking very much like the Clippers and Hillcats will be the Tribe's only representatives in the playoffs. Columbus now holds a 5.5-game lead for the best record among the three division runners-up (and is just one game behind for the divisional lead [update — now two games after monday night's defeat), while the Hillcats lead their division by seven games with seven to play in the second half (the Carolina League splits its season into two). The RubberDucks are now three games out of the playoffs after a disastrous run that has seen them lose 10 of their last 12 [update — now 11 out of 13].
The AZL Indians have now completed their season. They improved very slightly in the second half, from 11-17 to 12-16, but overall it was a very disappointing year for the team, although it wasn't without some exciting individual performances (which we will discuss in detail in the forthcoming AZL Indians 2015 season review).
Angling for Position Players
The Clippers have been a great run recently, made all the more remarkable by the fact that they have been without two of their regular outfielders. Having bounced back well from the concussion he suffered on Aug 16th, Tyler Naquin returned to the DL after last Monday's game with a hip injury, while James Ramsey also missed a week after being hit on the hand by a pitch.
Covering for Naquin and Ramsey, Tyler Holt had a terrific 11-23 week in the leadoff spot, with two doubles, a triple and seven(!) walks. Holt's normal corner outfield spot was taken by Anthony Gallas, who was recalled from Akron.
Veterans Audy Ciriaco, Michael Martinez and Ryan Rohlinger have all been making important contributions down the stretch.
Yandy Diaz was again super-consistent with an 11-24 week with three doubles, but he was overshadowed by two other hitters. Fellow infielder Ronny Rodriguez 11-23 with four doubles and three walks, whereas OF Bryson Myles hit for the cycle in one game on his way to a 10-32, one double, one triple, two HR week.
The Hillcats put up another collectively excellent week with the bat, but again one that lacked many outstanding individual performances. Notably, Yhoxian Medina racked up 11 hits with three doubles and Joe Sever blasted a couple of homers.
Lake County (A)
It was a relatively quiet week for Boby Bradley, as he only hit one homer as the Captains offense had a rather hit and miss week, scoring one run or fewer in four of its seven games.
As I said last week, assuming that the Hillcats do make the playoffs, that might present an opportunity for Bobby Bradley and Anthony 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 unheraded Clippers rotation of Jarrett Grube, Ryan Merritt, Toru Murata, Jordan Cooper and Will Roberts continues to get the job done. Roberts conceded just one unearned run in 6 IP in his start, while Jarrett Grube was again impressive in going 7 IP for 2 ER in his sole start.
Rising star Mike Clevinger was again outstanding, giving up just one earned run over 13 inniungs in his two starts, while striking out 13. However, both Duke von Schamann and D.J.Brown have struggled since arriving in Akron, while Gavin Floyd was pretty dreadful in lasting just 2.2 IP in his final rehab start prior to being called up by the Indians
Although leading prospects Mitch Brown and Luis Lugo weren't so effective this week, recent acquisition Jayson Aquino was much improved in his second start of the week, almost pitching a complete game in going 8.2 scoreless innings, while Michael Peoples provided another solid 7 IP in his start.
Lake County (A)
Top prospect Justus Sheffield had yet another excellent week, pitching another 6.1 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. The 19yo has conceded just four earned runs in his six starts over the five weeks.
Carlos Marmol continues to impress: This week he pitched 3.2 innings with six strikeouts and only one hit. However, not surprisingly the first AAA reliever to be called up in September was Shawn Armstrong, who struck out six in his 3 IP, while also only allowing one hit. Marmol will probably have to wait until after the playoffs before he is considered for a call-up.
Since finally blowing a save back on Aug 5th, FTC ("future Tribe closer") Jeff Johnson has rebounded in fine style with nine strikeouts in 7.2 scoreless innings (including five saves) since. He now has 24 saves in 25 opportunities on the year.
Unfortunately, after making a promising start to his AA career, Ben Heller has been placed on the DL with a right knee sprain.
The Hillcats' bullpen has been tremendous over the past month. Neither Grant Sides, Trevor Frank nor J.P.Feyereisen has allowed an earned run since Aug 1st, while lefty David Speer also made two scoreless apparances following his promotion from the Captains.
Lake County (A)
Despite the recent loss of David Speer to the Hillcats, the Lake County bullpen still possesses plenty of talent. Cameron Hill, Justin Garcia and Luke Eubank all hold an ERA of 2.70 or less and a WHIP of 1.01 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)
Week 19 (Aug 17-23): Bobby Bradley (44%; yes, him again!)
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, Aug 24-30