2013 Columbus Clippers preview
After winning back-to-back Triple-A National Championships in 2010 and 2011, the Columbus Clippers failed to make the playoffs in 2012, finishing second in the International West Division with a 75-69 record. This season, under the leadership of first-year manager Chris Tremie, the Clippers will look to get back to their championship caliber selves.
Tremie said that in all aspects of the game, his team is ready to compete at a high level. “We have a lot of good ball players,” he said. “The pitching is strong. I really like our lineup. We’re a good defensive club. We’re excited to get the season started.”
After spending two years as the manager of Double-A Akron, going 155-128 in that time and winning the 2012 Eastern League title, Tremie will look to continue his success with the Clippers. Phil Clark returns as hitting coach and Tony Arnold will join the staff as pitching coach after being promoted from the Aeros.
Considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Bauer, 22, is poised for a big year. Acquired from Arizona in the off-season in a three-team trade, Bauer went 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 14 games before being called up by the Diamondbacks. He didn’t fair so well in his first taste of big league action, posting 1-2 record with 6.06 ERA in four starts but that should be no indication of what this kid can really do. It wouldn’t be surprising if Bauer pitches his way onto Cleveland’s roster at some point during the year.
Carrasco will start the season with the Indians so that he can serve his six-game suspension for throwing at Kansas City’s Billy Butler back on July 29, 2011. After appealing the suspension, Carrasco injured his right elbow which forced him to miss all of last season to undergo Tommy John surgery. After serving his suspension, the Venezuela native will return to the Clippers. In parts of three seasons with the Indians, Carrasco is 10-15 with 4.93 ERA and 134 strikeouts.
Kluber pitched for both Columbus and Cleveland last year and was in the running for the last spot of the Tribe’s rotation during spring training. In 12 starts for the Indians in 2012, Kluber went 2-5 with a 5.15 ERA. Likely to be on the front-end of the Clippers rotation, either as the No. 1 or No. 2 starter, Kluber is likely a top candidate to be called back up to the big leagues if someone gets injured.
After failing to win a spot in the Indian’s starting rotation, former Red Sox righty Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin the year in Columbus as the likely No. 3 starter. Signed to a minor league contract in the off-season, Matsuzaka was cut at the end of spring training but was later resigned to a more cost-friendly contract. The former Japanese star hasn’t had a quality season since 2008 when he owned an 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA and finished 4th in the American League Cy Young Award voting. If one of the Indian’s starting pitchers goes down, look for “Dice-K” to be the first pitcher to take his spot.
Last year for Triple-A Albuquerque, Nieve went 7-9 with a 5.96 ERA in 25 games. At 30, Nieve doesn’t figure to be part of the Indians future and is around as more of a depth arm.
Acquired from Detroit in 2010 in exchange for Jhonny Peralta, the young Soto, 21, is raw but shows a lot of upside. Last season for Double-A Akron, Soto went 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 100 strikeouts. On July 15 of last year, Soto threw a no-hitter against the Altoona Curve. He was also a member of the Puerto Rican national baseball team in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
Barnes, acquired in a 2009 with the Giants for Ryan Garko, split last season between Columbus and Cleveland. In 16 games with the Indians, Barnes posted a 4.26 ERA with no record. He will be one of three lefties out of the bullpen for the Clippers.
Berger, another lefty, spent last season between Akron and Columbus, accumulating a 2-9 record with a 4.94 ERA. He did make 18 starts in 2012 but will most likely be used as a reliever this year.
Bryson was a part of the 2008 trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee. He spent all of last season with the Aeros, posting a 2.62 ERA in 43 appearances.
Like Matsuzaka, Capps was signed to a minor league deal in the off-season, cut, and then resigned for a cheaper price. An All-Star in 2010 for the Minnesota Twins, Capps hasn’t played regularly in the minors since 2005. In his career with Pittsburgh, Washington and Minnesota, Capps is 29-33 with a 3.52 ERA and 138 saves. He could be the closer for the Clippers at the beginning of the season but there is a good chance he’ll be called up at some point.
Gil, 30, was signed as a minor league free agent in the winter. He posted a 7-1 record with a 4.92 ERA and 9 saves in 2012 for Triple-A Las Vegas.
One of the best arms in the Indians’ farm system, Guilmet is quickly rising through the ranks and could also be a possible closer candidate for the Clippers this season. Last year with Double-A Akron, Guilmet recorded 24 saves while posting a 2.39 ERA in 50 appearances for the Aeros.
After failing to make the major league roster, Huff was designated-for-assignment but cleared waivers and will be returning to the Clippers this season. In the past, he’s primarily been used as a starter, but with the depth the team has in their rotation, it seems likely that he’ll be used in a long-relief role. In his major league career, Huff is 18-26 with a 5.30 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 55 games.
Langwell was drafted in the 11th round in the 2008 draft by the Tribe. In 42 games for both Akron and Columbus, he recorded a 2.28 ERA with 81 punch-outs.
Martinez is in his second stint with the Clippers. After being acquired from Pittsburgh in 2011, he signed a one-year contract with Arizona last year before returning to the Indians organization on a minor league deal this offseason. Last year he went 10-11 with a 5.39 ERA in 27 starts for Triple-A Reno.
Acquired in a trade with Boston in 2009, Price rounds out the Clippers’ relief corps. The 26-year-old split 2012 between the Aeros and Clippers, posting a combined 4.83 ERA in 40 appearances between the two.
Gomes, acquired in a trade with Toronto this off-season along with Mike Aviles in in return for Esmil Rogers, is a power hitter who can also play the infield. He still needs work defensively if he wants to be an everyday catcher but his versatility is very intriguing. He’ll be the starter.
Santos has played in 121 games in the big leagues with the New York Mets, Baltimore and Detroit but has spent most of his career in the minors. In 61 games last year between Triple-A Toledo and Colorado Springs, he hit a combined .310 with 2 homers and 30 RBI.
Antonelli, a former No. 1 pick by the Padres back in 2006, has not lived up to the hype that once surrounded him. After years of bouncing around in the minors, the second baseman has made his way to Columbus and will spend most of his time as a bench player. Last season between Triple-A Norfolk and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he hit for a combined .201 average with 2 homeruns and 11 RBI in 44 games.
After playing for Akron, Columbus and Cleveland last year, Diaz will begin the season with the Clippers as the starting shortstop. Before being called up by the Tribe late last season, Diaz belted 13 homeruns with 72 RBI and a .283 average between Double-A Akron and Columbus. He was acquired along with Ezequiel Carrera in the 2010 trade with Seattle for Russell Branyan.
Hernandez will most likely be the starter at third but can also play the other infield positions and could be used in a utility role. Signed to a minor league contract in the off-season, Hernandez, 28, has spent parts of seasons with Baltimore, Kansas City, the New York Mets and Texas. Last year he hit .262 with 8 homers and 70 RBI for Triple-A Round Rock.
McDade, acquired off of waivers from the Blue Jays in 2012, has the potential to be a big-time power hitter. Between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Las Vegas, McDade hit .285 with 17 bombs and 67 RBI. Listed at an imposing 6 foot one and 250 pounds, McDade will be the starting first baseman and most likely hit in the heart of the lineup. He will also fill in as the DH from time to time.
Phelps looks like the most major league-ready player on the roster and projects to be a super utility man in the big leagues. Although he will be the starting second baseman, he can also play every position except for center and catcher. In the past two years, Phelps has played in 49 games for the Indians, batting a combined .173 with 2 homeruns and 11 RBI. He is likely to be the first position player called up if someone on the Tribe is put on the disabled list.
Rohlinger was originally signed to a minor league contract by the Indians in 2011. He spent 2012 with Aeros and the Clippers, hitting a combined .272 with 8 homers and 52 RBI. The Tribe resigned him to another minor league contract for this season where he will play a utility role for the Clippers.
Abraham, a University of Michigan Alum, was drafted by the Indians in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. He spent last season with Akron where he hit for a .259 average with 13 homeruns and 54 RBI in 108 games. He will be used as a backup outfielder for the Clippers and can play some first and third base.
Carson was signed to a minor league contract in the off-season and has spent time in the Yankees, Athletics, Rays and Twins organizations. At Triple-A Rochester in 2012, he played in 115 games where he batted .282 with 14 homers and 53 RBI. Carson will probably platoon in right field with Jeremy Hermida and could also get some AB’s at DH.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, Fedroff was named the Indians 2012 Lou Boudreau Award winner, given to the organization’s top minor league player. He hit .315 with 11 homeruns and 54 RBI in 123 total games between the Aeros and Clippers. Fedroff can play all the outfield positions but figures to be the starting left fielder and may be the first outfielder called up if a need arises in Cleveland.
Once a highly-touted Marlins prospect, Hermida, 29, has bounced around since being drafted with the 11th overall pick in 2002. Since his debut in 2005, he’s played for the Marlins, Red Sox, Athletics, Reds and Padres. Through 2012, he holds a career average of .257 with 65 homers and 250 RBI. Hermida will platoon with Carson in right and could also see some action at DH.
Hunter was selected in the third round of 2006 draft by San Diego. He spent last season with Triple-A Memphis where he hit .268 with five homeruns and 44 RBI in 129 games. He will most likely be the regular center fielder.
One of Tremie’s main goals this season is to make sure his players are primed and ready to contribute on the big stage.
“My expectation for myself is to help these guys that are here in Columbus right now to be prepared to help the big league club,” Tremie said.
And by players, he means every single one of them.
“I think that every player here has an opportunity and a chance to contribute to the club (Cleveland) at some point during the season,” Tremie said. “To single one or two out would be unfair. I think there’s a lot of talent here and depending on the situation and how the season evolves, it could be anyone of all the 25 that are here.”
The Clippers will open the season on the road with a four game series against the Indianapolis Indians. Their first game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.
Ethan can be contacted by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @ethanjday
The rotation is interesting with Bauer-DiceK-Kluber-Soto-Carrasco. I feel like Soto might be best suited down the road as a back end bullpen arm who can also streach out. Bauer-Kluber-Carrasco and Dice K are all decent back of the rotation options.
Gomes-Phelps and maybe Fedroff and McDade are the only "real" position player prospects. Fedroff and McDade seem more like bench options down the road though.
The bullpen is probably the most talented area. Langwell-Preston-Barnes-Bryson-Huff-Gil-Berger. Thats not bad for a triple A bullpen.
Then like Roger said you have some former top prospects with Laporta, Hermdia, Hunter and Antonelli. I am still curious to see what Laporta looks like if he ever fully recovers from his hip injury. I know most disagree or well.... everyone but if he ever gets healthy I could see him hitting 260 with 18 homers and 25 doubles down the road playing for Colorado or something. At this point even that seems a pipe dream though. I really thought at one point he would be playing 1B and hittting 4th for the Tribe right now.