Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Check back each Tuesday afternoon for team records, roster updates, and performance updates on some of the brightest prospects in the Tribe system.
It definitely feels like spring. The Clippers are back, I’ve been able to take in two games in beautiful Huntington Park, and I’ve enjoyed seeing Carlos Santana almost a little too much. But hey… I need to enjoy it while he’s still here. Let’s take a closer look at the Clippers’ week…
This Week: 3-2
Current Record: 3-2, t-1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
4/8 vs. Indianapolis – Clippers 17, Indians 4; WP Carrasco (1-0)
4/9 vs. Indianapolis – Indians 14, Clippers 12; LP Tomlin (0-1)
4/10 vs. Indianapolis – Indians 4, Clippers 3; LP: Wright (0-1)
4/11 vs. Indianapolis – Clippers 9, Indians 4; WP: Pino (1-0)
4/12 vs. Louisville – Clippers 5, Bats 3; WP: Lewis (1-0)
Thankfully, not a lot of roster moves yet to report. The Clippers start out the year as follows:
[edit, 2:20] Just got an e-mail from the team stating that Jeremy Sowers has been recalled from Mahoning Valley, and Yohan Pino has been sent down to make room.
OF: Jose Constanza, Trevor Crowe, Chris Giminez, Brian Horwitz
IF: Brian Bixler, Russell Branyan (MLR), Brian Buscher, Jason Donald, Shelley Duncan, Wes Hodges, Anderson Hernandez
C: Damaso Espino, Carlos Santana
SP: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, Scott Lewis, Yohan Pino, Hector Rondon, Jeremy Sowers
RP: Hector Ambriz (MLR, R), Mike Gosling (L), Frank Herrmann (R), Saul Rivera (R), Carlton Smith (R), Jess Todd (R), Josh Tomlin (R), Steven Wright (R)
Two things jump out in looking at this roster compared to last year’s team: the rotation looks light years better, and the offense looks to be about as weak, or weaker, than last year’s fairly anemic squad. Gone are guys like Brantley, LaPorta, Andy Marte (don’t laugh, he was money in Columbus last season), and Jordan Brown is currently on the DL. The pitching has been OK so far in terms of the starters (with the exception of a rough start by Hector Rondon), but the offense has been a pleasant surprise thus far, led by IL Batter of the Week Carlos Santana and scoring a whopping 46 runs in their first five games (9.2 rpg).
4/13 vs. Louisville, Carlos Carrasco
4/14 vs. Toledo, Hector Rondon
4/15 vs. Toledo, Jeanmar Gomez
4/16 @ Louisville, Yohan Pino
4/17 @ Louisville, Scott Lewis
4/18 @ Louisville, Carlos Carrasco
4/19 @ Louisville, Hector Rondon
*subject to change
Players to Watch:
What more can be said about C Carlos Santana’s start so far? The reigning IL Batter of the Week is tearing the cover off the ball thus far, with nine hits in 20 at bats (.450), two doubles, four homers (23 total bases, 1.150 SLG%), eight RBI, seven runs scored, and two walks to run his OBP to an even .500; yes, that puts his OPS at 1.650. See below for more, but having seen Santana twice in person against a left-handed starter and a right-handed starter, his swing looks positively beautiful from both sides of the plate. The results aren’t really there are a right-handed hitter yet (0-for-3 with one BB), but it’s a small sample size thus far. Probably the best news for Santana overall is that he’s struck out only twice thus far in 22 plate appearances. Again, I’ve only seen him live twice, but I don’t recall him swinging at a bad pitch thus far in the eight ABs I’ve seen.
I know it’s only five games, but so far 1B/3B/DH Wes Hodges has bounced back thus far to start the season after a struggle last year with injuries and inconsistencies. So far he has seven hits in 19 at-bats (.368), and has four walks on top of that (.455 OBP). He has four doubles and a homer (14 total bases, .737 SLG%), has scored five runs, and has driven in four. Hodges has hit in all five games thus far, and while he has not been playing in the field full time (three at 1B, two at DH), it’s definitely been a better start for him.
It’s hard to see a path to the majors for 2B Jason Donald, but he’s also off to a solid start so far. He’s played in four of the first five games, and has hit in each of those four games. He has seven hits in 16 ABs (.438), has two walks (.526 OBP), has three doubles, and has scored four runs. Not too shabby for a guy that most will only remember as being “one of the guys that came over for Cliff Lee and probably will never amount to anything.”
A guy who is also looking to bounce back from injuries is LHP Scott Lewis. And, his first start was solid. He allowed one run in six innings on two hits while fanning 10 while getting the win Monday night. He issued a walk and hit a batter in the first inning, which was followed by a single that scored a run, but after that he was masterful giving up just one more hit the rest of the way while consistently fooling Louisville hitters. He struck out the side in one inning along the way.
The one starting pitcher who struggled this week was RHP Hector Rondon. After exploding onto the AAA scene last year later in the season only to fade down the stretch, the young righty comes into 2010 with high expectations. His first start was forgettable, as he only survived three innings, giving up 10 hits and seven earned runs (21.00 ERA) along the way. He walked two and struck out four, but it was not a great start to the year for Hector.
Maybe I’m being mean in putting him here, but I haven’t forgiven him for his role in blocking Jordan Brown from The Show last year. C/OF Chris Giminez isn’t getting much playing time, but so far in the time he has gotten he hasn’t done much. Just one hit in 8 ABs (.125)—though it was a home run, granted—in three games for Chris.
1B/OF Shelley Duncan—or, Jake Busey’s Twin Brother, as I like to call him—is a strange player. At 6’5” / 225#, he’s an imposing figure. He gets on base well for a supposed power guy (four BBs in 22 PAs thus far), but he’s 4-for-18 to start the year (.222), has a higher OBP than SLG% (.391 to .389), and is 30 years old. What, pray tell, is he doing here?
Thumbs Sideways (?)
It’s hard to get a good read on how 1B Russell Branyan is really doing. He’s only playing about half of each game that he plays, and he’s only played in three of the first five games. Thus far in only 10 ABs, he has three hits (.300) with a double. But, as Andrew pointed out in his opening day recap, he went 3-for-3 that day, and thus has gone 0-for-7 since. He did manage to hit a loud foul ball last night literally out of the stadium down the right field line (don’t get too excited, it’s like 310 down that line), but other than that I’ve seen a lot of weak grounders, lazy fly balls, and half-hearted runs down the first base line thus far. To his credit, Big Russ has only one K to this point (last night, and it was a BEEEG WHIFFA strikeout) in 11 PA.
RHP Frank Herrmann looks to follow up on a solid 2009 campaign, and thus far has done a decent enough job. The right hander has worked 3.1 innings thus far in two different appearances out of the pen, and has allowed just one run (2.70 ERA) and three hits, while walking two and fanning one. Not a great start, but not too shabby considering some of the other guys out of the pen thus far.
A few other guys here that deserve mention are SPs Carlos Carrasco, Yohan Pino, and Jeanmar Gomez who all pitched OK but not great. Carrasco and Pino earned wins despite giving up 3 ER in 5.2 IP (4.76 ERA) and 2 ER in 5.0 IP (3.60 ERA) respectively. Carrasco hit two batters, walked one, but also fanned eight; Pino walked one and struck out five. Gomez earned a no decision, and command was his biggest issue. He worked 5.0 innings, walked four, scattered four hits, and K’ed five, allowing 3 ER (5.40 ERA) along the way.
A Quick Word…
…about my camera. It’s pretty sweet, I don’t mind saying. And, coupled with the seats my wife and I have for 20 games a year, it allows us to capture some pretty cool snapshots of the game experience. If you read my Santana piece yesterday about his IL BOW honor, you remember that beautiful pic(right). I’ve managed to grab a few others over the two games I’ve been able to attend so far, including some nice videos to give you a glimpse into the sweet swing of Carlos Santana:
Catcher Carlos Santana
Pitching Coach Charles Nagy (with pitcher Jeanmar Gomez)
Pitcher Scott Lewis
Third Baseman/DH Wes Hodges
And, just for TD, Money-stealer Russell Branyan
Videos of Carlos Santana from Both Sides of the Plate:
Seriously, enjoy this guy’s swing. As Andrew has also said (and as my wife is probably sick of hearing after just two games), I could watch this guy swing a bat all day long. The two left-handed videos below are from different at-bats, but I challenge anyone to find differences in the swings.
Last night was the first “Dime-a-Dog” night of 2010 at Huntington Park, and despite my wife’s disgust I managed to pound down five hot dogs for a paltry $.50 (well, $7.00 with the requisite beer on the side). Five may not sound like a lot, so try this on for size: the park’s total capacity is roughly 10,000 souls. I would say the park was about two-thirds full, so let’s say 6,500 or 7,000 people were there.
How many hot dogs can that many people eat? Apparently, the answer is over 26,000. Any wonder why Columbus has always been near the top of “America’s Fattest City” per capita?
All photos and videos are © 2010 Waiting For Next Year