Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Jacob in control here this week with DP on vacation, but check back each Tuesday afternoon for records, rosters, and performance updates on some of the top prospects in the Tribe system.
Despite a rough week overall, the Clippers head to the All-Star Break this season with a sizable 7.5 game lead in the IL West Division. With only 50 some odd games remaining, that should definitely put the franchise in a position to compete for the championship come later this September. While many players continue to move up I-71 from Columbus to Cleveland, the Clippers roster should include many if not all of the top prospects in the organization by the end of the year. A tough pennant race always attracts the best and it should be even more exciting second half down at Huntington Park.
This Week: 2-4
Current Record: 55-36, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
7/06 vs. Toledo – Mud Hens 9, Clippers 4; LP Gomez (6-8)
7/07 vs. Toledo – Mud Hens 6, Clippers 4; LP Pino (7-5)
7/08 vs. Indianapolis – Indians 3, Clippers 2; LP Tomlin (8-3)
7/09 vs. Indianapolis – Clippers 10, Indians 9; WP Pestano (1-1)
7/10 @ Louisville – Bats 4, Clippers 2; LP Carrasco (7-4)
7/11 @ Louisville – Clippers 7, Bats 5; WP Todd (3-2)
Only one collective organizational roster move affected the roster of the Clippers this week, as the Indians designated catcher Mike Redmond for assignment. In the corresponding move, super utility man Chris Gimenez earned the promotion to Cleveland as the team purchased his contract for the 40-man roster. In return, the Clippers received catcher Wyatt Toregas back from short-season Class A Mahoning Valley
OF: Jordan Brown, Jose Constanza, Nick Weglarz
IF: Brian Bixler, Jared Goedert, Wes Hodges, Cord Phelps, Josh Rodriguez, Luis Valbuena
C: Lou Marson, Wyatt Toregas
SP: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Yohan Pino, Josh Tomlin
RP: Justin Germano (R), Josh Judy (R), Jensen Lewis (R), Vinnie Pestano (R), Carlton Smith (R), Jeremy Sowers (L), Bryce Stowell (R), Jess Todd (R)
7/15 @ Norfolk, Yohan Pino
7/16 @ Norfolk, Josh Tomlin
7/17 @ Norfolk, David Huff
7/18 @ Norfolk, Carlos Carrasco
7/19 @ Durham, Jeanmar Gomez
*subject to change
Players to Watch:
Nothing quite like returning to Triple-A with a bang… CA Wyatt Toregas starred in his only game played this week, hitting the game-winning home run against Louisville Sunday. He also singled home a run earlier in the contest, finishing 2-for-5 with the homer and three RBI. Toregas began the season with Akron, then moved to Mahoning Valley due to a very crowded catching corps. With the Scrappers, he batted .368 in seven games including two homers in his debut.
Another offensive standout this week was IF Luis Valbuena. Although not guaranteed everyday at bats with the many middle infielders in Columbus, Valbuena batted .471 (8-for-17) in his five games with three doubles and a home run. He also walked five times, scored five runs and drove in four RBI. What a week for Valbuena, who is now batting a sparkling .351 in 15 games with the Clippers.
Columbus continues to hit well and 3B Jared Goedert has been one of the main reasons over the past six weeks plus. He homered four more times in the six games last week with six RBI while batting .346 (9-for-26), improving upon his ridiculous offensive numbers this season. Combined between Akron and the Clippers, he is now batting .325 with 23 doubles, 22 homers and 64 RBI in just 77 games played.
Sweet OF Jordan Brown has International League pitching figured out I’d say, eh? The utility outfielder and first baseman batted .360 (9-for-25) with four doubles and four RBI this past week, yet another solid week by the reigning IL batting champion. Over the past three seasons in Buffalo and Columbus, Brown is now batting .306 in 273 games played but has still yet to make the jump to the big leagues in Cleveland.
1B Wes Hodges is another former All-Star with the Aeros and had a solid week this past week as well. He collected two of the team’s 12 home runs, both of the solo variety, and batted .316 (6-for-19) in his five contests. Finally healthy this season, he is starting to put together a solid past few weeks in his second year with the Clippers.
The pitching was a rough spot for the team this week, as evidenced by the lack of hurlers named so far, but RHP Josh Tomlin and RHP Carlos Carrasco each posted quality starts. Their stat lines were very similar in permitting three runs in six innings with two walks, but both took the loss on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
After being named an IL All-Star as a replacement for Michael Brantley, OF Jose Constanza struggled this past week in Columbus. The speedy utility outfielder batted just .190 (4-for-21) and struck out five times against only one walk. Constanza is at his best when he is drawing walks and causing havoc on the base paths, but this was just a minor setback before representing the team in the midsummer classic.
Toregas replaced Gimenez as the essential backup catcher for the Clippers, but starting CA Lou Marson struggled offensively this past week. Sent down to Columbus in favor of Carlos Santana nearly a month ago, Marson batted just .133 (2-for-15) in his four games this week with only a pair of singles, a walk and a strike out. The former Phillies farmhand is batting .153 in 22 Triple-A contests this season after posting a .191 batting average in Cleveland.
For the most part, the bullpen was impressive this past week as I’ll touch on later, but RHP Jensen Lewis struggled in his lone appearance. He permitted two runs on a home run and three walks, retiring only two batters of the six he faced Friday night. The outing snapped a streak of six straight scoreless appearances, so things should be fine again for J Lew.
While the relievers were good, the starters were pretty awful this past week at Huntington Park. The two mentioned above at least finished with decent outings, but LHP David Huff owned the worst start of them all. He permitted seven runs on 10 hits with two home runs in just three innings pitched but avoided the decision in Columbus’s wacky 10-9 victory Friday.
After a stretch of four straight impressive starts, RHP Jeanmar Gomez hit a major setback in two outings this past week. He posted a 9.58 ERA with 15 hits and 13 runs (11 earned) in 10.1 innings pitched as he allowed a .341 opponent batting average. The young Venezuela native had allowed just three earned runs in his previous four starts for a 1.04 ERA across 26.0 innings pitched.
And finally, RHP Yohan Pino had another rough appearance as he allowed six runs in six innings last Wednesday. Acquired from Minnesota last season, Pino now has a 5.61 ERA in 17 starts this season including an 8.23 ERA at Huntington Park. Hmm, that seems strange.
A Quick Word…
As I said earlier, the bullpen actually was impressive despite the obscene amount of runs allowed by the Clippers pitching staff this past week. Opponents out-scored the team 36 to 29 overall in the six games played, but blame it on the starting pitchers and their combined 8.62 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched. Starters lost all four games during the week while both victories were in comeback fashion and credited to the bullpen.
That means that a combination of eight relievers posted a 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched overall. Only RHP Josh Judy and Lewis were charged with earned runs at all while RHP Carlton Smith avoided an unearned run in his two appearances. The bullpen also recorded 25 strikeouts against eight walks in the six games, a very impressive total that I’m sure is turning some heads in the front office in Cleveland.
Main shoutouts go to RHP Vinnie Pestano, RHP Bryce Stowell and RHP Jess Todd. Pestano earned one of the wins last week and now has a 2.08 ERA in 24 games after missing the majority of the second half of last season while on Akron’s roster. Stowell still has yet to allow a run in any form since May 15th with Class A Kinston, a stretch spanning all of his 25.1 innings pitched with Akron and Columbus. Meanwhile, Todd is having another quality season in the upper levels of the minors with a 2.82 ERA and 44 strikeouts against only 12 walks.
Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh deserves all of the credit in the world. After leading the Akron Aeros to the Eastern League Championship in 2009, Sarbaugh took on the task of moving up in the chain to manage the Clippers. This was a team that was under a lot of stress last season between roster changes, inconsistencies and poor pitching. A total of 69 players appeared in a game last season for the Clippers as opposed to just 47 in Akron.
It took someone able to control all of these varying mindsets and personalities at the Triple-A level to move this team to playoff contention. Sarbaugh was able to do all of that in adding yet another successful season under his belt. He recently won his 500th game as a minor league manager and across his seven seasons in the Indians system, he is now 510-357 (.588 pct) overall and has won at least 80 games in each of the past four years.
He is the hottest managing prospect in the system and if anyone needs to be recognized for the success of this team, it has to be Sarbaugh. The roster turnover and new faces continue to move all the time, but he has certainly been a guiding force throughout the first half of the 2010 season. I had the pleasure of working alongside him in Akron last year in the media department, and the success of the Clippers is not a surprise at all after understanding the way he goes about his business every single day.