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.
Ok, a couple quick notes. First, DP is out of town so I will be sitting in his chair this week. I cannot possibly do as thorough of a job as DP does, but I’ll try my best none the less. 2nd, you may have noticed today is Thursday and Da Clip Show normally runs on Tuesdays. Yeah, oops. Rookie mistake on my part, but I’m sure DP will have this feature back to running on all cylinders next week. For this week, though, you’re stuck with me.
Now, on to business, The Clippers. After a red hot 4-0 start, the Clippers dropped 3 of their next 5 and are 5-5 overall since the hot start. Some up and down performances from key prospects will do that to you. Also, who else is getting tired of Toledo and Louisville? 10 straight games (with 2 more to go) against the same two teams will do that to you.
This Week: 5-3
Season Record: 9-5, 2nd place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
4/14 @Toledo – Clippers 1, Mud Hens 0; WP Gomez (2-0)
4/14 @Toledo – Clippers 7, Mud Hens 3; WP Smith (1-0)
4/15 @Toledo – Mud Hens 5, Clippers 4; LP Espino (0-1)
4/16 vs Toledo – Clippers 10, Mud Hens 4; WP McAllister (2-0)
4/17 vs Toledo – Clippers 6, Mud Hens 2; WP Putnam (1-0)
4/18 vs Toledo – Mud Hens 13, Clippers 5; LP Kluber (0-2)
4/19 vs Louisville – Bats 4, Clippers 2; LP Barnes (0-1)
4/20 vs Louisville – Clippers 4, Bats 3; WP Judy (2-1)
4/16 RHP Frank Hermann added to active roster
4/16 RHP Paolo Espino assigned to AA Akron
4/17 OF Grady Sizemore recalled from rehab assignment to Cleveland
4/19 RHP Jeanmar Gomez recalled to Cleveland
4/19 LHP Scott Barnes assigned from AA Akron
4/19 OF Travis Buck optioned from Cleveland
4/21 vs Louisville, 6:35 PM
4/22 vs Louisville, 7:05 PM
4/23 vs Indianapolis, 4:05 PM
4/24 vs Indianapolis, 4:05 PM
4/25 vs Indianapolis, 6:35 PM
Players To Watch
When talking about the Clippers in the early going, there’s no place to start with thumbs up but with RF Jerad Head. Head’s numbers read .389/.410/.694 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 2B, 1 BB, and 5 SO. Head is something of an afterthought as a prospect who at 28 years old is just 3 years younger than myself. Never the less, his performance this season can’t be overlooked as he has been the catalyst to the Clippers offense as he is 2nd in the IL in avg, tied for 5th in HR and 14th in RBI.
If Head has been the muscle to the Clippers’ lineup, then 2B Cord Phelps is right behind him. The Indians’ system is loaded with 2B prospects and so the battle among prospects is a battle that’s going to be fun to watch all season. Jason Kipnis may have been the one to make bigger headlines last postseason for the Clippers, but it’s Phelps who has made the bigger impact early this season, hitting .327 with 2 HR and 9 RBI. His production has been sliding a little this past week, but his defense combined with his early season production at the plate have been huge for the Clippers.
A guy that most Indians fan should be, and are, excited to see is SP Alex White. The hopeful future ace for the Tribe had a modest start to the season, going 5 innings and giving up 2 runs on 3 hits with 6 strike outs. He’s only gotten stronger with each start. He went 6 scoreless innings in Toledo and then yesterday pitched 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts and 0 walks. He may not have a decision yet this season, but in 18 innings he’s boasting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP with 14 hits, 20 Ks, and 3 walks. Last year he had a K/BB ratio of 2.54 combined at A/AA, and this year that number has jumped to a stellar 6.67 with the Clippers. It’s early in the year, but nobody can be disappointed in the performance Alex White has given to this organization.
Finally, a guy who has done a little bit of everything for the Clippers coming out of the bullpen is RHP Zach Putnam. It can’t be easy being a Michigan Wolverine and living playing in Columbus (just ask Drew Henson about that), but Putnam has done everything the Clippers have asked of him. Putnam has appeared in 5 games, pitched a total of 8 and a third innings, has 1 win, 2 saves, and a hold, and has a 1.08 ERA giving up just one run on a solo home run. The Clippers bullpen has been a bit spotty at times this year, but Putnam has been a very reliable arm for the Clippers thus far.
Also, I feel I should give a thumbs up to RHP Jensen Lewis. I have a hard time not rooting for Jensen, and although he may not have a future in the major leagues, he’s really done a nice job rebounding from the horrific spring training he went through. He’s appeared in 4 games for the Clippers and has done his customary dancing around some control problems, but has yet to give in to them and has a 0.00 ERA so far while picking up a couple saves as well.
It’s not that 2B Jason Kipnis has been awful, but after the spectacular performance he put on display for the organization in the Governor’s Cup run and National Championship game last year expectations were higher than this. Kipnis was never going to be the defender that Phelps can be, and his team high 2 errors bear that out, but the pop from his bat looked like his equalizer. That pop has been noticeably missing early this season as Kipnis is still looking for his first HR of the season. In the last 10 games Kipnis is hitting .257 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and 8 strikeouts. You have to believe he’ll start hitting soon enough, but it’s been a rough start.
Speaking of rough starts, SP Corey Kluber has two of them. In his 2 starts he’s lasted a combined 9.2 innings, giving up 9 runs (8 earned), on 11 hits and 4 walks for a 7.45 ERA. Kluber is the lesser known quantity of the three prospects in the Clippers’ rotation, but he showed a lot of promise last season with the Cleveland organization. As DP pointed out last week, he had 165 strikeouts to 56 walks in 160 innings at AA/AAA. It makes his 7 strikeouts to 4 walks in 9.2 innings a curious disappointment. Again, it’s early so no need to panic (and Kluber isn’t a big time prospect on the level of Alex White anyway), but it’s been puzzling to see him suddenly unable to miss bats. A lot of those strikeouts last year are becoming base hits this year.
Final Thoughts On The Week
I think going into this baseball season a lot of us thought that the Clippers would be the team to jump out to a fast start and the big league team would be the one struggling to find their niche. Well, the Clippers did get off to a hot start while the Indians struggled, but those roles quickly reversed and now it’s the Indians who are on fire and the Clippers are the ones struggling to put it all together.
You have to think the schedule, bad weather, multiple doubleheaders, etc have all taken their toll on this team. And it’s not like the Clippers are in the cellar or anything. With a win over the Bats tonight, the Clippers will be right back at the top of the division with Louisville.
But still, despite the pleasant surprises of guys like Jerad Head, Ezequiel Carrera, and Luke Carlin, there’s been a certain let down amongst big time prospects and/or long time mainstays such as Jason Kipnis, Jordan Brown, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Donald, and Wes Hodges. The Clippers’ offense was just so dynamic and potent in the postseason run last year that it’s made for a stark contrast in the mediocrity of the bats for the meat of the lineup. Hopefully as the weather warms up, so too will the bats for some of these guys.