It’s an interesting irony. When the Indians’ season started, the conversations at second and third base were: can Orlando Cabrera and Jack Hannahan keep the Tribe from completely sinking at second and third until Kipnis and Chisenhall are ready? Then, both prospects started very slowly in Columbus. And then, the Tribe started winning. Cabrera and Hannahan more than held their own. Suddenly, we weren’t thinking about when we’d need Chisenhall and/or Kipnis to be ready so much as if. We’re just riding the wave of the tremendous start.
So, of course, almost by design, the past week has seen a nice shift for the two prospects in AAA: almost as if the mantle of pressure has been lifted from their collective shoulders, they’ve started to hit. And, I mean hit. And, while these two alone aren’t responsible for it, the Clippers are working on a 10-game winning streak at present.
In the last six games, both are finally starting to resemble the players most hoped to see in their continued development. The other common thread running through this? The team has been on the road down south, where the weather is a little more, shall we say, “baseball-like.” Since hitting the road, here are the numbers for both players over the past six games:
Jason Kipnis: 8-for-23 (.348), a double, two triples, and two home runs (SLG: .826); 6 RBI, 7 runs scored; 4 BB (OBP: .444)
Lonnie Chisenhall: 9-for-25 (.360), a double and a home run (SLG: .520); 4 RBI, 5 runs scored; 3 BB (OBP: .429)
Obviously, this is a small sample size, and more to the point these two guys are hitting .266 and .256 respectively on the season. But, the hope is that as they continue to adjust to AAA–and apparently as the weather warms up–they will continue to illustrate why they are so highly thought-of both inside the organization and throughout the fanbase.
And, while I’m not trying to say there’s a direct correlation here, the Tribe isn’t the only team in the organization rocking a great winning streak. The Clippers are sitting on a 10-game winning streak, and have been getting it done often in the same way as their parent club: solid pitching, timely hitting, and the occasional late-inning magic/rally. But overall? It’s definitely been the bats.
The Clippers are currently crushing the International League in hitting, posting a .288 batting average as a team. The next closest team? .268. Columbus leads the league in team on-base percentage by 38 points. They lead in slugging by 16 points (and, therefore, in OPS as well, by 66 points). They’ve scored 18 more runs than the second best team in the IL.
This makes it all the more interesting that these two highly touted guys are really only just getting started at the plate this year. It shows how well this AAA team is put together in terms of their lineup, with the right mix of speed and on-base combined with power and run production. The Clippers are pitching well (5th-best in the IL in team ERA at 3.50) considering the flux their rotation has been in with the callups of Jeanmar Gomez and now Alex White combined with the quirky schedule of double-headers due to rainouts. But, it’s truly been the bats that, much like last year, are carrying this club.
Here’s hoping that Kipnis, Chisenhall, and the rest of the gang can keep it going. And, truthfully, that the Big Club can continue playing in such a way as to let there be no rush for the infielders.
Photo Credit: Joe Santry, Columbus Clippers – http://clippersbaseball.com