With June in full swing, the Cleveland Indians have decided to promote much-discussed infielder Cord Phelps. The Triple-A standout will not only be in uniform for Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match with the Minnesota Twins but will start at second base and bat seventh.
Prior to getting the nod, Phelps had been hitting at a .299/.391/.488 line with the Columbus Clippers, chipping in seven home runs, 15 doubles and 40 RBI in his 211 at-bats. He had been the subject of many discussions, including but not limited to a recent WFNY podcast as well as a piece on the “Free Cord Phelps” movement that had picked up steam with each additional Indians loss.
Drafted in the third round of 2008, the 24-year-old Phelps has never made the top-10 list of the team’s top prospects, but has managed to produce nothing but excellent numbers since moving up the Tribe’s minor league ranks. After being promoted from Akron last season, Phelps did his damage at the Triple-A level, providing an OPS of .892 with 20 doubles and six home runs.
This season with the Clippers, Phelps has churned out his success at the plate while playing second base, shortstop, third base and designated hitter; his versatility not only provides the Indians with a servciable bat, but will also allow Manny Acta to give his infieders a day off without sacrificing much in terms of “replacement.”
Where fans should caution themselves is to expect an immediate impact from a player with absolutely zero major league at-bats to his name and could be considered a “switch-hitting Jason Donald.” As Jon said best:
[Yes], I think that the team should promote Cord Phelps. The corresponding roster move that makes the most sense to me would be to DFA Adam Everett, but I’d really not lose too much sleep over losing Kearns or O-Cab either. Whatever.
But we should also be clear about something else: Cord Phelps is not going to save this team. While we have a tendency to put all of our hopes into young players who we’ve not seen much of, we should remember that it’s exceedingly rare for these types to impact the team immediately.
Where things differ a bit is the lack of conviction involved in the decision to bring the much-deserving Phelps up. Rather than releasing or designating any one player for assignement, the Indians front office opted to…well, option. To clear room for Phelps on the 40-man roster, the team moved pitcher Alex White to the 60-day disabled list. Removed from the 25-man roster is pinch-hitter extraoridinarie Shelley Duncan, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
Prior to being sent down, Duncan was hitting .222 with six doubles, two home runs and 17 RBI. On the season, Indians’ second basemen are hitting .247 with a team-low OPS of .580.