August 26, 2014

Da Clip Show: Keeping An Eye on the Tribe’s AAA Squad – 8/2/11

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.
We’re going to call this one the “New Faces Edition”. Much like last season, the Clippers sprinted out to a solid division lead, and will now be forced to navigate the second half of the season without most of their big guns. Call-ups have robbed them of their legit lead-off hitter, as well as two middle of the order bats, and while the purging of talent hasn’t been as significant as least season it’s still noticeable to take three of your best hitters out of the lineup. That said, we’re going to take a look this week at some of the new guys to try to assess who might be around for the longer haul, and who might just be keeping the proverbial seats warm. At any rate, a three-game winning streak to close out the week was a nice bonus.

This Week: 4-3
Season Record: 68-42, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West) by 10.5 games

Results
7/26 @ Syracuse – Clippers 3, Chiefs 0; WP Germano (1-2)
7/27 @ Syracuse – Chiefs 2, Clippers 0; LP Gomez (10-4)
7/28 @ Syracuse – Chiefs 6, Clippers 5; LP Putnam (5-3)
7/29 @ Syracuse – Chiefs 3, Clippers 0; WP Martinez (6-5)
7/30 vs. Norfolk  – Clippers 5, Tides 4; WP Kluber (5-7)
7/31 vs. Norfolk – Clippers 6, Tides 5 (13 innings); WP Hagadone (4-1)
8/01 vs. Norfolk – Clippers 6, Tides 5; WP Lee (3-0)

Roster News
7/28 RHP Carlton Smith traded to Cubs (Fukudome trade)

7/30 C Luke Carlin off of the DL

7/31 INF Jason Donald to Cleveland
7/31 C Michel Hernandez sent to Akron

8/01 RHP Matt Langwell called up from Akron
8/01 INF Argenis Reyes purchased from New Jersey/Independent Can-Am League

OF: Shelley Duncan, Tim Fedoroff, Jerad Head, Chad Huffman
IF: Jared Goedert, Nick Johnson, Beau Mills, Cord Phelps, Argenis Reyes, Luis Valbuena
C: Luke Carlin, Paul Phillips
SP: Justin Germano, Jeanmar Gomez, Corey Kluber, Joe Martinez, Zach McAllister
RP: Paolo Espino (R), Nick Hagadone (L), Josh Judy (R), Matt Langwell (R), Chen-Chang Lee (R), Zach Putnam (R), Mitch Talbot (R)

DL: RHP Hector Ambriz (torn right elbow ligament); RHP Anthony Reyes (torn right elbow ligament); RHP Hector Rondon (torn right elbow ligament), LHP Jeremy Sowers (left shoulder), C Dwight Childs (broken hand), LHP Scott Barnes (knee)

Upcoming Schedule/Probables*
*subject to change
8/02 vs. Norfolk, Zach McAllister
8/04 vs. Syracuse, Joe Martinez
8/05 vs. Syracuse, Corey Kluber
8/06 vs. Syracuse, Justin Germano
8/07 vs. Syracuse, Jeanmar Gomez
8/08 @ Louisville, Zach McAllister

Players to Watch – New Faces Edition

Let’s take a look at some of the new guys and see what’s coming in “the next wave” of sorts.

Batters

1B Beau Mills - The Tribe’s first round pick in 2007 out of Lewis-Clark State, Mills is making his AAA debut this season; not exactly a great track for a first rounder out of college four years ago. Mills turns 25 in two weeks, and at 6’3″ and 220 pounds hits left-handed in what was hoped would be the prototypical first-baseman’s mashing style. He earned his call-up this year after hitting an even .300 in 61 games in Akron, with 11 homers and 41 RBI. This is a bit of an outlier for Mills, as he’d hit .275 in one spot just once before, when he hit .293 in a full season in Kinston in 2008. He’s hit just .269 in five minor league seasons spanning 504 games. More distressing has been his lack of power, with a high of just 21 home runs in that same 2008 season in Kinston. For his career, he’s slugging at a .442 clip. So far in Columbus, he’s 4-for-28 (.143) in nine games, with a homer, a double, and two RBI. He hasn’t gotten much playing time, and one wonders if he might not be heading back to Akron at some point soon.

OF Tim Fedroff - Selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft out of North Carolina, Fedroff began the year at Akron. The 24-year-old left-handed hitting Fedroff has been playing center field and leading off since the departures of Ezequiel Carrera and Jason Kipnis. At 5’11″ and 220 pounds, he doesn’t *look* like your prototypical lead-off guy, but he’s been getting on base. Fedroff began the year by ripping it up in Akron, hitting .338 with a .399 OBP in 70 games. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but has a combined 18 doubles and six triples in 103 games this season between Akron and Columbus. Since coming up to Columbus, his average hasn’t been as high, but he’s still getting on base at a tidy .370 clip in 33 games, while holding onto a .265 average.

Pitchers

RHP Paolo Espino – is making his return to AAA this year, after making seven appearances down the stretch last year for the Clippers. A 10th round pick in 2006, Espino has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen throughout his entire minor league career: in five seasons, he’s made 141 appearances with 68 of those coming as a starter. He has a career mark of 34-23 with a 3.90 ERA. He has a career 3.17 K/BB ratio, and a 1.22 career WHIP. Primarily used out of the pen in Akron to start the year, he worked 20 times (three starts) spanning 71.0 innings, and had a 4-0 record with a solid 2.79 ERA. His stint so far this year in Columbus hasn’t been quite as stellar, however, as he’s worked six times–five times out of the pen–to the tune of a 1-1 record with a 6.75 ERA in 12.0 innings. That includes his one start, in which he went 5.0 innings and didn’t allow and earned run, so the math as a reliever is not on his side.

RHP Matt Langwell – a 2008 11th round pick, Langwell received his callup when Carlton Smith was dealt to the Cubs as part of the Kasoke Fukudome deal. The 25-year-old Texan went to college at Rice, and stands an imposing 6’2″ and 225 pounds. He has a solid 2.96 career K/BB ratio, and after a rough stretch in rookie ball in 2008, has had solid splits at each stop the past three years. He’s had ERAs of 1.97 (Lake County, 2009), 2.41 (Kinston, 2010), and 2.66 (Akron, 2011) before getting the call, and has 201 Ks over 208.1 innings in his career. He’s made just one appearance in Columbus, and it was forgettable: He worked 1.2 innings on Monday, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, while striking out one.

A Quick Word…

…about the Clippers’ bullpen arms. As the season has worn on, two guys are establishing themselves as the go-to late inning pitchers, one from the left side and one from the right side. LHP Nick Hagadone and RHP Chen-Chang Lee have really come on of late to provide the Clippers with that late inning presence, much like Vinnie Pestano did last year en route to the championship. What’s more, they give manager Mike Sarbaugh legitimate late-inning options from both sides.

Hagadone has really settled in, after some inconsistency early. In his last 10 appearances, he’s worked 17.0 innings and allowed just three earned runs (ERA: 1.59). There is the note of his allowing six unearned runs, but without direct situational knowledge I can’t comment on those specifically. It does show that at times he can struggle to close out an inning here and there, but there are some very encouraging numbers to go with all of that. In those 17.0 innings, he’s walked just three batters while striking out 21. In that span, he’s also not allowed a home run. In his entire tenure in Columbus, he’s holding left handed hitters to a .152 average with just five hits allowed in 10.1 innings. Overall in Columbus, Hagadone has worked 23 times spanning 34.0 innings, and has a 3.71 ERA. He’s allowed three homers, walked nine, and struck out 37.

Lee has been the biggest surprise. Not on many people’s radar at the start of the season–my own included–he has truly arrived in AAA. Since coming up to the Clippers, he’s worked 12 times, spanning 19.2 innings, allowing just three earned runs (four total) for an ERA of 1.37. He’s picked up three wins along the way as well against no losses. He’s walked only five, and most impressively has fanned 29 in 19.2 innings. In other words, he’s recorded 59 outs, and 29 of them–or basically half–have been strikeouts. Combined between Akron and Columbus, Lee has worked 59.1 innings, or 178 outs recorded. 85 of those outs–or 47.7%–are strikeouts. Insanely impressive.

And Finally…

…I can’t overlook RHP Justin Germano’s perfect game. The hurler earned Minor League Pitcher of the Week honors, and I did give him a nod last week after it happened. I’m still surprised that he’s the guy from the Clippers’ staff of recent years that managed to pull of a perfect game. Yes, Jeanmar Gomez did it in Akron in 2009, but still. Germano has some of the least exciting “stuff” of any of the starters, and has been pretty much mediocre at best in almost every other appearance both in Cleveland and Columbus this season. It just goes to show you how truly talented all professional ball players are, and that on any given night if it all comes together, they can reach the penultimate in performance. A tip of that cap to Germano.