August 26, 2014

Tribe Talk: Changes Coming in the Pen?

Ah The Bullpen Mafia…..Such a cute and fun-loving group (accept for Mr. Personality Rafael Perez of course). They were the talk of the town while the Indians were in first place for a good two-thirds of the season. This group performed on and off the field, entertaining us all the way through.

As we have seen so many times over the past decade, a bad bullpen can kill a season. It can also be a revolving door of guys who don’t settle into roles. Who can forget the likes of Luis Vizcaino and Matt Herges pitching the 8th in 2009? When they failed, the next batch of scrubs included Greg Aquino and Jose Veres. That’s what one injury to a key setup man (Rafael Betancourt) and a bad year from your top lefty reliever (Perez) can do to you.

The Bullpen Mafia was the opposite. Almost from opening day, these guys knew what they were out there to do and the faces never really changed. Until the rosters were expanded at the beginning of the month, other than the move from Justin Germano to Frank Herrmann on May 20th, the guys have the pen have stayed completely the same. [Read more...]

Clippers Shut Down Bulls 3-0 Behind Solid Pitching from McAllister, Bullpen

IL Playoffs Round 1 – Game 1
Clippers 3, Bulls 0 (box)
COL leads series 1-0

Often in a baseball playoff series, Game 1 is all about “strength versus strength” – the teams usually each send their best pitchers to the mound, and the offenses are feeling each other out. Bulls’ starter Matt Moore hadn’t lost a start since being promoted from AA in July, so it looked like the Clippers–even with their best starter in Zach McAllister toeing the rubber–would have their work cut out for them.

Well, Moore was good; the difference is that McAllister was great, at least for six innings. And, the Clippers’ bullpen was exceptional. Columbus got enough offense from the middle of the order, and pushed past the Bulls for a 1-0 series lead. OF Chad Huffman led the bats with a home run, a double, and two of the three RBI on the night. Beau Mills drove in the third run, and that was more than enough for the Columbus pitchers. [Read more...]

Da Clip Show: Keeping an Eye on the Tribe’s AAA Squad – 4/26/11

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.
Aaaand, we’re back in our normal Tuesday time slot. Many thanks to Andrew for pinch-hitting for me last week while I was on vacation. Thanks to Mother Nature’s Constant Barrage of Rainfall, it probably felt at times for the Clippers’ players like they, too, have been on vacation. Two more rain-outs in the short span between last week’s column and today. The good news? The Clippers won all the games they were able to play, and considering the state of flux of the rotations in Cleveland and by extension Columbus, rest days off aren’t all bad. In addition, the club is on the road all week down south, so hopefully they’ll avoid the weather issues and be able to keep this rhythm going.

This Week: 4-0
Season Record: 13-5, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)

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About Those Indians Pitching Prospects: Ranking the Relievers

My series on the top pitchers in the Cleveland Indians minor league system continues today with a look at the best prospects out of the pen heading into the future.

Relievers are a tricky pick in the prospect world, because very rarely – especially in the Cleveland Indians development system – are pitchers developed to come out of the bullpen.

Generally, after being drafted or signed, young arms remain as starters in order for minor league coaches to fix all their little kinks and test out their abilities in that role. Then in this usual mold, if a pitcher is not deemed as a “can’t miss” starter, then he is relegated to the future career path as a relief pitcher.

That’s why it is often incredibly much more difficult to rank minor league relievers in a baseball organization, mostly because there are hardly ever any prospects in this realm. But that’s definitely not the case for the Indians heading into the 2011 season. [Read more...]

IL Playoffs Game 2: Clippers 4, Bulls 0 – Great Pitching and the Long Ball, ONE MORE WIN TO GO!

scoreboardClippers 4, Bulls 0 – (box)
COL leads, 2-0

Yesterday, I led with a note about scripting a playoff win, and if I could do it what my script would look like. I wrote: “My starting pitcher would work seven solid innings, and my offense would jump out early and make the other team play catch-up.” I plagiarize myself for one simple reason: Columbus is now one win away from the IL Championship, and they’ve continued to get it done with excellent starting pitching and timely hitting.

Last night was no different, as Zach McAllister took the mound and shut down the Durham Bulls for seven innings. Cord Phelps, Jared Goedert, and Jared Head each added solo home runs, and the Clippers closed out Huntington Park for the year in style.

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Bunting’s Overrated – Clippers Get Walk-off Homer to Take Game One 6-4

Clippers 6, Yankees 4 (10) – (box)
COL leads, 1-0

“I need to work on getting a bunt down.” So said catcher Luke Carlin after the end of a wild, ten inning Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup semi-final series between the Columbus Clippers and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. If you’d seen his four failed sacrifice bunt attempts—two each in two separate late-game at-bats with runners on—you’d probably agree with him.

Except for one thing: after two bunts foul down the first base line in the bottom of the tenth with Jerad Head on first after a lead-off single, Carlin was swinging away with two strikes. And, the next thing we all knew, the ball was leaving the yard over the right field wall just under the scoreboard for a walk-off winner.

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Aerodynamics: Catching up with the Double-A Akron Aeros 7/24/10

Seven straight wins started the second half of the 2010 season for the Akron Aeros and moved the team into a great position for a playoff run. After continuing to dominate the last-place Erie SeaWolves for four contests, the Aeros then also swept the first-place Altoona Curve to move to only 5.5 games behind the division lead. This is the lowest margin for the team since mid-April while the seven games above .500 was also a season high. Led by many of the top young prospects in the Indians system such as Alex White, Jason Kipnis (pictured to the right) and others, this is a dangerous team that could continue to improve as the summer progresses.

The Aeros return home again Monday night for the start of a seven-game home stand. There are many specials going on from Christmas in July Tuesday to Tropical Beach Night Thirsty Thursday and Fireworks Friday Kids Cancer Survivors Celebration. Join the team at Canal Park for yet another exciting summer of Double-A baseball.

Last 10 Days: 7-2
Current Record: 52-47, 3rd place (of six) in the Eastern League’s Western Division

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Aerodynamics: Catching up with the Double-A Akron Aeros 7/14/10

Tonight is the Eastern League All-Star Break as the Aeros enjoy their second day off in a row in the middle of the 2010 season. After a mediocre past week and a half, Akron remains right at .500 for the season and still just 2.5 games behind second-place Bowie. The team is in position to compete for a playoff spot again this year and the fun restarts Thursday night against the Erie SeaWolves at Canal Park. Join WFNY for the annual Cleveland Sports Blog Outing as Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrara continues his rehab assignment on affiliates night and another Thirsty Thursday.

Last 10 Days: 5-5
Current Record: 45-45, 3rd place (of six) in the Eastern League’s Western Division [Read more...]

Poppin’ Champagne: Akron Aeros 2009 Championship Season-in-Review (Part 2)

aeros-championship21It is difficult to truly encapsulate all of the accomplishments of the team this season. A smashing 95-54 record between the regular season and playoffs was about as good as it gets in the minors, and this team was dominant throughout the year. Exploding to a 28-8 start, the Aeros led the Eastern League from start to finish and ended their season on Saturday night by sending the Connecticut Defenders all the way to Richmond, VA. Three championships in seven years is quite a success rate for any sports team, regardless of this being the 12-team Eastern League.

The 2009 Akron Aeros, a team that will always be close to me because it was my first full-time professional sports job, finished just T-5th in the league in batting and fifth as well in home runs. The team then was third in the EL in on-base percentage, and thus finished second with 682 runs scored, just behind the Erie SeaWolves.

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So About That Akron Aeros Bullpen…

aa08-14_038_wrightAs has been discussed briefly in the past, the Akron Aeros bullpen has been just another factor of their incredible play thus far this season. Led by several top draft picks and also a couple of organizational players, the Aeros have relied upon their bullpen heavily en route to a 56-33 record thus far. Of course, if you are interested in seeing this bullpen in action along with projected starter Jeanmar Gomez (6-3, 3.21 ERA) then you can always join us at Canal Park on Thursday.

For the season, the Aeros bullpen was 25-11 with a 3.24 ERA heading into Saturday’s game against Erie, and recently had a ten-game stretch with a 1.08 ERA. Erik Stiller, Steven Wright and Carlton Smith have all had long scoreless streaks of 15+ innings plus, while Vinnie Pestano is breaking saves records left and right. Josh Judy came to Akron after a 12-win season out of the bullpen last year, while Zach Putnam is the hot-shot prospect and Neil Wagner is the intelligent veteran. For more information, here are player profiles of the seven players that currently inhabit the pen for Manager Mike Sarbaugh in Akron as all inhabit top 65 rankings in the Indians Prospect Insider blog.

Steven Wright - Easily the most consistent pitcher in the pen, Wright (pictured above) was named to the Carolina League mid-season All-Star Team with Kinston in 2008, and was the Indians second-round selection in the June 2006 Draft out of the University of Hawaii. [Read more...]