IN THE WAKE
In 2016 the Columbus Clippers won their third consecutive International League West title. It was the their fifth playoff appearance in seven seasons, a period where they won three Governors’ Cup Championships and also won back-to-back Triple-A national championships in 2010 & 2011.
Injuries suffered by the Indians in 2016 put a lot of pressure on Columbus. There were 244 player moves during the course of the season, seven coming on September 1st when MLB teams could expand their rosters, so player turnover played a factor in the Clippers early exit in the IL playoffs. The Indians benefited from the moves down the stretch with some extra depth having 18 players on the roster in September who passed through Columbus at some point last season. The Gwinnett Braves knocked Columbus out of the playoffs, taking the best-of-five series three games to one.
During the regular season Columbus drew over 600,00 fans for the fifth consecutive season, prompting General Manager Ken Schnacke to offer free playoff tickets for the second consecutive season.
On the field, Yandy Diaz was named International League Rookie of the Year. Diaz hit .322 and had a 28-game hitting streak during the season. Jesus Aguilar, now with Milwaukee, led the league with 30 home runs and 92 RBI. Mike Clevinger was tied for the league lead in wins with 11, in only 17 starts.
The strength of the 2017 Clippers is in the starting rotation as all five players have major league experience. Mike Clevinger and Ryan Merritt were both contributors in the Indians 2016 campaign and provide two good depth options for the rotation in Cleveland. The backend of the bullpen is up for grabs now that Shawn Armstrong, Austin Adams and Ben Heller are all gone. It will fall on Joe Colon and Perci Garner to close games early in the season.
The infield has a lot of high ceiling talent. Chris Colabello and Nelly Rodriguez look to share first base and DH duties. Colabello may not be a prospect, but he offers up some depth at first base for the Indians and he had a nice spring slashing .356/.442/.667 with three home runs. Ronnie Rodriguez anchors second base, Eric Gonzalez will play shortstop and Giovanny Urshela will play third base.
The outfield features the quartet of Bradley Zimmer, Richie Shaffer, Daniel Robertson and Jordan Smith. Shaffer hit .263 with five doubles, four homers, and nine RBI in 25 spring games. Zimmer hit .358 with five doubles, a triple, three homers, and a team-leading 14 RBI in Arizona.
Adam Moore returns at catcher. Moore hit .375 in 15 games with a double, three homers, and eight RBI during the spring.
Columbus opens the 2017 campaign with four games in Louisville. The Bats are coming off a second place finish in the International League West, their best finish since 2010. Columbus and Louisville split last year’s season series, 11 games each.
Mike Clevinger will face Sal Romano in the season opener, with the latter spending all of last season in Double-A. Clevinger faced the Bats twice last season posting an 0-1 mark with a 6.49 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched. He allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits and 4 walks while giving up one home run and striking out eight.
In 2016 Romano (6’5”, 270 lb.) pitched for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Southern League, where he posted a 6-11 record with a 3.52 ERA. Romano struck out 144 batters in 156 innings, allowing only 10 home runs and 34 walks.
RHP Michael Clevinger
Traded to the Indians in 2014 from the Los Angeles Angels for Vinnie Pestano. Made his MLB debut and split time between Cleveland and Columbus last season. He was 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 17 games with the Indians.
LHP Ryan Merritt
A 16th round draft pick in 2011 by the Indians. Merritt was 11-8, 3.70 ERA with the Clippers’ last season. Pitched 4 ? innings and gave up two hits and no runs against Toronto in the ALCS.
LHP Shawn Morimando
A 19th round selection by Cleveland in the 2011 draft, Morimando split time between Columbus and Akron in 2016. He Made his MLB debut in July.
LHP Chris Narveson
Signed as a free agent on February 14, 2017. Narveson has a career record of 30-19 with a 4.71 ERA and five saves in 118 major league games.
RHP Adam Plutko
Cleveland’s 11th round pick in 2013, Plutko made his MLB debut in September 2016. The righty was 9-8 with a 3.73 ERA between Akron and Columbus.
RHP Joe Colon
A 12th round pick by Cleveland in 2009. Colon’s MLB debut was in July of 2016, following a suspension for violating the Minor League Prevention and Treatment program and spending time on the DL with shoulder issues.
LHP Kyle Crockett
The Indians 4th round draft pick in 2013. Crockett appeared in 29 games each with the Clippers and the Indians in 2016, totaling 46 innings.
RHP Steve Delabar
Signed as a free agent on January 13, 2017. Has a 6-year major league record of 15-9 with a 4.07 ERA in Seattle, Toronto and Cincinnati.
RHP Carlos Frias
Acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on January 30, 2017 for a Player to Be Named Later or cash. Frias signed with the Dodgers as a 17 year-old amateur. He has 114 major league innings and a 6-6 record with a 4.50 ERA.
RHP Perci Garner
Signed to a minor league contract on April 14, 2015. Made his major league debut in August of 2016 and appeared in eight games. Posted a 7-1 mark with seven saves between Akron and Columbus in 2016.
RHP Nick Goody
Acquired from the New York Yankees on December 20, 2016 for a Player to Be Named Later. Appeared in 27 games for the Yankees in 2016. Posted a 1.93 ERA with five saves at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2016.
RHP Louis Head
Cleveland’s 18th round pick in 2012. Head pitched in 45 games in Akron, compiling a record of 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA and six saves.
RHP Jeff Johnson
A 10th round draft pick in 2011 by Cleveland. Johnson had Tommy John surgery in 2014. In 48 games with the Clippers he was 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA and a pair of saves.
RHP Josh Martin
Cleveland selected martin in the 10th round of the 2012 draft. Martin was picked up by the San Diego Padres in December of 2015 before he returned to Cleveland in April of 2016. Martin was 2-5 with three save and an ERA of 3.41 with the 2016 Clippers.
LHP Tyler Olson
The Indians claimed Olson off waivers from Kansas City in July of 2016. Olson pitched for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Omaha and Columbus in 2016.
C Adam Moore
Cleveland originally signed Moore as a free agent in December of 2014 and have resigned him in each offseason since. He played in 86 games with the Clippers in 2016 with a slash of .247/.316/.365 and seven home runs.
C Erik Kratz
Cleveland signed Kratz to a free agent contract in December of 2016. Kratz played in 32 major league games with Pittsburgh and Houston in 2016.
C Jeremy Lucas
A 12th round pick by the Indians in 2012. Lucas hit 12 home runs with a slash of .252/.350/.425 in 95 games with the Akron RubberDucks.
1B/DH Chris Colabello
Signed as a free agent in December 2016. Colabello only played in 55 games in 2016 between Toronto (10), Buffalo (40) and Dunedin (5).
1B/DH Nelson Rodriguez
Signed by Cleveland in June 2012. Rodriguez hit 26 home runs at Akron in 2016, and has hit 83 home runs along with 338 RBI in his career.
SS Erik Gonzalez
Signed with the Indians in 2009. In 2016 Erik had 11 home runs and 53 RBI in 104 games with the Clippers and compiled a slash line of .296/.329/.450. He appeared in 21 games with Cleveland after being called up in July 2016.
2B Ronny Rodriguez
Signed as a free agent in 2010. Ronny slashed at .258/.293/.400 with 10 home runs and 59 RBI in 116 games with the 2016 Clippers.
3B Giovanny Urshela
Signed with the DSL Indians in 2009. Urshela played in 81 games with the Indians in 2015 and hit .225/.279/.330 with six home runs and 21 RBI. The play of Jose Ramirez kept Urshela in Columbus all of 2016 where he hit .274/.294/.380 in 117 games.
INF Eric Stamets
Acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Angels for David Murphy in July 2015. Stamets slashed at .237/.308/.375 in 91 games between Akron and Columbus. A couple of stints on the DL affected his 2016 season, but he is still an excellent defender with great range.
INF Yhoxian Medina
A 38th round draft pick in 2011 by Cleveland. Medina had 222 plate appearances in Columbus in 2016 hitting .257/.298/.365.
OF Richie Shaffer
Claimed off waivers from Cincinnati in January 2017. Shaffer played parts of 2015 and 2016 with Tampa Bay. Last season he played 119 games with Durham where he had 11 home runs and 48 RBI. Shaffer hit four home runs in spring training.
OF Jordan Smith
Cleveland’s 9th round draft pick in 2011. Smith played 97 games in Akron where had 148 total bases while hitting .271/.344/.423.
OF Daniel Robertson
Signed as a free agent in November 2016. Robertson played 114 games for Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League in 2016. He had 32 extra base hits with an OBP of .357.
OF Bradley Zimmer
A 1st round draft pick by Cleveland in 2014. Zimmer is one of Cleveland's top prospects. He has 37 home runs, 112 extra base hits, 157 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 305 minor league games.
APRIL 6 @ LOUISVILLE 7:05
APRIL 7 @ LOUISVILLE 7:05
APRIL 8 @ LOUISVILLE 6:35
APRIL 9 @ LOUISVILLE 2:05