Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Cleveland prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.
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Mike Clevinger (Columbus, SP) - ND, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R (earned), 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR allowed - While Clevinger did not earn an individual win due to a lack of run support, his outing was nonetheless exceptional and showed why he was named the Clippers' Opening Day starter. Clevinger came within one bad pitch of pitching six shutout innings and currently has a 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 8:2 K:BB ratio. Even though Clevinger didn't earn the victory, his stellar start was crucial to the Clippers' 13-inning triumph as it allowed them to take the game to extras, despite not scoring many runs. With performances like this it will be hard to keep him away from Cleveland long.
Yu-Cheng Chang (Akron, SS) - 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E - While shortstops are not usually thought of as power hitters, Chang proved he is an exception to this rule on Thursday. While his incredible Opening Day performance (in his Double-A debut) is just a starting point, he posted solid power numbers in Lynchburg last season (13 HR, 70 RBI, and a .463 slugging percentage in 417 at-bats in 109 games). As unusual as it may seem, don't be surprised if you go to Canal Park this summer and see "SS" in the position column of the fifth spot in the batting order on the concourse lineup board.
- Nellie Rodriguez (Columbus, 1B) - 2-6, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K - Rodriguez's stat line may not have looked impressive through twelve innings. That all changed, however, when he hit a solo home run in the top of the 13th frame to give the Clippers a 3-2 lead and ultimately, the win. Not a bad way to start one's Triple-A career.
- Bradley Zimmer (Columbus, CF) - 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 Sac Bunt, 1 SB - Zimmer was one of two Clippers outfielders to have a multi-hit performance and steal a base on Thursday night in Louisville. Zimmer also hit a triple and laid down a sacrifice bunt in the same game, a feat of offensive versatility not often seen, especially in this highly specialized era.
- Jordan Smith (Columbus, RF) - 2-6, 1 K, 1 SB - Smith was the other player to have two hits and a steal in Thursday's game, doing so while bating ninth in the Columbus lineup.
- Kyle Crockett (Columbus, RP) - H (1), 1 IP, perfect - Crockett's perfect seventh inning continued the solid pitching after Clevinger left the game.
- Tyler Olson (Columbus, RP) - W (1-0), 2 IP, perfect, 3 K - Olson picked up a well-deserved win to begin his 2017 campaign by pitching two crucial innings of perfect relief to keep the game going until Rodriguez hit the game-winning homer.
- Francisco Mejia (Akron, C) - 2-3, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 Sac Fly, 1E - While every other Opening Day offensive performance by a RubberDuck was overshadowed by Chang's five-RBI effort, that doesn't mean none of them were noteworthy. Mejia also had two extra-base hits in his Eastern League debut and drove in a run. Such a strong debut effort is hardly surprising from a man who not only had a 50-game hitting streak last year, but did so while adjusting to High-A ball following a promotion from Lake County in the middle of the streak. Nights like this make it clear why the Indians protected him from the Rule 5 Draft this past off-season by placing him on the 40-man roster, and showed why Jonathan Lucroy's refusal to be traded to the Tribe may be one of the best things to happen to the Indians franchise.
- Mike Papi (Akron, RF) - 2-4 - Papi had the other multi-hit effort for the RubberDucks in their opener.
- Todd Hankins (Akron, 2B) - 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K - Hankins was the other RubberDuck to drive in a run on a stellar offensive night that would usually have resulted in an easy win.
- Robbie Aviles (Akron, RP) - 1 IP, perfect, 1 K - Aviles' perfect eighth was the only solid pitching performance by a RubberDuck on a night which saw starter Julian Merryweather and relievers D.J. Brown and Matt Whitehouse combine to allow 13 runs (11 earned) on 15 hits and two walks in seven innings. The important thing to remember regarding the first three pitchers is that this was only one outing and that we shouldn't read too much into their statistics (especially ERA and WHIP) until they have a chance to recover from this Opening Day debacle.
- Daniel Salters (Lynchburg, C) - 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K - Salters was one of two Hillcats with a solo home run in Thursday night's season opener in Virginia.
- Jodd Carter (Lynchburg, RF) - 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K - Carter was the other Lynchburg batter to hit a home run, which was the only way the Hillcats scored on a rough night for their batting order.
- Sam Haggerty (Lynchburg, 2B) - 1-2, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB, 1 E - Despite not being involved in the Hillcats' scoring, Haggerty may have had the best offensive night of any Lynchburg batter on Opening Day, reaching base in three of his four plate appearances and stealing two bases.
- Matt Esparza (Lynchburg, SP) - L (0-1), 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R (all earned), 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR allowed, 1 WP - While this was not the type of outing you would expect from an Opening Day starter, it is only one outing and nothing to be too concerned about yet. Esparza is still adjusting to the Advanced Single-A level, which he debuted in last season with a 3.92 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 2-4 record in seven starts.
- Leandro Linares (Lynchburg, RP) - 1.2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K - The Cuban righty continued to pitch well in High-A with the best performance of any Hillcat pitcher in Thursday's opener. Between last night and his two appearances at the level last season, Linares has allowed no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings pitched in his Carolina League career.