As the month of March comes to a close, I can start to smell the Sugardale hot dogs in the Arena District…
Carlos Santana (Bats Switch, Throws Right), 24 years old, 5-11, 190 lbs, Santo Domingo, DR
Santana is the #1 prospect in the entire Indians organization, regardless of position. He was acquired from the Dodgers in the Casey Blake trade in 2008. Last year, he batted .290 with 23 HRs and 97 RBIs in route to the Eastern League MVP award and a championship with Akron. His 90 walks, .530 slugging percentage and .943 OPS led the league. Oh by the way, he was also the 2008 California League MVP with Inland Empire.
Offensively, he is good enough to play every day in the majors. Santana has a ton of strength to all parts of the field, from both sides of the plate. He has great strike-zone awareness (averaging 90 walks the last two seasons) and the ability to make a pitcher look when a mistake pitch is made. Defensively, he has an above average arm and tremendous accuracy throwing out runners. The Indians want Santana to fine tune his catching skills before jumping into the Cleveland spotlight.
Damaso Espino (Bats Right, Throws Right), 26 years old, 6-1, 210 lbs, Los Santos, Panama
Espino served as the Clippers backup catcher last season and batted .261 with 2 HRs and 14 RBIs. He has very little power, but is solid defensively and handles pitchers well.
He has become a good organizational player for the Indians and provides the catching depth at the upper levels of the minors that most organizations cherish.
Chris Gimenez (Bats Right, Throws Right), 27 years old, 6-2, 215 lbs, Gilroy, CA
Gimenez will mostly play the corner infield and outfield spots, but will also serve as the Clippers third catcher. After starting the 2009 Clippers season in a platoon with Wyatt Toregas, Gimenez was recalled to Cleveland on May 31st and stayed in the bigs for four months. He started last season 0-for-21 in Triple-A and batted just .144 in 45 games with the Indians.
He won’t be in the Clippers lineup everyday so it’ll be important that Gimenez takes advantage of his opportunities at the plate, in order to overcome the demons of last season.
Others: With the free-agent signing of veteran Mike Redmond to backup last year’s trade acquisition Lou Marson, it begs the question “What about Wyatt Toregas?” Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer as of yet. He could be designated once Manny Acta announces the Indians opening day roster.
Today the temperature in Goodyear was somewhere north of 90 degrees and that’s plenty reason for the Indians to break camp and send their minor league clubs north. The Clippers roster will hop on a Columbus-bound plane Sunday…
* Manny Acta says he’ll announce the Indians Opening Day roster after Wednesday game against the White Sox. David Huff will take the mound and it looks like he’ll be the #5 starter, sending Carlos Carrasco to Columbus.
* Russell Branyan will start the season with the Clippers. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince has the details here. The power-hitting first baseman went 2-for-3 with a HR in today’s Triple-A game against Louisville. Clippers fans can expect to see Jeremy Sowers on a rehab stint at some point as well. It’s too early to know if Kerry Wood is ticketed for a journey through the minors on his way back.
* For the sake of speculating, it looks like Andy Marte and Mark Grudzielanek will be the Indians backup infielders joining LaPorta, Valbuena, Cabrera and Peralta. That means Anderson Hernandez and Luis Rodriguez could possibly be Columbus bound. Hernandez is on the 40-man roster and Rodriguez is not, but Hernandez would probably be removed to clear a spot for Grudzielanek and would need to clear waivers before a minor league assignment.
* Austin Kearns will make the big club and either be the fourth outfielder behind Michael Brantley or the left field starter ahead of Trevor Crowe. I think the former is most likely, sending Crowe to the Clippers. Whether it’s Brantley or Crowe landing at Huntington Park, they’ll play mostly left (only about two starts per week in center). Jose Constanza will be the regular in center for the Clippers.
* Current Indians GM Mark Shapiro and future GM Chris Antonetti were in attendance for the minor league games Monday. The big club had a night game so the front office brass took time to watch some action on the back fields of the Goodyear complex.
* MLB.com has released the Indians 10 prospects to watch in 2010.
* If you’re interested in David Huff’s final audition for the Indians #5 starter spot, I’ll be calling the action beside Jim Rosenhaus Wednesday. Listen on Indians.com starting at 4:05pm EST.
* The Clippers “Meet the Team Party” has been moved to the LC Pavillion (right next door to Huntington Park) on Wednesday, April 7th from 6-9pm. Tickets are $12 with food, soft drinks, inflatables, games, autograph tables, player introductions by Wags and Elliott of QFM 96 and much more. For info call 614-462-5250.
* The latest feature to the Clippers radio broadcast this season is the “Pure Energy Play of the Game” brought to you by the National Honey Board. “Honey… one ingredient… the way nature intended.” Trust me, you’re going to love it.
Here it is, the first preview of the Clippers Opening Day roster. The OFFICIAL roster will be set by the end of the week, but until then…
1. Carlos Carrasco (RH), 23 years old, 6-3, 221 lbs, Baquisimeto, VZ
Carrasco was expected to start in Columbus during the entire off-season, but pitched well enough to be considered for the Indians final spot. However, he struggled Sunday (4.2 IP, 4 ER) and probably eliminated himself from further consideration. David Huff, barring a meltdown in his outing Wednesday, should be named the #5 guy in the bigs.
The Venezuelan native has tremendous potential, which is why Cleveland sought after him in the Cliff Lee trade last July. He throws a good mixture of three pitches, a fastball that normally ranges 92-94 MPH and tops out at 96 MPH, a changeup that he throws well to both sides of the plate, and a curveball that still needs some fine tuning, but is already an above average pitch.
He led the International League in strikeouts last year (148) and limited batters to a .245 average against (4th best in the league). He was a September call-up last season, but struggled, going 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA in five starts. Look for Carrasco to get the first call from Cleveland as soon as they need a starter.
2. Hector Rondon (RH), 22, 6-3, 180, Guatire, VZ
Rondon was all the rage last season when Indians fans talked about the pitching prospects in the minors and there is no reason to think that excitement will be tempered when he takes that mound at Huntington Park in April.
The lanky, hard throwing righty features a spectacular four-seam fastball that he used to fire five no-hit innings in his Clippers debut last year. He usually goes 92-94 MPH and sometimes hits 96 MPH. Rondon also has a slider and changeup, but neither of his secondary pitches is considered above-average yet.
Rondon has the potential to be in the bigs at some point this season.
3. Jeanmar Gomez (RH), 22, 6-3, 170, Caracas, VZ
Gomez made a name for himself by winning the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honor in 2009. He also threw the first perfect game in Akron Aeros history on May 21st against Trenton and needed only 87 pitches to do it.
The third member of this Clippers Venezuelan foursome throws a fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball lies in the 90-92 MPH range his slider and changeup are still works in progress. The slider is his second best pitch, but has been very inconsistent from start to start and even inning to inning.
It appears the Indians see Gomez as a potential back of the rotation starter down the road.
4. Yohan Pino (RH), 26, 6-2, 190, Turmero, VZ
Pino arrived in Columbus via the Carl Pavano trade with Minnesota. Pino was the player to be named later in that deal and made just two starts with the Clippers at the end of the year, going 2-0 and allowing only 2 ER in 14 IP.
He throws a fastball, curveball, and slider. He can throw both breaking pitches well enough to keep hitters guessing. The Indians have been impressed with his ability and demeanor in spring camp.
Pino is not considered a major prospect in the organization, especially at 26 years old. However, he could be called upon to spot start or even chew up some relief innings in Cleveland this year.
5. Scott Lewis (LH), 26, 6-0, 185, West Covina, CA (Ohio State)
Lewis was the Indians #5 starter with the team broke camp in 2009, but Lewis’ success at this time last year was very short lived. He suffered an elbow strain after his first regular season outing and never recovered. He made seven rehab starts at various levels, one with the Clippers, but stayed on the disabled list until mid-August. He was bounced from the 40-man roster this off-season.
A former Ohio State star, Lewis will be a fan favorite in Columbus. In 2003 as a sophomore, he went 9-1 with a 1.61 ERA for the Buckeyes and won Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors, but need Tommy John surgery after the season. He had 20.2 IP the next year and was a 3rd round pick by Cleveland that June.
Lewis’ best pitch is his curveball. His fastball sits 88-90 MPH and his changeup is considered to be an above average major league pitch. His problem has always been health and that will be tested again in 2010. Lewis is currently only stretched to throw four innings at a time so he could be piggy-backed by Josh Tomlin every fifth day in April.
I’ll be back with some “Clippings” later…
The Clippers roster is starting to take shape. Today they tangle with the Dodgers Triple-A squad (Albuquerque) at the Goodyear player development complex.
Here is the Clippers lineup…
1. Jose Constanza CF
2. Jason Donald SS
3. Carlos Santana DH
4. Shelley Duncan 1B
5. Brian Horwitz LF
6. Stephen Head RF
7. Jared Goedert 3B
8. Josh Rodriguez 2B
9. Damaso Espino C
10. Nick Weglarz DH
* This is not a typo, there are ten batters (two designated hitters) in the lineup to allow more players to get some swings.
Brian Bixler (INF/OF)
Dwight Childs (INF/OF)
Wes Hodges (INF)
Jerad Head (INF/OF)
LH Jeremy Sowers (3 innings)
LH Aaron Laffey (2 innings)
RH Hector Ambriz (1)
RH Josh Judy (1)
LH Mike Gosling (1)
* Jose Constanza seems to be the favorite for the Clippers centerfield job if Michael Brantley begins in Cleveland. Constanza is already 26 years old, but led the Eastern League in runs (98) last year and carried a .378 OBP during the Aeros championship campaign. He would give Columbus a true leadoff presence if Brantley is unavailable. Constanza’s 49 stolen bases set a franchise record.
* Brian Horwitz is in the running to be the Clippers fourth outfielder. He was selected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft in December. A 26th round pick by Oakland in the 2003 draft, he batted .290 with 4 HR and 26 RBI in 76 games with Triple-A Fresno last year.
* Shelley Duncan spent extra time making throws from right field after the Clippers morning batting practice session today. Duncan will play first some (like today), but with a crowded outfield and Wes Hodges moving to first full-time, he will DH most days in Columbus. Duncan hit .277 with 30 HR and 99 RBI with Scranton Wilkes-Barre last year. He led the league in HRs and RBIs on his way to the International League MVP trophy.
* I received my copy of Tony Lastoria’s “Indians Top 100 Prospects and More” today. Tony does a remarkable job of tracking all the minor leaguers in the Indians organization. Be sure to check out his site and order a copy of the book.
* I’m taking my son to see WrestleMania XXVI (or 26 for some of us) tonight here in Phoenix. I’m told Travis Hafner is attending as well. I haven’t watched “wrasslin” in about 15 years, but I know Jerry “The King” Lawler will be there. He’s appeared at a couple of Clippers games over the last few years and the autograph lines have been surreal. I’m told at least one former WWE Superstar is booked for Huntington Park this season.
* I’ll be doing a position-by-position preview of the Clippers this week:
Monday – Starting Pitchers
Tuesday – Catchers
Wednesday – Infielders
Thursday – Outfielders
Friday – Relief Pitchers
Oh by the way, the Indians open the seson a week from Monday and the Clippers start one week from Thursday! It’s almost here!
While the great state of Ohio is bombarded by rain, sleet and snow, I’m enjoying another sunny day in Goodyear. Sorry, I had to rub it in a little.
Without any further teasing and taunting, here is my first edition of “Clippings” for 2010….
* Manny Acta named Mitch Talbot to the Indians rotation yesterday joining Westbrook, Carmona and Masterson as four of the five starters. The final spot is between David Huff and Carlos Carrasco, the loser of that battle will be the Clippers ace.
* Huff was the Clippers Opening Day starter last year and eventually became the Indians leader in victories (11) in his rookie season. Carrasco was acquired from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade and went 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts with Columbus.
* Acta has also placed Aaron Laffey in the Indians bullpen, joining Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez, Chris Perez and Joe Smith.
* That leaves Jamey Wright, Saul Rivera, Jensen Lewis and Hector Ambriz competing for the final two relief roles. Ambriz is a Rule 5 acquisition and has been hurt most of the spring. Wright and Rivera are not on the 40-man roster and both have out-clauses in their contracts. Wright must be on the Indians rster on Opening Day and Rivera by May 15. Lewis has one minor league option year left.
* Kerry Wood (strained right shoulder) and Jeremy Sowers (left shoulder soreness) are headed to the disabled list to start the year.
* The Clippers bullpen will consist of Frank Herrmann, Mike Gosling, Jess Todd… after that, things are still pretty cloudy. I’ll know more in a few days.
* The Clippers starting rotation will consist of Carrasco or Huff, Hector Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez, Yohan Pino, and possibly Scott Lewis.
* Lewis, the former Ohio State standout, made the Indians Opening Day roster last year but pitched in only one game before suffering an elbow injury. He is 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four career Major League appearances. He appeared in only eight games last season, one with the Clippers.
* Carlos Santana, the Indians top prospect, will be the Clippers starting catcher. He has requested to wear jersey #41. That is also Charlie Nagy’s number, but the Clippers pitching coach says he’ll allow Santana to have it.
* Jordan Brown continues to rehab from a torn meniscus in his right knee. He expects to join the Clippers in late April. Brown left Goodyear yesterday to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.
* Russell Branyan’s bad back continues to prevent him from participating in the Cactus League action. He’s hoping to play in a minor league game Monday. The Indians signed Branyan to a one-year, $2 million contract in the off-season.
* If Branyan starts on the disabled list, Michael Brantley will make the club and play left while Matt LaPorta will play first base. If Branyan is healthy he’ll play first and LaPorta will patrol left. Brantley would then start the season in Columbus.
* Brantley currently has 34 days of Major League service time after his September call up last year. In MLB, 172 days constitutes as a full year of service time and a player is arbitration eligible after three full years, so the Indians would like Brantley to accumulate less than 138 days on the 25-man roster this season. This would make Brantley arbitration eligible in 2013 as opposed to 2012.
* I’ll be calling Wednesday’s Indians/White Sox game from Goodyear Ballpark on Indians.com. I’ll be working with Jim Rosenhaus of the Indians Radio Network. Jim, the former voice of the Buffalo Bisons, hosts the pre-game show and will be calling an inning of play-by-play this season with Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan.
I’ll have more tomorrow from the desert!
The Indians sliced the major league roster to 38 players after optioning RHP Jess Todd to Columbus and reassigning LHP Mike Gosling, RHP Frank Herrmann, RHP Josh Judy, RHP Yohan Pino, CA Damaso Espino, INF Brian Bixler and OF Shelley Duncan to minor league camp.
Most, if not all of those players will begin the season with the Clippers.
Also, Clippers design/graphics guru Yoshi Ando has released his 2010 Clippers desktop wallpaper… get’em while they’re hot:
The Indians today optioned INF Jason Donald and INF Wes Hodges to the Clippers. The club also reassigned INF Lonnie Chisenhall to minor league camp.
The Indians now have 46 players in Major League camp.
Hodges had an outstanding big league camp, going 10-for-24 (.417) four doubles, one HR, and seven RBI (eleven games). After struggling at third base for the Clippers last year, Hodges is expected to transition to playing first base in 2010.
Donald was acquired from the Phillies at last year’s July 31st deadline. He was 4-for-20 with one RBI in big league camp. Donald played in only ten games for the Clippers because of a strained back. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in June, missing about a month of action prior to the trade.
The Indians reduced their spring roster by seven today, assigning four players to the Columbus roster: CA Carlos Santana, OF Jordan Brown, RHP Jeanmar Gomez, and RHP Hector Rondon.
INF Carlos Rivero and OF Nick Weglarz were optioned to Double-A Akron. INF Beau Mills was assigned to minor league camp.
In addition, INF Brian Bixler has cleared waivers and been outrighted to the Clippers roster. Bixler was designated for assignment Wednesday to make room for newly acquired Anderson Hernandez. Hernandez was claimed off waivers from the Mets.
Top catching prospect Carlos Santana headlines the group of reassignments. Santana is expected to be the Clippers starting catcher on Opening Day. He was 4-for-16 with two doubles and one RBI in big league camp.
Reigning International League batting champ Jordan Brown is expected to be a key cog in the Clippers lineup once he recovers from a torn meniscus in his right knee. Brown underwent surgery after injuring the knee during outfield drills two weeks ago.
Jeanmar Gomez, only 22 years old, will find a spot in the Clippers starting rotation after posting a 10-4 mark (22 starts) and a 3.43 ERA in Akron last season. Gomez threw a perfect game on May 21, 2009 against Trenton.
Hector Rondon will be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Clippers this year. He is considered a top pitching prospect and posted a combined 3.38 ERA between Akron and Columbus (25 starts).
I’m headed to sunny Goodyear this weekend. Look for daily spring training audio reports, blog entries, video interviews and much more!
The Indians announced they’ve claimed INF Anderson Hernandez off waivers from the New York Mets. To make room for Hernandez on the club’s 40-man roster, INF Brian Bixler has been designated for assignment.
Hernandez, 27, combined to hit .251 in 123 games with Washington and the Mets. He started the 2009 season on the disabled list and played one game at Triple-A Syracuse before heading to the Nationals. The Santo Domingo, DR native was traded on August 6 to New York.
Hernandez owns a career .245 Major League average with 4 HR and 57 RBI over five seasons (186 games).
Bixler was acquired from Pittsburgh on January 18 after splitting the 2009 season between Triple-A and the majors. He was 4-for-16 (.250) with 1 RBI in 11 Cactus League games this spring.