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2010 Columbus Clippers: An Overview

April 7, 2010
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Now that the Indians have finalized their Opening Day roster; the Columbus Clippers, and every other affiliate, can firm up their squad as well. A quick scan of the 24-man roster yields a lot of young talent and considerably fewer veteran placeholders than last season. Yes, these characteristics are indicative of a club in rebuilding (as opposed to win-now) mode, but these prospects are Major League caliber, not organizational filler or Quad-A types. The Clippers have some elite players, and a whole slew of guys that will contribute at some point or another in the Major Leagues.

Now, trying to predict W/L success at this level is a fool’s errand considering that the #1 priority of the team is to benefit the parent club, but I think taking a quick preseason look at the trees in the forest is a worthwhile endeavor. When compared to last season, this squad matches up better across the board. Whether it be a baseline talent level, an excitement factor created by Dave Matthews Band taking over Mound St. in July or, more likely, pure giddiness at getting to see our bumper crop of young guys put the finishing touches on their minor league development. In later posts, I’ll go into more detail on the various aspects of the Clippers, but from an overall standpoint things look pretty good.

The 2009 Akron Aeros won the Eastern League title last year and were widely regarded as one of the best teams across every level of the Minor Leagues. The 2010 Clippers boast many of the same players, including Carlos Santana and Jose Constanza, as well as a good portion of the pitching staff in Hector Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin and Steven Wright. These players, who will be experiencing their first extended time at AAA, will enjoy familiarity and continuity as they strive to make the final jump to the Majors.

Along with the new guys, there are some established AAA players who are still pretty young themselves: Wes Hodges, Trevor Crowe, Jordan Brown and Jason Donald are the headliners in the field. Carlos Carrasco and Scott Lewis are the better known guys toeing the rubber. All in all, this is a young and a talented team. The average age of the team is 26.2 years old. Three quarters of the team will play the season at their age 26 years or younger, which means that they can graduate into the Major Leagues by their age 27 “peak” seasons and not past them.

Even more exciting than the relatively young lineup is the talent that is packed into it. Some more numbers here, but these ones might be a little more interesting to all of you reading IPI: 1, 8, 9, 15, 19, 21, 23, 26, 35, 41. Those would be the IPI Prospect Rankings of ten players on the Clippers Opening Day roster. More numbers? Ok: 42%, that would be the percentage of total players on the Opening Day roster that are in the top 50 of the third overall system as ranked by both Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein.

Going into the 2010 season the Clippers have a lot to look forward to, including the bittersweet (for this Columbus-based fan) farewell of Santana, Carrasco and likely Rondon to the Indians. However, it is often darkest before the dawn as I will not have to wait long for the powers that be to make the decisions that will bring Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Weglarz and Kelvin De La Cruz to Huntington Park. Bottom line, all season long, there will be truly exciting, nationally recognized elite prospects playing for the Clippers and cutting their path to the Major Leagues. All of this will be happening right in the midst of what, by all accounts, appears to be a team ready to excel as an organization, and, dare I say it, in the International League standings.

Charlie will be writing about and following the Clippers all season long here on the IPI. Over the next week or so he also plans to take a closer look at the Clippers roster with several pieces breaking the team.

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