No, we're not actually crazy enough to suggest that the Triple-A Columbus Clippers could take down the Cleveland Indians, even though the Clips have the best record in the International League's West Division (37-25) and the Tribe is at the bottom of the A.L. Central (23-36). But if these teams played a series, it probably wouldn't be a sweep.
There are at least three current members of the Columbus lineup who should really be in Cleveland right now, and who will no doubt arrive (or re-arrive) after the Indians shed a few veterans. Outfielder Michael Brantley(notes) is hitting .298 with seven steals in 41 games, first baseman Matt LaPorta(notes) homered three times on Wednesday and once more on Thursday, and catcher Carlos Santana(notes) is … well, he's simply the best young position player still waiting in the minors.
Santana went 3-for-4 on Thursday night with two doubles and a homer, his 13th bomb of the season. He's now batting .316 and his on-base percentage is .447.
Brandon Funston already torched Cleveland's front office over the Santana situation in this week's Skinny, so we won't rephrase his argument. We'll just quote the boss:
The Indians act like they are perfectly willing to let Santana reside at Triple-A for the summer, meaning that his first legit shot at a major league job would come in his age 25 season. That’s just extremely unfair. Santana has had three-and-half years of minor league instruction at catcher and you can’t convince me that another couple months behind the plate at Triple-A is going to be significantly more beneficial to his career than just letting him play in a low-stress setup with a team in Cleveland that is 11 games back in the standings and not burdened with expectations for immediate success.
The same essential thing can be said regarding Brantley and LaPorta, no matter how much they disappointed you earlier this season. There's little remaining for them to prove in the high minors; Austin Kearns(notes), Travis Hafner(notes) and Russell Branyan(notes) (WHY?!) currently block their paths to big league at-bats.
Cleveland manager Manny Acta offered a small ray of hope on the Santana front prior to Thursday's game. This from the Plain Dealer:
Manager Manny Acta said before tonight's game that catching prospect Carlos Santana could be in the big leagues before the All-Star break. Then he added that Santana "will be here between today and September 1."
As spectacular as it would be to see Santana make his MLB debut against Stephen Strasburg(notes) and the
Strasbettes Nats on Sunday, there's no reason to believe it's actually going to happen. It's just hope.
And so we wait. If this goes on much longer, I'm launching a mid-season International League-only fantasy game.
Update, June 11: Apparently all we had to do was complain (again). Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes tweets that Santana will be called up Friday for the beginning of the Nats series. Rejoice! Add! This clearly tilts the hypothetical Clips/Tribe series in Cleveland's favor…
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