Four Akron RubberDucks Players to Watch for in 2019

March Madness is over, the Cavaliers year has come to an end, and Browns fans don’t have to obsess over the draft for the first time in 20 years. This means that baseball season in northeast Ohio is in full swing (pun intended).

I’m sure everyone has watched enough Indians games to know a majority of the guys on their roster. And you probably know most of the Columbus Clippers players because the Indians have been trotting them out with the major league club the last few weeks. (Sorry, Max Moroff and Eric Stamets.) But do you know enough about my personal favorite minor league baseball team, the Akron RubberDucks? If not, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of prospects to watch for at the double-A level.

Mitch Longo, OF

Mitch is a local kid who grew up in Mayfield, Ohio. Anything having to do with Mayfield and sports in northeast Ohio has been pretty good this past year so I’m making the assumption that he is awesome without checking his stats. Perhaps most important is the fact that his name is so fun to yell anytime he homers. Imagine Tom Hamilton getting to belt out a “Longoooooo!” over the airwaves on 1100AM. Chills.

James Karinchak, P

James has faced 17 batters so far this season. Only one player has put the ball in play against him, which resulted in a groundout. He has issued one walk, forced that aforementioned groundout, allowed one batter to reach base on a catcher’s interference, and struck out the other 14 guys. Pretty much the only thing an opposing player has hit off the 23 year old relief pitcher was his catcher’s glove. 14 K’s in 5 innings. Those are numbers that would make 2016 Andrew Miller blush…and make Josh Tomlin keel over.

Ernie Clement, SS

I watched a lot of Sesame Street as a young kid, and my favorite character was always Ernie. On that television show, Ernie was well known for his affinity for his rubber duck, Rubberducky. With that being said, it seems like destiny that this real life Ernie would end up playing for the Akron RubberDucks. Either that, or he would start bunking with a cranky roommate with a glaring unibrow and undiagnosed case of jaundice.

Logan Ice, C

There are so many directions you could go with on this guys name. He is an announcer’s dream come true. You can make a pun no matter what outcome he has as a hitter. If Logan gets a hit in a clutch situation, “He has Ice water in his veins”. If Logan goes 0-for-5 one game, “Not a good day for the RubberDucks’ catcher, he has gone Ice cold today”. Then there are the variations of calling him the Ice Man or yelling Ice, Ice, baby anytime he does something positive.

So there you have it. Four RubberDucks players who I will enjoy watching this season. Admittedly, my headline is a little misleading as these are not necessarily the top four players in Akron, but you’ve already clicked on the story and can’t take it back now.

Go Ducks!

 

Cleveland is Rocking Once Again

Clevelanders have had an exciting week. The Browns have been making moves to “win the offseason”, the Indians’ spring training is in full swing, and the Cavs haven’t done anything to embarrass themselves in quite a while.

Let’s start with the biggest news. Browns General Manager, John Dorsey was wheeling and dealing all week. His huge move was acquiring Odell Beckham, Jr. from the New York Giants. Every media member on every show has been praising Dorsey’s ability to swindle the Giants in the deal. I haven’t seen Cleveland rip off New York like that since the Cavs got Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the Knicks for next to nothing.

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Earlier in the week, there was another trade with the Giants that most fans were excited about. The Browns traded their starting guard, Kevin Zeitler, for pass-rusher Olivier Vernon. It was bitter sweet losing Zeitler, but Dorsey and the coaching staff must have faith in last year’s 2nd round draft pick, Austin Corbett. He didn’t get any meaningful reps last season though so nobody knows for sure. I call him Austin “Powers” Corbett because he is an “International Man of Mystery”.

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In other Cleveland news, the Cavaliers have been steadily improving as of late. This is especially true for rookie, Collin Sexton. The young point guard has averaged 27 points per game over his last three contests. Sexton calls himself “Young Bull” which begs the question, should we call this team the Cleveland Calves? This team has found the perfect happy tanking medium. They are playing just well enough to show promise while also staying in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

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There isn’t too much to report about with the Indians. Newly acquired 1st baseman Jake Bauers did just had a monster game yesterday with 5 RBI and his brother from another mother, Trevor Bauer struck out 10 batters in less than 5 innings (insert eye emojis). I could drone on and on about Bauer because he seems to improve every offseason.

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So there you have it Cleveland. The city has a team projected to win their 4th consecutive division title, a team that has the third best Vegas odds of winning the AFC, and a team tied with the best odds of winning the NBA lottery.

Everything is coming up Cleveland.

The Genius of Terry Francona

The Cleveland Indians have been a very interesting team this season. They have a couple of MVP candidates, some stud starting pitchers, and one of the best managers in baseball. Recently however, the Tribe has been slumping pretty hard. The offense is stalling out on a regular basis, the starting pitchers have been less efficient, and Jason Kipnis is still on the team.

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Many people are blaming Terry Francona for his loyalty to Kipnis, Cody Allen, and Josh Tomlin.  Those people couldn’t be any more wrong. I believe this is Tito’s finest managing yet. Last season, the Indians were the hottest team in baseball down the stretch, winning 22 in a row in September. What was their prize for this? A first round exit in the playoffs. Regular season hot steaks rarely equate to postseason success.

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This time around, Francona is ensuring that the Indians don’t get too full of themselves by allowing Kipnis to stay in the everyday batting order. Anytime the Tribe starts to make a run, the manager can rest easy knowing that Kip will be grabbing his batting helmet any minute. On the rare occasions that the plan has failed, the veteran manager has had the awareness to slip Allen or Tomlin into the contest to promptly give away the game.

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The theory is that if the Indians get all of their clumsy losing out of the way in September, they should be better prepared for October. In the playoffs, Francona will have the luxury of slipping newly acquired, Josh Donaldson into 3rd base and sliding Jose Ramirez to his natural position of 2nd. Josh Tomlin probably won’t be on the postseason roster and Cody Allen shouldn’t have to pitch in many high leverage situations. Brad Hand and (hopefully) Andrew Miller could carry the load for a couple weeks, much like Allen and Miller did in 2016.

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Regular season wins don’t matter this season, Cleveland isn’t going to catch the Red Sox for the #1 seed and the Twins aren’t going to catch the Tribe in the division. The only real concern I have is the slumping of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, but all stats and trends lead me to believe that they will return to form soon. The Wahoos are set and are definitely looking ahead to the playoffs rather than concerning themselves with September games. I don’t know if the Tribe will win it all this year, but baseball playoffs are so wacky and they have some major star power so nothing leads me to think that they can’t.