The I Test: Columbus Clippers vs. Buffalo Bisons, June 11, 2018

I recently had a three-day weekend at my disposal. Naturally, I used this as an opportunity to catch a minor-league ballgame. I’m currently stationed in Charleston, West Virginia, so the nearest team with home games that weekend was the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

 

The Clippers were playing host to the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Their Saturday bout was postponed due to rain, so Sunday turned into a doubleheader with a pair of seven-inning games.

 

Game one was less than spectacular for the hosts. I got to see top catching prospect Francisco Mejia with my own eyes, though he failed to garner a hit during the contest. He also retrieved a passed ball rather lethargically, allowing a runner to advance a base he hadn’t originally planned to take on the play. Despite what I saw, Mejia is heating up at the plate. After a slow start to the season, the 22-year-old has 12 hits and nine RBI over the past two weeks. He could be spending a good chunk of time in the majors soon, especially if Roberto Perez’s hand injury incurred Sunday is serious.

 

The bigger story of the contest was Bisons starter Sean Reid-Foley. The Blue Jays’ no. 9 prospect according to RotoWire, Reid-Foley kept the Clippers at bay with a fastball that touched 95 miles per hour and a good changeup to keep the opposition off balance. He struck out nine in the complete game effort while walking none and hitting a batter. The lone run scored against him came on an RBI single by Todd Hankins, who entered the game after Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch. His current ERA isn’t anything to call home about, but his arsenal (and his 80-grade mustache) show promise.

 

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The Bisons’ offense was fueled by three-run home runs from infield prospect Lourdes Gurriel and catching prospect Danny Jansen. Gurriel doesn’t appear to be a huge power threat moving forward, but his good contact skills and above-average exit velocity should help to put some balls over the fence if he can produce a better launch angle. Jansen doesn’t hit for much power either, but he now holds an OPS north of .900 for the second consecutive season at Triple-A. Given Russell Martin’s struggles this season and the Blue Jays’ place in the AL East standings, Jansen could work his way into a big-league role later this year.

 

Game two featured very little offense, as the scoreboard flashed 2-1 Buffalo at the end of play. The lone highlight was a mammoth home run off the bat of Darnell Sweeney. He took a pitch from Columbus starter Adam Wilk and deposited it into the left field concourse past the bleachers. He’s still hitting just .220 on the season and poses little long-term upside, though.

 

All in all, it was a great day at the ballpark. Between the performances on the field and the free t-shirt I caught in the crowd, there was a lot to like during my trip to Huntington Park in Columbus.