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Pull up a stool if you will as I harken back to the summer of 1976. Our story starts on the last day of school at Lee High School, located in the suburbs of beautiful Austin, Texas. The usual activities and festivities are taking place; books are flying, kids are busy making plans as the first parties of the summer begin to take shape, and the annual hazing of incoming freshman has commenced. As over-aged and underdressed 8th grade girls fry like piggies on the hot Texas blacktop, our hero appears. He’s tall, lanky, and to put it plainly, goofy. He has a habit of tucking his long flowing locks behind his ears in the most awkward way possible, while simultaneously trying to pass himself off as cool. Our hero knows two things chilling and dominating Legion ball, and as the saying goes he’s almost out of chill. Let’s call our hero Mitch, but really his name is Mike….Mike Clevinger. What ensues is a night Mitch/Mike Clevinger will never forget, as he goes on a journey of hi-jinx, self discovery, and older women that ends in a most satisfying montage set to the musical stylings of Foghat. What does all this have to do with this week’s Prospect Profile Mike Clevinger?  Nothing!!! I just think he resembles a grown up Mitch from Dazed and Confused and it makes me laugh. Plus it’s 4/20, a D&C reference seemed appropriate. Now onto the post!

 

Mike Clevinger, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 158 IP, 2.73 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

Clevinger is your classic story of Cleveland lottery ticket turned upside reclamation project. Seriously, over the past few years between Kluber, Carrasco, and now Clevinger the Indians farm system has become the West Coast Customs of spec arms. Pimping rides and turning jalopies into custom beauties. Someone get MTV on the line, I have an idea and it needs a green light like “Send’em in” Wendall Kim is standing at third base. Can you imagine X to the Z Xzibit sitting outside the locker room of the Akron Rubber Ducks saying phrases like “Yo Dawg, I heard you like strikeouts, so we pimped your fastball”, “Oh and check your best speed offering gave that a boost too” “BTW, Any chance you guys can make me a relevant rapper again? Yeah At the Speed of Life was 20 years ago….Now I’m X-specially sad”.

Now that the random silliness is out of the way let’s talk about why we’re here. Actual baseball. Today’s study, the aforementioned Mike Clevinger, is an up and coming righthander in the Tribe’s system on the cusp of the majors and fantasy relevancy. At 25 the road for Clevinger has been longer than many pitching prospects, full of ups and downs. Originally drafted by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, Clevinger was relatively well regarded following an impressive showing in JuCo, as well as the previous summer in the famed Cape Cod League.** After throwing 41 average innings for Class A Cedar Rapids in his first full season of pro ball, his season was over, as he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

What followed was a season of recovery, and then an up and down 18 starts across two levels of A ball in 2014. Then at the trade deadline, the Angels, looking to sure up their bullpen, traded for a broken down Vinnie Pestano and sent Clevinger the other way. In what could prove to be one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory, the Angels got 11 garbage major league innings from Pestano, and the Indians got a new chassis from which to build.

The Cleveland staff focused their efforts on getting Clevinger back to throwing the way he did in his amateur heyday. With off season tweaks to his mechanics, what ensued was a huge 2015 that saw him burst onto the prospect radar. Making 26 starts for the AA Akron Rubber Ducks, the long haired Prince of Jacksonville dropped science like Galileo dropped the orange, putting up a record of 9-8 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.28 Bb/9, and a .219 batting average against. Following the AA season he was promoted to AAA Columbus where he aided the Clippers championship run with 15 1/3 scoreless innings. Following a strong camp, that included impressing on the mound and babysitting Corey Kluber’s kids, Clevinger headed back to Columbus. Where should a spot open in the big league rotation the 25 year old should be quick to get the call.

As for Clevinger’s skill set, he brings a plus fastball that jumped from the high 80’s in his Angels days, to a mid 90’s offering that can touch 97 following the move to the Indians organization. He mixes the fastball in with a hard slider, that grades the highest of his secondary offerings, as well as a change, and curveball. His control can be spotty, but for the most part he’s a strike thrower. He looks to project as a 3 or 4 starter with some upside. A nice get in deeper dynasty leagues, but not a must have in 12 teamers with shallow minor league rosters.

 

** quick aside, people always ask me “Ralph, you’re a baseball nut. Growing up in southeastern Massachusetts a mere 20 miles from the Bourne Bridge you must have gone to a lot of Cape Cod League games right?.. NOPE! Sadly the answer is….no. I’ve been to…..ONE! I know, for shame, but here’s the thing, well it’s a couple of things. My father is a man of great passion about his likes and dislikes and chief among them are A) the cape B) baseball C) baseball. Great guy, love him to pieces, he hates baseball. So the idea of me convincing him to go to a place he hates to watch a thing he hates is pretty much preposterous.**

 

   
  1. Tj says:
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    Ive been keeping an eye on him….do you think he is a better stash than Taillon for a 12 team points league? I also have urias berrios and manaea on my bench…

    • CMUTimmah says:
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      @Tj: You have too many stashed already… must be very deep rosters?

      • Tj says:
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        @CMUTimmah: 8 man bench. Pitching was taken early and scores high in this league. I have a great offense and need to hit on a few of these young arms.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Tj: Taillon is the better stash of the two

          • apoxonbothyourhouses says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: with all due respect, Taillon is not the better stash until he proves that he’s actually, you know, able to pitch a full season. The guy has effectively been on the bench for 2 years. While his stuff, pre injuries, was ace-like, there’s no guarantee it will be going forward. Until you have a season of him pitching well, he should take the guy with the recent track record.

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @apoxonbothyourhouses: I’m not sure how many opportunities Clevinger gets this season. I’d take the chance on Taillon.

  2. Gregjeffries says:
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    Great Stuff King Ralph! Thanks for the insight.

    Who are you stashing for ROS production, Sean Manaea or Daniel Norris?

    • CMUTimmah says:
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      @Gregjeffries: Norris has a timeline, Manaea does not (likely July/August) Norris should return dividends and you should be able to DL him to stash without compromising a spot on your roster (assuming you have a free DL spot)

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @CMUTimmah: Yeah agreed

  3. Another Dan says:
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    This stuff is gold, Ralph, thanks.

    Have just taken over a team in a first year dynasty league. The farm looks a bit confused (some good prospects and some players I am not aware of). I also have a space and no one has Clevinger yet. Think I’ll add him.

    Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: He’s a good grab short on the ETA too

  4. David says:
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    Velasquez or Manaea for this year and in the future? Thanks Ralph?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @David: V2

    • apoxonbothyourhouses says:
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      @David: Manaea. V2’s park scares the daylights out of me and Manaea’s stuff is just as good (if not better).

  5. Hurleyman says:
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    I am in a 13 team, mixed 5×5 roto league with 4 minor league keepers. The players can stay in those slots as long as you like – even well into their major league careers. For example, I activated Gregory Polanco before this year’s draft so he was treated like an extra keeper for me.

    My 4th minor league slot is pitcher Daniel Norris. I am thinking of dropping him because I think his ceiling may not be ace material and replacing him with someone available.

    Who will be the best player once established in the majors?

    Norris
    Kolby Allord
    Franklin Barreto
    Brett Phillips
    David Dahl

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Hurleyman: I like Barreto the best

      • Hurleyman says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Ralph, How about Clint Frazier over Barreto?

  6. EazyE says:
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    Love this!

    I have Berrios and Daniel Norris stashed. Thinking of dropping one of my streaming spots for Manaea.. Is it worth it, and think he’ll be up next month?
    12 team h2h points keeper league

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @EazyE: Drop Norris

      • EazyE says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: not expecting him to do well?

      • EazyE says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: also have Tyson Ross stashed, drop him or Norris?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @EazyE: Ross

  7. Crapshoot Kershaw says:
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    just saw your newest prospects list, how come such upward movement on devers/zimmer/espinoza/tapia/frazier and downward on berrios/meadows?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Crapshoot Kershaw: Inwas impressed with spring performances, development, and players moving off the list and graduating. Meadows was a victim of me liking other players more, and Berrios wasn’t as ready as I anticipated

      • Crapshoot Kershaw says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: margot dropped a lot too. in a 20 teamer where i’m blocked fairly well in OF, with all of
        LF upton
        CF delino
        RF stanton
        util franco (beltre at 3B)
        BN is hicks/mazara/oswaldo arcia (streamer spot here)
        DL choo
        NA’s right now are urias, margot, dahl, gallo, profar, but my RP are getting weaker, only one closer now with giles/tolleson/salas/farq (maybe dropping him for holds guy)/quack/hatcher/diekman and kela just hit DL (at least we know why he’s been shitty this year now). am i better off dropping margot for chargois (burdi seems to not be up this year as early at least)?

  8. Rod Beck's Mullet says:
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    Clevinger Manaea or Blair for a dynasty stash in the NA slot?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Rod Beck’s Mullet: Blair, he’s going to be up on Sunday and has looked good through three AAA starts. I like Manaea the best long term.

  9. Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry says:
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    Is he a must-own in AL-only Dynasty leagues?

    Maximum SP is set at 10.

    I own Hamels, McCullers, Fiers, Shane Greene, Manaea, Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Chavez, Drew Hutchison

    Should i lose Hutch for Clevinger?

    • Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry says:
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      @Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry: and Red Sox LHP Brian Johnson.

      that’s the last addendum i promise.

      cheers

        • Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz: huzzah

          would you drop Jason Castro for him? Other catchers are Salty and Phegley

          I would drop Hutchison, but it sounds like the Jays may go to six man rotation, and I gotta get all the innings i can find!

  10. Shitbird says:
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    There’s no C!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Shitbird: Le Vinger

  11. TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:
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    Nice work my man, it looks like aaron blair is being called up. Whaddya think of him? I can either drop adam conley for rafael devers off my minor league team as a way to stash blair in case he comes in with a huge outing. I’m not too worried about devers since people in my league don’t really stash guys whose etas are a couple years out. Thanks.

  12. Boaty McBoatface says:
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    Ralph, during the preseason you ranked Miguel Almonte ahead of Alen Hanson. I know it’s early, but Almonte’s command struggles continue, while Hanson is playing well at AAA. Would you consider Hanson ahead of Almonte in keeper leagues at this point?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Boaty McBoatface: Sure, I think it’s depends on need as well. I might rank him higher than Almonte if I redid the list

  13. Dan says:
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    Hey Ralph

    Just got an offer of his Goldschmidt for my Dee/Sano/Mazara in a 10 team H2H Dynasty

    Is this giving up too much for Goldy?

    Thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dan: Yeah that’s a lot for anybody. That’s a ton of production.

  14. malamoney says:
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    What up Ralph. You got any info on Austin Pruitt?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @malamoney: He’s looked like a BORP but it looks like he’s coming on strong this year at Durham.

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