Clippers in Norfolk tonight
The Clippers begin a four-game series in Norfolk at 6:35 tonight in Harbor Park.
The Tides are the triple-A team for the Baltimore Orioles. Kevin Gausman (0-1, 3.24), the No. 2 overall prospect for the Orioles, is starting against the Clippers Travis Banwart (1-0, 5.63).
Three Columbus hitters enter the game with hot streaks - Jesus Aguilar, Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez.
Aguilar currently is the No. 2 hitter in the International League with a .373 batting average. (Indy's Gregory Polanco is at .417.) Aguilar drove in a franchise record 105 runs last season for double-A Akron so his offensive abilities are as advertised. He has 6 home runs, 15 RBI and a 1.114 OPS.
Ramirez already has a career-high 4 home runs in 20 games. He hit 3 last season for Akron in 113 games. He batted .272 for the then-Aeros with a .325 on-base percentage. He is at .338 for the Clippers with a .385 on-base percentage. It is a small sample, but his speed and defensive rangemake him an electric middle-infield prospect.
Perez, meanwhile, has been a revelation to date. He played 67 games for the Clippers in 2013 and batted ninth because his numbers said he was a nine-hole hitter. The defensive specialist finished with a .176 batting average, no home runs and 24 RBI. His on-base percentage was .269.
Through 13 games this season, Perez is batting .421. He doesn't have enough plate appearances yet to appear on the league averages. He does have the longest hitting streak in the IL at 13 games. Perez is 16 for 38 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI. His on-base percentage is .522 and his OPS is 1.232.
Columbus manager Chris Tremie pinpoints the difference for Perez this season in his approach for each at-bat.
"His approach is very consistent," Tremie said. "He's balanced and he's putting the barrel on (the ball). His stroke is a little shorter this year than it was in the past. There are no major changes, but some things he's been working on over the last winter and this spring trainingare paying dividends. He's taking advantage of advantage counts and putting good swings on pitches."
Perez's defense has remained solid. He has thrown out 7 of 14 base runners on steal attempts.
Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes' wife is expecting a child any day now. He will go on a paternity list leave that can last up to three days. No minor league catchers are on the 40-man roster. Perez is making a real push to get there.
Norfolk has a number of familiar faces on their roster, including four-year Clipper Cord Phelps, who is the Columbus franchise leader with 95 doubles. He also ranks among the top 10 in at bats (8th, 1,379), hits (T7th, 395), runs (T10th, 203), RBI (9th, 202), walks (8th, 173) and strikeouts (T10th, 271).
The Tide bullpen has Preston Guilmet and Kelvin De La Cruz. Guilmet was a mid-season IL All Star for Columbus a season ago and has 20 saves. De La Cruz appeared in only one game during his Clipper career, pitching a scoreless inning in the 2011 IL playoffs.
The four-game series continues with a 1:05 p.m. game on Sunday.Trevor Bauer (2-0, 0.96) is starting for the Clippers against Eddie Gamboa (0-1, 4.37).
The Columbus starting rotation follows: T.J. House (1-1, 2.08), Monday; Tyler Cloyd (1-2, 7.59), Tuesday; Off day, Wednesday; Josh Tomlin (1-1, 2.77), Thursday in Durham.