Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall Just What Team Needs to Stop Skid
It's the question on the mind of many Indians' fans: When will they get to see top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall?
The Indians seem content with current third baseman Jack Hannahan, but his bat has been less than stellar as of late. Hannahan's defense has been immensely valuable for Cleveland this year, but he has been a black hole in the Tribe's lineup in May.
Despite Hannahan having spent most of the season batting ninth in the lineup, his .226 batting average and .656 OPS are barely worthy of an everyday spot in the lineup.
The issue for the Indians' brass is if Hannahan's defense is really worth his recent lack of offense.
Hannahan started off the year with a hot bat, but his offense has lately been every bit as cold as it was hot in April.
On the other side of the spectrum, Chisenhall has had one of his best years in the minors for the Columbus Clippers, the Indians' Triple-A affiliate.
Through 47 games, Chisenhall has a .275 batting average and five home runs. His OPS of .809 is his highest since he played High-A ball for Kinston in 2009. Chisenhall has also played solid defense in Columbus, sporting a .939 fielding percentage with seven errors.
Those defensive statistics are not as great as Hannahan's .977 fielding percentage with only three errors, but the drop-off is not very significant.
When should Cleveland call up Lonnie Chisenhall?
It is not totally fair to compare Chisenhall's minor league statistics to Hannahan's major league counterparts, but Chisenhall is still projected to be an above-average defensive third baseman.
For a team in need of an offensive boost, having lost four of its last five games, Chisenhall could be the Indians' remedy.
DH Travis Hafner is still on the DL and has yet to resume baseball activities. While the Indians still claim he is slated for a mid-June return, it could take longer than that for Hafner to return from his oblique injury.
Sizemore has finally returned to the Tribe's lineup after a knee injury, but he has been 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts since he was activated from the DL.
Many thought the return of these two superstars could fix the inconsistent offense Cleveland has sported lately, but the Indians need more.
Chisenhall's bat could be just what Cleveland needs to continue to hold the top spot in the AL Central.
So, what could be stopping GM Chris Antonetti from calling up Chisenhall? The 2008 first-round pick has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Now is as good a time as ever to have Chisenhall make his major-league debut.
The Indians should no longer peg Chisenhall as their third baseman of the future, but rather make him the third baseman of the present. If the Tribe continues to struggle to score runs, it is the perfect time to promote Cleveland's top prospect.
Expect to see the 22-year-old playing on Progressive Field by the All-Star break and for many years to come.
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