Chisenhall progressing towards Cleveland
TOLEDO, Ohio — Just a few weeks into the season, Indians top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall finds himself in Triple-A Columbus as he continues his journey through the minor leagues on his path to Cleveland.
The 23-year-old third baseman from Morehead City, N.C., has been on the fast track to the majors since being selected in the first round of the 2008 Draft with the 29th pick overall.
Chisenhall has struggled in his first eight games in Triple-A, hitting .258 (8-for-31) with one home run and seven RBIs. In Double-A Akron last season, Chisenhall hit .278 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs in 117 games for the Aeros.
"You are going to have the same difficulties coming up to each level," Chisenhall said. "Every pitcher refines their skills a little bit more. What I have been struggling with right now is being consistent and getting good pitches to hit. They've done a good job of pounding me in and then going soft away. That's my biggest adjustment is just being consistent."
Despite his early struggles, Chisenhall has been regarded as one of the better prospects in baseball. He was named the organization's top prospect by Baseball America and was rated as baseball's 36th-best prospect this year by MLB.com, as well as second among all third baseman.
"I think my friends and teammates pay more attention to it than I do," Chisenhall said. "They rag me a little bit but it's definitely an honor. It's what you dream about to be in the major leagues and to be recognized as one of the better [prospects] — it's just an honor."
Chisenhall was invited to spring training with the Indians and didn't disappoint. He hit .500 (13-for-26) with two home runs and five RBIs in Cactus League play.
"It's nice to hit well, especially in front of people who need to see you hit well," Chisenhall said. "It was good to leave positive thoughts in the back of their minds. I felt good coming into spring training. My swing was short and I just felt really good."
Despite his success, he was never in serious contention for promotion. Manny Acta didn't want to rush Chisenhall and even said he didn't want to "cave in" and promote him after a strong spring.
As for when Chisenhall will join Cleveland, it looks like he may have to wait a few months at a minimum for his promotion. Former top prospect Carlos Santana, who was widely regarded as MLB-ready at the beginning of last season, had to wait until June 11 for his American League debut. By delaying his promotion, the Indians can delay the start of his service clock and avoid having him become a "Super Two" player, sending him to arbitration four times instead of the usual three.
"I just want to be up there and stay there for a long time," Chisenhall said. "It doesn't matter when it is just so I can get there and stay there.
"I feel like I'm getting there. There are things I need to work on every day. Triple-A is a whole new level for me. I've only been up here for seven or eight days so I can't tell from that little bit but I feel comfortable in the box and I feel confident and they will know it when they see it."
Chisenhall isn't the only top prospect playing for Columbus. Jason Kipnis, ranked as the Tribe's third-best prospect by Baseball America, is also expected to be playing for the Indians by season's end at second base. Kipnis is hitting just .174 (4-for-23) with three RBIs and six strikeouts so far this season.
"He definitely plays the game hard," Chisenhall said. "He runs well and does the little things. He is going to play a good second base, steal some bags and he's going to hit. That's definitely what you want, especially at second base. It's good to be around guys like that that push me while I push him."
The Clippers have started the season winning six of their first eight games as well as spoiling the Mud Hens' home-opening doubleheader by taking both games.
Playing alongside Chisenhall for Columbus for their series in Toledo is center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is continuing his rehab assignment on his way back to Cleveland. Chisenhall was impressed with the three-time All-Star's game and even witnessed his game-winning solo home run in the first matchup.
"He's really quiet," Chisenhall said. "He's not going to say much but you watch him play the game and he plays really hard. I watched him take B.P. and I try to mimic him a little bit. I still do my own thing but he plays the game the right way and just to watch it is amazing."