Kipnis, Phelps Stand Out At Second For Indians





CLEVELAND—Second basemen Cord Phelps and Jason Kipnis have given the Indians the kind of middle-infield depth the team hasn't seen in a long time, taking turns outdoing each other as they vie for attention among the team's top prospects.

Both 23, Phelps has spent the season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, while Kipnis has split his year between high Class A Kinston and Akron.

But they might as well be the same player with the successful results each has produced: Kipnis was hitting .310/.396/.497 and flashing a little more power than Phelps, who was at .320/.379/.463.

"Jason has performed well at level he's played this season, continuing to rise to the occasion with each ensuing obstacle," farm director Ross Atkins said. "We've been very pleased with his development since we drafted him."

Watching Kipnis at second, it's hard to tell that the 2009 second-round pick is a converted outfielder from Arizona State. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder also hits so well that it's hard to believe he has been in Double-A for little more than a month.

"I've really felt comfortable at the plate this year for the most part," Kipnis said. "As for my defense, at first I was a little worried about moving to the infield. But as time has gone by, I've become more and more comfortable. Now I feel like it's just continuing to get experience and game repetition there."

With that kind of production, one might think the Indians would push Kipnis further through the system. Problem is, sitting right ahead of him is Phelps, who moved up to Columbus as Kipnis took his place in Akron.

"(Phelps') power numbers are up—his doubles (19) and home runs (six)—and he's lining balls to all fields," Atkins said. "He's really performed this season."

The Kipnis/Phelps battle is the kind the Indians love, as current second baseman, rookie Jason Donald, was acquired from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade last season.

SMOKE SIGNALS

• The Astros claimed infielder Anderson Hernandez on waivers when the Indians designated him for assignment.

• The Indians called up righthander Jess Todd from Triple-A on July 19, after the 24-year old posted a 2.75 ERA with four saves in 34 appearances for Columbus.