The Clippers have shed their affiliation with the Washington Nationals - baseball's worst team last year - and joined up with the Cleveland Indians.

The Clippers have shed their affiliation with the Washington Nationals - baseball's worst team last year - and joined up with the Cleveland Indians.

This is a point of pride for Tribe fans in Central Ohio, but it's also a move that should re-energize the city's long history of minor-league baseball.

During the past decade, the Indians have developed strong minor-league clubs, holding sacred the idea that a team can win by raising up talented prospects instead of buying veteran stars at a premium. The Tribe farm system currently ranks fifth in Major League Baseball, according to Scouts Inc.

That means Columbus will see budding stars about to go pro and younger talent on the way up from double-A Akron. With a new crop of players, the spirit of the Coop and a beautiful new park, this should be a season to remember.

Prospects to Watch

These three players will be captains of the Clippers' ship.

12 David Huff

Pitcher

Playing both double- and triple-A ball last season, this southpaw produced a 2.52 ERA and 143 strikeouts en route to being named the Indians' top minor-league pitcher.

13 Matt LaPorta

Outfield

The highest-ranked prospect in the Indians farm system came in the deal that sent ace C.C. Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .279 with 22 homers and 74 RBIs last year with various clubs. He was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

50 Michael Brantley

Outfield

Known as one of the best athletes in the Tribe farm system, Brantley was another young player that came in the Sabathia transaction. He's a disciplined hitter, batting .319 last year in double-A ball.

A brief look back ...

1977: After six years without pro baseball in Columbus, a minor-league franchise from Memphis is reborn as the Clippers, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1979: Trading up, the Clips become the top farm team of the New York Yankees. Players such as Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera play in Columbus.

2007: The Yanks triple-A organization books for a city closer to the Bronx. Columbus becomes an affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

2009: The Clippers take the field as the top farm squad of the Cleveland Indians. Tribe affiliation surpasses Wild Wings as the greatest thing Columbus has stolen from Buffalo.

Upcoming promotions

Here's your chance to see diamond action and get free stuff, minor-league baseball's enduring legacy.

Saturday, April 18

4:05 p.m.

Toledo Mud Hens

Opening Day celebration includes cap giveaway, live music by The Danger Brothers and an appearance by Indians mascot Slider

Sunday, April 19

1:05 p.m.

Toledo Mud Hens

Family Fun Day includes live music by Arnett Howard, a post-game run around the bases and ticket specials (two adults and up to four kids for $15 at the gate)

Monday, April 20

6:35 p.m.

Louisville Bats

Dime-a-Dog night

Tuesday, April 21

6:05 p.m.

Louisville Bats

Free T-shirt to first 2,000 fans

Thursday, April 23

6:05 p.m.

Indianapolis Indians

Quencher Corner, a regular Thursday event, offers prizes and drink and food specials

Friday, April 24

7:05 p.m.

Indianapolis Indians

Party-at-the-Park, a regular weekend event, features live music by Agent 99 and food and drink specials