WEEK 3: CORNER INFIELDERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION
A flurry of offseason acquisitions, plus the return of an Indianapolis Indians staple in Matt Hague, offers a group of veteran corner infielders with the season rapidly approaching. The list includes Hague, the holder of several Victory Field Era records, World Series champions Travis Ishikawa and Brent Morel, and Chris McGuiness who has gotten off to a red-hot start in Spring Training.
Potential Indians Corner Infielders
Matt Hague has been selected in two MLB drafts, originally receiving a phone call from the Cleveland Indians in 2007 during his junior year at the University of Washington (11th round, 347th overall). One year later and after transferring to Oklahoma State University, Hague was drafted alongside OSU teammate former Indians shortstop Jordy Mercer by the Pittsburgh Pirates (ninth round, 264th overall).
Hague broke big league camp with the Pirates in 2012 and made his Major League debut that season on April 7. He spent most of 2012 with the Pirates and Indians, starting 14 of his 30 games in the majors at first base.
Following his cup of coffee in the Majors, Hague returned to the Tribe in 2013 where he collected 153 base knocks to lead the International League in hits for the second time in three seasons (also 2011). His impressive feat marked the first time a player has led the IL in hits in multiple seasons since 1986, and also helped Hague earn his second team MVP award (also 2011).
Hague’s most recent MVP season included starting all but three regular-season games, tying for the IL lead in doubles (37) and ranking sixth in on-base percentage (.378), walks (71) and total bases (218).
Hague has spent his entire career in the Pirates organization, suiting up five different affiliates. He has produced a combined .299 average (630-for-2106) with 127 doubles, 45 home runs and 297 RBI in 553 Minor League games in that span.
In 2002, the San Francisco Giants drafted Travis Ishikawa out of Hague’s rival high school, Federal Way (21st round, 637th overall). Ishikawa’s standout amateur career with Federal Way helped pave the way to a quick climb to the Majors with the Giants.
Ishikawa, a 2010 World Series champion with San Francisco, made his MLB debut on April 18, 2006 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He later joined the big league Club for the majority of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and has also appeared in games for the Milwaukee Brewers (2012), Baltimore Orioles (2013) and New York Yankees (2013).
Ishikawa split the 2013 campaign between the Norfolk Tides (Baltimore Orioles) and the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox). In 83 Minor League games, he combined to hit .290 (86-for-297) with 54 RBI and 46 runs.
Brent Morel was a third-round draft pick (2008, 86th overall) of the Chicago White Sox, being selected as a 26-year-old third baseman out of California Polytechnic State University
Morel made his MLB debut pinch-hitting for former White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin in a loss to the Detroit Tigers on September 7, 2010. Morel joined Chicago for his first full season at the major league level in 2011, before later appearing in just a combined 47 MLB games in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The Pirates claimed Morel on waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on February 24. Prior to joining the Bucs, Morel spent 2013 with the Charlotte Knights, leading the team in runs (55), doubles (30) and RBI (54) in 106 games.
The Boston Red Sox selected Chris McGuiness in the 13th round of the 2009 Draft (408th overall) out of the Citadel. McGuiness spent 2009 and part of 2010 in the Red Sox organization before joining the Texas Rangers system as part of the deal that sent catcher Jared Saltalamacchia to Boston at the Trade Deadline on July 31, 2010.
McGuiness debuted in the Majors on June 7, 2013 as the Rangers’ starting first baseman against Toronto. He produced six hits with one double in 10 games during his stint with Texas, and spent the remainder of the 2013 season with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, hitting .246 (89-for-362) with 41 extra-base hits in 104 games.
McGuiness was acquired by the Pirates this offseason in exchange for Miles Mikolas.
In the System
Among the large crop of talent at corner infield in the Pirates system, two players to watch are Justin Howard and the Pirates 2010 second-round draft pick (52nd overall) Stetson Allie.
At 22, Allie was ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the Pirates organization by Baseball America. He was originally drafted as a pitcher, but has since transitioned to a power-hitting first baseman. In 2013, he split the season between the West Virginia Power and the Bradenton Marauders, where he flashed an impressive prowess at the plate with 21 home runs and 34 doubles.
Howard was drafted in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft (717th overall) by the Pirates. He has quickly progressed through the organization, beginning with the Gulf Coast Rookie team in 2010, and most recently spending the 2013 season with the Double-A Altoona Curve. He concluded last year hitting at a .314 clip (89-for-283) in 77 Double-A games at first base.
Stadium Maintenance Manager
- 14th year with Indianapolis Indians
- 14th year in Professional Sports
- Secretary of the Midwest Motorcycle Club and assists with Damar Services charity fundraisers for children and adults with mental disabilities
“The best part of working here is walking around the park during a game, seeing the fans having fun and knowing that you had a part in making that happen.”
Facilities Department Offseason:
A big priority for Allan and the facilities department during this time of year is to repair the wear and tear of the stadium from a long baseball season. Time-consuming projects, such as the remodeling of dugouts, keep Danehy and his staff busy by providing a wide range of tasks to tackle in the offseason.
“The variety is why I enjoy this. I enjoy it because you’re never doing the same thing every day. Sometimes I could be painting and the next day I’ll be doing a ton of electrical work. You name it, and we’re doing it.”
“Winterization” and Suite Repairs
Immediately after the Indians wrap up their season, the facilities department focuses on shutting down Victory Fields’ water system in preparation for winter. Once the the stadium is prepared for the cold months, Danehy and his staff move their attention indoors where provide touch-ups and upgrades to nearly 95 percent of the Indians’ Luxury Suites.
“It takes us at least a month to get everything shut down after the season. It would be a disaster if something froze, especially with as cold as it’s been this year, so you have to make sure everything’s done properly.”
In 2008, the Indians started a unique venture with their concessions partner ARAMARK to create a fund that can be used for repairs to Victory Field’s facilities. One of Danehy’s offseason duties is managing the fund’s maintenance budget, an important responsibility that ultimately helps Victory Field maintain its reputation as one of the best ballparks in Minor League Baseball.
“It’s unusual because most places don’t have that kind of partnership, but it’s worked out great here with the Indians. [The fund] helps cut down on costs enormously and allows our staff to stay on top of things.”
One of the more unique aspects of the Indians’ relationship with ARAMARK is the crossover between both parties. During the offseason, this “shared ownership” between ARAMARK and the Tribe creates the opportunity for the facilities department to maintain and repair the concessions at Victory Field. This year, Danehy and his staff have worked on revamping the suite kitchens to make ARAMARK’s game-day preparations run more efficiently, which in-turn will, ideally, improve the overall fan experience at Indians games.
“If I can fix it, I will. We make close to 98 percent of the repairs to concessions, which is a neat and unique situation that helps keep [facilities] budget costs low.”
The Indians rely on trade-partnerships with companies such as Porter Paints and Train to help maintain a fully-stocked inventory. Many of these trade-partnerships have remained the same since Victory Field opened in 1996, which presents Danehy with the responsibility of renewing his department’s contracts.
“We have trades with many great places. Usually, we’ll trade tickets or box seats because both our department and our partners enjoy that type of trade. It really is a great relationship.”
[During the offseason, The Inside Pitch will provide a month-by-month look-back at the historic 2013 season. Beginning with a review of April this October, fans can relive each month, including the playoffs, leading up to Opening Day of the 2014 campaign.]
August in Review
Down the season’s stretch drive, the Indianapolis Indians found themselves locked in a three-way battle atop the International League’s West Division during the final full month of the campaign. And, true to form of the entirety of the year, the Tribe adapted to the an influx of personnel changes that included sluggers Andrew Lambo and Tony Sanchez, and pitching ace Kris Johnson.
With just 31 games remaining in the year, Indianapolis and the Victory Field faithful kept their eyes on the calendar as the Tribe chipped away at its Magic Number to clinch its second straight division title and playoff berth.
As the dust settled for Manager Dean Treanor and his resilient Indians squad, August proved to be a month for the ages for the historic Indianapolis franchise.
To help shoulder the load in August’s playoff hunt, the Tribe relied on much-needed reinforcements who joined/rejoined the roster during the month. From infielder Robert Andino to now-top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon, and even Pirates-Indians swingman Brandon Cumpton, the Indians enjoyed standout individual efforts throughout the season’s final full month -
Beginning with the recently acquired Andino.
After he was picked up from the Seattle organization (for a player to be named later) and assigned to the Indians, the slugging Andino immediately made himself at home with Indianapolis by notching the team’s first 10-game hitting streak of the season. From Aug. 6-17, the former Mariner knocked 17 total hits, including four for extra-bases, to string together the franchise’s first double-digit hitting streak Starling Marte hit safely in 15 straight from June 25 – July 12, 2012.
“‘I’ve tried to get the barrel on the ball and I’ve been finding good pitches to hit,” Andino said. “I’ve been staying patient, and sometimes you just tell yourself that you have to find a way to get the job done.”
And Andino’s dominance at the plate didn’t stop with simply producing countless base knocks.
Along with tallying at least one hit in 18 of his 24 total games, the infielder also reached base safely in 20 of 24 to post a .330 OBP in August. Andino finished the month ranked first among in batting average among qualified Indians hitters.
While Andino continued his tear at the plate, the Tribe found itself reaping the benefits of a “friendly battle” between its shortstop and recently optioned outfielder Alex Presley. Much like the red-hot Andino, Presley also waited until the final month of the season to notch his own double-digit hitting streak, producing base knocks in 10 straight games from Aug. 16-28.
Continuing the back-and-forth battle at the plate, Presley’s hits in 10 straight games were also just a portion of an even more impressive 12-game on-base streak that saw the outfielder reach safely in every game in August.
Presley paced the IL with a .420 average (21-for-50) while also ranking second in hits and tied for fourth in OBP (.473) in that span.
Behind the pair of sluggers’ hot bats, the Tribe won seven of its first 14 games during the month. Their .500 record featured a bounce-back from a tough 1-6 stretch to start the month, and included a pair of three-game winning streaks from Aug. 7-9 and Aug. 11-14. The sets of three-game triumphs nearly stretched through seven contests, but a lone, 5-4 walk-off loss to Toledo on Aug. 10 was sandwiched between the two win streaks.
However, the Tribe found a silver lining in the walk-off defeat through a standout effort from top prospect Taillon, whose solid outing marked the turning point for his adjustment to the Triple-A level.
Taillon’s start – a no-decision with eight strikeouts and four earned runs through a season high-tying 7.0 IP – marked the final outing of the season in which he allowed more than three earned runs for the Indians. The righty had previously recorded a 5.25 ERA in his first two outings (including Toledo), but followed his appearance against the Mud hens with four straight quality starts to end the season.
Taillon helped anchor the Indians’ rotation during that span with his stellar 3.24 ERA (9 ER in 25.0 IP) from Aug. 16 – Sept. 1.
“At Triple-A, development is not as significant, it’s time to show what you’ve got,” Taillon, who concluded the season ranked second in IL in strikeouts (36) and fifth in innings ( 37.0) since his debut on Aug. 5, said.
“I was excited to go up [to Indianapolis] at the end of last season. It was definitely a jump, more about winning and the proper club atmosphere. I feel like I’ve hit every level, and learned a lot. I’ve come a long way, become a more complete pitcher.”
While Taillon came into his own midway through August, Cumpton remained dialed in on the mound throughout the entirety of the month. The right-hander posted an unbeaten 2-0 record with a phenomenal 2.15 ERA (7 ER in 29.1 IP) in his five starts. He also limited opponents to two runs or fewer in four of his five outings, and put the exclamation mark on his standout month with a pair of starts in which he held the opposition without an earned run: Aug. 17 at SYR (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 R); Aug. 28 at TOL (7.0 IP).
Perhaps even more impressive, after surrendering six of his seven total earned runs in his first two starts in August, Cumpton allowed just one total earned run through his final three appearances (18.1 IP) for a fantastic 0.49 ERA.
However, for the Indians, their right-hander’s gem on Aug. 17 at Syracuse provided the lone highlight during a skid that included five losses in six games from Aug. 15-20. Simply defined by “tough-luck,” the stretch included four defeats by three runs or fewer, two of which were even one-run losses.
By Aug. 20, Indianapolis suddenly found itself with an 8-11 record through the first 19 games of the month –
And its once-insurmountable divisional lead had fallen to single digits.
With their backs against the wall, but a second straight division crown still in site, the Indians mounted a late-month comeback when they traveled to Frontier Park to face the Red Wings.
The reigning IL West champs would waste little time narrowing their Magic Number to clinch the division upon arriving in Rochester. The Indians’s offense, which had failed to eclipse the five-run mark in seven straight games, erupted for six or more scores in all four contests against the ‘Wings to help pace a crucial four-game series sweep.
A crucial sweep featuring:
1. A series-opening win that effectively halted Indianapolis’ three-game losing streak.
2. An improbable, six-run, ninth-inning comeback that was capped by a grand slam from Lucas May.
3. A thrilling victory in Game 4 to complete the full series sweep.
4. And above all, a Game 3 triumph that put the 2013 Indians team in the franchise’s record books.
On Aug. 24, the Indianapolis Indians jumped to a 5-2 lead in the third inning and never looked back. Behind 4.2 scoreless frames from right-handed reliever Graham Godfrey, the Tribe clinched the IL West Division for the second straight season, marking the first time in team history Indianapolis has won back-to-back IL division titles.
The win also gave the Indians just their fourth consecutive division crowns in franchise history (1961-1963 three-peat titles; 1988-1989, American Association East Division; 1994-1995, A.A. East) and first since skipper Marc Bombard led the team to back-to-back American Association East Division championships during the 1994-95 seasons.
“It’s hard to believe that this is the first time (the team has won back-to-back IL division titles),” Treanor said after the win. “So there is no better feeling to be able to do that and be the first.”
Team MVP Matt Hague shared Treanor’s excitement.
“It’s fun, especially going through all the ups and downs this year,” Hague said. “We were able to grind it out and get to the playoffs for the second year in a row.”
After locking up a berth in the 2013 Governors’ Cup Playoffs, the Tribe split its final six games of the month to finish August with an above-.500 record of 15-14.
And more importantly, a renewed vigor with postseason play on the horizon.
AUGUST PLAYER OF THE MONTH:
AVG: .302 (29-for-96)
XBH: 8 (8 2B)
FLD %: .965
Andino hit safely in 17 of his first 23 games with Indianapolis and reached base in 19 of those same 23 contests. He also notched the team’s first 10-game hitting streak of the season in just his 13th appearance with the Indians, and later recorded a 12-game on-base streak from Aug. 4-18 (19 H, 2 BB, .396 OBP).
In addition, the slick-fielding shortstop made several highlight-reel plays in the field while committing just four errors in 24 games. Andino’s .965 fielding percentage was the second-highest among Indians shortstops who appeared in at least 24 games in 2013 (Josh Harrison, .978 in 30 games).
WEEK 2: MIDDLE INFIELDERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION
The Indianapolis Indians’ parent Club heads into Spring Training with a veteran group of middle infielders who have all seen time in the Majors. The list includes former Tribe shortstops Robert Andino and Chase d’Arnaud, and Lehigh Valley utility man Michael Martinez. The trio of veterans enter 2014 Spring Training with a combined 26 seasons in professional baseball, and each has suited up in the International League for parts of three seasons during their respective careers.
Potential Indians Middle Infielders
Robert Andino was selected by his hometown Florida (Miami) Marlins in the second round of the 2002 Draft (52nd overall).
Shortly after his selection out of Miami Southridge Sr high school, Andino cracked his first Opening Day roster to make his Major League debut at only 21 years old. He entered the game as an eighth-inning replacement for Alex Gonzalez on September 4, 2005, and just five games later recorded his first big league hit courtesy of a double off Vicente Padilla (Philadelphia Phillies) on Sept. 17. Since then, Andino’s professional career has featured several stints at the Major League level, including Florida/Miami (2005-08), the Baltimore Orioles (2009-12) and the Seattle Mariners (2013).
In 2013, Andino joined the Pirates organization and a first-place Indians squad after he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners system in exchange for a Player To Be Named Later / cash considerations in early August.
Andino appeared in his first Indians game on August 3 last season. Though usually known for his defensive prowess, the infielder also excelled at the plate for Indianapolis to produce a .302 average with 29 hits, seven runs, eight doubles and nine RBI in 25 games. He also notched the Tribe’s first 10-game hitting streak of the season en route to being named the team’s August Player of the Month.
Michael Martinez was signed by the Washington Nationals as a non-drafted free agent in 2005.
Martinez made his MLB debut on April 3, 2011 for Philadelphia Phillies, going 1-for-4 with a single and RBI. Along with several stints with the Phils from 2011-13, he has also seen action in the International League in each of the last two seasons with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Martinez’s most recent appearance with Lehigh Valley included appearances at second base, shortstop, third base and both left and center field. However, he spent the majority of season at short where he committed just nine errors in 195 total chances (.954).
Following the 2013 regular season, Martinez batted .217 (13-for-60) with seven RBI and one stolen base in 17 games for Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League.
The slick-gloved infielder has impressed with his consistent defense throughout his career, having never recorded a fielding percentage lower than .908 at the middle infield positions. Martinez’s versatility has allowed the Dominican Republic native to play at nearly every position across the diamond (aside from first base and catcher), and even included pitching two games with the Hagerstown Suns.
[Note: d’Arnaud was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on 2/24/13.]
Originally drafted directly out of high school, Chase d’Arnaud was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2005 MLB Draft (44th round, 1330th overall). Instead of beginning his professional career, he elected to play collegiate baseball at Pepperdine University. In 2008, d’Arnaud jumped from his original 44th-round draft selection out of high school to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ fourth-round selection and 114th overall pick in June’s draft of the 2008 campaign.
d’Arnaud made his major league debut at third base for the Pirates in a 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on June 24, 2011. He went 1-for-3 with a triple in the victory, becoming the first Pittsburgh player since Chance Sanford (April 30, 1998) to triple for his first big-league hit.
Last year, d’Arnaud appeared in 61 games with the Indians in which he split time between shortstop (39 games) and second base (16 games). He helped turn 38 double plays in the Tribe’s middle infield, and even made his first professional appearance in the outfield (left field) on Aug. 6 at Louisville.
The 26-year-old has flashed impressive speed throughout his career, swiping 19 or more bags in each of the last five seasons. In 2012, he made Indians headlines by successfully stealing 23 straight bases before he was finally gunned down by former Tribe catcher Luke Carlin on July 13. d’Arnaud finished the 2012 season ranked second in the IL in total steals (34).
In the System
Other notable infielders in the Pirates’ organization include Alen Hanson, the Pirates No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, and his 2013 Double-A Altoona Curve teammate Jarek Cunningham.
At 21 and 24, respectively, the two infielders provide young, upcoming talent at shortstop and second for Pittsburgh’s organization. Both prospects have displayed a unique set of tools during their career, as last season, Hanson collected 24 steals in 92 games with Hi-A Bradenton, and Cunningham led Altoona with his 19 home runs in 131 contests.
Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing
- 8th year with Indianapolis Indians
- 9th year in Professional Sports
- Was named after Tom Cruise’s character “Joel Goodson” from the movie Risky Business
“Everyday is different. Whether it’s the opportunity to work with a new partner or implement a new promotion or project, very rarely are two days ever the same.”
Corporate Sales & Marketing Offseason:
Identify New Forms of Revenue
The marketing department’s offseason is particularly busy with analyzing data, information and fan feedback from in-park surveys. They use the gathered information to help create a marketing and promotional plan for the next year, which in-turn, hopes to both generate buzz among fans and increase the Indian’s attendance levels to create a higher revenue for the ball club.
“Some of the questions that we’ll ask as a part of our in-park surveys are geared towards the fans: ‘What promotions did you enjoy the most?’ for example.”
Zawacki admitted it can be challenging to create a different promotional calendar from year to year. To meet the demand, the Indians marketing team constantly looks for ways to add new surprises to their entertainment schedule each season, while still providing fan-favorite promotions such as Kids Eat Free Sundays. This year, Zawacki hinted, fans can be on the lookout for former Major League stars and new entertainment acts at Victory Field throughout the season!
“We really do thrive on consistently delivering a high-quality product to our fans. When we’re at conferences, like the Winter Meetings, we’ll survey and get a feel for what other organizations are doing for promotions. There’s a ton of resources out there for us and we try to incorporate as much as possible into our promo calendar.”
Coordinate Broadcasting Promotions
The Indians feature a full schedule of live, cable broadcasts for each home game during the season, including televised contests on HTSN (HomeTown Sports & News) and ABC’s local affiliate, RTV6. In preparation for the season’s broadcasts, Zawacki and the marketing department also work in unison with WRTV to schedule possible dates for prime-time games and create a promotional calendar that highlights the Tribe’s regularly-scheduled broadcasts.
“We sit down with their director of audience development and we’ll look at their programming schedule and identify available dates for broadcasts. We had a prime-time game last year and we’re hoping to get a couple of those for the upcoming season.”
Creating Advertising Campaigns
In terms of advertising, the Indians marketing department works hand-in-hand with both Optimedia and Borschoff, both of which are entering their first year of partnership with the Tribe. The three companies work together to develop concepts and ideas to help further the efforts of the Indians’ marketing campaign.
“We want to make sure that the campaign as a whole meshes together. It’s an interesting process and we’re already impressed with the media portion of this year’s campaign.”
Mutually Beneficial Community Partnerships
The Indians’ marketing department is always looking to partner with local businesses to help further the “family-friendly” culture at Victory Field. The Tribe and its partners aim to build advertising and promotional campaigns that generate an engaging experience for Indians fans in hopes that both companies reach their respective goals of happy, engaged consumers or fans.
“Yes, the revenue is important for us, but at the end of the day we’re really just trying to create something that the fans will enjoy, because that’s when we’re most successful. The Indians have the best fans in baseball and we want to show our appreciation in as many ways as possible when they come to the ballpark.”
WEEK 1: CATCHERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION
The Pittsburgh Pirates enter Spring Training with a corps of young, talented catchers at each level of the system. This list of promising farmhands features a handful of backstops with experience in the International League, including former Tribe catchers Tony Sanchez and Carols Paulino, 2013 Louisville Bats standout Nevin Ashley and IL journeyman Omir Santos, who has seen action with Norfolk, Buffalo, Toledo and Columbus during his career.
Potential Indians Catchers
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Tony Sanchez in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Boston College. That year, Sanchez was selected just three picks behind current Washington Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
Last season, Sanchez appeared in 76 games with the Indians, batting .288 (75-for-260) with a career-high 10 homers and 27 doubles. Sanchez also caught 24 percent of runners attempting to steal (22 of 71) while he worked behind the plate for Indianapolis.
In addition to his stint with the Tribe, Sanchez also made his MLB debut with the Pirates last season on June 23. The rising prospect concluded the season hitting at a .233 clip (14-for-66) with four doubles, two homers and five RBI in 22 games for Pittsburgh.
Indiana native Nevin Ashley was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth round (169th overall) of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Indiana State University. Prior to his departure from the Sycamores, he also played baseball at North Knox High School in Bicknell, Ind.
Ashley appeared in 80 games for Louisville last season where he batted .235 (56-for-238) and slugged 20 extra-base hits in just 238 at-bats. Defensively, he excelled behind the dish for the Bats by committing only one error and catching 16 of 45 runners attempting to steal (26 percent) on the club.
During his climb to the Triple-A level, Ashley led the entire Rays organization and all rookie-level catchers in batting average in 2006 and paced all South Atlantic League backstops in fielding percentage in 2007. Just two seasons later, Ashley added to his impressive resume when he earned recognition from the Rays as the organization’s “Best Defensive Player” (2009) and from Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Catcher” in Tampa Bay’s system (2009)
The New York Yankees selected Omir Santos in the 21st round (635th overall) of the 2001 MLB Draft. As he progressed through the Yankees’ system, he was rated as high as New York’s No. 29 prospect (after 2004 season) by Baseball America.
Santos spent last season with the Columbus Clippers, producing a .248 batting average (51-for-206) with nine doubles, two triples and three homers in 61 Triple-A contests. He also drove in 28 runs for Columbus, which ranked as the second-most RBI he’s collected in the IL during his 13-year professional career. Santos’ 2013 season also included a brief promotion to the Majors with the Cleveland Indians.
The IL veteran, who gunned down 21 percent of potential base stealers (15 of 58) with the Clippers last year, concluded his solid campaign with a .217 average in 29 games in the Dominican Winter League with the Gigantes del Cibao.
In the System
Among the notable names in Pittsburgh’s system is last year’s first-round draft selection Reese McGuire, who is rated by MLB.com as the seventh-best catching prospect in the Minors, and Carlos Paulino, who is one of only six non-roster backstops invited to Pirates Major League camp.
At just 18 and 24 years old respectively, the duo of McGuire and Paulino brings excitement to the Pirates organization for the upcoming campaign after each flashed impressive potential throughout the 2013 season. Though the two up-and-coming prospects are still awaiting a shot to crack their first big league lineups, Paulino showed his upside last season by throwing out 36 percent of would-be basestealers (40 of 70) between Double-A Altoona and Indianapolis, while McGuire dominated the Gulf Coast League with his team-high 58 base hits on the year.
[The Inside Pitch will be providing a behind-the-scenes look at your Indianapolis Indians front office during the baseball offseason. Each installment will introduce a new member of the team's staff and give a sneak peek at various projects the front office hopes to tackle in preparation for Opening Day!]
Community Relations & Promotions Coordinator
- 2nd Year with Indianapolis Indians,
- 4th Year in Professional Sports
- Owns over 1,000 DVDs, is ambidextrous, married his high school sweetheart and is a published poet.
“I love the fan interaction. My job allows me to take fans to places they’ve always wanted to go, or have experiences they have dreamed about.”
Community Relations & Promotions
The Community Relations department processes different types of requests from mainly nonprofit organizations. Tickets are the most frequent item donated, but autographed items such as jerseys, bats and baseballs are also included on various occasions.
(Click here for more information on donation requests)
“It’s a special initiative and last year we totaled almost $300,000 worth of donations.”
The offseason is a busy time for Rowdie. With autograph sessions, sponsorship events and over 30 community appearances during the winter months, the Community Relations & Promotions Department has their hands full managing the loveable bear’s schedule.
(Click here for more information on Rowdie appearances and requests)
“We always try to get Rowdie out to community events as much as possible.”
Player Appearances & Pirates Community Commitment Program
The Pittsburgh Pirates ensure a strong presence in the community through their annual Community Commitment Program. Each player in the organization is required to fulfill 10 hours of community service during the season and each Minor League affiliate selects a team representative to attend a Pirates game on Roberto Clemente Day.
(Click here for more information on the Indians Community Programs)
“It’s a really cool program and it’s definitely a unique opportunity as the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate.”
Tickets for Troops, Pinch Hitters, & Charitable Fundraisers
Tickets for Troops is a program in which the Indians donate unused tickets to different local military organizations. Additional programming, including Pinch Hitter, has also been established by the Community Relations & Promotions Department to distribute tickets to various nonprofit organizations in the Indianapolis area.
(Click here for more information on Tickets for Troops and other Indians programs)
“[These programs] are a good chance for us to reach out to those who serve our country”
Indians Triple Play Program
After sponsoring three leagues in the Triple Play Programs last year, the Indians have now expanded the partnership to 13 leagues and 75 individual youth teams for the 2014 baseball season. The partnership between the Tribe and its Triple Play leagues features special outings at Victory Field, Rowdie appearances at each Little League and the opportunity to learn from the Indians team through youth baseball clinics.
(Click here for more information on the Indians Triple Play Program)
“It’s a great chance for kids to be affiliated with the Indians at an early age.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced the signing of left-hander Yao-Hsun Yang to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player. The 31-year-old native of Taiwan has never pitched at the Minor or Major League level in his career, but has posted a 5-5 record with a 3.08 ERA (29 ER in 90.2 IP) in 38 games (12 starts) with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Japanese Central League from 2006-12.
In his most recent stint with the ‘Hawks in 2012, Yang turned in an impressive 1.42 ERA through nine outings (seven starts), including one complete game, allowing just seven earned runs in 42.2 innings of work. The southpaw also impressed with a 9.5 strikeouts-per-9.0 IP ratio, while averaging less than one walk or hit per inning pitched (0.984 WHIP). Despite winning just two of five decisions, Yang limited opposing batters to just one longball and only 24 total hits through the entire 2012 campaign.
In addition, Yang saw action at the World Baseball Classic in both 2006 and 2013 with Chinese Taipei. The lefty hurler, who worked four outings during the 2013 showcase, was tagged for five runs on five hits (two homers) in 4.1 innings for a 10.38 ERA. He also surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in 0.1 frames during the 2006 WBC.
Yang enters Spring Training boasting a pitching arsenal which features a fastball, slider, curve and change-up. While the southpaw has posted solid numbers throughout the entirety of his five-year career, he has been especially dominant in his two most recent campaigns (2010 and 2012) with his 1.79 ERA (15 ER in 75.1 IP) and 73 strikeouts to just 36 walks.
Including Yang, the Pirates have now invited 18 players to big league training camp.
[During the offseason, The Inside Pitch will provide a month-by-month look-back at the historic 2013 season. Beginning with a review of April this October, fans can relive each month, including the playoffs, leading up to Opening Day of the 2014 campaign.]
July in Review
As the season approached its unofficial “halfway point” at the All-Star break, the Indianapolis Indians found themselves on the wrong end of several tough-luck losses during July. The Tribe entered the month with an impressive 55-30 record through April, May and June but limped to 10-18 in July while also attempting to hold off the surging, second-place Louisville Bats.
Of course, that’s not to say the Indians lacked success throughout the month.
Leaning on strong individual performances across the board, most notably from the starting rotation and middle-of-the-order power bats, Indianapolis battled through a trying schedule to prove that July’s final win-loss totals didn’t quite tell the whole story. And above all, the Tribe found ways to maintain its stranglehold of the International League’s West Division down the season’s stretch drive.
Indianapolis developed a familiar in division rival Louisville from the end of June and into the early goings of July. As a span of six straight matchups against the Bats (June 29 – July 4) came to its conclusion on the Fourth of July, the Tribe faced the tall task of rebounding from a walkoff loss on the previous night if it wanted to salvage a 3-3 series split.
Luckily, the Indians’ fortune was about to change as part of their historic Independence Day celebration.
A then-season high 14,741 fans packed the ballpark to see the Indians don their Fourth of July jerseys to settle the slugfest with Louisville. Backed by the roars of a sellout crowd, the Tribe’s pitching staff rose to the occasion to author a combined shutout with Andy Oliver (6.2 IP), Jose Contreras (1.1 IP) and Vic Black (1.0 IP) holding the Bats to just five total base hits in the Indians 4-0 win.
“It was awesome to have a packed house like that; I even heard the top deck” team captain Matt Hague said after the victory. “And (Indians starter Andy) Oliver, he pitched to contact, he threw a lot of strikes, he kept the game tempo going and it’s fun to play defense behind him.”
Oliver overcame early control issues, and aside from issuing four walks, spun a masterpiece with six strikeouts and four scattered base knocks through 6.2 innings of action. The southpaw allowed only one batter to advance past second base as he extended a streak in which Indianapolis had won each of Oliver’s last eight starts.
Indianapolis carried its Independence Day celebrations over into the opening contest of its next set of games at Fifth-Third Field in Toledo. Infielder Ivan DeJesus led the charge, collecting a three-hit effort while also reaching base safely four times in the Tribe’s eventual 4-2 win on July 5. But the series-opening win marked just the first contest of an eight-game road swing away from Victory Field.
Or in other words, home away from home for the red-hot DeJesus.
DeJesus, who batted an impressive .324 (56-for-173) on the road in 2013, used his knack for hitting at opposing ballparks to turn in arguably the most dominating month of any Indians batter with his torrid July. The Tribe infielder seemed to always produce a productive appearance at the plate, and after reaching base safely in 12 of the first 13 games in July, DeJesus concluded the month ranked second in the IL in batting average (.377), doubles (8) and on-base percentage (.449).
He also flashed his versatility by suiting up at second base, shortstop and third base for the Tribe during the month.
But where DeJesus was great on the road, former Toledo prospect Avisail Garcia was greater in his home ballpark.
The current Chicago White Sox farmhand more-or-less single-handily defeated the Indians on July 7, hitting for the complete cycle in a 4-for-5 effort with four runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base. The prospect’s abuse of the opposition’s pitching put the Tribe in the night’s headlines for all the wrong reasons, as Garcia’s feat was one of just two cycles in the IL during the entirety of the season (also Jim Negrych).
After playing host to Garcia’s cycle and dropping the three-game series in Toledo 1-2, Indianapolis arrived at the hitter-friendly stadium of Huntington Park in Columbus, where it would benefit from a pair of nontraditional victories to earn an outright series win in a three-game set against the Clippers.
In the series opener on July 8, the Indians twice jumped ahead on the scoreboard before also twice seeing their lead vanish on late rallies from the Clippers. As the game progressed into extra innings, Indianapolis’ bullpen mustered every bit of strength it had to combine for 5.0 hitless frames from the eighth to the 12th. And just as Indians’ relievers tied the bow on their dominant stretch, the bullpen’s counterparts for the Clippers summoned catcher-turned-temporary-reliever Omir Santos to the mound for the 12th inning.
Santos, meet Andrew Lambo.
While Indianapolis’ 12th-inning eruption paced the extra-innings win, it also proved to be the team’s last hint of offense until the third matchup and rubber game on July 10. The Indians, who were held scoreless in a 4-0 shutout loss in game two on July 9, finally showed signs of life in game three by matching all four of Columbus’ runs through the first 12 innings on a rain-soaked July 10.
But in their second extra-inning affair of the last three games, neither Indianapolis nor Columbus could hold off the unwavering storms that forced the contest’s suspension in what would have been the 33rd inning of baseball between the Tribe and Clippers over just a two-and-a-half day span.
To top the unusual series off, the suspended game also marked the final meeting at Huntington Park between the two teams for the remainder of the 2013 season, meaning the contest would be scheduled to resume during the Clippers’ next road trip to Victory Field in the following weekend.
Fast-forward through a two-game split in Louisville and the Indians returned to Victory Field to find themselves still batting as the visiting squad for the resumption of their original road game in Columbus. In addition, the game’s odd circumstances further came into play as each team’s last reliever from Huntington Park re-entered the contest having both already pitched in the original game, while also now benefiting from a full three days of rest.
As fate would have it, the resumed game’s 12 innings then turned into a 16-frame marathon featuring a Clippers’ game-tying rally in the bottom of both the 14th and 15th innings. However, with the score locked 6-6 in the top of the 16th, Indianapolis finally broke through “reliever” Boof Bonser when they tagging the righty for three runs during his seventh and final frame out of the Columbus bullpen.
“It (the win) can help us big time, we’ve been struggling to score runs and I think this can help us with our confidence,” infielder Brian Bocock, who slugged a pair of homers over the two-day game, said.
“Hitting is all confidence and when you get a game like this it should do it (help the team’s confidence).”
Along with Bocock’s impressive performance, both the contest and its rare circumstances also featured a new Victory Field era record for most at-bats in a game (Alex Presley, 9), an Indians season high-tying 5.0 innings of relief (Athualpa Severino), a combined 12 pitchers between the two Clubs and with a final game time of five hours and 32 minutes, clocking in as the second-longest game in Victory Field history.
Once all was said and done and Indianapolis emerged with a 16-inning, 9-6 victory, the pair of road-weary teams made the most of a brief, 30-minute respite before returning to the diamond for their regularly-scheduled nine-inning contest at Victory Field.
And waiting to help boost their hometown Tribe, nearly 15,000 Indians fans packed the ballpark by the first pitch of the doubleheader’s deciding game.
Indianapolis’ sellout crowd of 14,783 fans on July 13 marked the team’s highest attendance to that point of the season and second-highest overall by the end of the 2013 campaign. The capacity crowd, coupled with a throng of 14,741 fans on July 4th, also gave the Tribe its first back-to-back sellouts since July 21-22, 2000.
But unfortunately for the Indians, the staggering turnout was not enough to propel the home team to victory, and following a 5-2, 11-inning loss in the second game on July 13, Indianapolis then dropped a second straight contest against Columbus on July 14 in the season’s final tilt before the All-Star break.
In the end, the pair of defeats served little in terms of dampening the mood from the Tribe’s tremendously successful “first half” of the season. And even with a slow start to the month of July, the Indians still entered the All-Star break boasting a phenomenal 13.0-game lead in the IL West Division. In addition, Indianapolis was the only team in the International League to feature four selections to the 2013 Triple-A Midsummer Classic, which was set to take place a mere three days after the first-half finale against the Clippers.
Next stop: Reno, Nevada and the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Indianapolis standouts Josh Harrison (SS), Vic Black (RHP), Kris Johnson (LHP) and Tony Sanchez (C) were all voted to represent the first-place Indians at the annual showcase. Although Harrison was unable to attend the contest due to his promotion to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the remaining Tribe trio took center stage in the IL’s 4-3 win over the Pacific Coast League, with Johnson picking up a hold through 1.0 scoreless frames and Black following with a hold of his own after punching out one batter in 0.2 perfect innings.
Oh, and Sanchez helped out too:
“I can’t believe it,” Sanchez said after belting the game-winning three-run homer and receiving the IL’s Top Star award. ”Coming to a game like this with all the talent you’re surrounded by. You just hope you don’t mess up. You don’t expect to shine like that.”
Sanchez’s heroics etched him in the franchise record books as just the third Indians player to be named the IL’s Top Star and first since fellow catcher Erik Kratz took home the honor at the 2009 showcase. The only other player to win the award for Indianapolis, aside from the pair of backstops, is the reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, who captured the award in 2008.
The Tribe’s All-Star celebrations proved to be short lived, however, as the team received a rude awakening in the form of three straight losses to Gwinnett in their first series back in action (July 18-20). Even so, Indianapolis found a silver lining in the string of defeats as Triple-A rookie Stolmy Pimentel continued his burst on the scene by authoring his third quality start through his first four outings of the month.
The right-hander’s solid effort on July 18 helped keep Indianapolis within striking distance of the Braves, as he allowed just two earned runs (four total runs) on five hits while fanning seven through 7.0 innings of work. Pimentel’s impressive start was his seventh of the season for the Tribe and further lowered his Triple-A ERA to an impressive mark of 2.74.
Yet – and as the case would remain for the majority of the final three months of the season – the Indians found themselves not lacking in stronger pitching, but rather an improved offense as they attempted to bounce back on track.
Indianapolis’ aforementioned paradigm was brought to life when the club eclipsed the three-run mark in just four of 15 games in July after the All-Star break. Conversely, the team’s pitching staff, which included strong Indians debuts from Ethan Hollingsworth and David Bromberg, limited opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of those same 15 games while being tagged for more than five total runs in just four of 15 games.
“I felt good, (pitching coach Tom) Filer was just telling me to just go out there and mix it up,” Bromberg said after allowing just two runs in 5.0 frames during his Indians debut on July 28.
“Filer said just try to get them off-balance, change the eye level on them. And (Tribe catcher Lucas) May told me ’Hey, we’re going to mix it up, and if you shake (off a called pitch) just make sure you make a good pitch.’”
As the tough month approached its conclusion, the Indians rebounded from a season-worst seven-game losing streak from July 23-29 to collect back-to-back wins against Scranton (July 30-31) to close out July. At 10-18, the results certainly weren’t ideal in the win-loss columns, but the Indianapolis Indians would return the diamond in August as proud owners of a double-digit game lead in the IL West Division.
And with nine matchups against second-place Louisville remaining on the season’s calendar, every game still counted down the stretch drive.
JULY PLAYER OF THE MONTH:
ERA: 1.99 (9 ER in 40.2 IP)
BAA: .203 (30-for-148)
Pimentel served as the workhorse for the Tribe’s pitching staff in July, leading the team and tying for first in all of Triple-A baseball with 40.2 innings pitched. The right-hander allowed just nine earned runs during the entire month for a stellar 1.99 ERA, which ranked first among all league hurlers who made at least six starts in July.
Pimentel also limited opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his six appearances, and finished the month ranked fifth in the IL in both WHIP (0.89) and batting average against (.203).
Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like a surprise visit from the Indianapolis Indians’ award-winning mascot Rowdie! The Tribe and their lovable bear are celebrating the holiday with the return of their popular Valentine’s Day Package, which includes an Indians T-shirt, four Box-Seat ticket vouchers and four Gigi’s Cupcakes, all hand delivered by Rowdie himself.
For just $80, the Tribe’s mascot will surprise your special someone with the perfect combination of sports and sweets! Packages will be delivered on Feb. 13 or 14 and feature two “RowdieBerry” and two vanilla-flavored “Wedding Cake” cupcakes from the Indy A-List’s award-winning Gigi’s Cupcakes.
Visit IndyIndians.com for more information!