Following one of the most dominant pitching careers in Major League Baseball, former Indianapolis Indians standout, Randy Johnson, has been named to the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame player ballot.
Monday’s ballot was announced in conjunction with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and the results of the writers’ vote will be revealed Jan. 6 on MLB Network and MLB.com.
If elected, Johnson will become just the 13th former Tribe player enshrined in the Cooperstown and first on the Hall of Fame’s player ballot since Harmon Killebrew in 1984.
Deemed “The Big Unit” during his career, Johnson offers a strong case for unanimous election to the Hall of Fame with his five Cy Young Awards, 10 All-Star selections, four ERA titles and nine strikeout crowns. The left-hander concluded his illustrious, 22-year career as one of only two pitchers in baseball history to post four consecutive Cy Young Award seasons – matching Greg Maddux’s run from 1992-95 – ranked second in total Cy Young Awards behind only Roger Clemens’ seven accolades and as one of just nine hurlers to be featured in both the 300-win and 3,000-strikeout clubs.
Johnson debuted with the Tribe’s parent affiliate of Montreal in 1988-89 before splitting his career between Seattle (10 years), Arizona (8), the New York Yankees (2), Houston (1) and San Francisco (1). He tossed two no-hitters during his big league tenure, including the 17th perfect game in MLB history (May 18, 2004 vs. ATL), won a World Series title as the Fall Classic’s co-MVP with Arizona in 2001 and became just the second National League player to win the coveted pitching triple crown award after leading the league with 24 wins, a 2.32 ERA and 334 strikeouts in 2002.
While still developing his control-related mechanics on a soon-to-be 6’10 frame, the towering 24 year old paved the way to his MLB debut with a strong showing for the Tribe during the 1988 campaign. Johnson rebounded from a 128-walk season with Double-A Jacksonville in 1987 to issue nearly three fewer walks-per-9 innings while still totaling an impressive 111 strikeouts over his 20 Triple-A games (19 starts) with the Indians the following year.
His 1988 highlight reel also included a 13-strikeout effort on May 19 vs. Syracuse (seven innings), and seven no-hit frames as part of a combined no-hitter on Aug. 6 at Nashville.
Johnson then went the distance for the first time in his pro career during the Tribe’s elimination game of the Triple-A Baseball Classic, whiffing eight to help captain a 10-2 victory over the Rochester Red Wings in Game 3 of the championship series on Sept. 9. Title hopes alive and well, the Indians rallied behind Johnson’s masterpiece to claim the 1988 Triple-A championship and send their power lefty off to the Expos for his first of many future big league appearances.
Johnson now turns in a Cooperstown resume with a career record of 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA (1513 ER/4135.1 IP) and 4,875 strikeouts in 618 major league games (603 starts). One of only five players to win the Cy Young Award in both the American and National League, Johnson retired from baseball ranked second in the majors and first among left-handers in all-time strikeouts, 22nd in career wins and as the only big league pitcher to fan 300 or more batters in five straight seasons (1998-2002).
2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
First-Ballot Candidates: Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Troy Percival, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz.
Returning Candidates (with their 2014 election percentages): Craig Biggio (74.8%), Mike Piazza (62.2%), Jeff Bagwell (54.3%), Tim Raines (46.1%), Roger Clemens (35.4%), Barry Bonds (34.7%), Lee Smith (29.9%), Curt Schilling (29.2%), Edgar Martinez (25.2%), Alan Trammell (20.8%), Mike Mussina (20.3%), Jeff Kent (15.2%), Fred McGriff (11.7%), Mark McGwire (11.0%), Larry Walker (10.2%), Don Mattingly (8.2%) and Sammy Sosa (7.2%).
Former Indianapolis Indians Players in the Hall of Fame:
[Player/Manager (Years with IND) — Year Inducted]
Alexander, Grover C. (1910) — 1939
Appling, Luke (1962) — 1964
Brown, Mordecai “Three-Finger”(1919) — 1949
Hartnett, Gabby (1942) — 1955
Killebrew, Harmon (1958) — 1984
Lajoie, Napoleon (1918) — 1937
Lopez, Al (1948-50) — 1977
Marquard, Richard (1908) — 1971
McCarthy, Joseph (1911) — 1957
McKechnie, Bill (1914 Fed. Lg.) — 1962
Schalk, Raymond (1938-39) — 1974
Uecker, Bob (1960) — 2003 (announcer wing of H.O.F)
[During the offseason, The Inside Pitch will provide a month-by-month look-back at the record-setting 2014 season. Beginning with a review of April on Sept. 9, fans can relive each month as we anxiously count down to the 2015 campaign.]
The bright lights of Durham welcomed Tribe DH Matt Hague, left-hander Andy Oliver and right-hander Casey Sadler to the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game and “second half” of the regular season.
Along with delivering strong individual performances, the star trio also helped power the Indians to a 53-46 record and share of first place in the International League West Division through July 13.
But after entering the break with three straight losses to their top-ranked counterparts from Columbus, the Tribe hit the Midsummer Classic in need of some much-deserved R&R for the upcoming stretch drive.
“I absolutely think this team can turn things around,” said reliever John Holdzkom in a pregame interview during the tough stretch. “The guys in that clubhouse, the [personalities] and talent, it’s too good to not (get back on track).”
Back in Durham, slugger Hague, who arrived on a last-minute flight at the tail-end of his promotion to Pittsburgh, went blow-for-blow with Triple-A’s perennial power hitters in the 2014 Home Run Derby. Hague slugged six homers as a semi-finalist in the competition, including depositing a towering blast off the “Durham Bull” target in left field to win each fan in attendance a free steak taco, courtesy of Moe’s Southwest Grill.
But more so courtesy of Matt Hague.
His final, steak taco-less bomb of the derby:
The Indians’ two All-Star hurlers of Sadler and Oliver waited one more night before showcasing their own talent during the IL’s clash with the Pacific Coast League on July 16.
Sadler received the ball in the fifth, erasing his first two batters on just four pitches. However, things took a turn for the weird with two outs and a man on first, as the right-hander’s strike-three offering to Gabriel Noriega scooted behind catcher Jhonatan Solano for a wild pitch that kept the inning alive.
Technically with three outs already to his name, Sadler rebounded from the added baserunner to induce a lineout and escape with a scoreless, four-out inning.
Oliver was due up in the eighth. The Indians’ southpaw also allowed two batters to reach safely before craftily escaping the jam, flashing 94 MPH en route to retiring Seattle Mariners No. 8 prospect Chris Taylor with a double-play ball that capped his appearance.
Unfortunately for Oliver, his swing-man, Luis Garcia, was unable to replicate the effort and allowed Oliver’s sponsored runner to score on an RBI double. In the overall picture, just a minor detail of the IL’s dominant 7-3 All-Star victory.
The Tribe emerged on the other side of the break with the welcomed reinforcement of reigning Pirates Minor League Player of the Year, Andrew Lambo. Sidelined since May with a nagging thumb injury, the heavy hitter returned to the lineup to produce seven hits in his first three games, highlighted by a four-knock effort in a historic 15-5 thumping at Columbus on July 19.
Historic by the fact six of 18 total hits left the ballpark.
With two homers from both Lambo and Robert Andino, plus a blast from Dean Anna and Chris McGuiness, the Tribe’s offense ranked just one big fly shy of the Victory Field Era (1996) record seven home runs from July 3, 1997 at Nashville.
What’s more, three of those six homers left the yard in the first inning, which also nearly matched the VF mark of a four-HR fifth inning on May 20, 1998 at Pawtucket.
The offense continued clicking from the six shooter to pace a 3-1 series win over the Clippers. The third and final victory of the divisional set also gave manager Dean Treanor his 300th victory at the helm of the Indians, moving the skipper into an impressive fraternity of just seven managers in franchise history to amass 300 team wins.
“(Winning) is not easy, and I’ve been very fortunate to have the quality of players that we’ve had,” Treanor said . “But that’s why the door to my office is closed a lot; there are a lot of meetings, there are a lot of one-on-ones (with players) and I’ve been fortunate to have a great staff too and that helps and adds to it.”
Treanor joined the rare company of Dave Miley (314), Donie Bush (365), C.C. Carr (370), Wade Killefer (455), Vern Rapp (513) and J.C. Hendrinks (764) as the elite echelon of the team’s 300-win club.
But winning soon became a luxury for Treanor and the Indians.
The club departed from Columbus and began a seven-game losing streak – tied for the longest such stretch of the season – from July 21-27. Following a home sweep by the Charlotte Knights, the Tribe dropped three of its first four contests in Rochester to fall to 56-54 on the year and two games back in the division.
In a tailspin, Indianapolis needed “outside” help to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat.
And there was no better solution than rehabbing Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who struck out seven over five scoreless innings as the Indians’ pitcher of record in a 5-0 shutout of the RedWings.
“I expected a little more rust than what he gave me,” said backstop Tony Sanchez after the victory. “He was actually extremely impressive, fastballs to both sides of the plate with command. We elevated when we wanted to, and we kept the ball down (when we wanted).”
Tribe ace Sadler would follow Pirates ace Cole with the Indians’ final victory of the month on July 31 at Buffalo. Sadler used seven innings of three-run ball to pick up his team-high ninth win and improve the club’s overall record to 58-56 through the end of July.
The Indians’ tough month at 11 wins and 19 losses proved costly in the standings.No longer ranked atop the IL West, the Tribe hoped to gear up for the final month of the season to chase down a 1.5-game deficit to Columbus.
If a potential playoff berth was to figure into any future plans, the Indianapolis Indians’ final postseason chance lay waiting in August.
JULY PLAYER OF THE MONTH:
Chase d’Arnaud began July with a pinch run and pinch hit appearance, before hitting safely in 21 of his 25 starts during the month. He notched a season-high, 10-game hit streak from July 6-13, just one shy of his career best from the 2008 campaign, and also produced a team-leading .303 clip (30-for-99) during his 25 starts.
d’Arnaud wrapped up his award-winning month by claiming the No. 1 slot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Countdown with his over-the-wall, homer-robbing snag in center field on July 20 at Columbus.
Each season the Victory Field Classic showcases some of the top High School baseball teams throughout Central Indiana. During the six-year history of the event, Victory Field has played host to some of the top talent in state of Indiana, while creating lasting memories for players and fans.
The application period is now open for the 2015 Victory Field Classic, which will be played on Friday, May 8th with the first game starting at 5:30 p.m. and the second game to follow at 8 p.m. Victory Field and the Indianapolis Indians will cover all expenses of the Victory Field Classic with the exception of transportation to and from the game.
To apply for your team to be a part of the 2015 Classic, fill out the application and email it to Indianapolis Indians Operations Manager Andrew Jackson at ajackson@IndyIndians.com by Dec. 20, 2014.
Teams wishing to apply are asked to hold the date of May 8th on their schedule in the event that they are selected to play. Please note that the rain date for the event would be Saturday, May 9th with games being played at 1:00 PM and 4:00PM.
Teams will be notified by January 9th if they have been selected to play in the 2015 Victory Field Classic.
D-Day, in the baseball sense, is today.
That’s ‘D’ for ‘decision,’ as in all 30 Major League clubs have until midnight to decide which eligible players will be included on the 40-man roster as protection from next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Rule 5 eligible players who are not listed on the 40-man roster are considered “unprotected” or “exposed,” and can be drafted away from their current team by opposing ballclubs. Currently at-risk? How about Nick Kingham and Elias Diaz.
Of course, there’s also a catch -
Rule 5 draft selections must remain on the acquiring team’s active roster throughout the entirety of the upcoming year. Players removed from the active roster before the cutoff date are immediately placed on waivers, and any unclaimed selections are then offered back to their original, pre-Rule 5 Draft team.
Good, because there’s more.
Professional tenure, not playing time, determines draft eligibility.
In Pirates-speak, the distinction means if top pitching prospect, Jameson Taillon, is left unprotected, he can be selected by other teams because a season on the disabled list still qualifies as a year of professional tenure. Taillon is part of a list surprisingly full of relatively high-profile prospects to have Rule 5 eligibility, all of whom qualify under one of these conditions:
- Signed at age 19 or older, with four years of professional experience
- Signed at age 18, with five years of professional experience
In general, this year’s class of first-time eligible players consists of international signings from 2010, high school players from the 2010 MLB Draft and college players from the 2011 MLB Draft. Along with Taillon, who was originally selected out of The Woodlands High School in the 2010 MLB Draft, other Tribe players in the Pirates organization to qualify for the draft are: (*= first-time eligible)
Elias Diaz (C)
*Nick Kingham (RHP)
Brad Lincoln (RHP)
A.J. Morris (RHP)
Andy Oliver (LHP)
Mel Rojas (OF)
Jose Tabata (OF)
*Jameson Taillon (RHP)
Tyler Waldron (RHP)
The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have two slots available on the 40-man roster. But as Pirates MLB.com reporter, Tom Singer, suggests, Diaz and Taillon are both likely locked into the final two roster spots, leaving several key names still on the board (full list below), an already full 40-man roster and roughly 12 hours until the deadline.
It’s Decision Day — Pittsburgh and its 29 fellow Major League clubs are on the clock.
Full List of Rule 5 Eligible Players (courtesy Pirates Prospects)
Christopher De Leon
Zack Von Rosenberg
Melvin Del Rosario
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signings of six minor league free agents, each of whom will receive an invite to Major League Spring Training. The offseason additions include right-handers Collin Balester, Deolis Guerra, Brad Lincoln and Blake Wood, left-hander Jeremy Bleich and infielder Gustavo Nunez.
RHP Collin Balester
A former fourth-round selection by Washington (Montreal) in 2004, Balester, 28, pitched just three full seasons in the minors before making his Major League debut with the Nationals in 2008. The former two-time, Baseball America Top 100 prospect recorded a combined 144 strikeouts in 185 innings between Washington (2008-11) and the Detroit Tigers (2012) from 2008-12, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June, 2013, has since been limited to just 18 minor league appearances while completing his recovery. Those outings include Balester’s official return to action – a two-game rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Pirates in late June of last season – and are capped by scoreless showings in three of his final four games with Double-A Altoona during August.
[Baseball America Best Tools: Best Fastball, WSH system (2004-05)]
LHP Jeremy Bleich
Bleich, 27, is a former first-round selection and 44th overall pick by the New York Yankees in 2008. The southpaw climbed the draft boards to reach the first round thanks to a strong, three-year collegiate career at Stanford, highlighted by his 2.09 ERA in nine starts and 11 total games as a junior. Since his professional debut with Staten Island in the New York-Penn League on Sept. 4, 2008, Bleich has pitched across five levels of the Yankees’ system in 68 starts and 37 relief appearances, including tossing 31 innings with 24 strikeouts and 23 earned runs with the Scranton RailRiders last season.
[Baseball America Best Tools: N/A]
RHP Deolis Guerra
Guerra, 25, signed with Pittsburgh after pitching in the Minnesota Twins organization through the first nine years of his career. The Bolivar, Venezuela native has seen action in the International League in each of the previous three seasons with the Rochester Red Wings, most recently compiling a 4.33 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 52 innings last season. In addition, Guerra authored two scoreless outings against the Tribe in 2014, working a perfect inning in Rochester on Aug. 7 and two shutout frames at Victory Field on July 28, prior to yielding a two-run triple to Andrew Lambo in a final, four-score outing against the Indians on Aug. 9 in downtown Indianapolis.
[Baseball America Best Tools: Best Changeup, NYM system (2007-08), MIN system (2009-13)]
RHP Brad Lincoln
Lincoln, 29, is a four-year Tribe veteran who returns to the Pirates organization following a 2013 stint with Toronto and 2014 stay with the Phillies. Despite his recent setbacks in the big leagues, Lincoln was dominant in his final tour in Pittsburgh in 2012, allowing just 18 earned runs in 59.1 innings for a 2.73 ERA. The righty also served as a consistent arm in the Indians rotation throughout his Bucs tenure with 61 innings in 2009, 94 in 2010 and an impressive 111 2/3 frames in 2011. He departed from the Tribe with a 2.25 ERA over his final two starts – both against Toledo – on April 8 (1 ER/5.0 IP) and April 13 (2 ER/7.0 IP) in 2011.
[Baseball America Best Tools: Best Fastball, PIT system (2007); Best Curveball, PIT system (2007-10); Best Breaking Pitch, Eastern League (2009)]
INF Gustavo Nunez
Nunez, 26, delivered a standout campaign in 2014 with Double-A Mississippi in Atlanta’s organization, hitting .301 (92-for-306) with 15 extra-base knocks, 46 runs and 31 RBI in 97 games. He was originally signed by Detroit as an international free agent out of San Pedro de Macoris, DO in 2007, and following five seasons in the Tigers system, hit .273 at three levels of Pittsburgh’s chain (GCL, Hi-A, Double-A) during the 2012 season. He reached the International League in 2013 to go 36-for-186 in 61 games during his Triple-A debut with Toledo.
[Baseball America Best Tools: Best Defensive INF, DET system (2010); Fastest Baserunner, DET system (2011); Best Infield Arm, Midwest League (2009); Best Defensive SS, Florida State League (2010)]
RHP Blake Wood
Wood, 29, joins the Pirates boasting 127 innings of Major League experience between the bullpens of the Kansas City Royals (2010-11) and Cleveland Indians (2013-14). Originally selected out of former Tribe starter Brandon Cumpton’s alma mater, Georgia Tech, by the Royals in 2006, Wood became a mainstay in KC’s bullpen in 2011 before undergoing elbow surgery and remaining sidelined through 2012. Following his stint in the International League with Columbus from 2013-14, Wood will now enter the 2015 season with a solid 3.06 ERA in 64 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
[Baseball America Best Tools: Best Changeup, KC system (2009)]
Annual Holiday Event Presented by MedExpress Urgent Care
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Rowdie Claus is coming to town! From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 20 the always jolly red bear will return to Victory Field’s third floor suite level to host his annual holiday celebration, presented by MedExpress Urgent Care.
As part of the festivities, fans will have the chance to register to win a special Indianapolis Indians prize pack, which includes a Tribe blanket and a four-pack of tickets to any April 2015 home game, courtesy of MedExpress, a national leader in delivering high-quality and convenient walk-in medical care.
Attendees can get their photo taken with Rowdie Claus, and enjoy complimentary holiday refreshments and Gigi’s Cupcakes. A variety of craft stations will also be set up, where kids of all ages can make reindeer food, craft a puppet reindeer, write a letter to Rowdie Claus’ good friend Santa, create a baseball themed ornament and more!
Just in time for last-minute Christmas shoppers, everything in Victory Field’s Hot Corner Gift Shop will be marked down 20 percent during the event.
Parking and admission to the Tribe’s annual Holiday celebration are free however each attendee is encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation for Wheeler Mission Ministries.
MiLB.com has named Tribe backstop Elias Diaz, utility standout Andrew Lambo and outfielder Gregory Polanco as 2014 “Organization All-Stars” of the Pittsburgh Pirates system. The annual All-Star list bestows honor to the “players — regardless of age or prospect status — who had the best seasons in their (respective) organizations.”
Diaz, who excelled in 91 games with Double-A Altoona prior to his promotion to Indianapolis, produced his strongest season of his six-year career in the minors. The 23-year-old combined across both levels to hit above the .300 mark for the first time in his career and established personal bests in runs (45, +7 from previous best), hits (112, +40), total bases (151, +44), homers (6, +1), walks (33, +2) and slugging average (.421, +12 points). He also cut down an impressive 31 percent of potential basestealers over his 101 minor league contests.
This fall, Diaz is hitting .279 (12-for-43) with seven runs scored, six RBI and a .392 on-base percentage through 13 games in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. He has reached base safely in all but two of those 13 contests, including collecting 9 base knocks in his last 24 at-bats for a .375 clip since Oct. 23.
“(The AFL) was a good opportunity for him to get more experience controlling a game from behind the plate with guys from different organizations,” said Pirates director of Minor League operations, Larry Broadway. “Offensively, continuing to solidify his approach and plan have been the focus.”
The “utility” Organizational All-Star, Lambo, victimized International League hurlers to the tune of a .328 average (78-for-238) with 32 extra-base hits (11 homers) in 61 games between right and left field, first base and designated hitter with the Tribe. The slugger worked around an early-season thumb injury to conclude the year ranked first on the team and third in the IL (min. 250 PA) in the advanced metrical measures of weighted on-base average (.418) – which places different weighted values on the manner in which a batter reached base safely – and wRC+ (‘weighted runs created plus,’ 160) – which compares the percentage of runs created to the league average, where in Lambo’s case, he ranked third in the IL by creating 60 percent more runs than the league’s average batter.
Lambo also went 10-for-39 (.256) with four doubles and three runs scored in 21 games at the big league level, including scoring the game-tying tally in the bottom of the eighth of a 2-1 win on Aug. 29 vs. Cincinnati.
“I just want to get better in every facet of the game,” said Lambo. “I want to have fun and play this game the way that I know that I am capable of and play hard.”
Also rated as Baseball America‘s equivalent of the ‘top star’ (prospect) of Pittsburgh’s system, Polanco fit the No. 1 billing with accolades as the Tribe’s Player of the Month in April and the first player in team history to win two IL Batter of the Week awards in the same season. The 22-year-old phenom also helped lead the Tribe to a 41-28 record while on the active roster by creating 46 percent more runs than the league’s average batter, or a 146 wRC+ which ranked sixth in the league and just three spots behind fellow All-Star Lambo.
Upon reaching the majors, Polanco set a Pirates franchise record with the club’s first 11-game hitting streak to begin a big league career.
“He’s the kind of player you like to cheer for,” said Indians hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo. “He’s a classy kid and a gentleman, the kind you want to root for.”
MiLB.com 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational All-Stars
C - Elias Diaz (Double-A Altoona/Triple-A Indianapolis)
1B - Jose Osuna (Hi-A Bradenton)
2B - Erich Weiss (Lo-A West Virginia)
3B – Chase Simpson (SS Jamestown)
SS - Jacoby Jones (WV)
OF - Josh Bell (ALT)
OF - Keon Broxton (ALT)
OF – Gregory Polanco (IND/Pittsburgh Pirates)
Utility – Andrew Lambo (IND/PIT)
(Starter) RHP - Tyler Glasnow (BRD)
(Starter) LHP - Orlando Castro (BRD)
(Reliever) RHP - Jhondanial Medina (BRD)