The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced they have signed right-hander Josh Stinson to a minor league contract with an invitation to 2015 Major League spring training.
Stinson, 26, broke 2014 camp as a member of the Baltimore Orioles’ Opening Day Roster, before spending the majority of the season with Triple-A Norfolk. He struck out six with nine runs in 13 innings over eight Major League relief appearances last year, and aside from a six-run outing on April 13 vs. Toronto, registered a 2.45 ERA (3 ER/11.0 IP) in the big leagues in 2014.
Stinson’s campaign also featured a 5-5 record with one save, a 5.48 ERA (52 ER/85.1 IP) and 80 strikeouts in 22 Triple-A appearances (13 starts) with the Tides. The right-hander dropped four of his first five decisions with a 6.70 ERA through July 24, but rebounded to conclude the year at 4-1 with 44 strikeouts and just 16 earned runs in 37 innings (3.89 ERA) through his final seven games (one start).
In addition, his Triple-A stint yielded two runs in three frames against the Tribe at Victory Field, including a seventh-inning solo shot from Gregory Polanco in the Indians 14-3 triumph on May 12.
The Shreveport, La. native was originally selected by the New York Mets in the 37th round (1,114th overall) of the 2006 MLB Draft. He ascended through the minors rated by Baseball America as the No. 17 (2007) and No. 26 (2010) prospect in the organization, reaching the big leagues in 2011 at just 23 years old.
Following his debut, Stinson registered a 0.96 ERA with one run in 9 1/3 Major League innings as a waiver claim with Milwaukee in 2012, and a 3.18 mark (6 ER/17.0 IP) when claimed by Baltimore in 2013.
Overall, Stinson owns a 4.47 ERA (26 ER/52.1 IP) with 29 strikeouts in 39 career games (two starts) in the majors. He enters the 2015 campaign having posted a career minor league record of 53-60 with 20 saves, a 4.09 ERA in nearly 1,000 innings pitched (421 ER/925.2 IP) and 634 strikeouts through 267 games (130 starts).
The Indianapolis Indians will be prominently represented at this season’s historic World Series showdown of two Wild Card Playoff winners. First pitch for Game 1 is set for Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 8:00 p.m., with the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals boasting rosters dotted with Tribe ties in both the lineup and their respective coaching staffs.
The Giants, pursuing their third World Series title in the last five seasons, reached baseball’s ultimate stage in dramatic fashion after walking off the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. With Game 6 knotted 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, an unlikely hero in Travis Ishikawa blasted the game-winning, three-run homer homer off 2013 NLCS MVP Michael Wacha.
Ishikawa was originally on the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Opening Day roster before being assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis on April 19 and later electing free agency. The “on-paper-Indians-tie-in” went 7-for-34 (.206) with a double, triple and homer, two runs scored and three RBI in 15 games with the Tribe’s parent club in Pittsburgh this season.
Actually donning an Indianapolis Indians jersey during his career, fellow Giants teammate and right-hander Ryan Vogelsong turned in a dominant Triple-A stint in 2006 during a 10-season career in the big leagues between the Buccos (2001, 2003-06) and his current San Francisco club (2000-01, 2011-present). The 37-year-old Vogelsong first reached the Pirates system in a package trade with Armando Rios in exchange for Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal in 2001, later joining the Indians for 10 starts in 11 appearances from July – August, 2006.
Overall with the Indians, Vogelsong posted an impressive 2.66 ERA (20 ER/67.2 IP) with 43 strikeouts to 12 walks, a .217 average against and 0.98 WHIP. He authored quality starts in nine of his 10 total outings and concluded his debut at 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA (8 ER/34.0 IP) over his final five starts.
The righty starter is joined out of the bullpen by 2009-10 Indians closer Jean Machi. The lights-out, late-innings arm signed a minor league contract with the Pirates in January, 2009, en route to converting a combined 29 saves (34 SVO) with a .215 average against over his two Triple-A campaigns. Machi stamped his mark with the Indians via his perfect 6-for-6 debut (in 2009) when pitching with a save on the line.
Machi’s wrapped up a strong stay in Indianapolis having held opponents without an earned run in 53 of his 71 total appearances while going 6-1 with a 3.52 ERA (30 ER/76.2 IP) and 70 strikeouts.
San Francisco’s coaching staff also boasts two instructors to see action with Indianapolis during their professional tenures. Giants batting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens served in the same capacity with the Tribe from 2005-08, while SF’s bullpen coach Mark Gardner compiled a 21-9 record with a 2.62 ERA (110 ER/324.2 IP) and 325 strikeouts in 52 games (51 starts) with the Indians from 1987-89 and 1991 during the club’s Montreal affiliation.
*Bullpen Catcher Bill Hayes also has local ties as an alumnus of Indiana State University*
For SF’s American League counterpart, the Royals-Indians connections begin at the top of the organization in skipper Ned Yost. Primarily a catcher during his playing days, Yost suited up with the Tribe in 1985 – just two years prior to Giants bullpen coach Gardner – and hit .262 (70-for-267) with 15 doubles, two homers, 17 runs and 24 RBI in 95 total games. He worked behind the dish in a team-high 84 contests and made two of his three career appearances at first base for the then-Montreal affiliate.
Yost’s trip to the Fall Classic puts the exclamation point on his fifth consecutive year at the helm of the Royals. The skipper has led Kansas City to the first 8-0 start in MLB postseason history as part of the Royals’ first trip beyond the regular season since a 1985 WS title.
The former Indians backstop Yost is joined by his team’s current catcher, Erik Kratz, as the Royals’ only two personnel to see in-game action with the Tribe. Kratz, who was acquired by Kansas City from the Toronto Blue Jays near the 2014 Trade Deadline, turned in back-to-back solid efforts at the Triple-A level during his 2009-10 stint in Pittsburgh’s chain. The slugger hit .273 (87-for-319) over 93 games during his Indians debut in 2009, before producing a .274 average (63-for-230) with 22 doubles, one triple, nine homers, 30 runs and 41 RBI in 70 games as a 2010 IL All-Star selection.
Kratz is currently featured in the Tribe’s record books as one of just three team backstops to earn Mid and Postseason All-Star selections. He also joins current Indians catcher Tony Sanchez (2013) as a recipient of the prestigious “Top Star” award, which is presented to the IL’s MVP of the Triple-A All-Star Game.
The Indianapolis Indians’ connections to the 2014 World Series are capped off with Kansas City’s first base coach, Rusty Kuntz. The MLB veteran – whose playing career featured plating the go-ahead run in Kirk Gibson during the 1984 WS clinching Game 5 – joined the coaching ranks in 1987, and from 2006-07, served as a roving outfield instructor based primarily between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Fans can follow all of these hometown Tribe connections during the 110th edition of Major League Baseball’s championship series. Each game broadcast is available on Fox, beginning with Tuesday night’s opener between San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 1.42) and Kansas City’s James Shields (1-0, 5.63). For complete broadcast information, visit mlb.com
Your Votes Will Help Determine Who Wins an Hour of Trick-or-Treating With The Original Scare Bear Himself
The submission period for the 2014 Rowdie’s Pumpkin Wars contest has ended. Congrats to all five finalists, who will each receive a 2015 Indians Knot Hole Kids Club Membership!
The grand prize winner will now be determined by your votes. Just visit the Indianapolis Indians or Rowdie Facebook pages and ‘like’/’share’ your favorite. The photo with the most ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ before 4 PM on Friday, October 24th will Trick-or-Treat with the one and only, Rowdie!
The five finalists for the 2014 Rowdie’s Pumpkin Wars contest are:
Check out last year’s Pumpkin Wars Winner trick-or-treating with Rowdie.
You can still make the Indians a part of your Halloween celebration just try out one of these special Indians themed pumpkin stencils.
A Bonus Discount!
Fans can also continue to “Treat” themselves to some new Indians gear this month! Just visit the Hot Corner Gift Shop October 6 – 30 and receive 20% off any black items in the store! Or visit the Indians online store and enter promo code TREAT14 at checkout to receive 20% off your online purchase of black items.
[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.]
May marked a month of two halves for the Indianapolis Indians, with the reigning division champs opening the month at 2-8 before rebounding to win 10 of their next 12 contests and 14 of their final 20 through May 31. True to form, the cardiac Tribe continued – and even expounded on – that prevalent theme throughout the upcoming month of June, splitting those “May halves” into “June thirds” of:
- Stumbling out of the gate against an IL-North heavy start to the month (2-5 record)
- Breezing through a middle stretch against (mostly) IL South foes (10-4 record)
- Limping towards the All-Star break over June’s final road trip (1-5 record)
All while never falling out of first place.
Just as unpredictable as the Tribe’s hot and cold streaks during June, so to, was the emergence of one of the IL’s most dominant closers from 2014, newly converted reliever and left-handed closing force, Andy Oliver.
The Indians’ 2013 Opening Day starter converted to a role of relief in 2014 and officially assumed the team’s closing duties during the May 26 – June 2 homestand. And as a rare southpaw closer, Oliver overmatched IL batters with just one earned run on six hits and 11 strikeouts over 10 1/3 innings in his first month at the back end of the bullpen.
“Oliver has really been a force out there,” pitching coach Tom Filer said near the conclusion of his left-handed reliever’s dominant month. “I think that it’s just a level of confidence that he has right now. He is feeling good about himself, he works at his trade every day…He is really believing in himself.”
Beginning with the Tribe’s first game of June, Oliver successfully converted each of his six save opportunities through the month, authoring scoreless appearances in all six outings and surrendering a base hit in just two games.
Added Oliver’s catcher from both his 2013 season as a starter and 2014 in relief, Tony Sanchez:
“Last year it was like [you're expected to allow a few hits or walks as a starting pitcher]. Now, this year, it’s like (Oliver) is saying, ‘Nobody is touching me and nobody is supposed to be touching me because I do have lights-out stuff.’”
Sanchez also offered more than just his insight from the behind the plate to help deliver one of the Tribe’s two victories midway through the 2-5 stretch.
The Indians, who had witnessed Scranton pound out seven runs on June 2 and Syracuse plate five scores on June 3, rallied around a career night from Sanchez to upend the Chiefs 11-2 on June 4 at NBT Bank Stadium.
Sanchez picked up a slumping offense by producing his first career multi-homer game in which he went 3-for-6 effort with a pair of home runs, two runs scored and a career high-tying five RBI. The backstop took Josh Roenicke deep for a three-run shot in the third inning and later connected on a two-run blast off Manny Delcarmen in the fifth frame.
As he reflected on the milestone, Sanchez noted his approach that night involved “Just keeping my hands loose and making (my swing) one movement at a time…it allows me to get to more pitches.”
The win proved to be shortlived, however, and the Tribe dropped three consecutive games through the series-opener at Lehigh Valley on June 7.
At 2-6 since the end of May (5/31), the Indians were in desperate need of another lights-out, individual performance which could grab the wheel and help right the teetering ship. Yet the team could never have imagined the masterful performance in waiting from righty pitcher Vance Worley.
Pitcher and *slugger,* Vance Worley, that is:
Worley brought the total package against his ex-team Lehigh team at his once-home ballpark to deliver a performance for the ages on June 8. The starting hurler fired eight innings of two-run ball on the mound, and also went 3-for-3 with two singles, a home run and two RBI at the plate. Worley whiffed seven and issued just one mere walk in what proved to be his final Triple-A outing of the year.
Records-wise, and along with piloting the Indians to a win, Worley’s historic performance marked the first homer from an Indians pitcher since Mart McLeary’s solo shot on Aug. 3, 2007 at Louisville. The three hits and two runs driven were the first multi-RBI game from a team hurler since Eric Hacker plated three on June 18, 2009 and the first multi-hit effort from a Tribe arm since Brandon Cumpton went 2-for-3 on April 18, 2014 at Louisville.
Sparked by the electrifying victory, the Indians took each of the next three games from the IronPigs and the first two contests against Durham as part of a season high-tying five-game win streak. The Tribe was finally off and rolling through the midway point of the month’s third season. And as a testament to the Club’s resiliency, rallied after the much-deserved and highly-anticipated promotion of top prospect Gregory Polanco, to reel off 10 wins over the next 14 games through action of June 24.
A bitter-sweet stretch in the truest sense of the term.
Polanco officially earned his big league promotion to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 10. The news of the recall, however, was announced to the entire team by manager Dean Treanor in Lehigh’s visiting clubhouse on June 9. This type of “ceremony” was far from the normal, one-on-one routine of informing a player of his first call to The Show -
Then again, Polanco was far from your “normal” player:
“Usually I’d call a player in [to the office], but with this kid, I thought that the whole team would want to be a part of it,” Treanor said. “Everybody started cheering and that just shows how well liked he is with his teammates and how much they care about him.”
Hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo added, “Our manager does a real nice job of telling guys when they’re getting called up, but tonight he did it in front of everyone, which was unusual,” he said. “Dean was going around talking about the game and he pointed to Polanco and said, ‘Oh, and you’re going to Pittsburgh.'”
When you tell them they’re going to the Major Leagues for the first time, it’s a special moment; Polanco’s grin was ear-to-ear.”
So were the smiles of IL pitchers (presumably), who no longer were forced to face the Tribe’s five-tool phenom.
At the time of his promotion, Polanco had terrorized opposing hurlers to rank first in the IL in runs (47), RBI (49), triples (T-1st, 5), hits (86), extra-base hits (29) and total base (134) and second in average (.346). The top prospect also departed for the Pirates having reached base safely in 50 of his 62 games and with hits in 45 of those 62 tilts.
Minor League Baseball’s revolving door thus whisked away a powerful bat, but not without bringing, in-turn, a promotion of deadly double-barreled action from the Double-A Altoona Curve -
Enter right-handers Nick Kingham and A.J. Morris.
The pair of Triple-A rookies dispatched the notion of a learning curve, cutting down IL batters with expert efficiency to combine for a 0.77 ERA with just four earned runs in 46 2/3 innings, 35 strikeouts/11 walks and three wins over the duo’s seven full starts in June. Kingham and Morris limited opponents to a mere 32 base hits (only 1 HR) in 164 at-bats for a .195 average against through their Triple-A debut months.
The 22-year-old righty blanked the reigning IL champion Durham Bulls on just five base hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in his June 13 debut. Kingham then concluded the month at 2-0 with a lone earned run, 20 strikeouts/5 walks and a .165 average against over his 26 2/3 innings of work (four full starts).
The former Curve ace allowed two runs in six innings during his debut on June 7 at Lehigh, before tossing a six-hit shutout – the first nine-inning gem of his career – against the Bulls on June 12 at Victory Field. He capped June at 1-2 with three earned runs (1.35 ERA), 15 strikeouts/6 walks and a .233 average against over 20 innings pitched (three full starts).
The MiLB revolving door and a stacked Pirates farm system had ultimately helped the Indians pitching staff recover from the departures of Vance Worley and Jeff Locke. However, that same door had yet to fully swing through to bolster the Tribe’s depleted offense via Polanco.
After triumphing 5-4 in a 12-inning, see-saw affair at Norfolk on June 22, the team’s effort at the plate was held to three runs or fewer in all but one of the final eight games in June. A seven-run eruption powered by three doubles from Jaff Decker in Durham marked the only exception during a tough 2-6 skid through the end of the month.
All told, the Indianapolis Indians battled through key losses and a stretch of rivalry showdowns with the IL North to complete June just one game below a .500 record at 14-15. The results – call it “treading water” – was a luxury the first-place Tribe could afford after they preserved atop the division through more than halfway point of 2014.
And with a record of 47-37 as of June 30, the Indians were just four games down from their season’s overall high-water mark of 45-31 on June 22.
JUNE PLAYER OF THE MONTH:
The two-time Tribe MVP Hague provided a much-needed offensive spark to a lineup searching for a new identity following the recall of phenom Gregory Polanco. Team captain Hague answered the call by contributing across the board with team-leading totals of 13 runs scored, 28 total hits, five homers, 11 extra-base knocks and an incredible 24 RBI in an Indians-best 28 games during the month.
Hague more than fulfilled his reputation as “The Hit Collector” by producing a base knock in 22 of 28 games during June and reaching safely in all but four contests with the addition of his 11 walks and three hit-by-pitches.