Indianapolis Indians left-hander and 2014 International League All-Star, Andy Oliver, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
The Phillies must list Oliver on their 25-man roster throughout the duration of the 2015 season, and as an active player (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days during the campaign, in order to retain the southpaw within their organization. If Oliver does not remain on the Major League roster, he must be offered back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $25,000.
A staple of the Indianapolis Indians’ pitching staff over the last two seasons, Oliver went from the club’s Opening Day starter in 2013 to an All-Star closer in 2014. The former second-round selection (58th overall) joined the Tribe by way of trade with the Detroit Tigers and arrived in Indianapolis as the No. 5 overall prospect from his previous organization’s farm system.
Oliver quickly made his presence felt as part of his new Tribe rotation. The southpaw opened the 2013 campaign with 14 consecutive shutout innings through his first three starts, and after winning each of his first two outings in May, became the Indians’ lone player that season to be awarded as an IL Pitcher of the Week. By early June, he had made three scoreless starts and allowed no more than one earned run in nine of his 14 appearances.
After struggling with control issues through July and most of August, Oliver bounced back to stamp the exclamation point on his solid 2013 season. He returned to the rotation on Aug. 18 and struck out 15 batters over his final 8 2/3 innings.
The high-note ending helped tie Oliver with Justin Wilson for the Victory Field single-season record of 138 strikeouts, and gave the Tribe a 17-7 record during his 24 starts.
Last year marked a different tale with similarly impressive results.
Pitching exclusively in relief for the first time of his career, Oliver won the Tribe’s 2014 Relief Pitcher of the Year award after converting 13 of 16 save opportunities while holding opponents without an earned run in 36 of his 48 total games. The rookie closer also received recognition from the league with a selection to his first pro All-Star game, where he induced a double play in 2/3 innings of work.
Command issues then returned during the second stretch of the season, but Oliver otherwise continued mowing down opposing batters with 27 strikeouts in 18 innings following the All-Star Break. He surrendered just 11 base hits in 65 at-bats during that stretch (.169), combining with his equally strong first-half numbers to lead all IL relievers in average against (.156) and rank second in strikeouts-per-nine innings (11.95). He closed out 32 games for the Indians to rank fourth in the entire league in games finished.
Oliver concludes his two-season stint with the Tribe having gone 8-8 with 13 saves, a 3.53 ERA (74 ER/188.1 IP) and 223 strikeouts in 48 games (24 starts).
The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed right-hander Josh Lindblom off waivers from the A’s on Monday, while also outrighting righty Angel Sanchez to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Sanchez, 25, posted a combined 5.96 ERA (81 ER/122.1 IP) with 75 strikeouts in 25 games (24 starts) between five minor league teams of the Miami, Tampa Bay, Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh organizations in 2014. The Tenares, D.R. native was claimed off waivers three time last season, capping off his traveled campaign with quality starts in two of his five Double-A assignments with the Altoona Curve during August.
This “offseason,” the right-hander made a successful transition to relief work while pitching with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League during October and November. Following his activation from the club’s Taxi Squad, Sanchez worked seven consecutive outings with no earned runs before finally suffering his lone blemish in his Fall League finale. He concluded his strong showing for Scottsdale with just three earned runs and 11 total strikeouts in 12 innings of work (2.25 ERA).
Originally signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2010, Sanchez pitched in Los Angles’ system from 2011-13 before being acquired by Miami in a package deal with right-handers Steve Ames and 2014 Tribe hurler Josh Wall in exchange for righty Ricky Nolasco on July 6, 2013. He will enter the upcoming season having gone 22-40 with a 4.98 ERA (267 ER/482.2 IP) and 386 strikeouts in 98 career minor league games (88 starts).
The Pirates’ headlining move of the two-man transaction, Linblom, is a 27-year-old utility arm who boasts a solid 3.82 ERA in 136 2/3 Major-League innings from both starting assignments and in relief. He made one appearance with Oakland last season – allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings against Cleveland on April 2 – during a campaign primarily spent pitching at the Triple-A level with Sacramento.
The Lafayette, Ind. native and Purdue University alumnus is out of options on his professional contract and therefore must clear waivers to accept a potential Triple-A assignment with the Indians in 2015.
Indians Head Groundskeeper Honored At Baseball Winter Meetings Awards Luncheon
INDIANAPOLIS – Each year, the baseball world gathers at the Winter Meetings to reflect on the previous season’s successes and look ahead to the upcoming season. This year’s Meetings, which are being held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel in San Diego, Calif., began in a big way for the Indianapolis Indians, as the club’s head groundskeeper, Joey Stevenson, was honored as the top groundskeeper in all of Triple-A baseball at the annual Awards Luncheon.
Joey and his crew work day-in day-out to maintain what many in professional baseball consider among the very the best playing surfaces in the game. Their efforts have once again paid off as Victory Field has been recognized for the third time in the last four years with Stevenson being named the Triple-A Groundskeeper of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association.
“We are very proud of Joey for his outstanding efforts that culminated in being named the STMA Triple-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year once again this year,” said Indians’ general manager Randy Lewandowski. “Joey’s skill, dedication, attention to detail and determination to be environmentally conscious is to be admired. Our organization is fortunate to have one of the very best groundskeepers and playing surfaces in all of professional baseball. This award is well-deserved and our heartiest congratulations go out to Joey and his entire crew for being chosen as Triple-A baseball’s top groundskeeper three of the last four years.”
Stevenson, who also won the award in 2011 and 2012, gives credit to his crew for helping making Victory Field the best. “It’s a testament to Assistant Groundskeeper Joey Gerking and our entire crew,” remarked Stevenson. “My team puts in long hours, hard work, and are especially dedicated to our craft and love of the game.”
Home Games Will Air on Home Town Sports & News Through 2016 Season
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 4, 2014 – The Indianapolis Indians and Home Town Sports & News, a digital channel of RTV-6, have announced a two-year extension of their TV broadcast agreement. All Indians home games will now air on HTSN and select contests on RTV-6 through the 2016 season.
“The Indianapolis Indians are delighted to extend our relationship with RTV-6 and HTSN for the next two seasons,” said Indians general manager Randy Lewandowski. “The unprecedented opportunity to showcase Indians baseball and the excitement at Victory Field to over 1.1 million Central Indiana households for all 72 home games has been instrumental to our recent attendance success.”
Attendance has risen each season during the three-year partnership between the Indians and HTSN/WRTV-6, including a Minor League baseball best 637,579 in 2013 and a Victory Field record 660,289 in 2014. Overall, in the three seasons working with HTSN/WRTV-6 the Indians have drawn more fans to Victory Field than any other US-based Minor League franchise.
Viewers have also enjoyed winning baseball when tuning into HTSN over the past three seasons, as the Tribe has posted a 126-90 record at home and provided playoff baseball with International League West Division titles in both 2012 and 2013.
“We are very pleased to continue our television partnership with the Indianapolis Indians that began three years ago,” said vice president & general manager of RTV6 & HTSN Larry Blackerby. “When fans are not able to make it out to Victory Field, HTSN will continue to bring the action to viewers in their homes. The partnership with the Indians is a cornerstone of the expanding local sports presence of HTSN.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard to a Minor League contract with an invite to Major League spring training.
Richard, 31, became the first athlete to be named Indiana Mr. Football (2002) and Mr. Baseball (2003) following his standout campaigns at McCutcheon High School from 2002-03. The Lafayette, Ind. native played both sports at the University of Michigan before being selected by the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round of the 2005 MLB Draft (245th overall).
Richard received praise from Baseball America as the White Sox’s No. 5 prospect and as possessing the “Best Control” in the International League in 2008 en route to his Major League debut later that season. After appearing in 39 games, including 22 starts, with Chicago from 2008-09, the southpaw was acquired by the San Diego Padres as part of a package deal for former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy on July 31, 2009.
A former All-Star Futures Game selection, the McCutcheon alumnus set a career high in innings pitched (218.2) while matching his personal bests in both wins (14) and starts (33) with San Diego in 2012. He enters the 2015 season with a career record of 46-47, 4.33 ERA (372 ER/773.1 IP) and 480 strikeouts in 147 MLB appearances (129 starts) between the White Sox (2008-09) and Padres (2009-13).
In addition, Richard has also gone 30-32 with a 3.41 ERA (187 ER/493.0 IP) and 318 strikeouts in 89 Minor League games (85 starts).
Games Will Air On 1260 WNDE Through 2017 Season
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 2, 2014 – The Indianapolis Indians and 1260 WNDE, an affiliate of IHeart Media, have announced a three-year extension of their radio broadcast agreement. Indians games will now air on 1260 AM, WNDE.com and via the iHeartRadio app through the 2017 season.
“We are pleased and excited that Indianapolis Indians baseball will continue to be broadcast on WNDE,” said Indians general manager Randy Lewandowski. “WNDE, Rick Green, Query & Schultz and the entire iHeartRadio team have been an important part of our growth and success with their tremendous support and exposure of Indians baseball. We look forward to continue to work with them over the next three seasons.”
The Indians have enjoyed great success both on the field and at the gates since partnering with WNDE in 2011. Indians attendance has grown each season, culminating with a Victory Field single-season record 660,289 fans in 2014, while on the field the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, including International League West Division titles in 2012 and 2013.
“I’m thrilled the Indianapolis Indians game day broadcasts will continue on 1260 WNDE,” said iHeart Media market manager Rick Green. “They have created such a positive imprint on this city with a beautiful ballpark and fan-friendly attitude from the players to the stadium staff. It’s a unique team, and I’m delighted we will be their broadcast partner for the next several years.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signings of Gorkys Hernandez (OF), Deibinson Romero (INF) and Sebastian Valle (C) to minor league contracts, with each receiving an invite to big league camp.
Tribe veteran Hernandez returns to his former organization after hitting a combined .280 (78-for-279) with 19 doubles and 27 RBI in 75 games between Triple-A Omaha and Charlotte, and the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League in 2014. Touted for both his speed and defensive work in the outfield, Hernandez received recognition from Baseball America as the “Most Exciting Player” in the Midwest League (2007) and Carolina League (2008), the “Best Outfield Arm” in the Carolina League (2008), Eastern League (2010) and International League (2011) and as the “Best Defensive OF” of Pittsburgh’s organization in three consecutive seasons from 2010-12. While with the Tribe, he was also named the team’s 2011 Defensive Player of the Year after recording a career-high 11 outfield assists as the club’s everyday center fielder.
Matching Hernandez’s glove with a defensive prowess in the infield, Romero joins the Pirates as Baseball America’s former “Best Defensive Infielder” and “Best Infield Arm” from the Minnesota Twins’ system following the 2008 campaign. The 28 year old has spent the majority of each of the last two seasons in the International League as the Rochester Red Wings’ starting third baseman, most recently hitting .265 (111-for-419) with 31 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 45 RBI in 123 games during the 2014 campaign. Romero originally signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2004 and his Minnesota tenure has featured Postseason All-Star selections with the GCL Twins in 2006, Rookie-level Elizabethton of the Appalachian League in 2007 and Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League in 2012.
Behind the dish, Valle hit a combined .238 (57-for-240) with 11 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI in 75 games between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley of the Philadelphia Phillies chain last season. Prior to his recent IL stint, the backstop suited up with Team Mexico during the 2013 World Baseball Classic and represented the Phillies organization at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game, where he drove home the World’s tying run with a pinch-hit double in the sixth inning. The 24 year old owns a career average of .256 (631-for-2469) with 143 doubles, 13 triples, 66 home runs and 343 RBI in 683 minor league games.
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the acquisition of infielder Sean Rodriguez from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations. To make room for Rodriguez on the 40-man roster, first baseman Gaby Sanchez has been designated for assignment.
Rodriguez, 29, appeared in 96 games with Rays last season, hitting .211 (50-for-237) with 13 doubles, three triples, a career-high 12 home runs and 41 RBI. The utility fielder saw action at second base (23 games), first base (18 games), left field (17 games), third base (nine games), right field (two games) and shortstop (one game).
Originally a third-round selection (90th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2003 MLB Draft, Rodriguez was ranked by Baseball America among the organization’s Top 25 prospects in each of his first five professional seasons, and received additional praise as a league top prospect in the Arizona (No. 18), Pioneer (No. 3), California (No. 12), Texas (No. 15) and Pacific Coast Leagues (No. 11). He was also voted as the Pioneer League’s Most Valuable Player in 2004 after ranking second in the circuit in runs scored (64), fifth in slugging (.569) and RBI (55) and 10th in average (.338), and later earned both Mid and Postseason All-Star selections with Hi-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2006 and Double-A Arkansas in 2007.
Rodriguez was acquired from the Angels by Tampa Bay on Sept. 1, 2009 to complete the package deal for Scott Kazmir. He owns a career average of .225 (370-for-1641) with 84 doubles, 11 triples, 45 homers and 186 RBI in 624 career Major League games, and .282 (776-for-2754) with 164 doubles, 30 triples, 128 homers and 455 RBI in 746 Minor League contests.
Rodriguez last appeared in the minors in 2012 with the Durham Bulls.
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.