Spring Training Preview: Middle Infield

WEEK 4: MIDDLE INFIELDERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION

“Defense” is the name of the game for the middle infield ranks of the Indianapolis Indians’ parent club at Spring Training. The  Pirates’ core of 2B/SS likely slated for Triple-A in 2014 will include a trio of slick fielders in Steve Lombardozzi, Gustavo Nunez and Justin Sellers, and be headlined by slugging top prospect Alen Hanson.

Potential Indians Middle Infielders:

Justin Sellers

Justin Sellers was originally selected by the Oakland Athletics in the sixth round (191st overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Drawing rave reviews for his solid defense up the middle, Sellers has lived up to his scouting reports by ranking as the Best Defensive Infielder in the Oakland Athletics system following his debut season in 2006 and as the Hawaii Winter Baseball League’s top defender that same offseason. The Bellflower, California native reached the Double-A level while with Oakland one year later, and prior to the 2009 season, was involved in two transactions that sent him from the A’s to the Chicago Cubs on Feb. 2, 2009, and from the Cubs to the Los Angeles Dodgers exactly two months later on April 2, 2009.  He immediately excelled in the Dodgers chain to hit .304 with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2011 and appear in 36 big league games through August and September as part of his late-season promotion.

Last season, the 29 year old received his first taste of action in the International League as a utility player for the Columbus Clippers. He hit .254 with 22 extra-base knocks and 40 RBIs in 102 games between shortstop, second and third base and left field. Sellers was promoted to the Cleveland Indians in May and went 3-for-16 while notching his fourth straight season of 15+ appearances at the Major League level.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Alen Hanson

Alen Hanson was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent on July 14, 2009.

Hanson headlines the group of potential Tribe middle infielders after ranking among the Top-100 prospects in all of the Minors and as a Top-10 Pirates farmhand during each of the last three seasons. The multi-tool 22 year old has catapulted his way through the lower levels of Pittsburgh’s organization after he hit .324 with the DSL Pirates in 2010, .260 between Short-Season and Rookie-level in 2011, .309 with Low-A West Virginia in 2012 and .274 across Hi-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona in 2013. He was selected to three All-Star teams during that climb and earned recognition as a postseason “Rising Star” of the Arizona Fall League.

Hanson returned to Altoona last season to form the second half of an electrifying duo with fellow top prospect, Josh Bell. Along with Bell’s transition to first base, Hanson, primarily a shortstop through the majority of his career, also made a shift in his defensive role to finish the year with 17 starts at second base for the Curve. He rounded out another strong year in the minors ranked first among Pittsburgh farmhands in triples and tied for third with his 25 stolen bases.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Steve Lombardozzi

Steve Lombardozzi was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the 19th round (571st overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

The slick-gloved infielder joins Pittsburgh’s organization with 277 games of Major League experience between Washington (2011-13) and the Baltimore Orioles (2014), primarily as a second baseman (100 MLB starts). He made his Minor League debut in 2008 and made both his Triple-A and Major League debuts during just his third full season in the pros. Lombardozzi capped that 2011 campaign ranked as the “Best Defensive 2B” in the Eastern League and as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system courtesy of his two total errors in 1,063 2/3 total innings at second base.

Lombardozzi has since been featured in two big-name trades, including his acquisition by the Detroit Tigers with a pair of left-handers for RHP Doug Fister on Dec. 2, 2013 and a swap with the Baltimore Orioles for SS Alex Gonzalez on March 24, 2014. He spent the majority of the most recent season batting .270 in 78 games with Triple-A Norfolk, and also hit .288 in 20 big league games with the Orioles.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


 Gustavo Nunez

Gustavo Nunez was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent on May 3, 2007.

Joining Sellers as the primary shortstops of this group, Nunez is returning to the Pirates two seasons since being claimed away on waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2012 offseason. Prior to that swap, the 27 year old spent his first five pro campaigns in Detroit’s system where he earned back-to-back Florida State League Midseason All-Star selections from 2010-11. Nunez was then selected by Pittsburgh in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft, and after hitting .273 in limited action in 2012, was sent back to the Tigers and Triple-A Toledo for the 2013 season. His eight-year Minor League career has featured recognition as the “Best Defensive Infielder” and “Fastest Baserunner” in the Tigers’ system, as well as the “Best Infield Arm” of the Midwest League in 2009 and “Best Defensive SS” in the Florida State League in 2010.

Last season, Nunez appeared in 97 games with Double-A Mississippi of the Atlanta Braves’ organization. He hit an impressive .301 with 15 extra-base knocks and 31 RBIs for the M-Braves, and finished with his fourth year of swiping double-digit bags on the basepaths.


In the System

Other notable middle infielders in the Pirates organization include Cole Tucker, the No. 8 farmhand in the club’s system according to Baseball America, and the not-NFL wide receiver, JaCoby Jones, the No. 13 prospect in Pittsburgh’s chain.

The highly-touted shortstops are still just settling into their pro careers but have impressed during their limited action in the lower levels of Pittsburgh’s organization. Tucker, the Pirates’ first-round selection in 2014, hit .267 with 13 stolen bases for the GCL club in 2014. Jones, in his second Minor League season since his selection in the third round in 2013, hit .288 with 23 home runs for Lo-A West Virginia last year.

jones

Third-round draft pick from 2013, Jacoby Jones, led the entire Pirates system with 23 homers for Lo-A West Virginia last season. (Photo: MiLB.com)

60-Degree Weather Guarantee Returns April 9 for Indians Opening Night

INDIANAPOLIS, March 16, 2015 – The 113th consecutive season of Indianapolis Indians baseball begins on Apr. 9 with a 7:05 p.m. home game versus the Columbus Clippers and will include several special promotions including the fifth annual a 60-degree weather guarantee, Bike to the Ballpark, a post game fireworks show and more.

The Indians guarantee the outside temperature will be at least 60 degrees at game time or fans in attendance may exchange their April 9, 2015 ticket for any remaining home game that month. WTHR-TV is the official weather partner of the Tribe.

Weather Guarantee_media wall2

Even before the first pitch, fans are invited to be part of Bike to the Ballpark. The annual tradition begins at downtown’s Sun King Brewery. The supervised 1.7-mile ride is free and open to riders of all ages. Once inside Victory Field fans age 21 and older may celebrate the first tapping of the new season’s Sun King Indians Lager. Game tickets are not part of Bike to the Ballpark but can be purchased in advance or on the day of the game.

Immediately following the game, and with the beautiful downtown Indianapolis skyline as a backdrop, the night sky over Victory Field will come to life with a fireworks spectacular – the first of 14 this season.

Fireworks_2014_u0njch8h_wivhl19g

In addition, as fans arrive at the ballpark the first 10,000 people will receive a free 2015 Indianapolis Indians schedule magnet. The fireworks show and schedule magnets are compliments of PPG Paints.

The Indians home opener not only starts the Indians’ season, it also launches the team’s longest home stand of the 2015 campaign – nine games all against International League West Division foes – giving central Indiana baseball fans ample opportunity to cure any lingering symptoms of cabin fever. In addition to hosting Columbus, Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians for games through Apr. 12, the Tribe also hosts the Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers), Apr. 13-14, and the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds), Apr. 15-17.

Single-game tickets are available for all 72 Indians home games by visiting IndyIndians.com where buying at least a day in advance saves fans $2 on each ticket, or by calling the Victory Field box office at (317) 269-2282. Walk-up tickets may be purchased starting March 23 Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-6 p.m. or Saturdays in the Hot Corner Gift Shop from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Spring Training Preview: Catchers

WEEK 3: CATCHERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION

The Indianapolis Indians’ parent club carries a rare mix of catchers who are talented both at and behind the plate. The Pirates’ backstop ranks at Spring Training include in-the-system talent of Elias Diaz and Tony Sanchez, and outside additions of Wilkin Castillo and Sebastian Valle. 

Potential Indians Catchers:

Wilkin Castillo

castillo-hs

Wilkin Castillo was originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 11, 2002.

Castillo offers the Tribe a veteran presence behind the dish with his 11-year pro career spanning nearly 1,000 games in the minor leagues. The 30-year-old backstop spent his first six seasons calling pitches in Arizona’s chain, and after excelling as the organization’s “Best Defensive Catcher” during his final year in the D’Backs’ system in 2008, was acquired by the Cincinnati Reds as a key piece in the larger deal for outfielder Adam Dunn. He has since spent parts of each of the last six seasons at the Triple-A level where he has combined to throw out a respectable 30 percent of would-be basestealers between the International, Mexican and Pacific Coast Leagues.

Making his third official stop of the offseason, the backstop arrives to Spring Training already boasting somewhat of a “leg up” on fellow camp catchers from his two-part stint in this year’s Dominican Winter Leagues. Castillo led Escogido with 19 RBIs during the DWL regular season before being drafted to the league playoffs and hitting a league-best .348 over 19 postseason games with Dean Treanor’s club, Estrellas.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


Elias Diaz

Elias Diaz was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent on Nov. 7, 2008.

The heir-apparent of the the Pirates’ catching duties, Diaz quietly produced strong seasons in the lower levels of the minors until recently forcing himself into the Major-League conversation with back-to-back breakout years from 2013-14. Along the way, the Venezuela native debuted with the second-best caught-stealing rate among VSL backstops in 2009, ranked second in the same category the following season in the Gulf Coast League, and in perhaps his most impressive feat to-date, led the entire South Atlantic League by throwing out a total of 48 runners attempting to steal in 2012. Add that – the stellar defense – to a 100-point increase in batting average over just two years’ time, and the result is a now-touted prospect who recently worked his way onto his first career 40-man roster.

Diaz hasn’t sputtered in continuing his success across the top two levels of the Pirates’ chain and Spring Training. The 24 year old batted .328 with a 16-game hitting streak during his Double-A debut in 2014 and earned a promotion to the Triple-A Indians during the final month of the campaign. Diaz has since seen action in two big-league games this spring, bursting onto the scene with a pinch-hit home run during his first at-bat of 2015 Spring Training.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

A first-round draft selection and the highest pick in Boston College’s school history, Sanchez leapfrogged from the Short-Season leagues to the everyday starting backstop of the Tribe by the 2012 season. The 26 year old drew rave reviews as the “Best Defensive Catcher” in Pittsburgh’s system (by Baseball America) during each of those four seasons prior to transitioning to a more offensively-based threat behind the dish since 2012. Sanchez eclipsed his previous career-best home run totals during each year from 2012-14, and along with lifting a longball as the MVP of the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2013, also drove six of his 14 hits for extra bases during his Major League debut during that same 2013 season.

Tribe fans may only catch a glimpse of Sanchez in 2015 with the standout backstop standing on the precipice of becoming a full-time big leaguer. The Miami, Florida native spent roughly one third of the 2014 season among the Pirates’ ranks, combining to hit a solid .267 with two homers and a .300 on-base percentage over several MLB stints. Sanchez also capped the year with his first career action at first base as he continues expanding his versatility to earn playing time at both the Triple-A and Major League levels.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Sebastian Valle

Sebastian Valle was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillias as an international free agent on Oct. 10, 2006.

Valle is a developing prospect who has displayed power potential with double-digit home run totals in three of the last five seasons. He has earned six All-Star selections during his eight-year minor-league career with the Phillies, won the Mexican Pacific League Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and even participated in the Futures Game showcase in 2011.

The 26-year-old Valle will now debut in the Pirates’ organization having split the 2014 campaign between Philadelphia’s Double-A and Triple-A squads. His most recent full-calendar year of action also dates back to his strong play with Los Mochis in the 2014 Mexican Winter League, where he .304 in 36 games during regular season and .333 in the playoffs as a Caribbean Series All-Star. Currently, Valle has gone 1-for-3 in three trips to the plate at the Pirates’ Spring Training.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


In the System

The remaining, headlining catcher in the Pirates’ organization is Reese McGuire, who ranks as Pittsburgh’s top backstop and No. 5 overall prospect, according to Baseball America.

McGuire was selected 14th in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and entered the 2014 season rated as a top-100 player in all of Minor League Baseball by that same publication. Although he likely isn’t on the Tribe’s 2015-season radar, McGuire may be on the relatively-near horizon after hitting .262 during his 20-year-old campaign at the Lo-A level in 2014.

Reese McGuire has produced a .282 average across three levels of the Pirates' system. (Photo by USABaseball)

First-round pick Reese McGuire has produced a .282 average across three levels of the Pirates’ system. (Photo by USABaseball)

Tribe Standouts Shine in Black/Gold Game

Polanco

Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a double and run scored for Team Gold. (Photo: Pirates)

 


FINAL BOX SCORE

1 2 3 4 5 6 E
Team Gold  0 0 0 1 0 0 1 4 0
Team Black 0 0 0 2 0 x 2 3 1

 

Tribe skipper Dean Treanor managed an Indians-laden “Team Black” squad to a 2-1 victory over a Polanco-headlined “Team Gold” in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ annual Spring Training “Black and Gold” game today. The showcase featured rosters packed with former and potential Indians players and pitted Treanor against new Double-A Altoona manager, Tom Prince.

Well-rested and back on the field for the first time since last October, the Tribe’s 2014 team MVP, Gregory Polanco, returned to his midseason form to finish 2-for-3 with a double and run scored for Team Gold. The showing was business as usual for the now-graduated top prospect, as Polanco produced an incredible 27 multi-hit efforts in 69 Triple-A games with the Indians prior to his promotion last year.

Fellow slugger Andrew Lambo also showed he hasn’t missed a beat since his dominant 2014 campaign and plated Team Black’s first run of the contest with his RBI single. Lambo concluded his strong stint with the Indians last year having scored or driven in a run in 38 of his 61 games with 44 total runs and 42 RBIs.

The difference in the Spring Training opener proved to be six-season Indians veteran, Jose Tabata, who broke a 1-1 tie with what proved to be the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the fourth. Tabata, just one season removed from lifting a mere three sac flys in 39 Triple-A games, departed from last year’s norm to take a pitch deep to the outfield and bring home the deciding run on a sac fly.

On the mound, two 2014 Tribe hurlers chipped in work during the six-inning tilt. Nick Kingham made the start for Team Black and allowed just one hit in a scoreless frame. Adrian Sampson then earned the win in relief of Kingham with one strikeout and his team’s lone earned run.

Single Game Tickets Now On Sale

Single Game Tickets For the Indianapolis Indians 2015 Season Now On Sale

Tickets On SaleIndividual game tickets for the Indianapolis Indians 2015 season are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by clicking here or calling the Victory Field Box Office at (317) 269-2282.

In 2015, the Indians will continue to reward fans that plan with the return of the Advanced Purchase Discount where all Box, Reserved and Lawn tickets bought 24 hours in advance of Gameday will be $2 off the gate price, excluding July 4.

The 2015 season includes an exciting slate of weekly promotions and one-of-a-kind specials.

To view the entire 2015 Indianapolis Indians Promotions Calendar click here.

Highlights of the 2015 promotional schedule include:

Signature Saturdays: Featuring MLB Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Joe Morgan, Indiana native and MLB great Carl Erskine, and nationally renowned entertainment acts such as the Famous Chicken, Signature Saturdays during the 2015 season are sure to provide fun and lasting memories for the whole family.

Bark in the Park: Last season Victory Field hosted its first ever Bark in the Park events where man’s best friend joined fans in the right field lawn to create a truly unique viewing experience. In 2015, the Indians will be offering fans three chances to bring their dogs to the ballpark.

Star Wars Night: Victory Field will be turned into “a galaxy far, far, away” when the Indianapolis Indians host Star Wars Night on Saturday, May 2. Fans won’t want to miss the exciting and unique Star Wars-themed activities and interactions throughout the ballpark during the Tribe’s 7:05 p.m. contest against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Super Hero Night: Fans won’t want to miss the exciting and unique Dark Knight-themed events and interactions throughout the ballpark during the Tribe’s 7:05 p.m. contest against the Syracuse Chiefs on Saturday, June 27. A special Super Hero youth cape will be given away to the first 2,500 fans 14 and younger once gates open and the Indians will even be wearing specialty Dark Knight jerseys being auctioned off throughout the game to benefit Riley Hospital for Children.

Spring Training Preview: Starters

WEEK 2: STARTING PITCHERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION

Starting pitching may be the Indianapolis Indians’ parent club’s biggest strength at camp this Spring Training. With four “homegrown” starters in the system and one hometown face from Indianapolis, the Pirates boast a talented Triple-A billing in right-handers Brandon Cumpton, Nick Kingham, Casey Sadler and Adrian Sampson and lefty Clayton Richard. 

Potential Indians Starters:

Brandon Cumpton (RHP)

Brandon Cumpton was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth round (267th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

The Georgia Tech alum Cumpton surprised with his immediate success at both the Triple-A level and in the Majors. Originally slated for a second consecutive season with Double-A Altoona in 2013, Cumpton made just two starts with the Curve before receiving a promotion for his Triple-A debut. The 26 year old went on to rank seventh in the International League with a 3.32 ERA while also posting an incredible 2.05 ERA in five big league games (four starts) during his first taste of action with the Pirates in 2013. His breakout year also included etching himself in Pittsburgh’s record books by becoming the first National League pitcher to begin his career with four straight strikeouts since the Dodgers’ Pete Richert accomplished the rare feat back in 1962.

Cumpton returned to the Indians in 2014 as arguably the staff’s ace through the beginning of the season. Although he made just 12 Triple-A starts last year, the right-hander was just as good as advertised during his limited action, authoring quality starts (no more than 3 ER over at least 6.0 IP) in nine of his 11 assignments with the Indians. The Augusta, Georgia native delivered similar numbers for the Pirates, and aside from a tough outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 31, turned in a 3.80 ERA in his remaining 15 MLB appearances.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Nick Kingham (RHP)

Nick Kingham was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth round (117th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

A relative under-the-radar prospect during his debut, Kingham made his presence felt in the early stages of his career to skyrocket to his current ranking as the Pirates’ No. 6 farmhand entering 2015. The righty led Pittsburgh’s organization with a 2.15 ERA during his first full season in the pros in 2011, made a career-high 27 starts with Lo-A West Virginia in 2012 and earned a Midseason All-Star selection with Hi-A Bradenton in 2013. At just 22 years of age, Kingham’s outstanding early run in the minors was highlighted by ranking just between fellow top farmhands Gerrit Cole (1.15) and Jameson Taillon (1.22) with his career WHIP of 1.17 prior to 2014.

The native of Sierra Vista, Nevada only continued to excel upon reaching the Triple-A Tribe during the most recent season. After pacing his eventual promotion the Indians with a top-10 ERA in the Double-A Eastern League, Kingham nullified the notion of a learning curve by striking out eight batters over seven shutout innings in his Triple-A debut on June 13 against the Durham Bulls. When the dust finally settled from his dominant 2014, Kingham had ranked first in the International League in opponents’ batting average (.213), tied for second in WHIP (1.1) and fifth in strikeouts (65) since his Tribe debut.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Clayton Richard (LHP)

Clayton Richard was originally selected by the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round (245th overall) over the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

A new face to the Pirates organization but far-from stranger to the Indianapolis area, Richard is set to return to his hometown team where the McCutheon high school alum became first player to be named both Indiana Mr. Football (2002) and Mr. Baseball (2003). Since departing for the pros, the MLB veteran has worked around two injuries to enjoy a prosperous career with 46 Major League wins, more than 700 innings of action at the big league level and 480 strikeouts between the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres. In addition, he is currently just two seasons removed from his 2012 form in which he led the entire National League with 33 starts for the NL West’s Padres.

Last year, the hometown hero Richard was limited to four Minor League starts while recovering from his most recent shoulder surgery. He worked up to 80+ pitches in each of his final two starts of the season in 2014, and ended the campaign with a quality start and a victory in his lone Triple-A appearance with Reno on Aug. 28. The southpaw now heads to Spring Training with Pittsburgh via his Minor League contract and invite to big league camp from Dec. 5, 2014.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


Casey Sadler (RHP)

Casey Sadler was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 25th round (747th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Sadler has steadily progressed each season during his career to climb to both the Indians and big leagues. Originally selected out of Western Oklahoma State Community College, the late-round pick began his pro career as a reliever with Short-Season State College (2010) and Lo-A West Virginia before transitioning to an everyday starter with Hi-A Bradenton, beginning with the 2012 season. Clearly comfortable in his new-found role, Sadler took his fifth-ranked WHIP (1.23) and 10th-best ERA (3.73) from the Florida State League in 2012 to become Double-A Altoona’s Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2013.

Now coming off his age-24 campaign in 2014, Sadler has added an additional accolade to his already strong pro resume —  Indians’ Starting Pitcher of the Year. The right-handed hurler didn’t blink while picking up his second consecutive Pitcher of the Year award and wrapped up a full season in the International League with a Midseason All-Star selection and the league’s third-best ERA of 3.03. Sadler would also put a final stamp on the season with his Major League debut in Pittsburgh on May 2 vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Adrian Sampson (RHP)

Adrian Sampson was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 5th round (166th overall) of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

The youngest of the aforementioned bunch, Sampson has made the most of his still-limited opportunities to reach the Triple-A level after just 59 appearances (57 starts) in the Minor Leagues. That is, 59 “effective” appearances, as the righty earned recognition from Baseball America as a Top-30 prospect in the Pirates’ chain following both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Behind his knack for control and location of his pitches, Sampson led Short-Season State college in strikeouts (44) during his pro debut and ranked first among all Florida State League starters with just 1.40 walks per his nine innings pitched in 2013.

The Redmond, Washington native then officially introduced himself to his fellow Pittsburgh farmhands in 2014 while spending the majority of his second full season with Altoona. Sampson set career highs in wins, starts, innings and strikeouts last year, and also ranked tied for third among Pirates minor leaguers with those 11 wins, fourth with his 2.96 ERA and fourth with 109 punchouts. The 23 year old will now arrive at Spring Training having earned a selection as both a Mid and Postseason All-Star with the Curve en route to his Triple-A debut with the Tribe.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


In the System

Other notable starters in the Pirates’ organization include RHP Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall farmhand in the club’s system according to Baseball America, and RHP Tyler Glasnow, the top prospect in Pittsburgh’s chain.

Tribe fans may be familiar with Taillon as the righty made his highly-anticipated Triple-A debut with the Indians in 2013 before undergoing Tommy John surgery that following offseason. Glasnow, the fellow on-the-rise righty, is a two-time Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year whose strikeout “stuff” may boost the 21 year old to the Tribe’s roster as soon as late 2015/early 2016.

glasnow

After making his 2014 debut on April 25, Tyler Glasnow led all of the minors with 157 strikeouts. (Photo: MLB.com)

Spring Training Preview: Outfielders

WEEK 1: OUTFIELDERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION

The Indianapolis Indians’ parent club enters Spring Training boasting an extremely talented set of outfielders across all levels of the system. The list, in direct relation to the Tribe’s 2015 roster, includes potential Triple-A outfield candidates in former Indians standouts Jaff Decker, Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas Jr. and Jose Tabata.

Potential Indians Outfielders:

Jaff Decker

Jaff Decker was originally selected by the San Diego Padres as a supplemental first-round pick (42nd overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

First name pronounced “jeff,” Decker took little time adjusting to professional ball and was named MVP of the Arizona League in 2008 and Baseball America’s Class-A Player of the Year in 2009. Although the Phoenix, Arizona native would temporarily become stalled by minor injuries in two of the next three seasons, his setbacks only delayed the inevitable as the perennial top prospect reached the Major Leagues with the Padres in 2013. Decker then carried over the racing pace of his minor-league career to his big-league debut when he launched a homer off Jhoulys Chacin for his first official MLB hit on Aug. 12, 2013 at the Colorado Rockies.

The potential Tribe outfielder arrived in Pittsburgh’s organization by way of trade with RHP Miles Mikolas in exchange for INF Alex Dickerson on Nov. 25, 2013. The soon-to-be 25 year old posted solid totals of a .257 average with 27 doubles at the plate with the Indians last season, and truly impressed with his honors as the Tribe’s “Best Defensive Outfielder” in 2014. Behind the motto “Don’t Run on Decker,” the outfielder earned his defensive accolade by recording a .989 fielding percentage while leading the team and ranking second in the International League with his career-high 15 outfield assists. Decker reinforced his theme two-fold as a stalwart on defense when he cut down two would-be runs at home plate in the same game on May 26 vs. Buffalo.

Status: Attending camp as a member of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster.


Gorkys Hernandez

Gorkys Hernandez was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent on April 30, 2005.

Touted for both his speed and defensive work in the outfield, Hernandez is a decorated prospect who boasts honors 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 the “Best Defensive OF” of Pittsburgh’s organization in three consecutive seasons from 2010-12. He will compete for time in the outfield on a former Indians team with which he was voted as the “Defensive Player of the Year” in 2011.

Hernandez is coming off a 2014 campaign split between Triple-A Omaha and Charlotte, and the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Triple-A equivlent Mexican League. The Venezuela native combined to hit .280 with 19 doubles and 27 RBIs in 75 games between the trio of clubs, and also turned in his eighth pro season of collecting at least 15 stolen bases. At age 27, Hernandez capped off his traveled campaign by ranking third in the Mexican League in steals (8), tied for fourth in hits (34) and eighth in average (.378) following his season debut on July 18.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


Mel Rojas Jr.

Mel Rojas Jr. was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round (84th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

The Indianapolis native has displayed impressive power potential during his quick ascension through Pittsburgh’s system, producing 30 or more extra-base hits in each of his four full seasons in the minors. As a multi-tool outfielder, Rojas has spent the majority of his first few campaigns patrolling center field before recently making a successful transition into right field. His abilities across the outfield have garnered recognition from Baseball America as the “Best Defensive OF” in the Florida State League in 2012 and as a two-time Top-30 organizational farmhand of the Pirates’ minor-league chain.

Last year, the 24 year old paced his promotion to the Triple-A level by ranking fifth in the Eastern League with 36 RBIs for Double-A Altoona at the time of his call-up. Rojas excelled with his hometown Indians team to hit safely in 60 of 77 games with a .277 average, notch a 10-game hitting streak, and back his offensive prowess with a defensive highlight reel that featured throwing out five runners at home plate.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


Jose Tabata

Jose Tabata was originally signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent on Aug. 12, 2004.

Tabata heads to 2015 Spring Training having played in nearly 500 games at the major league level since his debut with the Pirates in 2010. The native of Venezuela signed his first pro contract on his 16th birthday, and after ranking as the second-youngest player on a Double-A Opening Day lineup in the Eastern League in 2008, has spent the majority of each of the last four seasons as a part of Pittsburgh’s outfield corps. Still just age 26, Tabata has already collected 427 hits in his Major League career and 659 base knocks during his time in the minors.

A four-time “Best Hitter for Average” according to Baseball America, Tabata fit that billing with the Tribe last season by hitting safely in 17 of his final 22 Triple-A games in 2014. After ranking fifth in the IL with a .349 average in that span, Tabata concluded the 2014 campaign with an August return to the Pirates and two at-bats in Pittsburgh’s Wildcard showdown against the eventual World Series-winning San Francisco Giants.

Status: Non-roster invitee to big-league camp.


In the System

Other notable outfielders in the Pirates’ organization include Keon Broxton, the “Best Defensive Outfielder” in the club’s system according to Baseball America, and Willy Garcia, who is rated by the same publication as the 12th-best farmhand in Pittsburgh’s chain.

At 24 and 21, respectively, the two up-and-coming prospects excelled alongside each other at the Double-A ranks in Altoona last season. While they may not crack the Tribe’s Opening Day roster in 2015, the duo is on the cusp of the next level after hitting better than .270 through the 2014 campaign with the Curve.

MiLB.com

Keon Broxton impressed during his Pirates-organization debut, belting 15 home runs for Double-A Altoona in 2014. (Photo: MiLB.com)

Indianapolis Indians Named One Of The “Best Places To Work In Indiana”

Organization Honored For Second Straight Year By Indiana Chamber of Commerce

2015 Best Places To Work

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 18, 2015 – The Indianapolis Indians have been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Indiana” by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The Indians organization, which was also chosen for the award in 2014, is the only Indiana sports franchise to be selected among the 100 award recipients.

“The Indians organization is honored to once again be chosen as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana,” said Indians General Manger Randy Lewandowski. “The positive, healthy and inclusive work environment, created by our employees, translates directly to the experience we provide our fans, and helps Victory Field to continue to be Downtown Indy’s summertime destination for affordable and memorable family fun.”

BPTWIN Logo 2015This honor continues a successful stretch for the Indians organization, which over the last three seasons has drawn the most fans of any US-based Minor league baseball team, including a Victory Field record 660,289 fans in 2014. The Tribe also led all of Minor League Baseball in overall attendance in 2013 on their way to being presented with Baseball America’s Triple-A Bob Freitas Award for the best overall operations at the Triple-A level.

The overall rankings for the 100 companies chosen as Indiana’s 2015 “Best Places To Work” will be unveiled at a May 7 awards dinner at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. The Indians were one of 41 businesses chosen in this year’s small company category, which includes companies with anywhere from 15-74 employees.

In addition to the May 7 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick. Visit IndianaChamber.com to view the full list of honorees.

2015 Daily Deals & Specials

Indians Announce Daily Promotions for the 2015 Season At Victory Field

DailyDeals&Specials_blogThe Indians invite fans to start thinking summer, as each day this week we will be announcing the daily promotions and specials that fans can look forward to throughout the 2015 season.

Check back daily to see how you can make summer something at Victory Field in 2015!

Monday Dollar Menu

 

Monday Dollar Menu: The Monday Dollar Menu returns in 2015 and fans are once again invited to bring their appetites as  hot dogs, peanuts, Cape Cod Potato Chips, Cracker Jack and popcorn will all be available for just $1 each during Monday home games at Victory Field.

 

McAlisters2for1Tuesday

 

2-for-1 Tuesday: Visit any Central Indiana McAlister’s Deli location to pick up a voucher good for 2-for-1 admission to any Tuesday home game. When purchasing online, enter the promo code found on the voucher on step 3 of your purchase.

 

 

Wednesday Business Day Game

 

Wednesday Business Day Games: Perfect for a business lunch at the ballpark or an afternoon of baseball under the sun, enjoy the perfect break to the work week with a Wednesday Business Day game at Victory Field.

 

 

Friday Fireworks

 

Friday Fireworks: Enjoy a spectacular post-game fireworks show immediately following select Friday home games. Bonus Fireworks shows also offered on April 9, May 16, July 4, July 5 and Sept. 5.

 

 

Signature Saturdays
Signature Saturdays: Signature Saturdays feature the perfect mix of autograph sessions and one-of-a-kind entertainment acts. Featured autographs sessions during the 2015 season, include Hall-of-Famer’s Wade Boggs (May 2) and Joe Morgan (May 30) as well as former MLB great and Indiana native Carl Erskine (June 13). Highlighted entertainment acts, include the Pirate Parrot (May 30), Batman (June 27) and the Famous Chicken (August 15).

 

Kids Eat Free Sundays

 

Kids Eat Free Sundays: On Sunday afternoon contests, all children ages 14 and under receive a voucher for a hot dog, a bag of chips and a bottle of water with the price of admission.

Bucs Acquire Versatile Salcedo from Braves

salcedo

MLB.com

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired utility fielder Edward Salcedo from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for right-hander Bryton Trepagnier. The two-man swap is a minor-league deal and was announced earlier today on the clubs’ transactions pages.

Salcedo, 23, made his Triple-A debut last season and spent the majority of the year in the International League with Gwinnett. He hit .212 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 110 games with the G-Braves while splitting the campaign between right field (48 starts) and third base (45 starts).

The versatile prospect then carried his power numbers into the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .260 and ranked tied for second in the league with nine doubles in 24 contests with AFL runner-up Peoria. Salcedo wrapped up his 2014 campaign with a 3-for-12 showing with one homer and two RBIs in a three-game stint with Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.

Originally signed by Atlanta as an international free agent in 2010, Salcedo garnered rankings as a top-20 farmhand in the Braves’ organization during each of his first four seasons from 2010-13, and as the Carolina League’s No. 14 overall prospect in 2012. The slugger also recently turned in his fourth straight campaign with double-digit homers and has now gone deep 10 or more times in all four of his full seasons in the minors.

Salcedo enters the 2015 season having hit .235 with 107 doubles, 16 triples, 56 home runs and 262 RBIs in 586 career minor-league games. He has made 375 starts at third base, 90 at short stop and 51 in right field.

Trepagnier, 23, pitched five seasons in Pittsburgh’s organization prior to the trade, most recently going 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA and nine saves for Hi-A Bradenton in 2014.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.