Spring Training Position Previews: Middle Infielders


WEEK 2: MIDDLE INFIELDERS IN THE PIRATES ORGANIZATION

The Indianapolis Indians’ parent Club heads into Spring Training with a veteran group of middle infielders who have all seen time in the Majors. The list includes former Tribe shortstops Robert Andino and Chase d’Arnaud, and Lehigh Valley utility man Michael Martinez. The trio of veterans enter 2014 Spring Training with a combined 26 seasons in professional baseball, and each has suited up in the International League for parts of three seasons during their respective careers.

Potential Indians Middle Infielders

Robert Andino

Robert Andino was selected by his hometown Florida (Miami) Marlins in the second round of the 2002 Draft (52nd overall).

Shortly after his selection out of Miami Southridge Sr high school, Andino cracked his first Opening Day roster to make his Major League debut at only 21 years old. He entered the game as an eighth-inning replacement for Alex Gonzalez on September 4, 2005, and just five games later recorded his first big league hit courtesy of a double off Vicente Padilla (Philadelphia Phillies) on Sept. 17.  Since then, Andino’s professional career has featured several stints at the Major League level, including Florida/Miami (2005-08), the Baltimore Orioles (2009-12) and the Seattle Mariners (2013).

In 2013, Andino joined the Pirates organization and a first-place Indians squad after he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners system in exchange for a Player To Be Named Later / cash considerations in early August.

Andino appeared in his first Indians game on August 3 last season. Though usually known for his defensive prowess, the infielder also excelled at the plate for Indianapolis to produce a .302 average with 29 hits, seven runs, eight doubles and nine RBI in 25 games. He also notched the Tribe’s first 10-game hitting streak of the season en route to being named the team’s August Player of the Month.

Michael Martinez

Michael Martinez was signed by the Washington Nationals as a non-drafted free agent in 2005.

Martinez made his MLB debut on April 3, 2011 for Philadelphia Phillies, going 1-for-4 with a single and RBI. Along with several stints with the Phils from 2011-13, he has also seen action in the International League in each of the last two seasons with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Martinez’s most recent appearance with Lehigh Valley included appearances at second base, shortstop, third base and both left and center field. However, he spent the majority of season at short where he committed just nine errors in 195 total chances (.954).

Following the 2013 regular season, Martinez batted .217 (13-for-60) with seven RBI and one stolen base in 17 games for Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League.

The slick-gloved infielder has impressed with his consistent defense throughout his career, having never recorded a fielding percentage lower than .908 at the middle infield positions. Martinez’s versatility has allowed the Dominican Republic native to play at nearly every position across the diamond (aside from first base and catcher), and even included pitching two games with the Hagerstown Suns.

Chase d’Arnaud

[Note: d’Arnaud was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on 2/24/13.]

Originally drafted directly out of high school, Chase d’Arnaud was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2005 MLB Draft (44th round, 1330th overall). Instead of beginning his professional career, he elected to play collegiate baseball at Pepperdine University. In 2008, d’Arnaud jumped from his original 44th-round draft selection out of high school to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ fourth-round selection and 114th overall pick in June’s draft of the 2008 campaign.

d’Arnaud made his major league debut at third base for the Pirates in a 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on June 24, 2011. He went 1-for-3 with a triple in the victory, becoming the first Pittsburgh player since Chance Sanford (April 30, 1998) to triple for his first big-league hit.

Last year, d’Arnaud appeared in 61 games with the Indians in which he split time between shortstop (39 games) and second base (16 games). He helped turn 38 double plays in the Tribe’s middle infield, and even made his first professional appearance in the outfield (left field) on Aug. 6 at Louisville.

The 26-year-old has flashed impressive speed throughout his career, swiping 19 or more bags in each of the last five seasons. In 2012, he made Indians headlines by successfully stealing 23 straight bases before he was finally gunned down by former Tribe catcher Luke Carlin on July 13. d’Arnaud finished the 2012 season ranked second in the IL in total steals (34).

In the System

Other notable infielders in the Pirates’ organization include Alen Hanson, the Pirates No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, and his 2013 Double-A Altoona Curve teammate Jarek Cunningham.

At 21 and 24, respectively, the two infielders provide young, upcoming talent at shortstop and second for Pittsburgh’s organization. Both prospects have displayed a unique set of tools during their career, as last season, Hanson collected 24 steals in 92 games with Hi-A Bradenton, and Cunningham led Altoona with his 19 home runs in 131 contests.

Alen Hanson (Photo by MiLB.com)

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