Indians Add Four to 40-Man Roster, LaPorta and Lillibridge Reassigned
By Mike Brandyberry
Tuesday evening the Cleveland Indians added four new players to the 40-man roster when Tim Fedroff, Trey Haley, Chen Lee and T.J. House each had their contracts purchased from the Tribe’s minor league affiliates.
All four were added by the 11 pm deadline to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Any player who has played five seasons in an organization’s minor league system, yet has not been added to the 40-man roster is eligible. Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft in two weeks at the General Manager’s Winter Meetings are obligated to remain on their new team’s 25-man roster for a full season, or be returned to their original team. While nothing is certain, the addition of these four players indicates the Indians feel each are close to contributing to the Major League roster.
Fedroff, a 25-year old, left-handed hitting outfielder, hit a combined .316 (148-468) with 79 runs scored, 23 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs and 54 RBI in 123 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in 2012. Among hitters in the Indians’ minor league system, he finished 3rd in batting average and runs scored and led the system in base hits. Upon his June 6 promotion to Columbus he went on to hit .325 (86-265) for the Clippers with 52 runs, 14 2B, 5 3B, 9HR & 32 RBI in 69 games, finishing 4th in the International League in average, 2nd in runs and 3rd in on-base pct. (.393) and OPS (.910) in that span.
Haley, 22, split the 2012 season between High-A Carolina and Akron with a rehab stop in Arizona, going a combined 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 25 relief appearances (38.2IP, 26H, 10ER, 19BB, 49K, .188AVG). He did not allow a home run for the season and averaged 11.4 strikeouts per 9.0IP while missing 7 weeks of the season (May 23-July 14) due to surgery to repair a sports hernia. Trey recently posted an ERA of 1.64 (11.0IP, 2H, 2R/ER, .065AVG) in the Arizona Fall League for Scottsdale. The 6-3 right-hander was the Tribe’s 2nd round pick (76th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas. He has posted an ERA of 2.69 (77.0IP, 55H, 23ER, 89K, .201AVG) since being shifted to the bullpen in May 2011. He was recently rated as having the “best fastball” in the Indians minor league system according to Baseball America.
Lee, 26, was limited to 5 relief appearances at Columbus in 2012 (2-0, 2.57 ERA) before experiencing right elbow soreness that eventually led to reconstructive surgery on June 1. The native of Peng-Hu, Taiwan owns a 4-year career Minor League record of 17-11 with a 3.00 ERA in 138 relief appearances (234.1IP, 184H, 78ER, 74BB, 286K, .216AVG). He pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympic for Chinese Taipei after signing his first professional contract with Cleveland in September of 2008. He was recently named the 10th best prospect in the Indians system entering 2013 by Baseball America.
Lee, 26, was limited to 5 relief appearances at Columbus in 2012 (2-0, 2.57 ERA) before experiencing right elbow soreness that eventually led to reconstructive surgery on June 1. The native of Peng-Hu, Taiwan owns a 4-year career minor league record of 17-11 with a 3.00 ERA in 138 relief appearances. He pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympic for Chinese Taipei after signing his first professional contract with Cleveland in September of 2008. He was recently named the 10th best prospect in the Indians system entering 2013 by Baseball America.
House, 23, spent the 2012 season between Carolina and Akron where he went a combined 10-5 with 3.56 ERA in 27 starts and yielded just 8 home runs in 149.1 innings of work. He finished fourth among Indians farmhands in innings, tied for third in wins and third in strikeouts. He recently completed a stint in the Arizona Fall League, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 6 starts (27.0IP, 20H, 9R/ER, 9BB, 26K, .208AVG). He was the Tribe’s 16th round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft from Picayune High School.
To make room for the foursome on the Tribe’s 40-man roster the Indians outrighted Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Columbus and designated right-handed pitcher Fabio Martinez for assignment. The 40-man roster currently sits at 40 players.
LaPorta hit .241, with one home run and five RBI in 60 plate appearances with Cleveland in 2012. After a disappointing 2011 with Cleveland, LaPorta spent most of 2012 at Columbus. He hit 19 home runs, with 62 RBI and a .264 batting average this year with the Clippers. After the season he had hip surgery and will not be able to resume baseball activities until approximately March 1. LaPorta will have to accept the assignment to Columbus.
Lillibridge was acquired by the Indians on July 24 this past season from Boston in hopes of filling the role of a super-utility player. While he played several positions in the second half, he hit only .216 in 123 plate appearances. Lillibridge does not have to accept the minor league assignment and could instead elect to become a free agent.
Martinez was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this summer and has just completed his sixth professional season without exceeding past High-A. Cleveland had hopes of converting the hard throwing right-hander from a starting pitcher to a reliever, but he struggled at Carolina going 0-2, with a 8.53 ERA in 6.1 innings after being acquired.