Last year, Minor League Baseball implemented a season-long plan to help embrace and honor the Hispanic and Latinx players, fans, and culture which have helped grow the game of baseball at the professional level. A total of 33 teams participated in special games throughout the year, known as the “Copa de la Diversión”, wearing new and creative jerseys while taking on whole new monikers.
Proving once again that “MiLB is fun”, the initiative will return for the 2019 season, with the list of participating clubs expanding to 72 across the top five minor league levels. Minor League Baseball announced on Monday a schedule of 397 games over the course of the year, building on the success of themed efforts over the last two seasons. After four teams embraced the Hispanic fan bases of their areas in 2017 while enjoying great success in terms of fan attendance and fanfare, a 160-game schedule of special games was blended across the season’s slate for 2018. In addition to new team nicknames and jerseys (some inspired by their current names and colors, while others were entirely new looks altogether), games were also highlighted by an emphasis on new and different food selections and music options at the ball park and the presence of bilingual gameday staff.
Baseball fans are now just single digits away from the start of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season. Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we continue our long countdown to Opening Day – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 9 days
The current wearer of the number nine for the Cleveland Indians, outfielder Brandon Barnes, received disappointing news on Monday when he was informed that he will not be on the 25-man roster for the club to open the season.
Back with the organization for a second season, Barnes was hoping to latch on to a spot in the wide open mix in one of the two vacancies in the corner outfield positions with the team. Returning on a minor league contract with a spring invite for the second straight year, Barnes got a cup of coffee with the Tribe last September when rosters expanded after spending the majority of the campaign with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
After bringing back free agent reliever Oliver Perez with what remains the Cleveland Indians’ biggest offseason signing to date, the front office indicated that the team would be shifting its focus to minor signings to fortify the roster.
The team has been busy in the final days ahead of the reporting date to spring training, and that remained true late Friday night as the club came to an agreement with right-handed reliever Alex Wilson on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
In a corresponding move, the Indians designated pitcher A.J. Cole for assignment to create a space on the 40-man roster.
The Indians added another arm to the bullpen mix with their first addition of 2019, signing free agent right-hander Justin Grimm to a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, next month.
Grimm, 30, spent last season between the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners organizations, with a pair of trips to the Major League Baseball disabled list.
The contracts include invitations to spring training at Goodyear, Arizona, with the club in February.
The Cleveland Indians did not participate in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, but they did lose a player along the way.
Pitcher Kyle Dowdy was selected with the tenth overall pick by the New York Mets. The right-handed pitcher recently joined the Indians organization, acquired in July’s trade with the Tigers that brought outfielder Leonys Martin to Cleveland and sent infielder Willi Castro to Detroit.
The Rule 5 draft, held annually on the final day of the Winter Meetings, allows eligible players to be selected if not protected by placement on their club’s 40-man rosters. Players are deemed eligible if they have played five or more seasons of professional baseball after signing at 18 or younger or if they have played four or more seasons after signing at 19 and up. Rule 5 picks cost selecting clubs $100,000 to make.
The Cleveland Indians added to their farm depth, as the club announced three minor league deals with free agents on Saturday.
Most notable and experienced of the trio is outfielder Trayce Thompson, who has spent parts of the last four seasons in the Majors. Left-hander Josh Smith signs after spending last season in the Boston Red Sox’s minor league systemb, and right-handed reliever James Hoyt rejoins the Indians organization one day after not being tendered a Major League contract by Cleveland.
All three players received invitations to spring training as part of the terms of their contracts.
The Cleveland Indians added three more prospects to the 40-man roster on Tuesday, protecting three young talents from selection in next month’s Rule 5 draft.
First baseman Bobby Bradley, starting pitcher Sam Hentges, and pitcher Jean Carlos Mejia became the newest members of the farm system to earn a spot on the 40-man roster of the Indians, ensuring that Cleveland does not lose any of the three during the Major or Minor League portions of the draft in December. The moves filled the team’s roster at 40, following the addition earlier in the day of right-handed reliever Walker Lockett in a minor trade with the San Diego Padres.
Cleveland’s Yu Chang delivered a big two-run triple for the West team in their walk-off win over the East team in the annual Fall Stars Game on Saturday.
Chang, one of two Indians prospects selected to the roster of the West squad this season, was one of the star performers in the exhibition, breaking a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning with his clutch knock. The AFL East team rallied with three runs in the top of the eighth to take their first lead since the top of the first, but the West got back-to-back hits with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and then steal a walk-off win.
When you are looking to make a name for yourself professionally, there is no such thing as an offseason, especially in Major League Baseball. Such is the case for a number of farmhands of the Cleveland Indians from this most recently completed season whom are active in league activities in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela.
In addition to the seven Indians minor leaguers who are in Glendale, Arizona, participating in the Arizona Fall League (position players Yu Chang, Li-Jen Chu, and Connor Marabell and pitchers Justin Garza, Rob Kaminsky, Jared Robinson, and Dalbert Siri), four members of their farm system are getting in work in the six-team Dominican Professional Baseball League, two are in the eight-team Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, and one is working in the eight-team Mexican Pacific League, running up and down the Gulf of California.
The postseason hangover in Cleveland has extended all the way to Arizona for the Indians organization, as the team’s participants on the shared roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs have taken four straight losses to open the Arizona Fall League schedule.
Seven Indians prospects are members of the Desert Dogs club, joining representatives from the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees. Glendale is winless at 0-4 to start the season, which began Tuesday from the desert. They trail the first place Surprise Saguaros by three games in the AFL West Division.
The Indians have sent four pitchers – Justin Garza, Rob Kaminsky, Jared Robinson, and Dalbert Siri – and three position players – Yu Chang, Li-Jen Chu, and Connor Marabell – to Arizona for offseason work. Joining them in Glendale is Double-A Akron pitching coach Rigo Beltran.