By Sean Tuttle
The tallest player in the minors is now coming out of the Akron Aeros bullpen. On May 5, the Cleveland Indians acquired, Ludovicus Jacobus Maria van Mil a.k.a. Loek Van Mil, from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in an outright trade for future considerations. The Indians immediately assigned Van Mil to the Akron Aeros.
Van Mil, 27, was born in Oss, Netherlands. At a height of seven feet, one inch he is currently the tallest player in the minor leagues.
He has pitched for the Netherlands national baseball team, appeared in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, and was selected to appear in the 2008 Summer Olympics, but missed the tournament because of injury.
By Sean Tuttle
After the first week in May Tribe fans are experiencing a few unexpected realities. First, the Tribe is in first place. Most fans will say that was not expected, but with the moves the Detroit Tigers made this offseason, it is hard to argue that they are not still the favorite to take the Central. The second is the production of first baseman Matt LaPorta. Sure he is producing in Triple-A, but many scouts will tell you that the leap from Triple-A to the big leagues is a significant one. Minor league statistics do not necessarily transfer to major league success.
LaPorta is currently in his fourth season as a member of the Tribe. He was drafted in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers, seventh overall, in the 2007 amateur draft. He became an Indian in July 2008 when he was traded with Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, and later Michael Brantley for starting pitcher, CC Sabathia.
By Sean Tuttle
It isn’t often you see a player progress through the minor league system at the rapid speed of which Cody Allen has done in the Tribe’s farm system. It is even rarer for a pitcher to do so. In the short month of April alone, Allen has gone from Single-A Carolina, to Double-A Akron, and all the way up to top tier Triple-A Columbus.
The 23-year old righty, was born in Orlando,Florida, and was drafted by the Indians not once, but twice, first in the 16th round of the 2010 MLB June amateur draft, and again in the 23rd round last June.
Last year, Allen climbed the ranks after spending 14 games in Mahoning Valley, had a record of 3-1 an ERA of 2.14 in 33.2 innings of work, struck out 42 batters and only allowed one home run. He spent seven games in Lake County going 2-0 with no ERA, struck out 28, and only allowed ten hits. He then spent one game apiece in Kinston and Akron before the season came to a close.
By Sean Tuttle
David Huff appeared in a rehabilitation start on April 20 with the Akron Aeros. Huff is recovering from a right hamstring strain that he suffered on March 29 while pitching against the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training.
Huff pitched four shutout innings against the Reading Phillies. He gave up one hit, allowed one walk, and struck out 3 batters. The efforts of Huff were in vain on Friday, as the Aeros gave up a 3-0 lead losing in the bottom of the 10th inning, 4-3.
Progressing to the big leagues is not easy task, but for minor leaguer Nick Weglarz, staying healthy may be his biggest obstacle.
Weglarz is entering his seventh season within the Indians minor league system, and his fourth as a member of the Akron Aeros. The 24-year old, left handed, outfielder was selected in the 2005 amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians in the third round, 94th overall.
Prior to the draft, Weglarz attended Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne, Ontario. As a Canadian, Weglarz had the opportunity to be part of Team Canada’s baseball team in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. During his run in the Olympics, Weglarz hit .400 in the preliminary games, and .450 in the Olympic qualifier against Taiwan.
Weglarz’s made his largest advancement in 2010 when he was called up to Triple-A Columbus for fifty games. During that time he maintained a batting average of .286 with 50 hits, six home runs, and 20 RBI’s. He also drew 28 walks and struck out 43 times.
By Sean Tuttle
With the opening of the 2012 season just days away, one team affiliated with the Tribe can’t wait for their opening ceremonies. When the Columbus Clippers open their doors on Thursday April 5th, the first 3,000 fans will receive the National Championship caps. The Clippers will be celebrating back-to-back National Championships, and competing for the three peat.
By Sean Tuttle
New this year to DTTWLN will be my coverage of the minor league systems within the Indians organization, any big name prospects coming to visit, and of any news on the rehabilitation journeys that may occur throughout the season.
Every Thursday, followers can expect updates on injured players, comments from their managers, and interviews with young talents that are hopeful to play for the Tribe in the near future.
The Cleveland Indians, who went from being a bad team in 2010 to an average team 2011, are hoping to make the leap to the next level in 2012. With the major midseason trade for Ubaldo Jimenez and resent acquisition of veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe, Tribe management is showing the desire to win now. The team is even likely to make more of a splash in free agency than in most offseasons.
While trades and free agents have and will add veteran leadership to the club, the Indians are still expected to be young. The Tribe will remain bolstered and built on fresh faces like Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin and Vinnie Pestano, who were all in the minor leagues within the last two years.
The Cleveland Indians gave their fans plenty of reasons to be excited this past summer. They improved their win total from a scant 69 wins in 2010 to an adequate 80 in 2011. That’s reason enough for excitement in looking forward. The Columbus Clippers, Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, have given Tribe brass plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future, as well.
Cleveland’s 2011 campaign was marked with a number of players who made their Major League debuts after promotions from Columbus. From expected superstars in Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, to surprises like Ezequiel Carrera, the pipeline between the Clippers and Indians was quite active. From those players, and several others, Cleveland fans got to see the future appears to be paved with positive things. Even the players who Indians fans did not have the pleasure to see this season are soon to come in the next year and give promise as the back-to-back Triple-A champion Clippers. They have a talented bunch of players waiting and chomping at the bit to contribute to what the Indians hope will be a playoff contender next year and the following several, as well.
Jason Kipnis was named to both the Triple-A and the Minor League All-Star teams by Baseball America on Friday. Kipnis, who also was selected to play in the Futures Game at the Major League All-Star Game, helped pace the Columbus Clippers until he was called up to the Indians in late July.
Kipnis, named the starting second baseman on the Triple-A All-Star team, hit .280 with 12 home runs and 55 runs batted in before his promotion. Zach McAllister was also named to the Triple-A team. McAllister was 12-3, with a 3.32 ERA in 155 innings pitched at Columbus. McAllister has made two spot starts for the Indians this season but has struggled in each.
By Matt Van Wormer
While the Cleveland Indians are battling for a spot in the 2011 playoffs, there is a team just two hours south of the parent club that are looking to repeat as International League and Triple-A National Champions. The Columbus Clippers (77-45) are, once again, tearing up the International League and hold a 12.5 game lead over the Indianapolis Indians. They have eight more wins than any other team in the league with just three weeks left before the Playoffs start.
The Clippers are in just their third season as a Cleveland Indians affiliate, serving the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates in years past. Buffalo used to be home to the Indians’ highest minor league team but moving the team to Columbus just made sense. Not only is Columbus closer to Cleveland, it also gives the Indians another fan base within the state as they root for the players that hope to, one day, make it to the Big League ballclub.