Anthony Gallas is living out his dream of playing for his hometown team. Growing up in Strongsville, Ohio, Gallas was able to watch the Cleveland Indians ever since he was a kid. Now, he’s in Akron, and part of the team that he grew up with, and is starting to settle in at the top part of the RubberDucks lineup.
Gallas, 27, was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in 2010. He went to high school in Strongsville, OH and then also attended college at Kent State University in Kent, OH. In 2014, he had a breakout season in High-A Carolina where in 58 games he hit .276/.331/.480 with 8 home runs, 21 doubles, and drove in 31 RBI. He was later promoted to Double-A Akron where he become one of the biggest offensive producers on the team. In 73 games with the RubberDucks he hit .293/.337/.536 and clobbered 16 homers, 16 doubles, 2 triples, and drove in 49 RBI. After losing Giovany Urshela and Francisco Lindor to promotions to Triple-A Columbus, Gallas became one of the most important bats in that lineup.
With the off-season coming to a close, baseball fans everywhere are starting to get excited about the prospect of pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona in less than two weeks and the prospect of prospects themselves. The offseason is a chance for players who have already “made it” to the bigs to continue to improve their stuff and maintain their dominance, and is also an opportunity for younger guys to put together the performances that will prove their worth during spring training. Whether prospects and players in the minor league ranks have invited to big league spring training or not, the Arizona pre-season is still their chance to prove where they should be in the system, and, perhaps more importantly, why they should still be there.
All organizations obviously have those players that they predict will make it far within the system. Whether it is breakout stars like Giovanny Urshela or Ryan Merritt, who recently were awarded the Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller awards, respectively, for their minor league performances, or highly-touted prospects like Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier, there are players throughout the minor league ranks that the Indians are preparing for a career with the big league team. One such step in this preparation is the annual Winter Development Program.
After an offseason of rebranding, fresh faces, and boat load of renovations, the Double-A Akron RubberDucks came into the season with a promising season ahead of them. In his inaugural season as the RubberDucks manager, Dave Wallace looked on to lead what could have been one of the best Cleveland Indians minor league team in recent history. Unfortunately, the season ended earlier than expected as the RubberDucks were eliminated from the playoffs in four games against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Regardless of how the season ended, in their first season as RubberDucks, this team was still impressive from the get-go, and continued to do so all season long.
To start off the season, the RubberDucks had one of the deepest lineups that a team could possibly have when it comes to having bench options, solid starting pitching, and an experienced bullpen. The infield consisted of some of the Indians top prospects in Francisco Lindor, Joe Wendle, Ronny Rodriguez, and Tony Wolters. Along with these infielders, the outfield was full of great players as well, including one of the Indians top prospects Tyler Naquin. Along with Naquin, the RubberDucks also had Bryson Myles, Tyler Holt, and Jordan Smith to compliment Naquin. For the starting pitching, Cody Anderson was deemed the opening day starter after having a successful season in High-A Carolina the season before where he was named the top starter in the Indians minor league system in 2013. Following Anderson, Gabriel Arias, Joseph Colon, Will Roberts, and Kyle Davies were the other members of the starting rotation. Arias and Davies were quickly promoted to Triple-A Columbus after having hot starts to the season.
When looking at things in the context of wins and losses, particularly given the success of several of the other teams in the Cleveland minor league system, it would be easy to dismiss the 2014 edition of the Carolina Mudcats as unproductive. A 62-74 overall record for the campaign will not look good in the media guide next season. Of the top-four teams in the Tribe’s organization, only the Mudcats failed to advance to the playoffs.
While winning is important, Minor League baseball is predicated on other things. It is important to discern whether the Carolina Mudcats as an organization provide an environment conducive to learning and have a coaching staff that sends players upward in the organizational ladder.
While the Indians have four more weeks to chase their playoff spot, the minor league regular season came to a close yesterday and the Tribe has three teams qualifying for postseason. After a disappointing 2013, where no Indians farm team qualified for postseason, getting three teams into the playoffs is a vast improvement. All three teams will begin the playoff journeys on Wednesday evening.
The Columbus Clippers will begin their pursuit of the Governor’s Cup in the International League’s Triple-A playoffs on Wednesday night at Huntington Park at 7:05 p.m. Winners of the Western Division, Columbus enters the five game series against the Durham Bulls with the lesser record. Columbus will host the first two games on Wednesday and Thursday, before playing the final three necessary games in Durham on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Adam Plutko was drafted last year in the 11th round of the First Year Player Draft out of UCLA. Unlike most players making their professional debut in the same year that they were picked, the Indians held Plutko out until the 2014 season as they were concerned over the amount of innings he had already thrown for the Bruins in the 2013 collegiate season.
In 2013 Plutko was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player, helping the Bruins win the College World Series. Plutko was on the same pitching staff with the Bruins as Pittsburgh Pirates starter, Gerrit Cole, and the Indians own, Trevor Bauer. Plutko actually came into college with what most scouts thought better stuff than both Cole and Bauer, with a fastball that sat around 95 m.p.h. as a freshman. Plutko saw his velocity drop down to around 90 m.p.h. over time for the Bruins and witnessed Cole and Bauer also become first round picks. As a junior in 2013, Plutko had become the workhorse and the ace of a staff in which many didn’t have high hopes for. While Plutko and the Bruins proved many wrong in 2013, it still didn’t help his draft status as the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series because he wasn’t taken until the 11th round by the Indians.
With the All-Star break closing in this week, it’s time to take a moment to look over what has been nothing less than an awesome first half for the Akron RubberDucks. After changing the name from the Akron Aeros to the RubberDucks prior to this season, owner Ken Babby along with manager Dave Wallace were looking to bring some new life to this Akron team. Aside from all the new renovations that had been added to Canal Park, a team full of young competitors were experiencing their first time in Double-A baseball.
Going into this season, a good portion of the team had never played a game in Double-A baseball as they had spent their previous season with High-A Carolina. These players included Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor, converted catcher Tony Wolters, second basemen Joe Wendle, and outfielders Jordan Smith and Bryson Myles. Along with them came a plethora of fresh pitchers including Joseph Colon, Will Roberts, Gabriel Arias, and Duke von Schamann. Von Schammann did not start the season with the Indians organization, but was received from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Colt Hynes trade. These guys joined the team along with some more promising players who had already spent some time up here including Tyler Naquin, Tyler Holt, Shawn Armstrong, Ronny Rodriguez, and Cody Anderson.
The Columbus Clippers will be represented by two players this year at the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. Both first baseman Jesus Aguilar and catcher Roberto Perez were selected to be on the International League roster, and will be taking on …
Akron RubberDucks second baseman was some kind of hot this past week. Joe Wendle went 11-21 for an obscene .524 average with three runs scored, three doubles, one triple, eight runs batted in and added a stolen base. Wendle got off to a slow start to the season having multiple hot and cold streaks. Over his last 26 games, however, Wendle has been consistently hot hitting .333 with eight extra base hits and 24 runs batted in during the time frame. Wendle leads the team with 41 runs batted in, one more than fellow prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor. Wendle has his batting average up to .264 with his recent surge but is still well below his career .307 minor league average coming into the season.
Wendle a sixth round pick in 2012 out of West Chester University has some uncanny similarities to a current Indians star Jason Kipnis. Both Kipnis and Wendle are listed at 5’11 190lbs, both bat left-handed and throw with their right hand. Take a look at the stats for both players in their first two years in the minor leagues.
The Carolina Mudcats slogged its way through the first half of the season with a 29-38 record, placing the team 11.5 games behind first place Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League South Division. It was the second year in a row the Muddies finished in last place in the division during the first half of the campaign, although expectations were markedly different from this season entering the campaign.
Two Mudcats featured in Tuesday’s All-Star Game between the Carolina League and the California League with a third player, Anthony Gallas, having been named to the Carolina League team but unable to participate due to promotion prior to the game.
It’s every young baseball players dream to play in The Show. Every little kid that grows up playing catch in their back yard with their dad at some point in their life has dreamed of playing for their hometown team. It’s just a part of growing up, those dreams don’t last forever though. Well, with the exception of Akron RubberDucks newest outfielder, Anthony Gallas.
As a kid growing up in Strongsville, Ohio, Gallas of course dreamed of playing for the Indians and making it to The Show. After being promoted to Double-A Akron, he’s now one step closer to achieving that goal.
To say that Akron RubberDucks centerfielder Tyler Naquin has been hot at the plate lately would be an understatement. Scorching, sizzling, scalding, searing might be a better way to describe his bat of late. Naquin the Indians first pick from the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft hit .485 for the week with 16 hits in 33 at bats. Naquin scored eight runs, added a double, triple, two homeruns, four runs batted in and two stolen bases. Naquin is currently on a 15-game hitting streak, which he has maintained an unbelievable .453 average with 29 hits in 64 at bats.
Naquin’s hot hitting started before the 15-game streak, however. In his last 48 games Naquin has amassed 72 hits, leading to a .365 batting average while scoring 44 runs and adding 12 stolen bases as the leadoff hitter in the RubberDucks lineup. Interesting enough it took the first 16 games of the season for Naquin’s bat to get started. In his first 16 games he hit only .200 with 22 strikeouts, leading some to wonder if Naquin was indeed ready for the jump to Double-A to start the year. Naquin, sporting a robust .327 average on the season, has put that talk to rest and then some.