The offseason begins with a lot of minor moves for teams that oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of an otherwise busy fall and winter break from playing.
The Cleveland Indians completed some of their mandatory moves on Monday, adding several players to the 40-man roster, opening another spot by declining an option, and extending one very important qualifying offer.
The Akron RubberDucks returned home from their six-game road trip Thursday with a 2-3 record and their second postponed contest of the year as rains continued to wreak havoc on professional baseball games across the country.
After dropping the final two games of their three-game series with Binghamton last week to bring an end to their five-game winning streak, Akron (11-14) hit the road for Bowie and earned a series win. The offense was big, outscoring the Baysox 22-11 in the series, as they won a 6-1 final on Friday and an 11-2 decision on Sunday as the ‘Ducks bats erupted for five home runs to pace Julian Merryweather to his second win of the week. Monday’s opener in Binghamton was rained out before the club lost two in the middle of the week, dropping a pair of tough games by 5-4 and 1-0 finals.
The path taking Cleveland minor league prospect Dylan Baker from his home in Alaska to his current spot on the Indians’ 40-man roster has been a long and trying one for the young pitcher.
After one start in 2015, he was shut down for the season with right elbow issues that led to Tommy John surgery. In 2014, he started the season with the Carolina Mudcats with six perfect innings on the mound, but was lost less than a week later after breaking his fibula while walking out for his second start, thought to have been caused by a line drive that struck him during spring training. Three months later, he made it back to Carolina, pitching in eight more games to wrap up his season.
Baker, a 23-year-old right-hander, has in fact made it through just one full season of work as he enters his fifth season in the Indians organization. Despite the injuries, Cleveland had enough faith in his potential that they placed him on their 40-man roster for the first time following the season, despite having only pitched in a total of ten games at the High-A level in their system.
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.
It’s been a weak of streaks throughout the Indians minor league system, starting with the most impressive streak in Carolina Mudcats shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who has a hit in sixteen straight games. Not far behind is the Columbus Clippers catcher Roberto Perez who has a hit in 12 straight games. Clippers infielder Jose Ramirez has a streak of a different kind going. Ramirez has reached base in all 19 games that Columbus has played this season. How about a pitcher with a streak? Carolina Mudcats left-handed pitcher Ryan Merritt has not allowed a run in 16 straight innings and has a ridiculous 0.37 earned run average on the season in 24.1 inning pitched. Finally a negative streak to talk about, the Lake County Captains have lost their last six games in a row. Remarkably they already had an 8 game losing streak prior to the current one.
Read more about the streaks, and lots more action this past week in the Indians minor League system.
“Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.”
Out of all the quotes that bounced around the Lake County press box and clubhouse during the 2013 season, it’s this one that sticks out when looking at the season as a whole. Not because it was one of the most original ones that was used, but because it most aptly describes the hit-or-miss nature of this year’s Low-A Lake County Captains.
Some days, the team was great. They had games where they looked like they had the makings of a solid team. Other days, they struggled on the field, giving away games in late innings and seeming to lack overall effort.
If there’s one thing Captains right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker wants fans to know about him, it’s his hometown.
“What do I want people to know about me? I don’t know, I guess that I’m from Alaska,” Baker laughed in an interview after his outing on June 30th against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.