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 big league diamonds in Goodyear, Arizona, got a little less crowded on Monday as the Cleveland Indians announced several roster moves with just over two weeks to go until their regular season kicks off in Seattle.
Five players – Abraham Almonte, Francisco Mejia, Julian Merryweather, Shawn Morimando, and Adam Plutko – were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Four more – Bobby Bradley, Louis Head, Josh Martin, and Adam Wilk – were reassigned to minor league camp. The most notable names of the nine, however, were those of Almonte and Mejia.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday morning that the team had come to terms on a minor league contract with left-handed pitcher Robert Zarate, who last pitched professionally in 2015. He will join seven other Indians minor leaguers who were extended non-roster invitations to spring training next month.
In addition to Zarate, the Indians have invited position players Bobby Bradley, Nellie Rodriguez, and Richie Shaffer and right-handed pitchers Louis Head, Cameron Hill, Josh Martin, and Cole Sulser to play with the team during the spring.
The Indians now have 17 non-roster players scheduled to participate during spring camp in Goodyear, Arizona.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon that the guest list for Spring Training at their Goodyear, Arizona, complex beginning in February has grown by eight.
The Tribe will welcome minor league pitchers Josh Martin and Tyler Olson, infielders Nellie Rodriguez, Ronny Rodriguez, and Eric Stamets, outfielders Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer, and utility man Yandy Diaz to their spring camp on non-roster invites.
The eight will audition for jobs with the Indians while getting a good opportunity to warm up for the 2017 season against other Major League caliber competition.
A seventh inning grand slam by top prospect Bradley Zimmer broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh and the Clippers held on as Columbus defeated the Gwinnett Braves, 6-4, on Thursday night from Huntington Park.
Gwinnett’s Rob Wooten took over for starter Aaron Blair in the bottom of the seventh and promptly walked Yandy Diaz. A single by Guillermo Quiroz put Diaz into scoring position, but Giovanny Urshela lined out to center and Jesus Aguilar struck out. Michael Choice walked, loading the bases for the young Clippers outfielder, who delivered the clutch two-out bases-clearing bomb to right to give Columbus a 6-2 lead.
The Columbus Clippers have continued to play good baseball in the second half of their season to hold on to a four-game lead in the International League’s West Division as teams enter the weekend. At 55-46, the Clippers hold that lead over the Indianapolis Indians and a four and a half game lead over the third place Louisville Bats.
With Friday’s win over the PawSox, the Clippers have taken the first two of their four-game set with Pawtucket this weekend. Since their All-Star break, the Clippers have taken three of four in Toledo from the Mud Hens before dropping two of three to Louisville earlier in the week. The Clippers’ seven-game homestand will come to an end after Sunday afternoon’s game before the club hits the road for six straight road games in Norfolk and Charlotte starting Tuesday to wrap up the month of July.
In other Clipnotes from the state capital:
Right-handed reliever Josh Martin, a Rule 5 selection by the San Diego Padres in December, has been returned to the Cleveland Indians for $25,000 cash on Tuesday.
The Padres took Martin, who had never pitched higher than the Double-A level in the Indians farm system, with the seventh pick overall in the 2015 Rule 5 draft and paid the Indians $50,000 for his rights. San Diego needed to keep him on their 25-man roster for the season, but instead they designated him for assignment on April 3 and he passed through waivers unclaimed. If there was an attempt by the Padres to work out a deal with the Indians to keep him with the Friars, it did not work out.
The annual Winter Meetings wrapped up Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, and while there have been a few trades and free agent signings of note around the league, things in particular for the Cleveland Indians have been active but, in the end, quiet.
Trade rumors swirled throughout the week, largely centered on the Indians big starting rotation pieces of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Reports of as many as a dozen different teams have reached out to inquire about the availability of the arms, but the message from the Cleveland front office was clear – we are listening, but we are in no hurry to just give away any pitcher without a solid and quality return of Major League ready pieces.
There is little argument that the roster as it presently stands is not the one that the Indians want to bring with them to Goodyear, Arizona, in just over two months time. The only thing that would be more foolish than that, however, would be to try to make a move just for the sake of making a move. That plays a big part in the difference between the staff paid to construct the roster and those who play the role of pseudo general manager behind Twitter avatars, in Facebook comments, and through their voices coming out of your radio during the rare moment Indians talk actually graces the airwaves.
With the All Star break over and gone, the Akron RubberDucks are looking forward to September. While this team may not have looked exciting on paper, they’ve managed to put together a solid season thus far through 2015. Through the first half of 2015, the RubberDucks stood at a record of 47-43 and as of July 20, they’re sitting in third place of the Eastern League Western division with a record of 50-44. Going into the second half, and beyond, they’re sporting a higher than .500 record, and have real chances of seeing playing time once September rolls around.
Looking back at the first half, the RubberDucks have a lot they should be proud of, but there are definite parts of their game that need to be improved on.
Often times Major League scouts draft young players with the possible intention of teaching them a new position on the field or in the case of pitchers converting them from a starter to reliever or vice versa. Josh Martin, a 2012 Indians draft pick is a perfect example of such.
Martin, a native of Enterprise, Alabama like many kids grew up a multi-sport athlete. “I played baseball and football through high school.” Although there was the one sport that truly called his name. “For as long as I can remember I loved playing, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.” After finishing high school he went looking for a school he could not only continue to grow as a baseball player but as a student as well. He was able to find that exact fit at a small private school about 2 hours away in Homewood, Alabama, Samford University.