A decade ago Rajai Davis was poised to make his Major League Debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Drafted by the Bucs in 2001, the 38th round pick out of the University of Connecticut-Avery Point, he had risen from a low-round pick on the strength of his legs and defense. He had led the High-A Carolina League in batting, hits, runs and stolen bases on his way to an All-Star season in 2004. He followed this in up 2005 with a strong season at AA Altoona setting the franchise record for stolen bases with 47. As the 2006 season dawned, he had a career minor league batting average of .308 and had stolen 179 bases. This included 40 or more stolen bases at every full season stop he had played in the Pirates organization. His only road block to the majors was Chris Duffy.
At the time, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook described his principle weakness as the need to tighten his strike zone and polish his routes on defense in center field. He would make his Major League Debut with a single at-bat on August 14, 2006, against the Milwaukee Brewers and totaled 13 more at-bats while appearing in 20 games that season.
There are some intriguing battles going on this spring for the Indians as they look to find their 25-man roster heading into the regular season. While recent history has shown that the team hasn’t always brought forth the best 25 men for the job when camp breaks, the team does have some decisions to make before April 4th arrives.
Over the next six weeks, the team needs to find arms for the bullpen and to determine its final member of the starting rotation. While both areas are important moving forward, the outfield mix may be the biggest immediate area of concern for the Tribe and has been, based on the number of offseason moves made to try to strengthen the depth at the position once it was determined that Michael Brantley’s season would be delayed.
It may still be a point of emphasis if there is any validity to the rumors that the club remains interested in free agent Austin Jackson.
Apparently, the Cleveland Indians prefer to browse about for a little while and then do the bulk of their heavy holiday shopping all on one day.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and the team has made no formal announcement on either deal. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman appeared to be the first to break the story just before 6:00 PM Wednesday night. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com indicated the deal could be for $5.25 million plus incentives and, like Napoli’s contract, is pending a physical.
Trevor Bauer closed his eyes in the top of the sixth inning, composing himself before he faced the leadoff batter. In typical Bauer fashion, he had a messy first inning and gave up four runs to the Tigers, followed by pitching five innings of scoreless baseball. The Indians tried to bring the entire team back into the game just as Bauer had done, though, despite tying the game in the seventh inning, they could not pull out ahead of the Tigers. Detroit delivered a seven-run eleventh inning and handed Cleveland an 11-4 loss in game four of their series, which allowed the Tigers to emerge the victors of the four-game series.