As Did The Tribe Win Last Night helps fans count down the days until the Indians retake the field in an official Major League game, we look back at some of the players who wore the Cleveland jersey with pride.
Countdown to Opening Day – 51 days
Last year was finally the year.
After coming into the Indians organization in 2011 when he was drafted in the 18th round, pitcher Shawn Armstrong seemed to be destined for a sky-rocketing ascent through the system. At age 21, Armstrong had a powerful arm, threw for strikes, and had the dominance to fly through the lower levels of the Indians minor leagues. He played one game in Mahoning Valley in 2011, followed by two games in Lake County the following season, 26 in High-A Carolina, and 17 in Double-A Akron, where he closed out his 2012 season. The big leagues seemed to be beckoning at some point the following season. Armstrong was poised to have it all before many other guys his age even found their first full-time job.
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.
One of the offseason questions the Cleveland Indians need to address is who will help make up the relief corps for the coming season.
One potential answer to that looming question is right-hander Shawn Armstrong, one of the names that Tribe fans may need to know for the years to come.
While the Cleveland Indians may have much less certainty from the southpaw options for their bullpen in 2016, the right-handed side is much more stable and definitive. It could use another reliable piece or two in order to give the staff some serious clout.
While the Indians brass has the task of determining whether internal candidates like Kyle Crockett, Giovanni Soto, and Nick Hagadone will be sufficient options for the club for the 2016 season, the righty options in Terry Francona’s bullpen include several familiar faces and a few younger, but capable, options.
The Columbus Clippers are sending three players to the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game. First basemen Jesus Aguilar, outfielder Tyler Holt, and reliever Shawn Armstrong will represent Columbus on the International League team that faces the Pacific League All-Stars on July 15 at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Aguilar, who has hit 30 home runs over the last two seasons, is an All-Star for the second year in a row. He’ll also be back in the home run derby, where he bashed four homers last year.
Shawn Armstrong had been compared to Cody Allen, expected to rise through the Indians’ system with the same speed and talent. Progressive Field was Armstrong’s goal in 2013, though injury deterred him. In 2014, Armstrong and Kyle Crockett were the Akron RubberDuck’s go-to relievers at the start of the season, though Crockett received the coveted promotion to the big leagues before it was even officially summer.
Armstrong had once been the one skyrocketing through the organization. He was drafted by the Indians in the 18th round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft out of East Carolina and opened his 2012 season with the Lake County Captains. He didn’t stay in Eastlake long, quickly moving up to the High-A Carolina and finishing the season with the then-Akron Aeros, who won the 2012 Eastern League title. It was almost expected that Armstrong would have a 2013 that ended with him in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday the addition of five minor league prospects to the organization’s 40-man roster, protecting them from inclusion in the Major League portion of December’s Rule 5 draft.
Such moves may seem inconsequential, given the difficulties presented for claiming clubs to keep selected prospects on the Major League roster for the duration of the year without sacrificing from the goal of winning. This drafting process is done to help prevent teams from hoarding talent in the minor league systems while giving these prospects the opportunity to reach the MLB level.
Today continues DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians’ 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.
Despite all their struggles this season, the Indians had one thing working for them — their bullpen. Even when starting pitchers were shaky to start the season, there was always hope that the Indians’ relief pitchers would be able to enter the game and finish the task that had been started for them, as they boasted strong performances throughout the season.
There was juggling in the bullpen, to be sure, as pitchers who were once part of the starting rotation made their way to the later innings once they were shown to not be as strong in the early half of games. Terry Francona, it was proven, thrives on a deep bullpen, and this season was no different.
It’s been an up and down week for the Cleveland Indians, just like the rest of the season. After a disappointing road trip to start the second half and losing two out of three to the Seattle Mariners at home, the Indians traded veterans Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera for Triple-A players. While Indians manager Terry Francona insists they aren’t waving the white flag, clearly there is an eye toward next season as the Tribe has just 50 games remaining.
Then the Indians sweep the Texas Rangers and find themselves just three games back of the final Wild Card spot by this morning. It’s been that kind of strange year for the Indians, and like a lot of people, I’m full of frustration, remaining guarded optimism and a dose of reality.
I couldn’t possibly put all my thoughts into one column at this point, so instead I welcomed our readers to fire questions and topics my way. I like this from time to time because I get a feel for the things readers have the most concern about and it’s a great way to fill one column full of links that might give you even more insight to your questions. Hopefully, you enjoy.
Leading off, @boomhauertjs asks, “Is it safe to say 2017 is the next realistic year of contention since the Swisher/Bourn contracts are off the books?”
Some of the best and brightest prospects at the Double-A level shined Wednesday evening in the Eastern League All-Star Game at People’s Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
The difference was a grand slam home run from Detroit Tigers’ prospect Steven Moya that was so big it took a roller coaster to knock it down. The fifth inning slam gave the Western Division a 5-2 victory over the Eastern Division in front of 6,055 spectators.
This year’s Eastern League All-Star Game rosters featured four former first-round picks, five of the top-100 prospects according to MLB.com (entering 2014) and a total of eight players that were selected to participate in this year’s SiriusXM Futures Game in Minnesota. Celebrating a strong first half, the Akron RubberDucks had three players selected for the game; Francisco Lindor, Shawn Armstrong and Joseph Colon.
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 Cleveland Indians have called up two of their more intriguing prospects this week in first baseman Jesus Aguilar and left-handed relief pitcher Kyle Crockett. The two couldn’t have taken much more of different paths to the Major Leagues than they did. Aguilar was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela at the ripe old age of 16. Aguilar has already spent six seasons in the minor leagues from the Indians Dominican Summer League team all the way up to Triple-A Columbus this year playing for all six minor league affiliates for the Indians. Kyle Crockett, on the other hand, has spent less than a year in the Indians minor league system. Crockett was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia and has made only 36 appearances for three different teams during his short minor league career. Crockett was pitching for Double-A when he got the call.