Big leaguers are often defined by their ability to forget the bad days and rebound from adversity.
For Akron RubberDucks relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong, remembering the lessons learned from his adversity and channeling his fire is the newfound key to his success. After a disappointing start to the 2013 season, and an injury that cost him six weeks of game action, Armstrong has rebounded this season to be a leader in the RubberDucks bullpen. Recently Armstrong was named Indians Minor League Player of the Week for April 28-May 4.
“We’re in a great organization and any time you get a chance to represent the organization, it’s awesome,” Armstrong said. “We strive to get up there and play with those guys, so any chance you get to be named Player of the Week, it’s an honor to have that.”
When Did The Tribe Win Last Night covered our attendance feature a few weeks ago, one thing that was mentioned in the change in the approach to attending baseball games was the demanding schedule that kids are facing with their own sports schedules. Between travel teams and summer leagues, kids don’t have a time to pause to attend a game in which they are not playing.
The same can be said for baseball players during the off-season. Though many players are pursuing alternate ventures and simply training on their own terms, a number of other players are playing in winter leagues and continuing their baseball careers on the diamond long past the end of the regular season.
The 2013 edition of the Arizona Fall League ended Saturday afternoon as the Surprise Saguaros, winners of the AFL West, matched up against the Mesa Solar Sox, winners of the AFL East, in the AFL championship. In the end, Surprise emerged the champions of the AFL by defeating Mesa 2-0 giving a few Indians prospects the honor of being the part of a championship squad.
The Indians’ bats shined all through the AFL, especially outfielder Tyler Naquin and second baseman Joe Wendle. Both were given the honor of playing in the championship game because of their stellar play throughout fall ball. Naquin led the AFL in hits with 39 and fourth in RBIs with 18. Combined, Wendle and Naquin scored 30 runs and drove in 30 RBIs in the 28 games their shared spots in the lineup.
Just a week remains in the dessert as the minor leaguers take in their last breath of professional baseball for a while. The Indians’ prospects continue to perform well as members of the Surprise Saguaros. They stand at a record of 16-9, four games ahead of Glendale for first place in the AFL West division.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin has enjoyed a stellar Arizona Fall League. Thus far as he leads all the AFL in hits with 35 and tied for second in RBIs. Naquin participated in the Fall Stars game as the Indians lone representative on the AFL West club. He went 1-4 with a triple, run scored and a walk as the AFL West outslugged the AFL East 9-2 on November 2. Second baseman Joey Wendle has been on a tear recently as well including a game on November 7 against Peoria where he posted a 2-4, with a home run, three RBIs, and a run scored.
As the Arizona Fall League, wraps up its third week of play in the dessert the Indians prospects and their squad, the Surprise Saguaros, stand at a record of 8-6, a game ahead of Glendale for first place in the AFL West division.
For the Indians, the minor league bats clearly are having the better fall ball experience. Outfielder Tyler Naquin leads all the AFL in hits with 18. Naquin also has a league-leading 12-game hit streak going into today. During an October 22 game against the Mesa Solar Sox, Naquin and second baseman Joey Wendle combined for three hits, two runs, and three RBIs in a 4-2 victory.
As the Arizona Fall League wraps up its second week of play in the dessert the Indians prospects and their squad they are a part of, the Surprise Saguaros, stand at a record of 5-4, a game and a half out of first in the AZL West division.
In the early going, there have been some shining moments for the Indians prospects thus far. On Friday afternoon, outfielder Tyler Naquin, shortstop Tony Wolters, and second basemen, Joey Wendle combined for six hits, three runs, and three RBI in their 11-9 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox, the last remaining undefeated team in Arizona.
The Arizona Fall League enters its 21st season this October. The league is comparative to graduate school for minor league prospects. Six teams are cobbled together with promising prospects from major league ballclubs. Each organization is tasked with choosing a few select prospects they feel could truly benefit with the extra playing time at a higher level.
This years’ AFL features 24 of Major League Baseball’s top 100 minor league prospects, which should give an idea of just how talented the playing field is. The Cleveland Indians have seven players in this years’ AFL: pitchers Shawn Armstrong, Trey Haley, Jeff Johnson, Will Roberts along with catcher Tony Wolters, infielder Joe Wendle, and outfielder Tyler Naquin are all members of the Surprise Saguaros. Indians minor league pitching coach Steve Karsay is also a member of the Saguaros as a coach. The Indians also contributed a catcher Jake Lowery to the Peoria Javelinas.
By Laurel Wilder
Shawn Armstrong’s goal for the 2013 season is simple: To finish his climb through the Indians organization and make it to the majors.
For the 6-foot, 2-inch, 210 pound right-handed pitcher from Bridgeton, N.C., that goal does not seem far off.
The Indians drafted Armstrong in the 18th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of East Carolina University. Though he is relatively new to the Indians system, with 2012 being his first full season, Armstrong has risen through the minor ranks at an alarming speed.
Armstrong,22, started his 2012 season pitching for Low-A Lake County, but quickly moved up to pitch for High-A Carolina and ended his season playing for Double-A Akron. The only other player recently to move through the Tribe system at that speed is current Indians right-handed relief pitcher Cody Allen.
“I loved it,” Armstrong said of his rapid move through the organization. “Playing at every level, getting to meet all the different staff and players was a good experience for me, because it was a learning experience. I got to have three different pitching coaches’ perspectives of pitching…It kind of made my season just fly by. I looked up and it was September and we were playing for a championship in Trenton.”
By Mike Brandyberry
After a successful college career right-handed pitcher Shawn Armstrong still has many adjustments to make on his road to the big leagues. While the road seems to be progressing quickly, adjusting to professional baseball is taking time.
“I think the biggest thing to get used to is the long season,” Armstrong said. “Throwing every day, you don’t have those random days off when you don’t pick up a baseball and stuff like that. You never know when you are going to throw either.”
Armstrong was 18th round selection by the Indians in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. As a draft eligible sophomore, Armstrong signed right at the August 15 deadline and thus delayed the start of his professional career. He made up for his delayed start by pitching in both the Arizona and Dominican Instructional Leagues over the winter.