2001 – The Cleveland Indians acquire the highly controversial John Rocker from the Atlanta Braves with a minor leaguer for relievers Steve Karsay and Steve Reed.
Just a few years after becoming a household name across the country for all …
A year ago, Justus Sheffield was a senior in high school, getting ready to turn the page toward his life beyond high school. Baseball was in his family (although him being the nephew of Gary Sheffield is a myth, his dad still played baseball in college and his mom played softball). He had played football and basketball in high school but decided baseball was going to be the sport for him to pursue in college. He was going to follow his brother, Jordan, and play baseball at Vanderbilt University for Tim Corbin, a two-time SEC Coach of the Year. He had just been the first baseball player from Tennessee to be named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Things were looking pretty good for Sheffield.
Then, on Thursday, June 5, he got drafted.
“[The draft process] was easy,” Sheffield said. “I had watched my brother go through it a year before so I wasn’t too nervous. But, on draft day, you still get those butterflies.
“In the college selection process, you basically get to pick where you want to play. In drafting, you have no idea where you’re going to end up; it’s just whatever team wants you the most.”
The roster is riddled with familiar names, but not many because they’ve seen the grass of Classic Park before.
This season, the Lake County Captains roster boasts more than a few names that those who follow the Indians organization will recognize as up-and-coming prospects within the system. There are a few repeat names from last season but, as a whole, the 2015 Captains are a new, young team.
The 2014 Captains made their way to the Midwest League championship series last year, coming up short in the final series against the Kane County Cougars. However, most of the players who took the Captains that far last season have earned much-coveted promotions to the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, giving the Captains a new group of players with which to work.
The roster is taking shape, the Major League positions are being filled, and now the Indians have assigned names to their player development roles throughout the organization. It’s one of the finishing winter steps and brings the organization that much closer to the start of the 2015 season.
This upcoming season, the Indians minor league and player development roles are filled by well-known names from the organization, including former Tribe players and managers from years past.
In the Minor Leagues, player personnel is, at best, a fluid situation. With the turnover that occurs almost weekly, the Cleveland Indians are unique in that there is solid stability within the respective coaching staffs of it affiliates. In Zebulon, the Carolina Mudcats are benefitting from the low turnover rate.
Manager Scooter Tucker, hitting coach Tony Mansolino and pitching coach Steve Karsay are the trio leading the Mudcats in 2014. The three were promoted in unison from Lake County after last season’s staff–led by manager Dave Wallace–were assigned to Double-A Akron.
Many of this year’s squad also made the trek up the ladder in Cleveland’s Minor League system from Lake County to Carolina. Familiarity has not bred contempt, and the Mudcats speak glowingly of the team in charge with development some of the Tribe’s youngest talent.
“Having Scooter, Steve and Tony in Lake County last year was helpful for me,” Carolina left-hander Ryan Merritt said during the first half of the campaign.
The path of former Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Steve Karsay’s career didn’t quite go as originally planned.
Drafted as a front-line starting pitcher by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 1990 Draft, Karsay was traded midsummer of 1993 during the Blue Jays run toward their second consecutive World Series championship. The young right handed phenom was dealt to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for future Hall of Famer Ricky Henderson and Oakland looked like it was getting its future ace for what turned out to be a three month rental.
Karsay debuted with the A’s two weeks later and won his Major League debut. He started eight games for Oakland down the stretch and compiled a 3-3 record with a respectable 4.04 ERA. Things were looking really bright until elbow injuries over the next couple of seasons took their toll. By 1995, Karsay went under the knife and had the dreaded Tommy John Surgery that year. Things seemed less optimistic for the young ace at that point.