IBI Digest: 2/2/14 - 2/8/14
Recapping the week on Indians Baseball Insider
Spring training is just around the corner with the Superbowl now over and pitchers and catchers beginning to report to their respective camps in Florida and Arizona all around the league. The Indians will begin to report next week as the annual cycle of Major League Baseball is now underway. On the free-agent market, Fernando Rodney and Bronson Arroyo have found new homes and former All-Star Bryan LaHair has received an invite to spring training with the Tribe after a year playing overseas. And speculation continues as to whether Ubaldo Jimenez will re-sign with the Indians.
Here's what happened this week on IBI:
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #44 RHP Enosil Tejeda: The Indians signedEnosil Tejeda in 2010 and has turned a lot of heads as he has worked his way up through the system. The right-hander finished the year at AA Akron bringing his career pro ball stats to 16-9 with a 1.74 ERA. Look for him to move up to AAA in the coming year and possibly get a call up to Cleveland.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #43 RHP Shawn Armstrong: Like current Indians setup man Cody Allen, Shawn Armstrong was on the fast track to the major leagues up until a hand injury set him back last season. If he is fully healthy heading into this season, it will be interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off before the injury.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #42 LHP Kenny Mathews: The Indians selected Kenny Mathews in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and he made an immediate impact at Low-A Mahoning Valley where he posted a 2.52 ERA in 12 starts as he gradually stretched out his outings as a starter and will continue to do so moving forward in his pro career.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #41 CA Jake Lowery: After battling inconsistency in 2012, Jake Lowery came into the 2013 season determined to show improvement at the plate and did just that at AA Akron with a .275 batting mark, a major step up from his .195 average the year before. This next season or two will determine how he fits on the depth chart.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #40 INF Erik Gonzalez: Prior to 2013, the future of infield prospect Erik Conzalez was in question. After batting .251 with 53 extra-base hits last season, he has become yet another middle infield depth option for the Tribe and will continue to work his way up in 2014.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #39 OF Luigi Rodriguez: While he has been ranked higher in the past, Luigi Rodriguezhas struggled to put everything together as he has yet to find his comfort zone at the plate and has also battled through injuries. If he can find consistency in 2014, he should work his way up through the rankings again.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #38 RHP Preston Guilmet: After a successful minor league career as the organization's saves leader, Preston Guilmet made his big league debut with the Tribe in 2013. Unfortunately, it was not an impressive debut as he allowed six runs in 5.1 innings of work. While he may not be a big league closer, he may be a middle relief option for the Tribe at some point in 2014.
MLB Storylines: Orioles looking to extend key players: The Orioles have been in the news a lot this offseason even though they haven't made a lot of major moves. While they have been linked to a number of top free agents, they appear to be now focusing primarily on extending some of their star players. Andy Nichols has all the latest MLB news.
Inaugural Hot Stove event a lot of fun for the Scrappers: Robert Fuller covered the inaugural Scrappers Hot Stove banquet as fans had a chance to interact with former Scrappers players as well as team personnel. Overall, it was a successful debut for the event.
IBI Super Power Poll: Your favorite Indians Championship team: As the Broncos and Seahawks battle it out in the Superbowl, Jim Pete wants to know which of the two Indians championship teams fans like the most even though they both were from many years ago.
The Ultimate Indians Draft: Reviewing the GMs: After concluding his Ultimate Indians Draft series, Jeff Ellis breaks down the success (or lack thereof) of the various general managers of the Tribe over the years as far as who had the best record in drafting talent.
Tribe Happenings: Weighing the risks of resigning Jimenez: As the offseason winds down, Ubaldo Jimenez remains unsigned and with that the speculation about the Indians resigning the right-hander continues to escalate among fans and analysts. Tony Lastoria breaks down the risks and rewards of bringing back Ubaldo.
MLB Storylines: Hellickson to miss start of 2014 season: Rays announce that starter Jeremy Hellickson will miss the first portion of the season as he recovers from elbow surgery performed this offseason. Meanwhile, the D-Backs extended the extensions of GM Kevin Towers as well as manager Kirk Gibson. Andy Nichols has the latest.
Swinging for the Fences: Third time's a charm on veteran starters: While many contemplate the probability of Ubaldo Jimenez returning to the Tribe, Jake Dungan takes a look at one internal starting pitching option that could surprise a lot of people heading into 2014.
Around the Farm: February 4, 2014: Around the Farm returns for at least one night on behalf of Indians left-handerElvis Araujo. He was perfect in two innings of work on Tuesday night as Navegantes del Magallanes pitched him in relief of starter Tyson Brummett during the Caribbean Series. Arthur Kinney recaps the action.
MLB Storylines: Hagadone, Indians resolve grievance: After over a year since it was initially filed, the Indians and reliever Nick Hagadon have finally settled the grievance he and the MLBPA filed against the Tribe in 2012 when they placed him on the minor league disqualified list in the middle of the season. Andy Nichols has all the details.
Bourn and late signings at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario: One year ago, the Indians made a move that almost no one saw coming by signing top free agent center fielder Michael Bourn a multi-year deal. Jim Pete discusses the surprise and excitement of late-offseason moves and whether we may see another such move this year.
MLB Storylines: Indians ink LaHair as yet another depth option: The Indians continue to add depth options vying for spots on the bench this spring as they signed former All-Star first baseman and DH Bryan LaHair to a minor league deal. Tony Lastoria, pinch-hitting for Andy Nichols, breaks down the signing as well as other MLB news and notes.
1989: The greatest draft in Indians history: Jeff Ellis follows up his Ultimate Indians Draft series with a look at the quite possibly the greatest draft year in team history. In 1989, future star players such as Jim Thome and Brian Giles were drafted by the Tribe and GM Hank Peters as the overall value of the draft proved to be higer than entire tenures of other Tribe GM's.
MLB Storylines: Mariners find their closer in Rodney: The Mariners keep busy this offseason as they now have a new closer in Fernando Rodney, whom they signed to a 2-year/$14 million deal. Additionally, they appear to be "all in" on free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz as they continue to bulk up for 2014. Andy Nichols returns to provide all the latest MLB news and notes.
Orbiting Cleveland: Gauging the minor league signings: The Indians have once again stocked up on bounce-back major league candidates and veterans in the twilight of their careers as they hope to once again capture some lightning in a bottle as they did with Ryan Raburn, Scott Kazmir and Jason Giambi last year. Steve Orbanek predicts how much of a chance these players have at making the team out of spring training.
MLB Storylines: Arroyo set to join D-Backs rotation: It was a busy day in baseball on Friday as Bronson Arroyo has finally been signed. He will be staying in the NL as Arizona agreed to a 2-year/$19 million deal with an option for a third year. Also, Alex Rodriguez has dropped his lawsuits against MLB and the Players Association. Andy Nichols has all the details.
Tribe-via I: The Questions: Baseball historian Rick Lamborn is challenging Tribe fans who claim to know their baseball history to answer a series of nine questions in his first installment of his Tribe-via series.
Friends of the Feather
Minor League Free Agents Can Make or Break a Season: Indians fans are familiar with the success of some of the Indians' minor league signings last season. The question is was this just a hit of the jackpot as far as minor league deals go or is there productive talent out there that is being overlooked? Craig Gifford of Did The Tribe Win Last Night says there is real value in a lot of minor league signings.
2014 PECOTA projections for the Indians: Baseball Prospectus has now released this year's PECOTA projections, which use player projections to predict the final standings for the season. Unfortunately, their projection for the Indians is not all that flattering despite their playoff run in 2013. Let's Go Tribe's Jason Luke Hart gives the details on the projections and whether they are an accurate description of the team's potential.
Yan Gomes Is The 2014 Cleveland Indians X-Factor: After a breakout season off the bench in 2013, Yan Gomes has earned the starting job at catcher in 2014 as he hopes to build off his success last year in more of an everyday role. Zach Shafron of Cleveland Sports Talk believes Gomes will be a key cog in the Tribe's success moving forward.
Naquin, Frazier seek to overcome weight of hype: The two outfielders representing the 2012 and 2013 first round picks for the Tribe in the draft became more widely known among fans during Tribe Fest a couple weeks ago as they will be continuing their respective journeys to the big leagues this season. Teddy Cahill of MLB.com says they won't let the pressure of their draft standing get in their way.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.