Inaugural Hot Stove event a lot of fun for the Scrappers
On Thursday night, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers held their first-annual Hot Stove Banquet.
The event was held, in part, to give fans a chance to interact with future major-leaguers, as well as give former Scrappers a chance to return to the Mahoning Valley. Former players in attendance included Bryson Myles (2011), Tyler Naquin (2012), Erik Gonzalez(2012), Joey Wendle (2012), Jose Ramirez (2012) and Kyle Crockett (2013).
The event was MC'ed by former Indians pitcher Jason Stanford and featured an autograph session for fans, a silent auction featuring autographed Indians memorabilia and a Q&A session. Jordan Taylor, entering his fourth season as the General Manager of the Scrappers, addressed the crowd and talked with fans throughout the evening.
"It's just a great night for the fans and a great way for our club to show our appreciation to the area," Taylor said. "We saw the success of the other affiliations and the banquets they hosted and we knew we wanted to do the same thing."
Taylor also addressed the excitement felt by former Scrappers players to get a chance to return to the area.
"Some of these guys haven't been back to the area for a year or two, and they were really excited to be back," Taylor said. "They got a chance to reconnect with their host families . . . . it was just a great night overall."
Bryson Myles, who played with the Scrappers during the 2011 campaign, lived with Karen Conklin and Gary Offerdahl throughout his stay in Mahoning Valley.
"From the second I met them, they were awesome," Myles said. "They were there for me from day one. I still stay in contact with them on a weekly basis. I just got to see them for the first time in a couple years and it was a huge hug for both of them, I told them I loved them and they're going to be two people that I will always keep in my life."
Though second baseman Jose Ramirez played in only three games while with the Scrappers, he felt the enthusiasm of the local fan base.
"You can tell these fans really love the game of baseball," Ramirez said. "They have embraced all of us so much and are really happy to be here."
Ramirez ready to impact
Jose Ramirez is looking to leave his own impression in Goodyear, Arizona in the coming weeks, as he will be one of the Indians players participating in Spring Training. With an infield loaded with talent and short on open roster positions, Ramirez will have to make an impact in Goodyear.
The 21 year-old out of the Dominican Republic has one distinct advantage over many players, however, having played three positions in his short stint with the big league club last season. Ramirez logged 12 at-bats with the Indians in 2013, three while playing second base, four at third base, one at shortstop, and four as a pinch-hitter.
With that kind of versatility, Ramirez can etch out a nice role as a utility infielder if he performs well early.
With those three positions expected to be filled by Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jason Kipnis as starters, and Mike Aviles and perhaps Carlos Santana also seeing time in the infield, at-bats may be scarce. Francisco Lindor, the Indians top prospect, will also be in Goodyear and many expect the switch-hitting shortstop to make an impact at the big-league level in 2014.
How the major league roster shakes out won't be known for another two months, but Ramirez feels comfortable in whatever role comes his way.
"I feel like I can help the team in many ways," Ramirez said. "I felt I played well last season and I improved in some areas over the winter. I just want to do everything I can to help the team." With the attitude, versatility, and skill-set Ramirez brings to the table, expect the young infielder to impact the Cleveland Indians sooner rather than later.