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On the Lighter Side: Getting to know your 2012 AZL Indians

On the Lighter Side: Getting to know your 2012 AZL Indians
September 3, 2012
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For this piece, we put scouting and sabermetrics aside and take a peek at a more comical Q&A with a few young pitchers of the ’12 Arizona League Indians. 

The Arizona League is a different brand of baseball; there are no TV cameras catching scene by scene baseball, neither a peanut nor crackerjack man, no beer vendors and rarely even a grand stand of seats.  The weather is hot, dry and some games are so quiet, you can hear yourself think. 

Many of the faces on the field are just slightly older than your typical junior varsity high school team.  With the bulk of players in the late teens and early 20’s, the Arizona League is the beginning of the journey to the big for many of the recently drafted high school players, junior college players and some college ballplayers to get their feet wet in pro ball. 

The IPI talked to a quartet of young pitchers on the Arizona League Indians roster in the form of Dillon Howard, Luis Lugo, Walker White and Kieran Lovegrove.  Staying on the lighter side of things, most of these players are recent high school grads that are closer removed to prom and AP testing than they are to hotel suites and million dollar salaries.  Mere months ago, their GPA was as important as their ERA.

With that in mind, dive down into the lighter side of baseball and gain some insight into the personalities and thoughts of four young Arizona League Tribe players. 

Dillon Howard: ‘11 2nd round pick out of Searcy HS in Arkansas; 1-7, 7.90 ERA, 35 SO in ‘12
Walker White: ‘12 24th round pick out of South Georgia College; 2-0, 2.70 ERA, 15 SO in ‘12
Kieran Lovegrove: ’12 3rd round pick out of Mission Viejo HS in California; 0-2, 6.70 ERA, 18 SO in ‘12
Luis Lugo: ’11 signing out of Venezuela; 2-4, 4.50 ERA, 51 SO in ‘12 

IPI: Who was your favorite ballplayer growing up?

Howard: Roger Clemens
White: Chipper Jones
Lovegrove: Eric Gagne
Lugo: Randy Johnson

Commentary: As Lovegrove pointed out in discussion, half these guys were ‘roiders.  Then again, it felt like half the league was using PEDs in that era. Among the favorites, the first is mounting a comeback at age 50, the second is concluding a hall of fame career, the third is one of only nine relief pitchers to win the Cy Young award and the last is in the top 5 greatest lefty pitchers of all-time (You choose the order: Johnson, Grove, Spahn, Ford, Koufax).  It’s also interesting that Luis Lugo’s favorite player just happens to be a tall, skinny southpaw, much like himself. 

IPI: TV Show preference, Family Guy of The Simpsons?

Pitchers collectively: Family Guy

Commentary: 10 years ago, you would’ve thought a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds would surely pick The Simpsons, but after a decade of animation dominance, Family Guy takes the lead as the top cartoon.  Seth McFarlane is a genius and further proves that in his movie Ted. 

IPI: Best dressed player on the team?

Pitchers collectively: Reliever Estevenson Encarnacion

Commentary: Encarnacion is one of the more mature players of the bunch at 22 and must dress to impress.  The attire was described as “full of swag.” 

IPI: Loudest guy on the team?

Pitchers: Split decision—Infielder Juan Herrera and reliever Juan Santana

Commentary: The AZL is typically quiet so you can hear most anything in the field.  Herrera’s noise plays the role of most everything. 

IPI: Funniest guy on the AZL team?

Lovegrove, Lugo and White: (After convening and reviewing with one another, three of the four pitchers agreed…) Dillon Howard

Commentary: A bit of a surprise pick here… The veteran of the pitching staff flares some wit and timely sarcasm according to his teammates to take the funniest player on the squad title. 

IPI: Pick your poison—listen to 24 straight hours of Justin Bieber or watch 24 straight hours of “Teen Mom?”

Howard, White & Lugo: Teen Mom
Lovegrove: Bieber

Commentary:  I suppose MTV’s Teen Mom is the lesser of two evils.  Lovegrove questioned whether or not Bieber was really as horrible as people label him to be, though reputation and conventional wisdom suggests yes, he is indeed that bad. 

IPI: If you could meet any player, past or present, who would it be?

Howard: Josh Hamilton or Babe Ruth
White: Manny Ramirez
Lovegrove: Derek Jeter
Lugo: Randy Johnson

Commentary: White’s choice of Manny was probably the most thought provoking—what would you say to Manny? Would you ask him why he took bathroom breaks in the Green Monster between innings?  Or what he was thinking on the infamous Johnny Damon outfield cut off throw? Or if he wanted to return to Cleveland?  Babe Ruth is the obvious response, Jeter a modern day correct answer and Randy Johnson a consistent answer. 

IPI: Favorite Movie?

Howard: For the Love of the Game
White: Bull Durham
Lovegrove: 21 Jump Street
Lugo: The Avengers

Commentary: The AZL Indians all saw scenes from Major League and other baseball oriented films before their season started.  It was interesting to see the two southern boys (Howard and White) choose classic baseball films while the SoCal kid and Venezuelan native went mainstream filmography .   

IPI: The first band or genre you play on your iPod each day is…

Howard: Tom Petty
White: Foster the People
Lovegrove: Dubstep (genre of electronic dance type music)
Lugo: Plays the iPod on shuffle

Commentary: I had no idea what “dubstep” was until I googled it.  Anyhow, Tom Petty is pretty great. 

IPI: Twitter?

Howard: @BillDillHoward
White: @Walkerball3
Lovegrove: @Lovegrove19
Lugo: @LuisLugo94l 

For AZL updates and various Tribe musings, follow @SMahon2Go.

User Comments

September 7, 2012 - 11:59 AM EDT
This is great stuff! I haven't read this much fun stuff since the old Sporting News went away!
September 4, 2012 - 9:16 AM EDT
Always love stuff like this. These guys may be professionals, but they are also young men, and in some cases very young men since they are still in their teens. Fun to pick their brains a little and see how things work and what they are about. Nice job Sean.
September 3, 2012 - 2:35 PM EDT
Nice piece of writing on some kids that are really important to the Indians' future. Lugo, Lovegrove and Howard have all pitched much better than their ERA's indicate...strong peripheral #'s in an offense-friendly league, that's good to see!
September 3, 2012 - 2:00 PM EDT
True. These players have to develop and mature so fast while most others can goof off in college-I see plenty of it teaching at Case. Nice to read on their human side.

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