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Winter League Wednesday Round-up

October 1, 2008
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And you thought the Baseball season was over? Well, not for a myriad of prospects throughout the game who will ply their trade in leagues in Hawaii, Arizona and Latin America over the coming months.

The participants are a combination of top prospects being tested against more advanced competition, minor leaguers with specific areas of their game to work on or looking to get more playing time after missing part of the season through injury and also established Major Leaguers, specifically in Latin America.

As usual we'll be bringing you regular updates (every Wednesday & Sunday) on the performance of all Indians minor leaguers throughout the Winter.

Hawaii Winter League

The Hawaii Winter League got under way on September 27th with Indians minor leaguers playing for North Shore Honu.

Indians on the roster for the Honu are: -

LHP Matt Meyer
LHP Shawn Nottingham
LHP Heath Taylor

C Adam Davis

INF Dustin Realini
INF Ron Rivas

OF Matt McBride

That's right! Matt McBride is indeed playing the outfield, having played in LF for the full 9 innings of each of the Honu's opening 2 games. The move from behind the plate would seem to make sense; McBride has an advanced bat and missed a large chunk of the 2008 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Even when he returned from injury he spent a lot of time as the DH for Kinston, Lake County and the GCL Indians. Add to that the depth at catcher in the upper levels of the minor leagues and this could be a way of fast-tracking McBride's bat to the Major Leagues.

North Shore have lost their opening two games by scores of 12-3 and 6-3 with Indians prospects experiencing mixed results in the early going. McBride (2-for-6, 2B, 2RBI, 2BB) is of to a solid start with the bat, Realini (0-for-4) and Davis (0-for-1) have only appeared in one game each and Rivas is yet to play.

On the pitching side, Nottingham (1IP, 1ER) and Meyer (1IP, 2ER) have got off to shaky starts, whilst Taylor hasn't appeared in the Honu's opening two games.

Arizona Fall League

The AFL gets underway on Tuesday October 7th with Indians farmhands playing for Surprise Rafters. The AFL is considered to be the league with the "best-of-the-best" of prospects throughout the minor leagues; being assigned to the AFL should be seen by a player as a real show of confidence from the front office.

Indians participating this year are as follows: -

LHP Chuck Lofgren
RHP Erik Stiller
RHP Josh Tomlin
RHP Neil Wagner

1B Beau Mills
3B Wes Hodges
SS Josh Rodriguez

OF Stephen Head

To demonstrate the level of prospect in the AFL, the Indians donning the Rafters uniform will be team mates for the Fall with consensus #1 overall prospect in Baseball Matt Wieters.

Other things to note about the AFL this year is that Captains pitching coach Ruben Niebla will serve as pitching coach for the Rafters - a massive tribute to the great work Ruben has done with the Captains this year. Also, Indians manager Eric Wedge will join Philadelphia Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins as the 2008 inductees into the AFL Hall of Fame.

Caribbean Leagues

A number of prospects as well as Indians major leaguers will be taking part Winter leagues throughout the Caribbean and we will also be regularly updating you on their progress as well as the full rosters as and when they are released. The seasons in the specific leagues get underway as follows: -

Mexican Pacific League - October 11th
Venezuelan Winter League - October 14th
Dominican Winter League - October 15th
Puerto Rican Winter League - November 6th

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