Thirteen Tribe prospects are in town this week as part of the Indians Winter Development Program, introduced by then-Director of Minor League Operations Mark Shapiro in 1996 as a way to strengthen the physical, mental and fundamental skills of some of the organization’s top prospects prior to Spring Training. Now in its 20th year, the program still acts as a way to help young talent of the Indians farm system prepare for the majors.
Again this year, the prospects will participate in classroom sessions, conditioning and fundamental work, while also hearing from multiple guest speakers including Shapiro, manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Mickey Callaway, new bullpen coach Jason Bere and St. Ignatius football coach Chuck Kyle, among others.
“These guys are close,” said Director of Player Development Carter Hawkins, regarding the group’s expected timeline of reaching the Major League level.
James Ramsey, who was acquired on July 30 in the Justin Masterson trade, may be the closest out of all and expressed his respect for the Indians organization.
“Growing up in Atlanta in the 90s when the Braves and Indians were going back and forth, you have a respect for the fan base and the fans of Cleveland for such good support,” he said.
After arriving at Class AAA Columbus, Ramsey hit .284 (31-109) with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 28 games. He enters the 2015 season as the 12th-best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America.
Another participant in this year’s program is lefty Ryan Merritt, who recently received the organization’s 2014 Bob Feller Award, given to the Player Development System’s top pitcher. He, too, sees the program as a great way to build on his success. Merritt finished the 2014 season with a Carolina League-best 13 victories holding down a 2.58 ERA (46 ER/160.1 IP) in a career-high 25 starts at Single-A Carolina. He was named to the Carolina League and organizational (MiLB.com) postseason all-star teams and led all Tribe minor league pitchers in ERA (2.58).
“It’s great; I think it’s awesome that they bring us in and help us become major leaguers,” said Merritt, who was recently added to the 40-man roster. “They really just try to give us a good experience of everything. All these guys here are on the brink of making it so I think it’s great. They really care about us and want us to be productive major leaguers.”
–TribeVibe contributor Angela Martin
The Cleveland Indians today announced the club has invited the following players to Major League camp: INF FRANCISCO LINDOR, C JAKE LOWERY, OF TYLER NAQUIN, OF JAMES RAMSEY, RHP WILL ROBERTS, INF RYAN ROHLINGER and OF JORDAN SMITH.
Lindor, 21, split the 2014 campaign between AA Akron and AAA Columbus, where he hit a combined .276 (140-567) with 16 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 62 RBI and 75 runs scored in 126 games. He also stole 28 stolen bases, 3rd-most in the Indians organization in 2014. He was named an organizational all-star by MiLB.com, was selected to his third straight SiriusXM Futures Game and was an Eastern League all-star. He enters the season as the #1 rated prospect in the Indians organization according to Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus.
Lowery, 24, was limited to 66 games at AA Akron in 2014 after suffering multiple facial fractures on April 18 after being struck in the face by a pitch. He missed seven weeks before being activated in early June. Jake was a 2014 non-roster invitee and was the club’s 4th round selection in the 2011 draft out of James Madison.
Naquin, 23, spent the entire season at AA Akron, batting .313 (95-304) with 12 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, 30 RBI, 14 stolen bases and 54 runs scored in 76 games for the RubberDucks before suffering a broken left hand (HBP) on June 27. The 2012 first round selection was named an organizational all-star by MiLB.com and enters the season as the 6th-best prospect in the system according to Baseball America.
Ramsey, 25, was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on July 30 in exchange for RHP Justin Masterson. He split the 2014 season between AA Springfield and AAA Columbus, hitting a combined .295 (104-352) with 23 doubles, 2 triples, 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 95 games (.382/.509/.890). He was a Texas League midseason all-star selection and, at the time of the July 30 trade, he was 6th in the Texas League in home runs (13) despite missing three weeks (May 17-June 9) with an abdominal injury. He started in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for Team USA and enters the 2015 season as the 12th-best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America.
Roberts, 24, enjoyed his best season as a professional in 2014, going 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 27 starts (161.0IP, 170H, 73ER) at AA Akron, leading the Eastern League in innings pitched and led the team in starts and strikeouts. Among organizational pitchers he was 3rd in wins and 2nd in innings. He was the club’s 5th round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia.
Rohlinger, 31, has been re-signed to a Minor League contract and invited to Major League camp. He spent 2014 in AAA Columbus where he batted .233 (68-292) with 16 doubles, 5 home runs and 27 RBI in 85 games in his third season in the organization. He hit .330 (31-94) off left-handed pitching with 7 2B, 2 HR and 13 RBI and appeared in 51 games at second base, 31 games at third base and 2 games at first base and shortstop.
Smith, 24, spent the 2014 season at AA Akron, hitting .248 (114-459) with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs and 50 RBI in 126 games. Jordan hit .282 (42-149) in the second half with 10 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR & 14 RBI and this fall hit .304 (21-69) with 6 2B, 1 HR & 10 RBI in 17 games in the Arizona Fall League. He was Cleveland’s 9th round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of St. Cloud State University (MN).
2014 SPRING INVITEES (20)
- 39 DOWNS, Scott (LHP)
- 53 MANSHIP, Jeff (RHP)
- 38 MARCUM, Shaun (RHP)
- 66 MARONDE, Nick (LHP)
- 83 MOLLEKEN, Dustin (RHP)
- 56 PRICE, Bryan (RHP)
- 80 ROBERTS, Will (RHP)
- 65 ROTH, Michael (LHP)
- 51 SWARZAK, Anthony (RHP)
- 12 HAYES, Brett
- 86 LOWERY, Jake
- 52 MOORE, Adam
- 79 CIRIACO, Audy
- 67 LINDOR, Francisco
- 76 ROHLINGER, Ryan
- 61 SANDS, Jerry
- 77 HOOD, Destin
- 72 NAQUIN, Tyler
- 68 RAMSEY, James
- 84 SMITH, Jordan
Tribe manager Terry Francona and President Mark Shapiro chatted with Indians Season Ticket Holders in the club’s annual Town Hall meeting on Monday, at ideastream at PlayhouseSquare.
Photos are above; here’s the broadcast schedule, all on SportsTime Ohio and beginning this Friday night at 7PM. Set you DVRs now!
- Friday, 1/30: 7PM
- Saturday, 1/31: 7:30pm
- Sunday, 2/1: 10pm
- Monday, 2/2: 9pm
- Wednesday, 2/4: 6:30pm
- Thursday, 2/5: 3pm
- Saturday, 2/7: 7:30pm
- Monday, 2/9: 7pm
–Photos by Dan Mendlik
We had a lot of fans come out for Tribe Fest this weekend, but it’s pretty safe to say that none traveled further than Simon Connor. Simon flew in from Australia to check out Tribe Fest, see his favorite team and meet some players of whom he is a huge fan.
Simon has been a Tribe fan since he was about 3 years old, but he didn’t grow up watching the team live at then-Jacobs Field. His love for the Indians came from watching the movie “Major League.” Major League shows a fictional Cleveland Indians team and its owner, who puts together an awful roster in order to get the team relocated. Once the team figures out the owner’s plan, they start winning just to prove her wrong. The movie came out when Simon was a kid, and he has been a Tribe fan ever since.
“Back when I was growing up baseball wasn’t very big, and when I was three the movie (Major League) was coming out. So I thought – Indians. Done. I’ll follow them,” he said Saturday at Progressive Field.
When Simon was a kid, Indians games were rarely on TV. He explained that bigger name teams like the Yankees or the Red Sox would have games shown in Australia, but Indians games were tough to come by. However Simon was able to watch in 1995 when the Indians were battling for the World Series title against the Atlanta Braves. There was also a sibling rivalry happening.
“My brother is a massive Braves fan, and my dad is for the Phillies,” Simon said. “So in 1995 World Series my brother was pretty happy and I was pretty upset.”
While at Tribe Fest this weekend, Simon got the chance to interact with some of the players and got autographs from Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Cody Allen and Trevor Bauer. He was also excited to see Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus, who are his connection to the Tribe during the season.
“I have headphones on at work, and I listen to the radio with the At Bat app on my phone,” he said. “People know not to talk to me during that time at work because I’m listening to the Tribe. They know if they’re winning or losing, that’s for sure. I’m in a bad mood if the Indians lost that day, so they know to just leave me alone for a while.”
Being from Australia, Simon rarely has the chance to see the Indians play live in person. His first time at Progressive Field was in 2013 when he came to Cleveland for a 10-game homestand. He said that seeing his favorite team play in person was like a dream come true.
Simon will be in the U.S. vacationing for the next five weeks and plans to see a few Cavs games and then head over to Boston and New York, among other cities, to catch up with some friends.
Glad you could make it to Tribe Fest, Simon! Go Tribe.
– TribeVibe contributor Angela Martin
We brought you our great photographers’ shots from Day 1 last night/this morning.
Here’s more. We’ll see you in 75 days at Progressive Field!
–Photos by Dan Mendlik and Sarah Sachs
More from Tribe Fest Day 1: Photos! Autographs, haircuts, interviews, babies being signed and more!
–Photos by Sarah Sachs
Busy day around here: Tribe players visited Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, then took part in our Tribe Fest VIP events for our Season Ticket Holders.
Here’s a recap in Tweets:
This year’s Tribe Fest has a full slate of fun activities on the KeyBank Main Stage! Here’s a schedule:
10:10AM-10:40: “Chat with the President,” with Mark Shapiro, hosted by Tom Hamilton
10:40-11:10: Noon-12:35PM: “Progressive Field Evolution,” with VP Andrew Miller
11:25-12:25PM: “Minute to Win It,” with players and hosted by Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus
12:40-1:40: “Glory Days in Tribe Town,” with Tom Hamilton and Terry Pluto
1:55-2:55: “Toeing the Rubber,” with players, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and hosted by Jim Rosenhaus
You may have heard some exciting news from us on Wednesday: Popular local restaurants Melt, Barrio and Sweet Moses are coming to Progressive Field! Check out photos from the announcement above, and hear what the owners of the three restaurants had to say in the video below. Also, check out some highlights from Twitter reaction here.
–Photos by Sarah Sachs/Video by Nick Owens