Have you ever followed a train of thought down a really winding path? Allow me to explain where tonight’s blog post came from – last night I started to think about who I’d like to replace Fausto Carmona in the starting rotation. In my mind, I rattled off the starters who were legitimate possibilities for a call-up from the minors. Then I started to think about talented pitchers that appeared to disappear from the radar. I figured I’d feature a couple of those players in a sort of “whatever happened to…” blog post. (Plus I’m afraid I’ll end up punching my computer if I try to talk about pinch-hitting Austin Kearns in the ninth, a day after pinch hitting Travis Buck in the ninth).
Adam Miller – right handed pitcher. Drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft, Miller was viewed as a front of the rotation starter. An extremely hard-thrower, Miller had the opportunity to win a spot in the Tribe’s bullpen as early as 2007 or 2008. That’s when he started to have problems with the middle finger on his pitching hand; they believed the problems were caused because of torque the finger endured because he threw the ball so hard. He had his first surgery in May of 2008 when the finger was surgically repaired. Swelling and stiffness during spring training in 2009 caused Miller to be shut down several times. He endured a total of four surgeries on the finger, including at least one reconstructive operation. It was feared that his final surgery was a career ender.
Where is Miller now? Miller is actually trying to reinvent himself (or should I say trying to reinvent his motion) in the minor leagues; he’s still in the Indians farm system. (Currently, the 26-year-old is with the Akron Aeros). When I initially heard about Alex White’s injury, I immediately thought of Adam Miller. Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said that while there were some similarities between Miller and White (both involved the middle finger of the pitching hand), Miller had a fissure in the tendon that left him prone to infection.
Hector Rondon – right handed pitcher. I loved watching Rondon pitch in the minors several years ago, and he looked like he was on the fast track to Cleveland. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, Rondon was a Futures Game selection in 2008, a Baseball American High Class A All-Star in 2008, an Eastern League mid-season All Star in 2009, and the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2009. (In 2009 with Akron, he went 7-5 with a 2.75 ERA). Rondon has battled injuries since then and had a poor 2010 season in Columbus, going 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA.
Where is Rondon now? He’s still with Columbus, but is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2010. Rondon is young (23), so he still has an opportunity to bounce back from his injuries.
Anthony Reyes, right handed pitcher. When the Indians traded Double-A reliever Luis Perdomo, to the Cardinals for Reyes in 2008, they knew he had a history of elbow troubles. He’s always been viewed as sort of high-risk/high-reward type of pitcher – the high point of Reyes’ career came when he won game 1 of the World Series in 2006 against the Detroit Tigers. The Indians non-tendered him in December 2009, and almost immediately signed him to a minor league contract. During spring training 2010, the Indians purchased his contract and put him on the 60-day disabled list while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Prior to the 2011 season, Reyes signed a minor league contract with the Indians.
Where is Reyes now? He’s on the AAA Columbus Clippers roster, but is on the disabled list. He’s still suffering from elbow problems, and hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since 2009.
Scott Lewis – left handed pitcher. A third round pick in 2004, Lewis had already undergone Tommy John surgery as a sophomore at Ohio State University in May of 2003. (In fact some people thought he would’ve gone higher in the draft without the history of elbow problems). Lewis started the home opener on April 10, 2009 against the Toronto Blue Jays and earned a no-decision. He gave up four earned runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings before the game experienced a nearly four-hour rain delay. He was placed on the disabled list the next day with an elbow strain; an MRI showed no structural damage. He began a rehab stint at Akron in June of 2009, but had to leave his first game early with biceps soreness. He made five total starts with the Indians in 2008 and 2009. Lewis started the 2010 season with Columbus, and was released in May of that year despite a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings.
Where is Lewis now? The 27-year-old Lewis appears to have vanished. I’ve seen no evidence of him after his May 14, 2010 release from the Indians system. Supposedly, he’d injured his elbow again and that was the cause behind his release.
Jason Stanford – left handed pitcher. The Indians signed Stanford as an amateur free agent in 1999 and made his Major League debut in 2003 (He was their minor league pitcher of the year in 2000). In 2003 he was 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 50 innings pitched, and was 0-1 in 2004 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings pitched before he was placed on the disabled list. He battled injuries, and finally made it back to the majors in 2007 (he was sent to Triple-A Buffalo before the end of the season). Stanford signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals in 2008, but was released before the end of April. He was quickly re-signed to a minor league contract by the Indians, but they also released him by the end of May. The Chicago Cubs signed him in August of 2008 and sent him to their Triple-A Iowa farm club; he became a free agent at the end of the season.
Where is Stanford now? In 2009, Stanford started to work as a television baseball analyst. The 34-year-old now co-hosts the pre-game show on Sports Time Ohio and also coached high school baseball in eastern Ohio.