In looking at the current 40-man roster, there are a number of guys whose names might not be familiar to some fans. I went through the pitchers in a previous post (this companion piece was regrettably delayed by a household bout with the flu). Below is a quick look at position players new to the Indians organization or new to the majors.
Mike Aviles came to the Indians along with Yan Gomes in the Esmil Rogers trade. Over five years in the majors, his batting numbers are .277 avg/.308 OBP/ .408 SLG. Along the way he’s played for the Royals and Red Sox, and was a Blue Jay for about five hours. Aviles can play just about anywhere–second, short, third, or outfield, or DH if it comes to that. He bats right, which would have been a novelty in the lineup last year. As of this writing, he is the only arbitration-eligible Tribe player who has yet to sign a contract.
Yan Gomeswas acquired, as noted above, from the Blue Jays along with Mike Aviles for Esmil Rogers. He only has one year in the majors, playing in 43 games for Toronto last year at four positions (C, 1B, 3B, LF) as well as DH. His AAA 2012 line (79 games) was .328 AVG/.380 OBP/.557 SLG; at the major league level, it was .204 AVG/.264 OBP/.367 SLG. If he can successfully make the transition, we’ll have another right-handed bat in the lineup. Gomes has the distinction of being the first MLB player from Brazil (if he makes the team, Anderson Varajao should take him to Brasa Steakhouse to celebrate).
Mike McDade also came from the Blue Jays organization; the Indians claimed him off waivers at the end of November. He’s a 23-year-old, switch-hitting first baseman who has yet to make his major league debut. He’s hit .265 AVG/.323 OBP/.420 SLG in six minor league seasons. He also has 76 minor league home runs and 132 doubles and won the Eastern League Home Run Derby in 2011. What I like about him is that his batting average has slowly but steadily increased as he’s made his way through the minors. We’re somewhat awash in first basemen (after a drought), but the Indians’ depth chart only shows McDade at DH.
Chris McGuiness is a left-hitting first baseman whom we acquired in the Rule 5 in December. He has four minor league seasons under his belt in the Red Sox and Rangers organizations–lifetime line is .260 AVG/.373 OBP/.472 SLG. He hit .268 last season for the AA Frisco RoughRiders and was also MVP of the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .370 with five doubles, four homers, and 27 RBI in 25 games. He reportedly has some pop in his bat, which we sorely need. Here’s a nice little profile on McGuiness from his time with the Rangers so you can see for yourself.
Mark Reynolds will be familiar to most fans because he spent the last two years as a Baltimore Oriole (and before that four seasons with the Diamondbacks). We signed him to a one-year contract when he became a free agent last fall. He plays first and third, but you hire him for his bat and his 181 career home runs (he’s been in the top 6 in the league in home runs in three of the last four seasons). Along with the big bat comes a hell of a lot of strikeouts. He holds the all-time record for strikeouts in a season–223 in 2009. He also hit 44 homers that year, so there’s your conundrum. But being the kind of fan of who always looks on the bright side of life (you can sing along if you wish), I hasten to add that Reynolds’ strikeout numbers have been going down the last four seasons: 223 (2009), 211 (2010), 196 (2011), 159 (2012). Still too high, but at least it’s a downward trend.
Nick Swisher is, yeah, Nick Swisher. You know who he is. Former Yankee (and Oakland A, and before that, OSU Buckeye), he’s our big name big bat free agent in right field (with a four-year contract, thank you very much).
Drew Stubbs is our likely centerfielder. He may not be too familiar to some fans because he’s spent his four-year career in the NL with the Reds. While the acquisition of pitcher Trevor Bauer is generally seen as the key to the Shin-Soo Choo trade, the acquisition of a quick, slick centerfielder who’s stolen at least 30 bases each of the last three seasons (and 40 in 2011) is nothing to sneeze at. However, like Reynolds, Stubbs strikes out a lot (166 in 2012 vs. just 42 walks), but he was well-regarded in Cincinnati. It may be that a change of scenery is all he needs to start hitting the ball consistently.
Tim Fedroff is one of four minor leaguers added to the Indians’ 40-man roster right before the Rule 5 draft and the only position player to be so protected (the others were Chen-Chang Lee, T.J. House, and Trey Haley). In five minor league seasons, his line is .296 AVG/.378 OBP/.412 SLG. He spent time in both AA Akron and AAA Columbus in 2012 and performed equally well at both levels. He’s one of those funky guys who bats left but throws right. He plays center and left, and while he may not be major league ready this season, it’s nice to know we have some depth in the outfield. If you can stomach some really weak interviewer questions, you can watch part of an conversation with Fedroff here or get a better look at his swing here.