I looked at the pitchers with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training camp the other day. Now it’s time for the position players. If you like rooting for underdogs (and if you’re a Cleveland sports fan, that tendency is probably hard-wired in your brain), then it’s always fun to find a favorite or two among these guys.
Hayes was drafted by the Marlins in 2005 and played there from 2009-2011. He was the back-up catcher to John Buck and also played 1st base and all over the outfield. The Royals picked him up on waivers at the end of 2012, and Hayes spent most of his time in the minors save for a one-week stint when Salvador Perez was on the DL. Career-wise, he hit .248 in the minors and .209 at the major league level. He’s only caught 139 games at the major league level for a .994 fielding percentage. He’s a career back-up.
The Indians drafted Lowery in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. He also won the 2011 Johnny Bench Award, which is awarded to the top collegiate catcher. He’s been working his way through the Tribe’s minor league system, making it to AA Akron. He hit .275 there in 2013 but struggled during 2014, hitting only .201. Lowery also attended Spring Training in 2014. He’s still being cultivated.
Moore looks like another career back-up, although he didn’t start out that way. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 draft by the Mariners. He made his major league debut in September 2009 and ended up on the 25-man roster at the start of the 2010 season and started 58 games at catcher. Then in April 2011, he tore the meniscus in his right knee. In March 2012, he broke a bone in his wrist blocking a ball behind the plate. Since then he’s spent time with the Royals and Padres but is only a .200 career hitter at the major league level.
Ciriaco has played all over the place over 10 seasons in the minors. He spent all of the 2014 season at AAA Columbus, where he hit .255 with 70 RBI and 15 homers. He’s a versatile player–last season he played 35 games at 1st, 30 at 2nd, 17 at shortstop, 14 at 3rd and one in center field for an overall fielding percentage of .989.
Lindor is the heir apparent to being the Tribe’s every day shortstop. Drafted out of high school in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 2011 draft, Lindor attended 2014 Spring Training camp, started the season with AA Akron, where he hit .278 in 88 games and made it to AAA Columbus, where he hit .273 in 38 games. Is this the year we get to see Lindor at the major league level?
The Indians just signed Martinez to a minor league deal a few days ago. There isn’t much to write home about here, so I’ll leave you with the illustrious Aaron Gleeman’s take on the signing.
Rohlinger was drafted by the Giants in the 6th round of the 2006 draft. Between 2008 and 2011, he had enough cups of coffee in San Francisco to equal a whole pot. He spent a few months with the Rockies before being picked up by the Indians. They’ve signed him to a one-year contract the past couple seasons and he attended 2014 Spring Training. He’s spent the last two seasons with AAA Columbus and will likely spend 2015 there too.
Hood was drafted out of high school by the Washington Nationals in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. He made steady progress through the National’s system, ending up at AAA Syracuse for most of the 2014 season, where he hit .294 (41-for-309) with 10 homers and 36 RBI. Hood could be very useful, as he bats and throws right and hit .315 against lefties last season.
Naquin is one of the other top prospects in the Indians system. Cleveland chose him in the 1st round (15th overall) in the 2012 draft. He attended 2014 Spring Training, played in the Arizona Fall League, and participated in the Indians Winter Development program. He spent 2014 at AA Akron, hitting. 313 entire 2014 with 12 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 30 RBI, 14 stolen bases and 54 runs scored in 76 games. He was hit by a pitch on June 27, breaking his hand and ending his season. Barring something amazing or catastrophic, Naquin will probably spend 2015 at AAA Columbus. However, with Michael Bourn‘s nagging hamstring injury and the revolving door the Indians have had in right field, it’s not a stretch to think Naquin could see some major league action in the second half of the season.
The Indians traded Justin Masterson for Ramsey last August. The Cardinals drafted him in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 2012 draft. At the time of the trade, he was playing for the Cardinals’ AA club in Springfield and hitting .300 with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 13 homers, and 36 RBI. The Indians sent him right to AAA Columbus, where he hit .284 (31 for 127) with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, and 16 RBI. Kind of excited to see what he’ll do this season.
Sands was drafted by the Dodgers in the 25th round of the 2008 draft. He spent a bit less than half of the 2011 season with the Dodgers and a handful of games in 2012. After a stint with the Pirates’ minor league system, he was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay and was DFA’d to the AAA Durham Bulls, where he hit .268 with 12 doubles, 9 homers, and 36 RBI in 2014.
Smith hit .248 for AA Akron with 24 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, and 50 RBI in 2014. The Indians drafted him in the 9th round of the 2011 draft, and he’s moved through the system nicely. He’s not a sure thing but certainly appears to have the tools to make it to the Show, if not in 2015 then 2016.
Pitchers and catchers report on the 18th; position players report on the 22nd. As I write this, the temperature in Cleveland is 0. Spring cannot get here soon enough.