Cleveland Indians Minor League Update: AZL Indians Preview

Goodyear, Arizona - Christian Petersen

Last night the Arizona League Indians started play. A look at their initial roster, along with several players to watch.

Arizona League Indians (R-)

Roster - Schedule - Scoreboard

The Indians have two short-season affiliates: The Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn League, and the team's Arizona League affiliate that plays in Goodyear, the club's Spring Training facility. The AZL Indians play at the lowest level of the US minors, and is a lot different atmosphere than the other leagues in that it's not run as your typical minor league league, with silly promotions, mascots, etc. Most of the players you'll see here are high school draft picks and graduates from the Dominican Summer League.

In the organizational ladder, the AZl Indians are second from the bottom:

  • Cleveland Indians (MLB)
  • Columbus Clippers (AAA)
  • Akron Aeros (AA)
  • Carolina Mudcats (A+)
  • Lake County Captains (A-)
  • Mahoning Valley Scrappers (SSA)
  • AZL Indians (R-)
  • DSL Indians

Here's the Opening Day roster. I've highlighted some players that I think bear watching.

Pitchers

  • RHSP Casey Shane (Age 17) - 2013 Draft (6th Round)
  • RHSP Kieran Lovegrove (Age 18) - 2012 Draft (3rd Round) - in AZL last season
  • RHP Ping-Hseuh Chen (Age 18) - Signed 2012 (Taiwan)
  • RHSP Shao-Ching Chang (Age 19) - Signed 2011 (Taiwan) - in AZL last season
  • RHRP Juan Santana (Age 19) - Signed 2010 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • RHSP Mitch Brown (Age 19) - 2012 Draft (2nd Round) - in LC this season, AZL last season
  • LHP Thomas Pannone (Age 19) - 2013 Draft (9th Round)
  • RHP Ramon Rodriguez (Age 19) - Signed ?? (Venezuela) - in DSL last season
  • RHP Anthony Vizacaya (Age 19) - Signed ?? (Venezuela) - in DSL last season
  • RHP Juan Santana (Age 19) - Signed 2009 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • RHP Jose Zapata (Age 20) - Signed ?? (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • LHRP Anderson Polanco (Age 20) - Signed 2011 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • RHSP Dillon Howard (Age 20) - 2011 Draft (2nd Round) - in AZL last season
  • LHP Carlos Diaz (Age 21) - Signed 2012 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • RHRP Thomas White (Age 21) - 2012 Draft (24th Round) - in AZL last season
  • RHP Martin Alcantara (Age 21) - Signed 2011 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • RHP Kota Kobayashi (Age 21) - Signed 2012 (Japan)
  • RHRP Jeffry Cleto (Age 22) - Signed 2009 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • RHP Naoki Hashimoto (Age 23) - Signed ?? (Japan)

Catchers

  • C Francisco Mejia (Age 17) - Signed 2012 (Dom. Rep.)
  • C Juan Gonzalez (Age 18) - 2013 Draft (27th Round)
  • C Juan De La Cruz (Age 19) - Signed 2009 (Venezuela) - in DSL last season
  • C Shane Rowland (Age 21) - 2013 Draft (20th Round)

Infielders

  • SS Ivan Castillo (Age 18) - Signed 2012 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • 3B Gerald Bautista (Age 18) - Signed 2012 (Undrafted?)
  • 2B Mike Giuffre (Age 18) - 2013 Draft (36th Round)
  • SS Jairo Kelly (Age 20) - Signed 2009 - in MV/AZL last season
  • 2B Takuya Tsuchida (Age 19) - Signed 2012 (Japan)
  • 2B Ordomar Valdez (Age 19) - Signed 2010 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • 3B Yonathan Mendoza (Age 19) - Signed 2011 (Do. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • 3B Grant Fink (Age 22) - 2013 Draft (23rd Round)
  • 3B Todd Hankins (Age 22) - 2011 Draft (15th Round) - on rehab
  • 2B Garrett Smith (Age 22) - 2013 Draft (37th Round)
  • 2B Luis Hernandez (Age 29) - Minor-League free agent (2012) - on rehab

Outfielders

  • OF Silento Sayles (Age 18) - 2013 Draft (14th Round)
  • CF Clint Frazier (Age 18) - 2013 Draft (1st Round)
  • LF D'Vone McClure (Age 19) - 2012 Draft (4th Round) - in AZL last season
  • LF Victor Cabral (Age 19) - Signed 2012 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • RF Felix Lora (Age 20) - Signed 2010 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • CF Joel Mejia (Age 20) - Signed 2010 (Dom. Rep.) - in DSL last season
  • LF Victor De Jesus (Age 20) - Signed 2010 (Dom. Rep.) - in AZL last season
  • RF Chia-Ching Lin (Age 21) - Signed 2010 (Taiwan)

There was a lot of money sunk into this roster. Dillon Howard, Mitch Brown, D'Vone McClure, Kieran Lovegrove, Clint Frazier, and eventually Sean Brady, all high draft picks, are on this team, as is high-profile International free agents Francisco Mejia (Dominican Republic) and Shao-Ching Chang (Taiwan).

Mejia (the catcher, not the outfielder) jumped to Arizona without going first to the DSL, so that tells you what the Indians think of him. A switch-hitting catcher with a very strong arm, if he develops an offensive game he should shoot to the top of the prospect rankings. D'Vone McClure is listed on the AZL roster as a left fielder, so it looks like the Indians have move him there from center. McClure's bat is what's going to get him to the majors, and I was a bit surprised he was kept in Arizona a second year. And of course Clint Frazier is on the club, though I'd expect he won't get into games for a while.

The strength of this roster looks to be the pitching staff, though. Mitch Brown is back with the team after starting with Lake County. He spent a considerable part of the first half on the DL, so he'll probably make a few starts in Arizona to get back up to speed, then return to Lake County. Kieran Lovegrove, another of the high school pitchers selected last year, returns to Arizona, as does Dillon Howard, who at this point has to be considered a massive disappointment. Shao-Ching Chang, one of the big amateur free signings last year, threw just one inning last year, and will start the AZL season on the Disabled List. Anthony Vizcaya, who last year put up some impressive numbers in the DSL, made his US debut last night. And the two high school pitchers selected in the 2013 Draft - Sean Brady and Casey Shane - will be on the roster as well.

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