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1.14.2010

Tribe Invite 7 Minor Leaguers to Big League Camp

Nino Colla | Thursday, January 14, 2010 | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
The Cleveland Indians have extended seven invites to players currently in the organization to their big league camp.

It will be another go around for first round pick Beau Mills, while Lonnie Chisenhall and last year's first round pick Alex White make their first appearances.

White was drafted last year and hasn't pitched an inning for the Indians organization. However he's expected to start the 2010 season in Single-A Kinston (skipping Rookie League, Short Season and Low-A) and be on the fast-track to the majors if he progresses.

Chisenhall was the Indians first round pick in 2008 and he's bolted up the system, finishing 2009 in Akron, the same place he's expected to start in 2010. If his progression continues, he could be in Cleveland before you know it.

Beau Mills has been progressing rather slowly. He had a rougher start to his 2009 after dominating in every other level. He could start 2010 in Double-A or Triple-A, but has been in big league camp before.

They will be joined by other non-roster invites: Damaso Espino, Niuman Romero, Yohan Pino and Frank Herrmann.

Espino was a non-roster invite last year and Niuman Romero finished the season on the Indians active roster. Pino was acquired from Minnesota last year and Frank Herrmann has been teetering on the edge of minor league and major league.

That makes 16 non-roster invites in addition to the 38 players on the 40-man roster.

You know we'll address the battles as it gets closer to spring training, plus I'm sure there could be some additions.

Couple of injury updates on players that hope to be ready to go for Spring Training.

Jake Westbrook needed that winter experience in a big way and he's thankful for it.
"Puerto Rico was awesome," he said. "It was a great experience. I'm really glad I went. It was one of those things I was hesitant to do, because I've never done it before, but it was great. ... My elbow felt great, and the most encouraging thing was to be able to meet all my pitch requirements. That was very encouraging for me going into Spring Training."
Jake really needed to go through that. He didn't pitch in a meaningful game in 2009 and while he made starts in the minors, he didn't really get anything out of it. Nothing will be the same until he's on the mound at Progressive Field pitching in a live game, but the fact that he got a head start on getting his pitch count up prior to Spring Training is huge.

Jake also knows the added responsibility that he now has with Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia long gone.
"Time just absolutely flies," Westbrook said on a call with reporters Wednesday. "I used to be the guy trying to establish himself in the big leagues. Next thing I know, I'm one of the veteran guys trying to lead by example and by my routine. ... We're going to have a very young staff and also a sinkerball-heavy staff with myself, Fausto [Carmona], Justin Masterson and Aaron Laffey in the mix. I'm going to try to do everything I can to get myself ready and lend any hand I can with anybody who has any questions."
Guy is ready for it if you ask me. He's always been a pro. He was a veteran while he was a young guy. He's perfect for being the leader of this rotation personality wise.

Matt LaPorta is progressing well. He is expecting to participate in baseball activities sometime next week with doctor's clearance. He will have a checkup with doctors before Spring Training and he is hoping to be ready to go with everyone else at 100%.

If you didn't get a chance to watch All Bets are Off yesterday, I've got you covered.

ABAO conducted a remote from a mall in Strongsville. They were filled with Cleveland Indian coaches, players and management. Here are some thoughts on things said from the different guests.

Aaron Laffey has been one of the Indians that has stayed in Cleveland during the offseason. He's been working out in Cleveland he'll be in Goodyear, Arizona a few days earlier than the report date. I don't think he was even positive about the actual report date to be honest. He sounded focused for this season and I tell you what.

Last year I remember him talking about working on preventing injuries. This year I think it's about him growing. We've seen him prove he can pitch at this level. But he needs to build off that and put it all together. He also has to stay healthy as well.

I was distracted with Jensen Lewis being on, but the one thing I did catch was the mention of Scott Radinsky. Not only have a lot of these pitchers come through the system and spent time under Radinsky, but guys like Lewis have been down to Columbus/Buffalo to get fixed. And guys like Lewis have come back better pitchers.

So that's good to have guys like Sipp and Lewis with the rapport with Radinsky.

I was really impressed with Jason Donald. This was the first chance I really got to see him talk so it was his first chance for me to get an impression on him. He seems like a fun guy and a good clubhouse presence for a young kid. He was very talkative and seemed to be on the ball. He told a good story about when he got traded in the Lee deal. As we've pointed out, he played at the University of Arizona with Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe (who were both with Columbus at the time of the trade). Well it just so happened that the Iron Pigs were playing the Clippers during the trade and he had no clue.

Brown and Crowe were making all sorts of hand signals as if they were third base coaches towards Donald and after told him to come on over because he was on their team now.

Donald said he prefers shortstop but is willing to play anywhere to make the big league roster. He was joined at the same time by Nick Weglarz. He said he prefers the outfield, which is impressive for a guy that size. He WANTS to be there.

Both Donald and Weglarz will be in Arizona in a few days for the last portion of winter training. So they'll be there really early.

Finally, Joel Skinner, the new manager of the Akron Aeros was on the show and I came away with a better appreciation for him. He was the one who talked to Mark Shapiro about the possibility of returning to the club in the minor league system after they got everything ironed out.

Obviously, both were comfortable with the decision to Akron and Joel cemented himself as a company guy. He is an Indian, period. Loves the organization, would rather take on a role (because I have no doubt he could have gotten a job elsewhere) in the minor leagues (at Double-A no less) and be happy than go somewhere else.

Oh and he's had success in this job before. He said he's looking forward to working with the young players again.

Skinner talked about Acta a bit. He said he knew Manny from their days in the minor leagues. Both managed against each other in the lower levels of the minors.

So that was that. It was insightful to hear a few guys. Jason Donald was probably the most eye-opening as we got to learn about a guy who just joined the organization.

On the Joel Skinner-lines of managers.

I just found out the other day about Sal Fasano signing with the Toronto organization. He'll be managing the Lansing Lugnuts, who are a part of the Midwest League, and the Eastern division, the same one the Lake County Captains are joining. So we'll see plenty of Sal Fasanoness with those matchups.

Numbers Update: Remember how Jason Grilli wanted 49 because that was his father's number? Well Tony Sipp has evidently not given it up. Grilli is listed as number 35 on the Indians roster right now. Unless he makes the squad and Sipp doesn't, he probably won't get it unless he can talk young Tony out of it.

Finally..

If you haven't seen this yet.. Check it out. I tweeted the link the other day. Chuck Lofgren got to sing on stage with Garth Brooks. Good work Chuckster! Lofgren isn't in the Indians organization as of right now as we know, but he's still the man.

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