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Thursday July 7, 2011 6:03 am

Cleveland Indians farm system largely responsible for major league successes




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB

Lonnie ChisenhallMaybe it’s because the city of Cleveland has seen so much misery in the sports landscape in recent years that has many surprised that the Indians are actually doing well in the American League Central. How they’re competing with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox amazes some. In reality, the team doesn’t have any individual superstars but instead has a strong core of above-average players and continues to grow talented prospects through the minor league system.

 

They drafted CC Sabathia and are largely responsible for the pitcher he is today. They also acquired Cliff Lee from the Montreal Expos and grew him for two years in Double-A and Triple-A before Lee became a top-tier pitcher as well. The cycle continued on Tuesday night when Lonnie Chisenhall – the Indians’ first-round pick in 2008 – hit the first home run of his major league career. Chisenhall isn’t a prototypical power swinger, but he’ll likely be good for getting a lot of RBIs and having a high on-base percentage as he grows into an everyday infielder.

Thursday night will see another Indian pitcher debut as Zach McAllister takes the hill against the Toronto Blue Jays, following Alex White who premiered back in late April. McAllister came over from the New York Yankees last season and has spent 2011 with Triple-A Columbus where he went 8-3 with a 2.97 ERA in 97.0 innings pitched. He’s struck out 71 hitters to just 21 walks and has a WHIP of 1.103. Adjust those numbers for major league inflation and you still have an excellent pitcher on your hands.

Despite awful records in the last two seasons, the Indians aren’t far removed from some measure of success. They won five-straight division titles and six of seven from 1995-2001 and again in 2007. This season, they’re holding onto the lead in the AL Central but struggles as of late have seen them flip-flopping with the Tigers. They’ll have to take at least three of four against the Blue Jays to be sure they hold onto the lead as the Tigers host the miserable Kansas City Royals going into the break. They hope that success will begin with McAllister.

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