Sunday, April 17, 2016

Indianapolis Indians Weekly Update: Glasnow Turns in Another Great Start & Alen Hanson Continues Hot Hitting as Indianapolis Indians Finish Week 3-3

By Peyton Wesner

The Indianapolis Indians, finally back on the field and not inhibited by rain or snow, had a full week of action following Sunday's double-header with the Columbus Clippers. And they showed glimpses of the expectations put upon themselves due to the presence of the "Core Four" (Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Alen Hanson) in a week they finished 3-3.

April 12
Indianapolis 0, Toledo 3
W - Michael Fulmer (1-0)
L - Steven Brault (0-1)
S - Bruce Rondon (1)

During "Opening Weekend," the Toledo Mud Hens and the Indianapolis Indians both were limited to only one day of baseball. However, even though the road Indians entered more active, considering they played on Sunday while their opponent had three days off, they were quickly belted and found themselves in a 1-0 hole.

Left-hander Steven Brault started off his Triple-A debut rather rocky, for a personal error put MLB veteran Cameron Maybin on first. Furthermore, Dixon Machado displayed great patience at the plate, resulting in a walk, while Casey McGehee had a one-out base knock to load the bases for the dangerous Steven Moya.

Surprisingly, Moya, who entered Tuesday with two home runs in his four season at bats, didn't even have to do anything at the dish for the run to score. Why? Because Machado stole home!

On the other side of the ball, Detroit Tigers' top prospect Michael Fulmer was very dominant in his first start on Fifth Third Field 's bump. More specifically, he sent opposing batters back to the dugout empty handed. In fact, through the first three innings, he had four strikeouts while facing only one over the minimum. 

In the bottom of the 3rd, Toledo continued having their way with Brault. Starting with a Machado double and quickly ending with an RBI-single by the red-hot Moya, the Indianapolis' deficit swiftly grew to two.

Unfortunately on this night, two was more than enough. 

Sure, there were turbulent frames for Fulmer, like the 4th, when a base on balls to Josh Bell and a Jason Rogers' single set up shop with one out, and the 6th, where an error by Thomas Field kept the Indians alive for another rocket from Jason Rogers (this time a double). Nonetheless, MLB's 51st prospect ended the night perfect in terms of runs allowed as he induced a pop up of Danny Ortiz and a Willy Garcia groundout in the first jam while Drake Britton took the ball and saved the day by recording the third out in the 6th.

Aside from threatening in the two aforementioned scenarios, Lloyd McClendon's bullpen was lights out. The trio of Michael Crotta, Bobby Parnell, and Bruce Rondon fanned a total of six in the final three innings. Rondon, who was once thought to be the heir to the Tigers' closer job following Joe Nathan, easily recorded the save in the 9th despite surrendering a single to Jacob Stallings.

The Mud Hens concluded the nine with three runs, for Casey McGehee smacked his second hit, a single, that plated Machado in the 5th. Indians' starter Brault was already chased from the mound at that point and posted a statline of two earned runs in four innings pitched.

Pittsburgh Pirates' top positional prospect Josh Bell was held hitless in three official at bats while Alen Hanson smacked two base hits. Jason Rogers was 2-for-4. 

April 13
Indianapolis 4, Toledo 2
W - Jameson Taillon (1-0)
L - Matt Boyd (1-1)
S - Trey Haley (1)

September 6, 2013. That was the last time 2010 1st round pick Jameson Taillon was making a professional start as Tommy John surgery and a hernia kept the 24-year old out of action. Thus, April 13, 2016, was more than just a start for the righty and instead his long awaited return.

He didn't disappoint.

Throwing only 85 pitches, Taillon went six strong and allowed only one earned run while recording six strikeouts. 

Appearing unpromising immediately, the second Toledo batter of the contest, Dixon Machado, roped a triple to the right field corner, quickly putting the home team in business. Next up was former San Francisco Giant Nate Schierholtz and his bat found good wood in the form of an RBI-double. 

Now, this is where a gut-check moment found the starting pitcher as Casey McGehee and Steven Moya were looming with a runner in scoring position. Nevertheless, Taillon kept his composure by inducing the fourth hitter into a groundout in addition to pumping a fastball past the bat of the  home run hitting outfielder.

With damage limited in the 1st, Indianapolis picked up their starter thanks to a bases-loaded line-drive double from Jason Rogers. Two scored on the third hit of the series by the former Milwaukee Brewer and run support was finally provided. 

After the unideal start, Taillon had his best pitches working. Hence, the results were superb since he faced the minimum over the next four. Though, with the score 3-1 (Danny Ortiz run scoring groundout in the 6th) in favor of Indianapolis, the lanky Texas native ran into more trouble even though the first two were sent back in order. 

It began with a Machado single and was followed by Schierholtz producing a base knock of his own. That brought up Casey McGehee; yet, just like in the 1st, Taillon bested the experienced veteran by presenting an offering that resulted in a flyout. Inning over.

Far succeeding the leave of Toledo starter Matt Boyd (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, & 5 SO), the Indians' Rogers continued to leave his mark on this one with his third RBI. 

Although the Mud Hens' Machado was able to cut the margin to two in the bottom of the 8th (RBI single), Trey Haley shut the door for the Tribe in the 9th. 

April 14
Columbus 1, Indianapolis 5
W - Wilfredo Boscan (1-0)
L - Will Roberts (0-1)
S - Trey Haley (2)

No rain? Check! 60 degree weather guaranteed? Check! Filled stands as far as the eye can see? Check!

The home opener for 2016 Indianapolis Indians' baseball brought a familiar foe into the friendly confines of Victory Field.

But, unlike the last meeting between the two in the state capital, the home team ended the night on top.

A pitchers' dual early, Columbus' Will Roberts and Indianapolis' Wilfredo Boscan stifled their respective opposition. However, the prior could not sustain the effectiveness, for he "gift-wrapped" a delivery to Gift Ngoepe; one he would smack for a double. Next up was shortstop Alen Hanson and he bunted a slow roller to the Clippers' third baseman Ronny Rodriguez. 

The ball dribbled down the third base line before Rodriguez flipped the ball to the catcher in the hope of gunning Ngoepe. Safe! While Hanson was thrown out attempting to get into scoring position, the most important fact was the Indians' had a one-run advantage.

Make that two.

Seeing the ball better and better as the game went on, Dan Gamache drove home Willy Garcia with an RBI double to move the gap to two. 

While the Indians' offense was clicking on all cylinders, Boscan was continuing to be the Triple-A stud he was a year ago (10-3 record and 3.07 ERA) by sitting down batter after batter.

The 26-year old minor league starter exited the matchup scattering five hits in six shutout innings. Additionally, he possessed a five run lead upon exit as Ngoepe and Hanson caused havoc to start the bottom of 5th (Hanson would triple home Ngoepe) prior to Adam Frazier playing small ball with an sacrifice fly. Furthermore, in the bottom half of the 6th, Ngoepe drilled an RBI double to left.

Granted, late inning drama did ensue following Boscan's departure, such as former Indianapolis Indian Michael Martinez plating a run via an RBI double and two on base for the very capable Adam Moore and Michael Choice. Yet, a former Clipper Trey Haley sank Columbus with a pair of strikeouts, one swinging and one looking, to ring the Victory Bell and send 13,233 fans home with a smile.

As anyone probably could have guessed when reading through the series of events, the middle infield of the Indians' was instrumental in the victory, for they combined for five hits, three runs, and two RBIs (Ngoepe was 3-for-4 with two runs and 1 RBI while Hanson was 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI). Josh Bell was 1-for-3 while Jason Rogers went hitless.

April 15
Columbus 2, Indianapolis 3 (F/11)
W - Jorge Rondon (1-0)
L - Shawn Armstrong (0-1) 
HR - Indianapolis' Josh Bell (1)

We're going streaking!

Riding their first multi-game winning streak of the season, the Indianapolis Indians' looked to keep marching through IL West opponents in the second of a four game series against Columbus. 

Starting the game for the Clippers was the phenomenal Mike Clevinger. Clevinger, who out dueled Tyler Glasnow on April 10, had been untouchable in his past three Triple-A starts dating back to the first round of the Governors' Cup Playoffs. 

On this day, he was not the same pitcher.

Immediately, he flew through turbulence considering he found himself with two runners on and only one gone in the 1st. However, he kept his stature and prevented any runs from being put on the scoreboard.

Chad Kuhl was throwing for Dean Treanor's club. Kuhl has been equally impressive each of the past two seasons as he had recorded double-digit victory totals with Single-A Advanced Bradenton in 2014 and Double-A Altoona in 2015. But, the Clippers could careless with their opponent's accolades considering they struck first on a Ronny Rodriguez base knock that drove home Robbie Grossman (walked) in the 2nd. Moreover, 2015 Governors' Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player Michael Choice got in on the act by driving home a familiar speedster (Grossman) to improve the lead to 2-0. 

Two runs? Plenty of run support for Mike Clevinger, right? 

Not Friday.

Just as swiftly as he and the Clippers acquire the lead, Pittsburgh Pirates' top positional prospect Josh Bell brought the crowd to their feet with a grown man, fourth inning, two-run round-tripper to straight away center. Indianapolis' shortstop Max Moroff walked to start the frame, setting up shop for the future MLB star and no doubt was the "Bell rung."

With both teams engaged in practically a new ball game, the scoring slowed down drastically. More specifically, no runs were scored for the next six innings! In fact, aside from two runners (one Clipper and one Indian), no player made it past second bases during the aforementioned time span.

Thus, one can imagine how restless the fans that sticked around for all eleven innings were when Alen Hanson began the bottom of the 11th with a strikeout to Shawn Armstrong in addition to Adam Frazier drawing a walk and then being thrown out at second base. 

Hope was not lost though!

Armstrong, now in his second frame of work, was having great trouble finding the strike zone. Moreover, he issued free passes to Moroff and Bell, setting up two on and two out for Danny Ortiz.

Ortiz was 0-for-4 before the plate appearance and 1-for-5 after.

Lofting a fly ball over the head of Columbus' right fielder Robbie Grossman, Ortiz had the most meaningful hit of the night as Moroff rounded third and was safe at home.

April 16
Columbus 2, Indianapolis 1
W - Austin Adams (1-0)
L - John Kuchno (0-1)
HR - Columbus' Jesus Aguilar (2) & Indianapolis' Danny Ortiz

When watching the future of Major League Baseball, there are bound to be nights that the crowd is witnessing greatness.

That was the case Saturday night with Pittsburgh Pirates' top prospect Tyler Glasnow on the hill.

Glasnow, who made his first start of the season in a 1-0 defeat, was on a mission for redemption at Victory Field, displayed by him tip-toeing out of a one-out jam. Former MLB Top 100 prospects Robbie Grossman and Jesus Aguilar had both singled off the lanky right hander, opening up a great opportunity with runners in scoring position for Joey Butler.


After the fanning of the number four hitter, Giovanny Urshela stepped to the plate and suffered the same fate (so did many more).

Hurling for the Clippers was not the same individual that faced off against Glasnow in his first start of 2016 but rather Jarrett Grube.

Nevertheless, he also had a rocky first inning, for a fielding error by Jesus Aguilar permitted Adam Frazier to reach before walking Max Moroff. Immediately the Indianapolis Indians were threatening with no outs in the frame. However, Grube kept his cool by retiring Josh Bell with runners on first and second as well as Jason Rogers and Dan Gamache with two runners in scoring position. If anyone could infer anything from the first inning, it had to be that it was going to be a pitching dual.

Or maybe not.

After Glasnow swiftly picked up his fourth and fifth strikeouts in the forms of Adam Moore and Ronny Rodriguez, Grube was back on the mound attempting to stay consistent.


Danny Ortiz, the hero of Friday night, got a hold of an offering and sent it over the right field wall for his first blast of the season. The mistake would be the only such of Grube's three innings of one run ball.

Glasnow, finally given run support to work with, continued to throw "cannonballs" at ship after ship. Robbie Grossman? He went down swinging. Joey Butler? He had a similar fate. Adam Moore and Ronny Rodriguez? Swinging...swinging! MLB's 8th overall prospect was looking unstoppable!

Until Anthony Recker came up in the top of the 5th. 

Recker, the former catcher of the New York Mets, had avoided a strikeout his first plate appearance and instead flew out to right field. This time he singled to left. 

One batter? So what?

You're right; however, Michael Choice  was next up and he sent a laser grounder past Gamache and down the third baseline. Attempting to cut it off was left fielder Adam Frazier; though, he could only get the ball back into the infield after Recker scored and the scoreboard read: Clippers 1, Indians 1. 

Despite being near 80 pitches for the game, Dean Treanor kept his ace in the ballgame to work out of trouble, which he did with a flyout of Michael Martinez. Nonetheless, damage was already done.

Similar to Opening Night at Victory Field, the Columbus Clippers and Indianapolis Indians' bullpens both assumed their position of dominance in and old fashioned battle of wills. Hence, no runner reached from the bottom of the 5th heading into the 8th inning. Yet, Ohio State product and Indians' long reliever John Kuchno found himself in danger during the third inning of his Triple-A debut.

There were runners on first and second with just one gone in the inning. The hungry Robbie Grossman was at the plate desiring to collect the tie-breaking RBI. 

The ball was a shot off the bat. But, a 'shot' that was right at Gift Ngoepe, who tagged second base before gliding a throw to Jason Rogers to convert the double play. 

In the bottom of the 8th, Toru Murata left quite the pickle for Austin Adams to clean up. There was the speedy Ngoepe on first base and one out in the inning. Scratch that! Make it two on, for Moroff drew a walk. The two batters any Tribe fan could dream of having up with runners on (Josh Bell and Jason Rogers) would have their chance to leave their fingerprint on the first home Saturday of 2016.

Whiff! Whiff! 

The dynamic duo both went down swinging and it was still knotted at 1 heading to the 9th.

First up for the Clippers in possibly their last crack was Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar was the source of the only run from Game 1 of April 10's doubleheader. 

And he left his mark on this game as well, for he blasted (I mean absolutely blasted) a Kuchno offering high into the Indianapolis' skyline before it landed with a thud in the left field lawn section. 2-1 Clippers.

Although Danny Ortiz was able to get on with two outs in the bottom half of the 9th by a double, Indians' catcher Jacob Stallings squared a pitch a little too well as it hung in the air long enough for Columbus' Michael Choice to run in and seize the victory for the Clippers.

On a night that the Indians had only three total hits, Ortiz supplied two on the evening while Willy Garcia had the other. The first five hitters in the order were held hitless and struck out five times in 16 at bats. Aside from surrendering the home run to Aguilar, John Kuchno concluded his first appearance at the Triple-A level with a formidable four innings of one run ball. Tyler Glasnow had nine strikeouts over five innings.

April 17
Columbus 8, Indianapolis 7 (F/11)
W - Jeff Johnson (1-0)
L - Trey Haley (0-1)
S - Nick Maronde (1)
HR - Columbus' Jesus Aguilar (3) and Indianapolis' Max Moroff (1)

Sunday brought the finale of a four game set between the two best teams from the 2015 International League.


On a offensive oriented day that had fans witness one more run being plated than the first three games of the series, the Columbus Clippers salvaged a four game split of the Indians with a victory.

This one began almost identically to the first matchup of the season, for Jesus Aguilar sent his IL leading third home run to straight away center for a one run advantage.

However, the edge did not last long for the Indians' picked up their boomsticks and began teeing off on former Cleveland Indian TJ House. It commenced with a one-out double by Gift Ngoepe, bringing up Josh Bell. And unlike the night before, the top positional prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates rocketed a single to left field. But, it had too much speed on it to score a run, for outfielder Michael Choice swiftly threw the ball back into the infield. Nevertheless, Jason Rogers added a base knock of his own to supply the first tie of the contest. 

Surprisingly, from the 1-1 score, a miniature pitching dual broke out. That's right, for three innings no runs were added by either side as House and Indianapolis' Steven Brault did an excellent job stranding runners and avoiding back-to-back hits. 

Soon the floodgates were back open for business, for Columbus' Erik Gonzalez had an RBI single that brought home Anthony Recker in the top of the 5th. The Indians one upped their adversary in their portion of the frame through consecutive run plating doubles by Josh Bell and Jason Rogers. Bell presented the initial hole in the hull by bringing home two while the former Brewer chipped in one.

The Clippers came sailing back in large part to small ball. Ronny Rodriguez grounded into a fielder's choice in the 6th while Joey Butler soared a deep sacrifice fly the following inning. Moreover, they seized the lead on a Urshella RBI single with two outs. 

Just as the Indiana Pacers/Toronto Raptors game the day before, back and forth action ensued on offense. To elaborate, Max Moroff showcased a little pop in a two-run home run, which gave the Indians the lead before Columbus' Gonzalez sent home another on a single to right field, ultimately tying it at six. Furthermore, in the 10th, Gonzalez collected his third RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly prior to Indianapolis' Dan Gamache causing the fourth tie of the afternoon.

Yet, there would not be a 5th since Ronny Rodriguez, who had a good day at the dish (2-for-6, 2 RBIs), tripled with two outs, scoring Urshella.

Just kidding?

To lead off the bottom of the 11th, Alen Hanson turned on the after-burners for a triple. The Indians were in business! Next up was Gift Ngoepe. 


He fanned; however, Josh Bell was strolling to the plate in a position where a sacrifice fly would forgo an immediate defeat.


The Jeff Johnson offering darted off the bat of Bell towards now third baseman Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar had just moved to the position earlier in the inning when Michael Choice left due to injury. Despite the previous, he speared the line drive for the second out before running over to third base and doubling off Hanson.


Hanson didn't have a large secondary lead; yet, the quick nature of the Bell liner gave Aguilar an opportunity to end the game by beating the Pirates' shortstop prospect to the bag, which he did.

Unlike the day before, the first five hitters in the Indianapolis Indians' lineup was dynamite Sunday. Jason Rogers had arguably the best day out of his teammates as he was 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Josh Bell finished the series on a 2-for-5, 2 RBIs, run scored performance while Alen Hanson was 3-for-5. Gift Ngoepe chipped in a pair of runs scored with two hits. All Indians pitchers permitted at least one run to come across the plate.

What's On Tap
April 18 - 7:05 PM EST
TOL - Matt Boyd (1-1, 1.64 ERA)
IND - Jameson Taillon (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

April 19 - 11:05 AM EST
TOL - Thad Weber (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
IND - Wilfredo Boscan (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

April 20 - 1:35 PM EST
IND - Chad Kuhl (0-0, 3.86 ERA)

Who To Watch
---Alen Hanson: .381 BA, 3 R, & RBI.

---Jason Rogers: .333 BA, 2 R, HR, & 7 RBI.

---Josh Bell: .231 BA, 3 R, HR, & 6 RBI.

---Steven Moya: .333 BA, 5 R, 2 HR, & 7 RBI.

---Casey McGehee: .240 BA, 3 R, & 2 RBI.

---Cameron Maybin: .208 BA, 2 R, & 4 RBI.

IL West Standings
1. Toledo 5-2
2. Indianapolis 4-4
3. Columbus 4-5
4. Louisville 3-5

***Indianapolis Indians' photos: Courtesy of David Hague Photo (@DHPhoto11)
***Steven Moya photo: Courtesy of the Toledo Mud Hens and
***Jesus Aguilar photo: Courtesy of Chris Russell and "The Columbus Dispatch"

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