INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI) - Dean Treanor will manage a 2013 squad that features a handful of Major League veterans, as well as seven of the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 prospects, as ranked by Baseball America.
The Tribe will rely on a combination of solid pitching, a speedy outfield and power hitting as the Club defends its International League West Division title.
One of Indianapolis' greatest strengths is its star-studded pitching staff, which will be anchored by the Pirates No. 1 prospect, right-hander Gerrit Cole. The flamethrower collected 136 strikeouts while pitching across three levels of Pittsburgh's organization last year, and finished the campaign with a win in his Triple-A debut vs. Toledo.
Fellow righty Phil Irwin also concluded his 2012 season with the Indians. The hurler earned a win in each of his three decisions for the Tribe, including picking up Indianapolis' sole playoff victory on Sept. 7 at the Charlotte Knights, in which he struck out 11 batters over 7.0 shutout innings.
Kyle McPherson, who ranks as the No. 7 prospect in Pittsburgh's chain, recorded an impressive 0.98 ERA in three Triple-A starts last season before making his MLB debut with the Pirates. The right-handed pitcher was tabbed as the Bucs Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, and is set to begin this year's campaign as a key starter in the Indians' rotation.
Tribe fans will see a familiar face in left-hander Andy Oliver, as the former Toledo hurler held Indianapolis to just one earned run through 6.0 innings on April 13 last year. The southpaw enters the season ranked as the No. 13 farmhand in the Pirate's system, and has tossed more than 300 innings with the Indians IL rival Mud Hens since 2010.
The fifth and final starter for this year's Indians rotation is left-hander Kris Johnson. The lefty split last season between Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona, and concluded the year with a combined 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings from Aug. 15-30 in contests for both the Tribe and Curve.
In relief, Indianapolis boasts Pittsburgh's No. 14 prospect, right-hander Bryan Morris, and No. 16 farmhand, righty Vic Black. The pair of arms are both former first round picks from the 2006 and 2009 MLB Draft respectively, and are joined by the Bucs No. 16 prospect, right-hander Duke Welker. Each of the three relievers saw action in more than 40 games last season, with both Morris and Welker suiting up for Indianapolis.
Also included on the Indians' pitching staff are right-handers Brooks Brown, Vin Mazzaro, and Ryan Reid, as well as left-hander Mike Zagurski.
Behind the plate, the Tribe returns IL standout Tony Sanchez. The former No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft would have finished eighth among league catchers in 2012 after throwing out 31 percent of runners attempting to steal, had he appeared in enough games to qualify. Sanchez is tabbed as Pittsburgh's "Best Defensive Catcher" for the fifth straight year, and also ranks as the Club's No. 12 overall prospect.
Lucas May and Brian Jeroloman may also share time behind the plate for Indianapolis.
MLB veterans Darren Ford and Felix Pie will patrol the outfield for the Tribe in 2013. The duo has each been named their Club's "Fastest Baserunner" during their careers, with both having swiped more than 130 bags during their stints at the minor league level.
Returning to the Indians for the third consecutive season is outfielder Alex Presley. The Monroe, La. native has suited up in 196 games with the Tribe from 2010-12, and was named Pittsburgh's Minor League Player of the Year in 2010 after leading all Pirates farmhands with a .320 batting average.
The Tribe's outfield will also feature Brett Carroll and Jerry Sands, the latter of who hit 26 home runs for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, while also tying Pacific Coast League records with two grand slams and eight RBI in one game.
The familiar faces of Matt Hague and Jordy Mercer are also set to staff Indianapolis' infield. Hague, who was named the Indians MVP in 2011 after leading the league with 165 hits, will be returning for his third straight season, while Mercer rejoins the Club after earning a selection to the 2012 IL Midseason All-Star Team.
Joining Indianapolis from the Columbus Clippers is infielder Jared Goedert, a slugger with 102 career minor league home runs, including a two-homer performance in which he drove in a career-high nine runs on June 5, 2012 vs. Buffalo.
Pittsburgh Pirates rehabbing third baseman Brandon Inge will also begin the season in the Tribe's infield. The MLB veteran is coming off a solid 2012 campaign where he notched hits in 21 of final 23 games with the Detroit Tigers. A standout defensive third baseman, Inge still holds Tigers' single-season records at the hot corner with 42 double plays in 2005 and 398 assists in 2006.
The 2013 Indianapolis Indians roster is rounded out with Oscar Tejeda and infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr.
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