CLEVELAND (PURDUE SPORTS) — Nick Wittgren is joining fellow Purdue baseball alumnus Kevin Plawecki, his batterymate on the Boilermakers' 2012 Big Ten championship team, on the Cleveland Indians after being traded to the American League on Monday.
Wittgren was the third of the program-record seven Purdue players drafted following the historic 2012 season. He made his big league debut with the Marlins in April 2016 after Miami drafted him in the ninth round. The right-hander has made 118 career appearances over his three seasons at the big league level.
The Marlins designated Wittgren for assignment last week when they signed veteran infielder Neil Walker. Cleveland made room for Wittgren on its 40-man roster after it acquired him via the trade with Miami.
With the Indians also acquiring Plawecki via a trade with the New York Mets last month, Purdue's All-Big Ten closer and catcher have an opportunity to be teammates again. Together, they helped lead the Boilermakers to an 82-34 record in the two seasons (2011-12) in which they were college teammates; they were all-conference honorees both years. That represents the best two-year mark in program history. Wittgren earned a save in 22 of his 55 collegiate appearances, establishing a program record that still stands.
Plawecki and Wittgren are in line to become the first set of Boilermakers to be teammates at the big league level since Bernie Allen (1959-61) and Joe McCabe (1958-60) both played for the Minnesota Twins in 1964.
Plawecki and Wittgren were both in attendance at last month's inaugural First Pitch Dinner after attending men's basketball's victory vs. Indiana in Mackey Arena earlier that day.
Wittgren compiled a 2.94 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 32 appearances for Miami last season. He recorded more strikeouts (33) than hits allowed (29) while surrendering just one home run, thanks in part to a 46 percent ground-ball rate. In 127 2/3 career innings of relief at the big league level, he has averaged 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
One of Purdue's biggest wins of the 2012 season was in the state of Ohio at a ballpark with ties to the Cleveland Indians. Wittgren was on the mound and Plawecki behind the plate as the Boilermakers closed out a 6-5 win vs. Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament championship game at Huntington Park in Columbus. Wittgren earned two saves in the tournament and Plawecki was selected as the Most Outstanding Player. The Columbus Clippers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians.
"These last seven years have seemed to fly by," Wittgren wrote in a post on Instagram. "Thank you to the Marlins for everything they have done for me and my family. They took a chance on me in 2012 and I am extremely grateful for that. I've had plenty of amazing memories with the Fish, from arriving in the middle of the game for my debut, to Ichiro hitting his 3000th at Coors, to [Edinson] Volquez throwing a no-hitter, and many more. I'd like to thank all of the fans that supported me through the last three years. You truly are amazing and make Miami great. Thank you to all of the management, coaching staff, and my teammates from the past 7 years for the knowledge and advice that I have received. Miami will always hold a special place in my heart."
Cleveland has won the last three American League Central titles.