The Cleveland Indians hosting Game 1 of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on Tuesday night are largely a homegrown success story.
Like most teams that enjoy success in Major League Baseball in the 21st century, the Cleveland Indians have found it imperative that most of the on-field talent helping you achieve that success is homegrown.
By “homegrown” in this baseball sense, I mean a player who was either drafted or signed as an amateur free agent and then developed through the club’s minor league farm system.
The Indians will host the first two games of the World Series on Tuesday and Wednesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
This will mark the first time in nearly two decades that the Tribe have played hosts to the Fall Classic. Both the 1995 and 1997 teams reached the World Series.
The 2016 version of the Indians has a number of key additions to the roster acquired via trade, such as ALCS MVP reliever Andrew Miller, ace starting pitcher Corey Kluber, slugging first baseman Mike Napoli and veteran DH Carlos Santana.
However, the Indians are largely a team made up of a homegrown core drafted or signed by the organization and then molded in places such as Mahoning Valley (short season), Lake County (A), Akron (AA), and Columbus (AAA), all of which have been Cleveland affiliates for at least eight years.
Nine of those players were selected by the Indians in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, and another was signed by the organization as an amateur free agent.
On the mound, pitchers Cody Allen (2011 – 23rd round), Josh Tomlin (2006 – 19th round), Cody Anderson (2011 – 14th round), and ALCS Game 5 hero Ryan Merritt (2011 – 16th round) were raised through the organizational program.
Roberto Perez, part of a three-headed Indians catching corps this season, was the team’s 33rd round choice back in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
Out in the field there are another five key Cleveland position players: second baseman Jason Kipnis (2009 – 2nd round), shortstop Francisco Lindor (2011 – 1st round), center fielder Tyler Naquin (2012 – 1st round), and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (2008 – 1st round) were all original draftees of the club.
Third baseman Jose Ramirez was signed by the Indians as a 16-year-old amateur free agent back in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic.
That list doesn’t include key starting pitcher Danny Salazar, out with a strained forearm during the postseason to this point, but who may return for the World Series. Salazar was signed by the club as an amateur free agent way back in 2006.
“I think the good news is if Danny pitches and he pitches healthy and he’s throwing the ball over the plate, we have a really good pitcher for however amount of innings he’s built up for, which can potentially help us,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, per Ohio.com’s Ryan Lewis.
Just what the National League opposition needs to face, one more talented homegrown Indians player as the AL representatives look to win their first World Series crown in 68 years.