In addition to that trio, Indianapolis’ infield will also likely feature two-time Tribe Most Valuable Player Matt Hague. The IL’s hits leader from 2011 and 2013, Hague will enter his fourth season with the Indians as the Club’s Victory Field era record holder for career games (374), at-bats (1437), hits (422), doubles (87), RBI (198), walks (144) and total bases (591).
Hague will also be joined by fellow infielders Robert Andino, Chase d’Arnaud and Michael Martinez.
Behind the dish for the Tribe is a duo of IL veteran Nevin Ashley and returning catcher Carlos Paulino. Indians fans may be familiar with both backstops from the 2013 season as Ashley hit six homers with 28 RBI in 80 games with the Louisville Bats, and Paulino went 3 for 5 with an 11th-inning, game-winning RBI single in his Triple-A debut with Indianapolis on Aug. 29 at Toledo. Ashley and Paulino also excelled defensively for their Clubs last year, cutting down 26.2 and 36.4 percent of runners attempting to steal, respectively.
The catching duo will be receiving pitches from a talented mix of both familiar faces and newly acquired arms for the upcoming season, including rotation candidates Brandon Cumpton, Andy Oliver, Adam Wilk, Jacob Brigham and Casey Sadler.
Headlining the list of returning players is the Tribe’s Game 1 starter from the 2013 IL playoffs is Cumpton. The starting right-hander tossed a complete game in his most recent appearance with the Indians, blanking eventual IL champion Durham through 7.0 innings before he allowed two runs in the eighth. Cumpton, who also made his MLB debut with Pittsburgh last season, enters the 2014 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 overall prospect in the Pirates organization.
The Tribe’s rotation is also likely to feature another returning face in southpaw Oliver. The left-hander features impressive strikeout potential after leading the IL with 138 whiffs last year, a total which ties former Indianapolis lefty Justin Wilson for the most strikeouts in a single season since the team moved to Victory Field in 1996. Oliver made the Opening Day start for the Indians in 2013 and concluded the year having led the Tribe to a 16-8 record (.667) during his 25 starts.