Infielder Joseph Wendle and starter Cody Anderson were named the Cleveland Indians Minor League Players of the Year earlier in the week. Both are unheralded prospects who jumped into the spotlight with impressive 2013 performances.
Here are comments about the two players from Indians VP of Player Development Ross Atkins, via the team’s front office blog:
“The (Minor League Player of the Year) process is one that, of course, performance is going to have a large part. But we look at performance in many ways: In the minors, one thing that we often will put a little more time stock in is how they did it. Did they go about it the right way? Does he embody what we’re looking for in a future Indian player?
There are no better examples than Joey Wendle and Cody Anderson. They understand the fundamentals and mechanics. We vote among player development staff and front office on those awards, and it was abundantly clear that these two represent the Indians very well, among a very good group of players.”
Wendle, 23, was a surprise sixth-round selection by the Indians in the 2012 draft. Based on his low profile at West Chester University, it was theorized that the pick was a cost-saving move to add in organizational depth. Wendle has been slugging away that misconception.
In 107 games for High-A Carolina, the second baseman hit .295/.372/.513 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs and 64 RBI. He contributed 10 steals and really has been one of the organization’s best success stories with his continued all-around success. He posted similarly stellar offensive numbers in 2012 for Short-Season Mahoning Valley.
That year, he also played some third base. He’s still likely viewed as a versatile defensive player and likely will begin the 2014 season in Double-A Akron because of what he’s accomplished so far. His long-term upside might not be that high (he’s just 5-foot-11), but he’s certainly making the case to be included toward the bottom of various organizational prospect rankings.
Anderson, 23, is more of a sure bet to land within the top 10-15 of those rankings. In 26 combined starts for High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron, he finished with a 9-4 record and 2.65 ERA. He was promoted to the RubberDucks (nee Aeros) for just three final starts to finish the season.
During his time with the Mudcats, Anderson was quite efficient for a minor league starter: He averaged 8.1 K/9 and just 2.6 BB/9. He’s allowed only 16 home runs to 974 batters in his career since being a similarly unheralded 14th-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Anderson will remain with the Ducks heading into 2014. Because of his size (6-foot-4) and impressive K/BB ratio, he’s certainly a guy to keep an eye on. In a best-case scenario, he’s pitching for Triple-A Columbus by the end of the season and perhaps making an entrance in Cleveland sometime in 2015.