The sections below update the games played by Indians extended spring training teams that I have been able to view in person. Please note that I can only follow one team per day and each team can play every day with the exception of Thursday and Sunday.
Team White got the week started off right with one of the best played games for any Indians team so far this spring on April 26th. Getting the offense started was catcher Jason Rodriguez who has been with the team since 2014. He worked a 12 pitch walk in the third after initially falling behind 0-2, then stole second before scoring on a Jesus Maestre triple. Rodriguez later came through again with a solid line drive single to left.
While the inning was ended after the Maestre triple, the next batter also hit a triple, this time being Angel Martinez to lead off the fourth. Martinez also scored after a Gabriel Mejia infield single.
Defensively, Maestre was both star and goat. He made a fantastic play early on ranging into the hole, but when he tried to make a barehanded grab later in the game, he launched the ball over the fence behind first base. There is no question that the young second baseman has a great set of skills, including speed, range and arm strength, but some progress will need to be made in his decision making.
On the mound there were quite a few impressive performances with Aaron Civale leading the way on a rehab assignment. Civale had the Brewers hitters completely off balance and struck out four in three scoreless innings. He allowed just one walk and one hit. James Hoyt also pitched on rehab assignment and was again forced to get more than four outs in an inning after retiring the first three hitters. After the inning should have ended, Hoyt got two ground balls (one out, one error) and allowed a single.
Civale pitched again in rehab on Monday, throwing 56 pitches across four innings with eight strike outs and no walks. Without a doubt, he is nearly ready for a return to the upper minors.
This was a big game for Jon Engelmann as well, who has only recently returned to the playing field after missing a few weeks with injury. He had two singles, stole a base and scored twice against the Reds. Steals were in vogue that day as Billy Wilson also took two while two others were caught. Finally, Henry Pujols massively broke out the boom stick as he hit a home run over the left field wall and a double as well.
There was some great news from the backfields on Saturday as Adam Plutko made the start against the Dodgers. Plutko began the season on Columbus’ injured list with a right forearm strain and could be a huge benefit to an Indians MLB team that is short one starter and has an unstable bullpen. Plutko lasted two innings and 28 pitches, striking out six without a walk. His first inning was immaculate as he struck out all three batters while throwing just one ball all inning. His only set back was a first pitch solo home run to the second batter in the second inning.
As for the kids, Luis Valdez looked absolutely dominant in relief, pitching a perfect seventh (they only played seven on Saturday) with two strike outs while lighting up the radar gun. Maestre also played in this game and was again exceptional defensively. In fact, the teams have greatly improved defensively compared to the first two weeks with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is the experiment of moving Jonathan Lopez to first base. Based on his performances in games that I have seen over the last two years, I believe Lopez is much better suited at third base, although he certainly has time to work on his game at just 19 years old.
Team Red played again on Tuesday, a game that included top pitching prospect Lenny Torres going three innings. Torres showed great command, although things fell apart a bit his third inning, which had to be rolled. The game was a bit disappointing offensively, but there were great pitching performances by James Hoyt (rehab), Luis Sanchez and Randy Valladares.
The Indians and White Sox battled a bit of inclement weather on Monday in what could be the longest game of the year at 3 hours 15 minutes with 12 total runs, 25 hits and three errors. Wind and rain aside, quite a few Indians had huge offensive and defensive performances.
Starting at the top of the line-up, Brayan Rocchio finally got his extended spring season started after missing the first two weeks. As lead-off hitter, he started things off strong with a double followed by a single and a steal in his second at bat. He was pulled from the game after two at bats. Korey Holland hit second and matched Rocchio with a double in his first as bat and a single and steal in his second.
As solid as this duo was, the best overall performance belonged to Pedro Alfonseca, who took a ball out over the extra high wall in left against the wind (they played on field #1 that has a higher wall to keep home runs from hitting cars rather than field #2 that is further from the street), then robbed a White Sox hitter of a hit by diving in on a sinking line drive in right center. Alfonseca later added another double to give him a .636 slugging percent in games I have seen him this season. Jhonkensy Noel and Gabriel Rodriguez also hit doubles in this game while both Dayan Frias and Henderson De Oleo each had two hits.