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Indianapolis 2021 Final Notes

November 24, 2021 - Triple-A East League (AAA East) - Indianapolis Indians News Release


SEASON IN REVIEW: One year off an unprecedented summer without baseball in the Circle City, the Indianapolis Indians returned to Victory Field to face a new slate of opponents, some who they hadn't seen since 1997 and the American Association era. The Indians finished the season at 61-67 in fourth place of their new seven-team Triple-A East Midwest Division, 12.0 games behind the Toledo Mud Hens (74-56). Despite their second consec- utive losing season, the Indians fared well against opponents above them within the division, going an even .500 against Toledo and St. Paul (3rd, 67-63). The sub-.500 mark was just the seventh in 16 seasons as Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate dating back to 2005, with the other losing campaigns coming from 2007-10, 2016 and again in 2019. At home, the Indians registered their 20th winning record in 25 seasons at Victory Field with a 34-30 mark. On July 1, the Indians were a season-high 11 games over .500 with a 16-5 record through the first 21 home games.

25 YEARS OF FANS AT THE VIC: Despite playing 20 games at reduced capacity due to Marion County Public Health Department COVID-19 guidelines, Victory Field ushered a total of 353,729 fans through the gates in 2021 - an average of 5,799 fans per game over 61 openings - to rank eighth among all 120 minor league teams. The Indians highest attended games came over the Fourth of July weekend (July 4, 10,869; July 2, 10,351) and a Saturday night doubleheader during Victory Field's 25th Anniversary Celebration Weekend (July 17, 9,531).

MR. WALK-OFF: Half of the Indians 10 walk-offs in 2021 - which tied a team high dating back to 2005 (also: 2015) - came off the bat of Team MVP Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt's five walk-off base knocks topped Yurendell De Caster (4, 2005) and Danny Ortiz (4, 2016) for the most by an Indians batter in a single season since '05. Three of those hits - all singles - led to multiple runs being scored and lifted the Indians to come-from- behind wins at Victory Field.

LEADING OFF: As a team, the Indians hit six leadoff home runs, which is the team's most in a single season since hitting six in 2009. Travis Swagger- ty and Anthony Alford led the pack with two leadoff home runs apiece. They are now tied for the fourth-most leadoff dingers among Indians batters dating back to 2005, despite Swaggerty playing in just 12 games with the Indians before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Swaggerty's two leadoff homers came on Opening Day at Iowa - the first Opening Day leadoff home run in the Victory Field era - and Victory Field's home opener vs.

Toledo. Alford's leadoff blasts came on June 13 at Nashville and June 16 vs. Memphis. Tucupita Marcano and Oneil Cruz also hit leadoff home runs over the course of the season, with Marcano and Cole Tucker going back-to-back to lead off Indy's Aug. 7 win at Iowa.

AUGUST 6-8 AT IOWA: The Indians combined for 13 home runs in three games from Aug. 6-8 at Iowa to set a Victory Field record for homers in that time span. The Indians began the streak with six home runs on Aug. 6, their most since tying a Victory Field era high with seven home runs on July 6, 2017 at Columbus. They followed with five home runs on Saturday night, marking the highest number of home runs in back-to-back games for the team dating back to 1996 when Victory Field opened. Eight different Indians batters launched home runs, with Anthony Alford, Hunter Owen, Cole Tucker, Michael Chavis and Bligh Madris each hitting two in the three-game span. Of Indianapolis' 33 runs scored in those 27 innings of baseball, 21 came via the long ball.

GOING YARD TWICE: The Indians had seven batters combine for 10 multi-home run games over the course of the season, which was the team's most since 2005 (also 10). Will Craig, Cole Tucker and Hunter Owen each had a pair of multi-homer contests, and were joined by Anthony Alford, Rodolfo Castro, Christian Bethancourt and Mason Martin with one apiece. Three of the Indians two-homer contests came in a two-game span from Aug. 6-7 at Iowa (Alford, Owen, Tucker), when the team as a whole hit a combined 11 home runs in two days. In addition, Castro, Martin and Bethancourt each notched their multi-homer games during the Homers that Help campaign of the Triple-A Final Stretch, a contest to hit the most home runs in the final 10 games among all 30 Triple-A teams.

WORKHORSES: Starting pitchers James Marvel and Beau Sulser each finished the season rated in the top five among Triple-A East pitchers in games started (Sulser 24, T-1st; Marvel 22, T-5th) and innings pitched (Marvel 131.2, 2nd; Sulser 122.2, 5th). It is just the second time in Victory Field history that two starting pitchers have ranked in the top 5 among league leaders in both those categories, following 2001 with Carlos Chantres (28 GS, T-1st; 167.1ip, 4th) and Tim Harikkala (27 GS, T-3rd; 172.0ip, 2nd). Marvel also finished the season ranked ninth among league leaders with a 5.26 ERA (77er) and 1.51 WHIP.

BRING EM UP: On Monday, Sept. 20, the Indianapolis Indians tallied 13 roster transactions as the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted six of their top 30 prospects (MLB Pipeline) and eight total players from Double-A Altoona to Indy. The headliners of the group included INF Oneil Cruz (MiLB No. 53, PIT No. 3), RHP Roansy Contreras (PIT No. 6), INF Mason Martin (No. 17), OF Cal Mitchell (No. 18), INF Rodolfo Castro (No. 25) and OF Canaan Smith-Njig- ba (No. 27), all of who made their Triple-A debuts in the first two games of the Triple-A Final Stretch at Omaha. Over the course of the season, 13 players who appeared in at least one game with the Indians were listed among Pittsburgh's top 30 prospects list, with seven of those making their Triple-A debuts in the final 10 games of the season (also: No. 10, RHP Carmen Mlodzinski).

ROLLER COASTER LUMBER CO: The promotion of some of Pittsburgh's hard-hitting prospects from Double-A Altoona for the final 10 games of the Triple-A season boosted Indianapolis to a second-place finish in the Triple-A Final Stretch Homers that Help campaign. The Indians finished tied for second place behind the Omaha Storm Chasers (24) with 19 home runs over their final 10 games, raising $950 for Indy RBI. Of the 19 home runs, 11 came off the bats of Oneil Cruz (5), Rodolfo Castro (3) and Mason Martin (3), all who made their Triple-A debuts on Sept. 22 at Omaha.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Rodolfo Castro was named the Indians only Triple-A East Player of the Week in 2021 after he hit three home runs in four games at Omaha from Sept. 22-26. The infielder was promoted to Indy from Double-A Altoona on Sept. 20 and made his Triple-A debut on Sept. 22. He started in four games during the five-game road trip and hit .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBI. His three home runs tied for first among league leaders for the week. He also ranked in the top 5 in slugging percentage (2nd, 1.118), hits (T-2nd), extra-base hits (T-2nd, 5), batting average (3rd), OPS (3rd, 1.618), total bases (3rd, 19), runs scored (T-3rd, 6), RBI (T-3rd) and doubles (T-4th).

2021 Regular Season

57-62 (4th, 11.5 GB, AAA-E MW)

2021 Triple-A Final Stretch

4-5 (T-18th, 4.5 GB)

MONTHLY AWARDS: The Indians selected five players of the month throughout the 2021 season, recognized from May through September. The winners and their monthly stats are listed below:

May - RHP Tyler Bashlor (8 games: 0-1, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 5 BB, 12 K, 0.78 WHIP, .069 AVG)

June - OF Anthony Alford (18 games: .415 AVG, 22 H, 4 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 17 BB/17 K, .563 OBP, .717 SLG, 1.280 OPS)

July - RHP Shea Spitzbarth (9 games: 0-1, 2.53 ERA, 10.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 5 BB, 10 K, 1.22 WHIP, .205 AVG)

August - OF Bligh Madris (24 games: .261 AVG, 18 H, 7 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 13 BB/15 K, .376 OBP, .536 SLG, .913 OPS)

September - INF Hunter Owen (19 games: .264 AVG, 19 H, 3 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI, .556 SLG, .872 OPS)

TEAM AWARDS: Four members of the 2021 Indians squad were honored with team awards during the final homestand of the season. These awards - Team MVP, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Silver Slugger - recognize athletes who had a considerable impact on the Indianapolis team during the season. The award winners are listed below: MVP - Christian Bethancourt called game in walk-off fashion five times at Victory Field this summer to earn himself the Indians Team MVP honor. The 30-year-old made his debut with the team on May 13 and four games later he notched his first walk-off hit for the club. Bethancourt appeared in 92 games this season and led team qualifiers with a .281 batting average (93-for-331), 60 RBI and tied for the second-most home runs with 14. On Sept. 26 at Omaha, he recorded the fourth two-homer game of his 13-year professional career and his first-ever five-RBI performance.

Pitcher of the Year - Shea Spitzbarth was named the Indians Pitcher of the Year after being one of their most consistent relievers for the entirety of the season, compiling a 2.12 ERA (11er/46.2ip) with 41 strikeouts. The right-hander did not allow an earned run in 18.0 consecutive innings pitched from May 23-July 6. He dominated opposing batters with a 1.41 ERA (5er/32ip), 1.03 WHIP and .179 average against (20-for-112) through July 29, leading to him having his contract selected by Pittsburgh for his major league debut on Aug. 2.

Rookie of the Year - Bligh Madris ended the season on a team-high 26-game on-base streak dating back to Aug. 27 during his Rookie of the Year campaign with Indianapolis. During that time frame he notched a team- high 15-game hitting streak from Aug. 28-Sept. 15, the longest of his career. After being promoted from Double-A Altoona to Indianapolis on May 19, Madris put together an impressive Triple-A campaign. He hit .272 (91-for-334) with a team-high tying 25 doubles, nine home runs and 55 RBI in 104 games.

Silver Slugger - Hunter Owen was named Indy's Silver Slugger after launching a team-high 20 home runs this season. He hit his 20th home run on Sept. 26 at Omaha to set a new career high, topping his previous best of 19 home runs in 2019 combined between Double-A Altoona and Indy. His 2021 campaign included his major league debut with Pittsburgh in San Diego on May 5, a pair of two-home run games and his second career grand slam, hit on June 19 at Victory Field. In 97 games, Owen hit .235 (77-for-328) and led the team with 55 runs scored, ranked second with 148 total bases and finished third in extra-base hits (31), RBI (53) and total hits.

MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUTS: The Indians sent six players to Pittsburgh for their major league debuts in 2021, three position players and three pitchers. The list of players, their debut performances and season totals for the Pirates are listed below:

UTIL Hunter Owen (5/5 at SD) - 0-for-2, 2 K, 1 HBP 3 games: .000 AVG (0-for-4), 3 K, 1 HBP

OF Troy Stokes Jr. (5/9 at CHC) - 0-for-4 8 games: .111 AVG (2-for-18), 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP

RHP Max Kranick (6/27 at STL) - W, 5.0ip, 3k 9 starts: 2-3, 6.28 ERA, 38.2 IP, 47 H, 28 R, 27 ER, 4 HR, 4 HBP, 19 BB, 32 K, 1.71 WHIP, .301 AVG

RHP Shea Spitzbarth (8/2 at MIL) - 1.1ip, 1h, 1bb 5 games: 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 BB, 1 K, 1.20 WHIP, .211 AVG

RHP Roansy Contreras (9/29 vs. CHC) - 3.0ip, 3h, 1bb, 4k 1 start: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.33 WHIP, .273 AVG

INF Oneil Cruz (10/2 vs. CIN) - 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 2 K 2 games: .333 AVG (3-for-9), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 K

PERFECTION: On June 27 at St. Louis, Max Kranick became the first starting pitcher since 1893 to throw at least five perfect innings in a major league debut, and the only in history to have his day end without allowing a baserunner. After being named the Pirates starter the day before and being officially recalled from Indianapolis that morning, Kranick took the mound and faced the minimum with three strikeouts on 50 pitches. The game entered a 1:04 rain delay in the top of the sixth inning, and the 23-year-old's line officially closed without a blemish. Kranick was promoted to Triple-A on May 31 and taxied between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis through the rest of the season. In 12 starts with the Indians, he went 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA (25er/54.1ip), 45 strikeouts and 1.27 WHIP.

CRUZING: Oneil Cruz's first stint in Triple-A was short-lived as he impressed his way to the big leagues on Oct. 2 after just six games. The 22-year-old, 6-foot-7 shortstop was promoted to Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona on Sept. 20 and homered in his second at-bat with the Indians two days later at Omaha. Rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 53 prospect in Minor League Baseball and No. 3 among Pirates farmhands at the time of his Triple-A debut, Cruz homered in five of his six games in an Indianapolis jersey and compiled a .524 batting average (11-for-21), 1.286 slugging percentage and 1.941 OPS, all of which led Triple-A East batters during that time frame. On Sept. 30, his final game played with Indianapolis prior to being promoted, he became the first Indians batter since Adam Boeve in 2008 to homer in four consecutive games, a stretch that included a two-run, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sept. 29 vs. Nashville.

MLB REHABS: The Indians had 11 different players appear for them on 12 separate major league rehab assignments from Pittsburgh over the course of the season. Each player and the dates they appeared on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis are listed below:

Position Players - INF Ke'Bryan Hayes (5/22-6/3), INF Phillip Evans (6/1-8), INF Colin Moran (6/1-6, 7/30-8/6), INF Erik Gonzalez (7/31-8/7), OF Ka'ai Tom (8/10-16), INF Michael Chavis (9/16-28)

Pitchers - LHP Austin Davis (5/18-6/6), RHP Chad Kuhl (5/19-31), RHP Luis Oviedo (7/4-23), LHP Steven Brault (7/17-8/4), LHP Sam Howard (8/17-28)

OPENING DAY: On May 4, the Indians won their first Opening Day contest since 2017 behind a stellar outing from RHP Chase De Jong and a Triple-A debut for the ages by Travis Swaggerty. Swaggerty opened the game with Indianapolis' first leadoff home run since May 21, 2019 at Louisville, and soon the pitching staff was working with an early 2-0 lead. De Jong stunned the I-Cubs offense, fanning a career-high tying 10 batters for the first time since 2015 and taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The Indians pitching staff combined for 15 strikeouts in the 3-0 win, with three bullpen arms combining for 3.0 hitless innings to keep the shutout intact. The outcome marked Indy's first Opening Day shutout win since 1998 (3-0 vs. Toledo).

LAUNCHED AHEAD: Michael Chavis' two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Aug. 10 vs. St. Paul was the Indians first walk-off homer since July 30, 2019 when Will Craig hit a ninth-inning solo home run vs. Columbus. With the Indians down to their last out and facing a one-run deficit, Chavis' long ball was the fourth walk-off home run that turned a deficit into a victory dating back to 2005, and their first since Alen Hanson hit a grand slam on Aug. 15, 2016 vs. Louisville in a 5-2 win.

STREAKING: Bligh Madris' 26-game on-base streak from Aug. 27-Oct. 3 marked the longest by an Indians batter since Adam Frazier reached base safely in 29 consecutive games from May 9-June 8, 2016. It is the eighth-longest streak dating back to 2005, with Chris Richard leading the pack with a 46-game on-base streak from May 13-July 6, 2006. During Madris' on-base streak, which helped earn him the Indians Rookie of the Year honor, he hit .320 (32-for-100) with 10 doubles, two home runs, 16 RBI, a .480 slugging percentage and .855 OPS.

QUALITY VARIETY: The Indians totaled 19 quality starts over the course of the season, with Beau Sulser (5) leading the pack. Each quality start is broken down by starting pitcher and listed below: RHP Beau Sulser

RHP James Marvel

RHP Max Kranick

7/10 @ COL: W, 7.0ip, 6h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 7k

10/1 vs. NAS: W, 8.0, 5h, 2r, 2er, 1hr, 2bb, 8k

8/20 @ TOL: W, 6.0ip, 4h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 3k

6/16 vs. MEM: W, 6.0, 4h, 0r, 0er, 2bb, 5k

7/7 @ COL: L, 6.1ip, 7h, 2r, 2er, 1bb, 3k

9/7 @ LOU: W, 6.0ip, 4h, 1r, 1er, 3bb, 2k

8/3 @ IOW: L, 6.0ip, 7h, 3r, 3er, 2bb, 2k

9/5 (1) vs. IOW: ND, 6.0ip, 5h, 3r, 3er, 2bb, 2k

9/12 @ LOU: W, 6.0ip, 2h, 0r, 0er, 1bb, 8k

9/2 vs. IOW: W, 6.0, 2h, 2r, 0er, 2bb, 3k

9/10 @ LOU: W, 6.0ip, 4h, 1r, 1er, 3bb, 7k

9/19 vs. STP: W, 6.0ip, 6h, 3r, 2er, 1hr, 2bb, 4k

RHP Miguel Yajure

RHP Cody Ponce

RHP Chase De Jong

5/9 @ IOW: L, 6.0ip, 4h, 1r, 1er, 2bb, 6k

6/17 vs. MEM: ND, 7.0ip, 6h, 1r, 1er, 1hr, 0bb, 9k

5/4 @ IOW: W, 6.0ip, 2h, 0r, 0er, 2bb, 10k

5/20 @ STP: W, 6.0ip, 3h, 1r, 1er, 1hr, 0bb, 5k

7/22 vs. TOL: L, 6.0ip, 6h, 2r, 2er, 1hr, 1bb, 6k

5/22 @ STP: W, 6.0ip, 4h, 1r, 1er, 1hr, 1bb, 6k

9/17 vs. STP: W, 6.0ip, 4h, 0r, 0er, 1bb, 6k

SULSER SLINGING SCORELESS: Beau Sulser tossed a team-high 20.1 scoreless innings from June 27 through the third inning on July 17 (2) vs. Omaha. The outing spanned four appearances (three starts), including 5.1 hitless innings in relief with seven strikeouts on July 4 vs. Iowa and a 7.0-inning quality start on July 10 vs. Columbus. The streak ended with a one-out, three-run home run in the fourth inning on July 17 (2). Sulser recorded four scoreless outings over the course of the season and following July 17 (2), allowed at least one run in each of his final 13 outings.


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