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Veteran Experience Anchors Indy's Likely Bullpen

April 15, 2021 - Triple-A East League (AAA East) - Indianapolis Indians News Release


After finishing the 2019 season with the most saves (43) in the International League, the Indianapolis Indians bullpen is likely to be made up of strong-armed veterans for the 2021 season. More than half of Indy's projected relievers have experience in the major leagues while only two are expected to make their Triple-A debut in the Circle City. While most, if not all of Indy's possible relief pitchers prepare for the quickly approaching season at the Pirates Alternate Training Site, we looked at who could be suiting up for the Indians this May.

RHP

Jandel Gustave : After spending 2020 spring training with San Francisco, Gustave was left off the Summer Camp roster come July and one month later was designated for assignment. He spent the remainder of the season in Altoona at Pittsburgh's Alternate Training Site after being signed as a minor league free agent in September, and could get the chance to prove himself with the Indians this season. After making his major league debut in 2016, the 28-year-old veteran spent the 2019 season with three different teams after having Tommy John surgery and missing the 2018 campaign. After three games with High-A San Jose, he was quickly promoted to Triple-A Sacramento and went 2-2 with a 6.15 ERA (18er/26.1ip), 25 strikeouts and seven saves. He finished the season in the majors with San Francisco, where he made 23 appearances and had a 2.96 ERA (8er/24.1ip),14 strikeouts and one save. He was originally signed by Houston as a non-drafted free agent in May 2010 and spent the next eight years in the Astros organization.

Geoff Hartlieb : Hartlieb is one of two familiar faces that could be returning to the bullpen for Indy. The right-handed middle reliever appeared in 21 games with Pittsburgh in 2020, going 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA (9er/22.1ip) and 19 strikeouts. He made his major league debut on May 18, 2019 at San Diego and jumped between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh throughout the remainder of the season. During his time with the Indians in 2019, Hartlieb went 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA (11er/39.2ip), 50 strikeouts and three saves in 26 appearances. He was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the 29th round (885th overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Lindenwood (Mo.) College.

Kyle Keller : Keller is the most recent player to join the Pittsburgh organization after being traded by Los Angeles (AL) on April 5, 2021. He spent the majority of the 2020 season at the Angels Alternate Training Site and made two big-league appearances with a 7.71 ER(2er/2.1ip). Keller was originally selected by Miami in the 18th round (536th overall) of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Southeastern Louisiana University, and he quickly rose through the ranks in 2019. After beginning the year with Double-A Jacksonville, he was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans and made 37 appearances with a 4.50 ERA (27er/54.0ip) and 10 saves. He was later recalled by Miami and made his major league debut on Aug. 4 at Tampa Bay. He played a total of 10 games with Miami and had a 3.38 ERA (4er/10.2ip) with 11 strikeouts.

Nick Mears : After making his major league debut on Aug. 8, 2020 with no Triple-A experience, the 24-year-old is likely to join the Indians bullpen this season. Mears was signed by Pittsburgh in 2018 as a non-drafted free agent out of Sacramento (Calif.) Community College and quickly made his way to the majors. He appeared in four games with Pittsburgh in 2020 with a 5.40 ERA (3er/5.0ip). He split the 2019 season between Single-A Greensboro, High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona and went a combined 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA (17er/46.2ip), 69 strikeouts and five saves.

Sean Poppen : Poppen was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh in October 2020 after originally being selected by Minnesota in the 19th round (573rd overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Harvard University. He spent the majority of 2020 at Minnesota's Alternate Training Site but appeared in six games for the Twins, posting a 4.70 ERA (4er/7.2ip) with 10 strikeouts. Poppen rose through the minor league ranks in 2019, appearing with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester before making his major league debut with Minnesota on June 19. He came out of the Twins bullpen for four games in 2019 with a 7.56 ERA (7er/8.1ip) and nine strikeouts.

Shea Spitzbarth : The 26-year-old joined Pittsburgh in 2020 after being selected from Los Angeles (NL) in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He was originally signed by the Dodgers in 2015 as a non-drafted free agent out of Molloy (N.Y.) College and rose to Triple-A briefly in 2018. He then split the 2019 season between Double-A Tulsa and Oklahoma City, going a combined 4-3 with a 4.09 ERA (30er/66.0ip) and five saves. He excelled with Tulsa (2.05 ERA [10er/44.0ip], 32 appearances) andwas named as a Texas League midseason All-Star.

LHP

Braeden Ogle : After spending the 2020 season at Pittsburgh's Alternate Training Site, Ogle is another fresh face that could potentially be suiting up for the Indians this year. He began the 2019 season with Single-A Greensboro and went 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA (13er/31.2ip), 34 strikeouts and four saves. He finished the season by making seven appearances with High-A Bradenton and went 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA (4er/11.1ip) and 10 strikeouts. The 23-year-old southpaw was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round (135th overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Jensen Beach (Fla.) High School.

Blake Weiman : Weiman is entering his fourth season with the Pirates organization and could return to Indy for his second season this May after not playing in 2020. He began the 2019 season with Double-A Altoona, where he went 1-2 with a 1.86 ERA (4er/19.1ip), two saves and 24 strikeouts. His dominant start in Altoona earned him a promotion to Indianapolis on June 19, where he finished the season with a 4.63 ERA (6er/11.2ip),one save and 10 strikeouts. He was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the eighth round (238th overall) of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Kansas University.


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