Indians Final Report





Best Player: Jason Kipnis began 2011 in Triple-A Columbus. The 24-year-old second baseman wasn't in the minors long. After batting .280/.362/.484 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 65 runs scored and 55 RBIs, he was called up to Cleveland in late July to make his major league debut. It was no quiet debut, either.

Kipnis' gutsy play instantly sparked the injury-riddled Indians, and he had six home runs, four doubles and 14 runs in just 18 games before being sidelined with a right hamstring strain. During his homer binge, Kipnis crushed a home run in four consecutive games and in six of 10 games spanning from July 31-Aug. 10.

Best Pitcher: There may have been more highly regarded pitchers entering the season at Triple-A, but righthander Zach McAlllister finished with the best campaign. McAllister dominated Triple-A hitters after struggling against them in his first exposure in 2010 as a Yankees farmhand.

Traded to Cleveland as the player to be named in the 2010 Austin Kearns deadline deal, McAllister went 12-3, 3.32 for Columbus—including three complete games and a shutout. In 155 innings, he rung up 128 strikeouts and issued just 31 walks. In two spot starts with the Tribe, McAllister went 0-1, 12.27, but he thrived again in his return to Triple-A, beating Rays prospect Matt Moore in a playoff start with six scoreless innings.

Keep An Eye On: Righthander Tyler Sturdevant was a 27th-round selection in 2009 out of New Mexico State, and had ranked just behind Moore in the Land of Enchantment's 2007 draft list as an eligible sophomore. The Tommy John surgery survivor started the year at high Class A Kinston and ended it with Columbus, going 7-3, 2.65 in 74 innings with 19 walks and 82 strikeouts. His fastball often sits in the 93-95 mph range, complemented by a power slider in the upper 80s and a usable changeup.

SMOKE SIGNALS

• Righthander Hector Rondon began a 30-day rehab assignment at short-season Mahoning Valley on Aug. 31, six days after the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John surgery in 2010. Rondon entered the season as the Tribe's 15th-best prospect and had reached the Triple-A level before being sidelined.

• Lefthander Nick Hagadone and righthander Corey Kluber made their major league debuts Sept. 1. Both came on in relief during the Indians' 7-0 loss to visiting Oakland. In 12⁄3 innings, Hagadone gave up three runs on two hits while Kluber limited the A's to two hits over 11⁄3 frames.