Sunday afternoon right handed pitcher Mike Crotta will make his Indians and Triple-A debut. He will become the fourth player to make the leap this season. 3B Pedro Alvarez and 2B/SS Brian Friday made their debut on Opening Night with RHP Michael Dubee making his debut on Thursday night. The ultimate thrill for a baseball player is the call to the show, but the first time at Triple-A can be a big deal.
Dubee (pronounced Do-bee) made his debut Thursday in front of his grandparents. He grew up less than 45 minutes away from Pawtucket and had the family support when he took the mound. His 8th inning opened with a line out to 2nd base. Then Michael walked two batters and faced the tying runner with only one out. Dubee induced Aaron Bates into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play. As he walked off the mound, he placed his glove over his face to cover up him yelling out loud. The long journey was over for the 24 year old.
Thursday morning Dubee left his house in Altoona Pennsylvania at 4:00. Dubee and Mike Crotta took a 6 am flight to Johnston, PA. When their one hour flight carrying roughly 8 passengers landed a rear tire blew out causing a 6 hour delay. They had to wait until a new tire could be flown in from Washington Dulles. When the tire finally arrived and the plan was fixed they took off for Dulles. The pair had lunch around 2:30 and flew from Dulles to Providence arriving at the ballpark around 5:00. Crotta was not yet on the roster, but Dubee was and needed that night. He was sent to the bullpen and told to warm up in the top of the 8th inning. The rest is history and his first day in Triple-A lasted roughly 17 hours. When I spoke to him that night on the bus back to the hotel he was ready for bed.
The cruel side of the business is that Dubee is heading back to Altoona Sunday morning. The travel will be better thanks to a rental car and a quick drive to Harrisburg. Crotta will take his spot on the Indians roster and be Sunday’s starting pitcher. The 25 year old Crotta was 2-0 in 4 double-A starts. In 25.1 innings he allowed just 5 runs (1.78 ERA) on 14 hits with 16 strikeouts. Crotta is a big kid listed at 6’6″ and he has been soft spoken since arriving on Thursday. Last summer a soft spoken kid named Brad Lincoln made his Triple-A debut at Lehigh Valley and was brilliant for 7 innings. Who knows, maybe Crotta has that in him.
This is the part when Pittsburgh Pirates fans will want to look away. Since 2006 the Indians have not had many pitchers come from Double-A and actually help the team. Here is the list of pitchers who made at least 5 starts with the Indians after their promotion from Double-A
2006: Jason Roach (not a prospect, 30 years old and made nine starts for Indy)
Shane Youman (26 years old, 1st time at AAA made 7 starts w/15 more in 2007)
2007: Luis Munoz (25 years old, 1st time at AAA made 3 starts w/12 more in 2008
2008: Jimmy Barthmaier (24 years old, 1st time at AAA made 16 starts and 3 w/PIT
Corey Hamman (not a prospect still with Indians made 12 starts in ’08)
2009: Brad Lincoln (highest rated pitching prospect made 12 starts and w/Indy this year)
Folks, that the list of players who have been able to handle the jump from Double-A to Triple-A. With the season ending injury to pitcher Kevin Hart you can expect Mike Crotta to make multiple starts with the Indians.
My first Triple-A game was April 6, 2006 at Pawtucket. My family was not there, but they were listening and they still do today.
ROOKIE NEWS AND NOTES:
In Saturday’s loss at Lehigh Valley, Pedro Alvarez blasted his 6th home run and 2nd in as many nights. His home run on Friday snapped a 0-11 stretch and yet he was still very confident walking to the plate tonight. Let’s see if his 3 hit and 3 RBI performance jump starts his May.
Brian Friday has an 8 game hit streak that has raised his batting average from .205 to .269. He credits this streak to hitting coach Jeff Branson. The two of them have been working in the batting cage and Brian is to the point where he is competitive during each at bat. He didn’t feel that competitive early on, but remember he is a Triple-A rookie.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of some murals that are featured at McCoy Stadium. The home of the Paw Sox features pictures of just about everyone who ever played in Pawtucket. Recognize any of the guys in this picture?