All a fan base could ever ask for from their beloved team is to see the deciding championship game be played out in front of their own watchful eyes. The Indianapolis Indians brought the the deciding Game 5 of the Governor’s Cup Championship Series against the Columbus Clippers to Victory Field, but failed in their attempt to claim their first International League title since clinching at home in 2000.
The Indians saw their season attendance reach new heights in 2015. Their final season attendance of 662,536 is a new franchise record.
The Indians were a mix of veterans with MLB experience and a few youngsters who are on the top of the Pittsburgh Pirates’s prospect list. Chris Volstad was their unexpected ace this season. His 11-7 record and 3.18 ERA and team leading 97 strikeouts is his first successful season since his rookie year with the Florida Marlins in 2008.
“He was able to throw any pitch at any count,” Indians catcher Tony Sanchez said. “In his last two outings, he’s been extremely solid throwing off-speed pitches to get back into counts. So when we’ve fallen behind, there’s nothing he can’t throw to keep hitters off balance. When they’re thinking fastball, he can throw a changeup or he can throw back door breaking ball, and he was able to hit his spot with all three pitches and throw strikes. Any time you can throw strikes with all three pitches in whatever count you want, you’re going to have a lot of success.”
Sanchez said Volstad’s breaking ball is the one pitch above all others that has made him look so good in Triple-A. “I haven’t seen anyone hit that breaking ball,” he said. “It helps that he’s 6-7 and it looks like the ball is coming down from a building. He’s got great angle and when he throws it up there, it just bites really hard.”
The Indians also got a stellar performance from Clayton Richard before being picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He registered a 2.09 ERA in nine starts.
“He looks like a horse and he pitches like a horse,” Sanchez said.
The Indians also got some help from young up-and-comers. Tyler Glasnow made an appearance in his first eight career Triple-A starts and went 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 41 innings. The 22-year-old California native has the ability to blow away hitters on a consistent basis with a fastball that he can consistently get up into the upper 90s, a plus curve and an improved changeup.
Blake Wood topped all of Triple-A with 29 saves while infielder Alen Hanson tied with Quintin Berry of the Chicago Cubs for the highest stolen base total in Triple-A with 35. Hanson demonstrated this season his ability to get on base and into scoring position on a consistent basis. He has the ability to send line drives to every part of the outfield and has more power than one would expect, given his size and being younger than the average hitter at each level.
There are two Indians that are currently on the Pirates active roster. Catcher Elias Diaz made his big league debut after leading the Tribe in runs scored with 66 and runs batted in with 47 (third baseman Brett Moral and catcher Tony Sanchez also drove in 47 runs). Shortstop Pedro Florimon is also with the Pirates but his first full season in the bigs was with the Minnesota Twins in 2013.
Among the team leaders is outfielder Gorkys Hernandez (led Indians in hitting with .288 average), Willy Garcia (10 home runs) and starting pitcher Willy Boscan (3.07 ERA).