Indians See A Lot To Like About Shane Bieber
Righthander Shane Bieber was on Indians manager Terry Francona’s radar going all the way back to spring training.
"I think (president of baseball operations) Chris (Antonetti) was afraid to bring him over (to big league camp) because he knew we were going to want to latch on to him,” Francona said. "He’s in the mold of (Corey) Kluber, as far as his routines, work ethic and poise. There’s just so many things to like.”
Bieber lived up to the hype through 12 starts this season at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He went 6-1, 1.29 while striking out 72 in 76.2 innings and allowing a .191 average.
As usual, Bieber's calling card was his impeccable control. The 23-year-old walked just six batters. In fact, he began the season by pitching 26 innings and facing 99 batters before issuing his first walk. Those factors earned him a major league start in May.
Bieber, a 2016 fourth-rounder out of UC Santa Barbara, is one of the premier strike-throwers in the minors. His career minor league walk rate was 0.6 per nine innings.
"He’s not the finished product," Francona said. "He throws a ton of strikes—but he’s still developing."
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
Righthander Eli Morgan wasted little time in kick-starting his climb up the minor league ladder. The 2017 eighth-rounder out of Gonzaga showed little regard for the industry's bias against short righthanders—he is 5-foot-10—by pitching his way to high Class A Lynchburg in May.
Overall, Morgan went 4-2, 2.35 through 13 starts this season between Lynchburg and low Class A Lake County. He had struck out 10.8 and walked 1.6 batter per nine innings, while allowing 52 hits in 72.2 innings.
Morgan’s fastball/changeup mix has served him well in pro ball. The development of a dependable third pitch will dictate his future.
Triston McKenzie Eyes 2020 After Lost Season
McKenzie probably would have made his big league debut when injuries struck the Indians' rotation—had he not been injured himself.
** Righthander Triston McKenzie, who missed the first two months of the season with a right forearm strain, made his 2018 debut at Double-A Akron on June 7. Through two starts he showed no trouble missing bats, with nine strikeouts in 9.1 innings.