The View From Pluto: The Indians Five All-Stars Took Different Paths To The Top

Jul 5, 2017

Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is among five players selected to the All-Star game next week in Miami.
Credit Arturo Pardavila III / Flckr

The Indians are sending five players to next week’s All-Star game. That's the most since 2004. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says each player has taken a different path to the top. 

Corey Kluber: "He's from Texas and went to Stetson University, which is in Florida. So he wasn't even highly recruited."

Pluto says Kluber was drafted by the San Diego Padres, but was barely on their radar. "He wasn't even in the top 30 prospects within the Padres organization."

Yet this is his second consecutive All-Star team, He was the AL pitcher of the month for June and this week, set a record with five consecutive double-digit strikeout games. 

Andrew Miller: "He was the opposite of Kluber. He was a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers. They pictured him as being a left-handed starting pitcher. He starts bouncing from team to team.

"Finally, four  years ago, Boston decides to put him in the bullpen. And it clicked. The Indians got him last summer in a trade. So, while he's a No. 1 pick, he's a failed starting pitcher who found new life in the bullpen."

Jose Ramirez: "He came from the Dominican Republic, playing on the back diamonds not even with the top Dominican players. Paul Mirabelli from the Indians signed him for $50,000, which is pretty cheap. And he just started hitting .300 in the minors all the way up. It took a little while for him to figure it out in the big leagues.

"He's a starting third baseman, a position he played only five times his entire minor league career. And, at the age of 24, he's the youngest Indians All-Star since Sandy Alomar."

Michael Brantley: "He came in the C.C. Sabathia trade in 2008." But Brantley was not the key player in the deal. That was Matt LaPorta, considered one of the best power hitters in the minor leagues. Brantley was "the player to be named later" in the deal. "Now, Brantley is an All-Star and LaPorta, last I heard he's in the banking business in Florida."

Last year, Brantley barely played after undergoing two shoulder surgeries. "I could tell you in spring training there was concern whether he would come back from this."

Francisco Lindor: "This is sort of the super highway to the All-Star team. He was a first-round pick and bolted through the minors. He grew up in Puerto Rico and when he was 13, his parents moved to Orlando and he went to one of these baseball academy schools and learned English."

Lots of players from different paths
"It really is an international sport, with something like 28 percent of the players from Latino countries, and there's an influx of Asian players ,too. 

"And it really is baseball Darwinism, too. These guys are all fighting for their spots. But the reason you want the big volume approach, is you just don't know [who's going to make it and who's not]."