The Spokane Indians’ recently completed season was a success in many ways, not the least of which was their trip to the Northwest League championship series.
Despite the loss in that series, a three-game sweep against the Eugene Emeralds, the Indians had several noteworthy accomplishments on the field.
As a manner of wrapping up the 2018 season, here are some accolades and memorable moments from this season of Indians baseball.
Offensive player of the year: Curtis Terry. The “Big Rig” was league Most Valuable Player, so it only stands to reason he would be the team’s offensive POY.
Terry led the circuit in home runs (15), runs batted in (60) and total bases (149), while finishing third in average (.337) and second in on-base percentage (.434) and slugging (.606).
Terry led the the league in homers in 2017 and while he never said it, had to at least been surprised if not disappointed in being asked by the parent Texas Rangers to repeat the circuit.
The organization tasked Terry to work on being more patient and getting better balls to hit and he came through with flying colors.
Honorable mention: Diosbel Arias. Led the league in average (.366) and on-base percentage (.451) and was second in RBIs with 44 despite hitting just three home runs.
Starting pitcher of the year: Hans Crouse. The tall righty was promoted after the all-star game to Low-A Hickory, but he absolutely dominated in his eight starts for the Rangers.
Crouse compiled a 5-1 record with a 2.37 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 47 strikeouts in 38 innings.
He showed off a mid-90s fastball, a wipeout slider, a second breaking ball that had a little more loop that the slider and a developing changeup that was particularly useful against left-handed hitters.
Crouse also showed a series of shimmies, wiggles and gyrations that gives hitters another thing to worry about – and a good sense on when to pull them out of the bag and when to leave them in.
Honorable mention: Yerry Rodriguez. Though he only made four regular-season starts after Crouse was promoted, Rodriguez made the most of them in his first stint in affiliate ball. He went 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 27 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.
Rehab appearance of the year: Chi Chi Gonzalez. The right-hander, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in July 2017, was scintillating in two starts for the Indians – the game that clinched their second-half title and a win in the deciding game of the division series.
In total, Gonzalez – who made his Indians debut as a first-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2013 – threw 10 shutout innings and allowed just four hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
Honorable mention: Brett Eibner. The former MLB outfielder transitioning to player/pitcher gave the Indians five strong appearances covering 7 2/3 innings. He gave up no earned runs (one unearned), five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts before being promoted to High-A Down East before the end of the season.
Reliever of the year: Emmanuel Clase. Acquired from the San Diego Padres organization in May, the flamethrower was lights out in the bullpen most of the season.
Clase earned an all-star nod and tied for the league lead in saves with 12. He went 1-1 with a 0.64 ERA (two earned runs in 28 1/3 innings) and a 0.78 WHIP with 27 strikeouts.
Defensive player of the year: J.P. Martinez. The young Cuban was the Rangers’ No. 3 prospect. While he showed glimpses of the offensive weapon he can be (.351 OBP, eight homers, 11 steals, 49 runs), he was particularly impressive in center field.
Martinez showed good instincts and jump with elite closing speed and displayed a knack for making highlight-reel diving catches while also exhibiting the common sense when to play more conservatively. He was accurate with throws to bases and knew when to hit the cutoff man.
Unsung hero of the year: Isaias Quiroz. In Spokane for his second tour of duty, he was behind the plate whenever Crouse pitched and he handled Gonzalez’s rehab starts.
Quiroz was a stabilizing force on defense, called a good game and worked well with the organization’s highest-rated arms. Also, was a go-to guy for postgame analysis and served as translator for the Spanish-speaking players.
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