Like every other team in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians employ numerous players throughout their organization, from the big-league club in Cleveland to their rookie league team in Arizona and beyond. And like every other Major League franchise, the Indians add and subtract from this player pool on a regular basis. This irregular series will serve to post notice when a former Indians player has done something noteworthy with a quick look back at the player’s time in Cleveland.
Player: LHP Aaron Laffey
Current Team: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals)
Year(s) in Indians Organization: Drafted in the 16th Round by the Indians in 2003, pitched parts of four seasons in Cleveland (2007-2010), traded by Cleveland to the Seattle Mariners on March 2, 2011 (INF/OF Matt Lawson and cash to Cleveland)
Why Isn’t He Still in Cleveland: Laffey was used in a bit of a swingman role by the Indians, moving frequently from the rotation to the bullpen, in part because he was your prototypical junk-balling lefty. After spring training and before the 2011 season, Laffey found himself caught up in a roster crunch, and after failing to win the fifth starter job, was quickly traded to Seattle when the Indians signed veteran RHP Chad Durbin to fill out the bullpen. He had a decent enough season with Seattle out of the bullpen, but was waived in late August by the Mariners. His most memorable contribution for the Indians might have been his performance in an otherwise forgettable 2007 ALCS Game 6, where he pitched 4.2 scoreless innings of one-hit baseball to preserve the pen for what would eventually become a Game 7, and series win for the Boston Red Sox.
What He Did: Three years and eight organizations later, Laffey finds himself on the Chiefs, signing a minor-league deal in late March after being cut in spring by the Baltimore Orioles. Laffey is being used mostly as a starter (10 starts in 13 appearances), and though it’s AAA numbers, he’s been producing quite well, posting a 3.08 ERA in 79 IP, holding hitters to a .247 BAA, is throwing almost twice as many strikeouts to walks (47 Ks, 27 BBs), has only allowed three home runs, and recently threw a complete-game-shutout on May 23rd against Pawtucket.
What Does the Future Hold: Laffey seems to be pitching well enough to entice a Major League club to consider him as either rotation depth or possibly a lefty arm out of the pen. Unfortunately for Laffey, the Nationals have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league, and it would likely take a few injuries for him to get a chance to start in Washington. Still, left-handers are legally prohibited from being unemployed in MLB, and it’s possibly the Nats could give him a call up at some point to pitch out of its pen. It’s unlikely a team would give up much in a trade for an almost-30-year-old-junkballing-lefty-journeyman, but seeing Aaron Laffey as a throw-in for a deadline deal might not be the worst thing in the world for a fan of a team acquiring him.
Notice a player you remember being in the Indians organization? We’re ever-vigilant, but sometimes we miss guys, too! Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know which former Indians farmhand or player is making noise elsewhere.