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: 1B/3B/OF/DH Russ Canzler
Current Team: Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)
Year(s) in Indians Organization: Purchased from the Rays for $100,000 on January 31, 2012; claimed via waivers by the Blue Jays from the Indians on December 21, 2012; claimed via waivers by the Indians from the Blue Jays on January 2, 2013; claimed via waivers by the Yankees from the Indians on January 4, 2013
Why He Still Isn’t in Cleveland:
Because life just isn’t fair sometimes. I was a big fan of Canzler as a 14-year old prepubescent kid in 2012, but there wasn’t much of a need for him in the organization at that time. After all, the Indians had more pressing needs — he was originally designated for assignment by the Indians to make room for the Tribe’s most recent splash in the free agent market: Mark Reynolds (tell me it doesn’t sound weird to hear that again). The Indians obviously liked him (as shown by the fact that they claimed him back from the Blue Jays and tried to sneak him through waivers again), but he was far from a necessity in the organization. Other than a low on-base percentage, Canzler wasn’t horrible in his brief opportunity with the Indians, slashing .269/.299/.398 with 3 homers in 97 plate appearances for the Tribe in 2012.
What He Did: After bouncing around through the minor leagues for the Yankees, Orioles, and Pirates, Canzler was released by the Yankees last week after hitting .263/.332/.389 in 199 plate appearances (and even pitching 2/3 of a perfect inning) for the team’s top minor league affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He wasn’t on the market for long, however, as he was signed by the Phillies on Wednesday and sent to Lehigh Valley. He made his debut for the IronPigs on Thursday, going 1-3 with a walk.
What Does the Future Hold: Taking one look at the Phillies’ major league roster suggests that there could be a place for Canzler there in the near future. The 28-year old Canzler doesn’t appear to be a long-term solution, but there aren’t elite options in front of him on the depth chart, either. Ryan Howard is currently entrenched as Philadelphia’s starting first baseman, and probably will be for the foreseeable future given his large contract — even though he’s struggled the last few seasons. The Phillies currently have Cody Asche at third, Domonic Brown in left field, Marlon Byrd in right field, and John Mayberry, Jr. to handle first base and the outfield. Also, since the Phillies play in the National League, they wouldn’t be able to use Canzler as a DH, unless they played an interleague series in an American League team’s ballpark. Besides, Lehigh Valley’s roster also includes top prospect Maikel Franco and Darin Ruf. But while surpassing any of these guys on the Phillies’ depth chart might seem difficult, it won’t be if Canzler hits well at Lehigh Valley. The players listed above are more about quantity than quality, and none of them are having terrific seasons at the plate. In addition, some of them have even been mentioned as trade candidates. So if Canzler hits well, the Phillies would be foolish to not consider giving him a shot in the majors.
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.