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: OF Trevor Crowe
Current Team: Toledo Mud Hens* (Triple-A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers)
Year(s) in Indians Organization: Drafted by the Indians in the 1st round (14th overall) of the 2005 draft; played parts of three seasons (2009-2011) with Indians; released by the Indians on July 16, 2012
Why He Still Isn’t in Cleveland: Despite being a top draft choice and former top prospect, Crowe didn’t survive in the majors, and is just another example of how prospects will break your heart. Crowe showed an impressive ability to hit, get on base, run, and play defense, though he wasn’t a highly-regarded power hitter. In his time with the Indians, Crowe’s immense talent didn’t show, and he only hit .245/.295/.329 in 713 plate appearances over parts of three seasons in Cleveland. However, he did manage to steal 29 bases and made a few impressive plays on defense.
But overall, Crowe didn’t live up to expectations, and the Indians ultimately cut ties with him.
Interestingly enough, the Indians almost didn’t even draft Crowe. They had a lot of interest in another outfielder, Oregon State’s Jacoby Ellsbury, who of course went to the Red Sox with the 23rd pick. According to this SB Nation article (that Indians fans might not want to read), the Indians were so close to drafting Ellsbury that they asked him what he thought of the Chief Wahoo logo. (Ellsbury is of Navajo descent, for those of you who didn’t know.)
Many people credit the 2005 draft with producing the most major league talent of any draft in recent memory (just look at who went in the first round). According to Baseball-Reference, the 48 players selected in the first round have combined for a net value of 308.9 wins above replacement so far in the majors. In addition to Crowe, the Tribe’s other first round pick that year was spent on outfielder Johnny Drennen — who never advanced past Double-A.
However, the 2005 draft is probably better known as the draft in which the Indians took but couldn’t sign both Desmond Jennings and Tim Lincecum. This clearly isn’t a draft that the Indians will have fond memories of.
What He Did: Anyway, back to Trevor Crowe. Crowe didn’t play in the majors in 2012, though he collected 181 plate appearances for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City that year after being released by the Tribe. The Angels chose not to re-sign him, and he eventually signed with the Astros.
Crowe had another 181 plate appearances in the big leagues with Houston, though he hit just .218/.287/.291 over that time. The Astros granted him free agency after the season, and he signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers this past January.
Crowe hit just .240/.291/.349 in 278 plate appearances for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, where he was somewhat ironically a teammate of Ezequiel Carrera. (The two both played with the Indians in 2011.) Nonetheless, Crowe failed to make an impact on the Tigers, and he was released by Detroit on Sunday.
What Does the Future Hold: Teams are always looking for reclamation projects, and the pedigree of being a former top prospect will likely buy Crowe more chances with other organizations. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be guaranteed a major league roster spot right now, but finding a new minor-league deal shouldn’t be too difficult for him. Crowe has posted solid minor league numbers in his career, and at worst would serve as organizational depth. If he impresses in the minors, there’s certainly a chance that he could be playing in the major leagues at some point this season. But even if that doesn’t happen, the 30-year old Crowe is still fairly young and should have a few more opportunities to make it back to 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.