The recent ineffectiveness of the Cleveland Indians has been due in large part to their inability to put together a strong starting rotation to help them compete in the AL Central. They have relied mainly on aging veterans and lower ceiling young arms who have not been able to develop into top flight starters. The Indians hope to find some gems in their farm system and Robbie Aviles is one name for Cleveland fans to look out for in the coming years.
Aviles is a right-hander who graduated from Suffern High School in Rockland County, New York in 2010. He initially committed to play collegiately at the University of Florida. Despite that commitment he was also expected to draw significant interest in that year’s draft. Unfortunately he tore the UCL in his throwing elbow just eight days before the draft. The Indians saw his temporary misfortune as an opportunity and selected him in the 7th round. He spent the remainder of 2010 and most of 2011 rehabbing from his injury, but was able to get in 9.2 innings last year, getting him his first taste of professional experience.
Wanting to make sure his surgically repaired elbow was eased back in to pitching, Aviles spent 2012 with Mahoning Valley in short-season ball. He appeared in 15 games, going 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA in 38.2 innings. However, he got stronger as the year went on, as evidenced by the 2.60 ERA he posted over the final 7 games. More information on his statistics are available here.
Now that he is more than a year removed from his surgery and rehab, Aviles will be given a longer tether in 2013. He will look to reclaim his status as one of the better young pitching prospects, and if he can continue developing he will warmly welcomed by pitching poor Cleveland.
Robbie Aviles Interview:
Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up?: My favorite teams were definitely the Yankees and the Tigers. The Yankees because I’m from New York and they’re a winning team and everyone around me was a Yankees fan. My dad and my grandpa are Tigers fans, so I was a Tigers fan with them.
How much do you think your arm injury impacted your draft stock?: Yeah, it definitely impacted it a lot. I was a high profile kid going into the draft and then three days before my UCL required Tommy John, so I had to go into the draft with teams knowing I needed Tommy John surgery. It kind of hurt… A lot.
What was Cleveland’s stance when they drafted you?: Actually I was speaking with teams during draft day, trying to work out deals and stuff, and I got a call from my mom saying I had gotten taken by the Indians. They called me up, they knew my situation, they flew me out to Ohio and said they were going to give me Tommy John surgery and that they were going to take it slow with me and hope I could build it up and one day make it to the major league level.
How difficult was the rehab process?: The rehab process was kind of terrible. Not because of the rehabbing every day, but just because it’s such a lengthy rehab. It’s probably the longest rehab for any injury. It’s really like a 12 month rehab. It’s hard to get back into the feel of pitching again. I went from high school hitters, to sitting out ten months, to professional hitters, so that was one of the hardest adjustments to make.
What type of pitches do you throw?: I throw a four-seam, a two-seam fastball, and I throw a changeup, with a curveball.
What has been the most difficult thing to adjust to in being a professional player?: After today I would say the bus rides because we just had about an 11 hour bus ride up here (to Vermont). But also, just how good the competition and how good the hitters are. The little mistakes you can get away with in high school you can’t get away with any more down here.
Is it difficult to make the necessary adjustments to meet the higher level of competition?: yeah it is, I mean the workload and stuff is hard, but we have great pitching coaches that really explain to you not only what to do but why it is beneficial to do it. That helps out a lot.
What is the best advice you have received since starting your professional career?: For me it’s treat every day like it’s your last. If you’re a pitcher, you’re always one pitch away from ending your career. Your arm is your most valuable asset in baseball, so just take care of it.