Since the Spokane Indians franchise returned to Class A short-season status in 1983, there have been 150 former Indians to play in the Major Leagues as of June 1. Of those, 27 are on a current MLB active or 60-day disabled list.
Some of these players have gone on to make a big impact in the big leagues, others barely had a cup of coffee. The complete list is here, but we’ll hand out superlatives to some of the notable or memorable – or completely anonymous, if the case may be.
Oldest: The longset-tenured former Indian in the big leagues is – by far – Carlos Beltran, Class of 1996. Beltran, 40, is still slugging for the A.L. West-leading Houston Astros. Beltran is a nine-time all-star, was A.L Rookie of the Year for the Kansas City Royals in 1999, and has been on the MVP ballot seven times, with a high finish of fourth in 2006 when he hit .275/.388/.594 with 41 home runs and 116 RBIs for the New York Mets.
Best with most obscure Indians stint: The next most-veteran player also has one of the shortest stints with the Indians to then go on to the bigs – Zack Greinke. The mercurial starting pitcher won the Cy Young in 2009 and is a three-time all-star. The 33-year old, 14-year MLB veteran is enjoying a fine season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, his fifth big league team. Greinke appeared in two games for the Indians in 2002, the last year the team was affiliated with the Royals. Greinke gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings with Spokane.
Wrong team: Jesse Chavez played for the Indians in 2003, the first season they were affiliated with the Texas Rangers. He has played in the bigs for 10 years but never did play for the Rangers, though he did for the Royals. Chavez made his MLB debut in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has bounced around for six organizations.
Most prolific slugger: Chris Davis played a full season for the Indians in 2006, smacking 15 homers in 69 games. He made his big league debut with the Rangers in 2008, hitting .285/.331/.549 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs. He blossomed into a fearsome power hitter with the Baltimore Orioles though, leading the A.L. with 53 homers and 138 RBIs in 2013. Davis finished third in the MVP balloting that year. He has hit 254 homers in 10 big league seasons.
International sensations: Three former Indians participated in this season’s World Baseball Classic – Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers for the U.S. squad; and for Puerto Rico, outfielder Carlos Beltran of the Houston Astros and pitcher Alex Claudio of the Texas Rangers. Kinsler was a 2003 draft pick of Texas and played for Spokane later that summer. He hit .277 with one homer and 11 steals. Claudio was a 27th round draft pick in 2010 and played one game for the Indians before promotion.
World (Series) heroes: Two members of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs got their starts in Spokane. Starter Kyle Hendricks pitched in 20 games – all in relief – for the Indians in 2011. He went 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA and three saves. Reliever Carl Edwards made 10 appearances for Spokane in 2012, going 2-3 with a 2.49 ERA.
All-Stars: Of the former Indians in the big leagues, six have been named to an All-Star team. Beltran is a nine-time all-star, Kinsler has been named four times and Greinke thrice. Davis, Neftali Feliz and Odubel Herrera have all been recognized as an all-star once in their big league careers.
Getting around: It is a logical conclusion that most of the former Indians to make the big leagues have appeared for the Texas Rangers since Spokane has been affiliated with Texas since 2003. In fact, 17 of the 27 current Indians in the bigs at one point played for the Rangers. But former Indians have played across the big leagues – 24 of the 30 MLB teams at one point have employed an ex-Indian. The Cubs (Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards, Tommy Hunter and Neil Ramirez) and Orioles (Chris Davis, Richard Bleier, Alec Asher and Hunter), at four each, have had the next most Indians alumni. The Royals and Phillies have had three apiece.
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