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Ryan Cooper | | October 25, 2016

Cleveland Indians players' college baseball careers

  Indians Game 1 starter Corey Kluber made his first splash at Stetson.

The teams have been selected, the stadiums are getting prepped, and the 2016 World Series is so close that you can practically smell the hot dogs cooking.

But the Fall Classic isn’t quite here yet, so in the meantime, let’s look back at the NCAA careers of the players on each team.

Many major league players sign with the team that drafted them directly out of high school, while an ever-increasing number come from the foreign ranks. Still, many do it the old-fashioned way, developing their skills in college ball before turning pro. In fact, 181 players on the 40-man rosters of the 10 teams in the 2016 MLB playoffs spent some time playing for NCAA programs.

Here’s a breakdown of the college years for those players on the American League champion Cleveland Indians. Check out the Chicago Cubs roster here.

Cody Allen | High Point

The Indians’ closer spent the first two years of his college days at Central Florida, being used mainly out of the bullpen with a few starts sprinkled in as a freshman. However, after redshirting his sophomore season, he transferred to the JUCO ranks, playing for St. Petersburg College.

After a year there, he packed up his things again, settling on High Point. He thrived as a starting pitcher there, posting a 3.12 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 83.2 innings (13 starts).

The Indians then selected him in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft following his second-team All-Big South season, and he signed.

Trevor Bauer | UCLA

Bauer was about as close to a household name as a college baseball player will be during his time at UCLA, as his advanced repertoire of pitches turned a lot of heads.

It was clear how advanced he was right away, as he earned National Freshman of the Year honors for going 9-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 2009.

He was very good in 2010, earning second-team All-American honors and leading the nation in strikeouts, but it was his junior year when he really exploded.

The Bruins saw Bauer put together one of the finest seasons by a college pitcher ever, as he went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 136.2 innings. Perhaps most amazing of all, he threw nine consecutive complete games to end the season.

That incredible 2011 campaign led to Bauer being named National Player of the Year by Baseball America and helped him become the third overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Yan Gomes | Barry

Before attending Barry, Gomes served as a utility man at Tennessee for two years. While with the Volunteers, he played every position in the infield except for shortstop but served primarily as a catcher.

His freshman year in 2007 was very impressive, as he batted .310 in 59 games en route to being named a first-team Freshman All-American. He then posted nearly identical numbers as a sophomore and was named to the All-SEC second team before returning to his hometown of Miami to attend Barry.

Gomes crushed Division II pitching, batting .405 with 21 homers and 17 doubles. That added up to a mesmerizing .775 slugging percentage. After that 2009 season, the Toronto Blue Jays took him in the 10th round of the draft.

Brandon Guyer | Virginia

Guyer played three seasons for the Cavaliers, starting off strong but getting better and better. He hit .282 as a freshman in 2005, starting mostly in left field and third base.

The following year, he raised his average all the way to .336 and complemented it with 57 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Then, as a junior he saw his average climb to .370, and he stole another 18 bags. Impressively, he struck out just 27 times in 227 at-bats in 2007.

That was enough to convince the Cubs to draft him in the fifth round that year, and he signed.

Jason Kipnis | Arizona State

Kipnis started his college career at Kentucky, where he smoked the ball, then transferred to Arizona State, where he continued to smoke the ball.

He batted .337 in a part-time role in 2007 with the Wildcats before proceeding to put up some massive numbers as an outfielder and second baseman for the Sun Devils.

He earned All-American honors in each of his two years with Arizona State. In his first season in 2008, he hit .371 with 14 home runs and 24 steals, falling just short of a .500 on-base percentage. He then reached that milestone in 2009, reaching base in exactly half of his plate appearances to go along with his .384 average, 16 homers, 27 steals and .709 slugging percentage.

That offensive prowess led the Indians to overlook concerns about his size and defense and take the now-two-time All-Star second baseman in the second round (63rd overall).

Corey Kluber | Stetson

Kluber, a native of Texas, found himself at Stetson in Central Florida because he didn’t have too many other offers. That is a fitting background for the career of the 2014 AL Cy Young winner, as he came out of nowhere to develop into one of the game’s finest pitchers.

Kluber struggled mightily as a freshman reliever with the Hatters in 2005, posting a 7.82 ERA in 20 appearances.

He settled down the next year when he was moved into the rotation, though, going 6-5 with a 3.61 ERA. Then he excelled as a junior, dominating hitters to the tune of a 12-2 record and 2.05 ERA.

That 2007 season earned him ASUN Pitcher of the Year honors and a fourth-round selection by the San Diego Padres.

Jeff Manship | Notre Dame

Like a lot of big-league relievers, Manship did not originate out of the bullpen but rather as a starter for the Fighting Irish.

Manship missed his freshman year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned in 2005 by posting a 3.97 ERA in 12 appearances (seven starts) as he was being gradually worked back into action. He really broke out the year after, landing Big East Pitcher of the Year honors after logging a 3.26 ERA and going 9-2. He struck out 111 batters in 94 innings that season to help lead Notre Dame to Big East regular-season and tournament championships.

After that impressive season, the Minnesota Twins selected him in the 14th round of the 2006 draft.

Andrew Miller | North Carolina

Long before he was arguably the best relief pitcher on the planet, Miller was a hot-shot starting pitching prospect at Chapel Hill.

Miller used his big 6-foot-7 frame to great advantage, posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each of his three seasons with the Tar Heels. His best year came as a junior, when he went 13-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 133 strikeouts to earn national player of the year honors.

The Detroit Tigers then took him sixth overall, and he departed North Carolina as the program’s all-time strikeout leader in just three seasons.

Tyler Naquin | Texas A&M

Another eventual first-round pick, Naquin came on slowly as a freshman before bursting onto the scene in his final two years of college ball.

The native Texan hit just .244 with a .326 slugging percentage as a freshman. But what a difference a year makes, as he was a different player in 2011 when he hit .381 and raised his slugging percentage to .538.

Then, just to prove his sophomore year was no fluke, he just about replicated it as a junior. He hit .380 with a .541 slugging percentage as a junior and nearly doubled his career stolen base total by swiping 21 bags.

With All-American honors and the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year award under his belt, Naquin signed with the Indians after they took him 15th overall in 2012.  

Dan Otero | South Florida

Otero, then listed as “Danny Otero” enjoyed a four-year college career as a starting pitcher. He played his first three years in the ACC at Duke before transferring closer to home at South Florida as a senior in 2007.

The righty struggled through his first two years at Duke, posting ERAs of 4.38 and 5.80 as he struggled to make the ball miss the hitters’ bats. Something seemed to click as a junior though, as he worked in 15 games (nine starts) and produced a 2.20 ERA, walking just six batters.

That turn for the better carried over to USF, where he led the Bulls with a 9-7 record and 3.32 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). Notably, he pitched a complete game in five of his 16 starts.

With no eligibility remaining, the San Francisco Giants selected Otero in the 21st round of the 2007 draft, at which point he was immediately converted to a full-time reliever.

Bryan Shaw | Long Beach State

On the contrary of the background of many MLB relievers, Shaw was not a starting pitcher at any point in his time at Long Beach State. He made 80 appearances out of the bullpen across his three years, and he dominated.

Shaw posted a 2.21 ERA from 2006-2008, striking out 97 batters in 102 innings. Amazingly, he did not allow one home run in that time. He finished his college career with 23 saves and received a second-round selection by the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft.

Josh Tomlin | Texas Tech

Tomlin played at Angelina College for his first two years out of high school — not as a pitcher, but an infielder. Despite putting up some good offensive numbers with the Roadrunners and being drafted in the 11th round in 2005, he decided to convert to pitching and received an offer from Texas Tech.

The right-hander then played one year with the Red Raiders, posting a 1-3 record and 4.20 ERA in 13 games (seven starts). Despite the pedestrian numbers, the Indians saw potential in him and selected him with their 19th-rounder.

Note: Lonnie Chisenhall (Pitt Community College), Mike Clevinger (Seminole State), Coco Crisp (Pierce), Rajai Davis (UConn Avery Point), Ryan Merritt (McLennan) and Roberto Perez (Florida Gateway) attended colleges that are members of the NJCAA.

Division I
Baseball Championship
June 14 - 24, 2024
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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