Cleveland Indians Announce Minor-League Coaching Staffs

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Travis Fryman to Manage Mahoning Valley, Carl Willis to Be Columbus Clippers Pitching Coach

It’s late January, and any Cleveland Indians news is worth writing about at Wahoo’s on First. The Indians announced their minor league coaching assignments for 2015, and there’s some really interesting names on the various coaching staffs of Columbus, Akron, Lynchburg (replacing Carolina), Lake County, Mahoning Valley and the team’s Arizona League team.

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MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian has a great quick rundown on his Twitter of the staffs, and he goes into more detail on some of the coaches in his blog, but the names to interest most Tribe fans will be former Indians third baseman Travis Fryman, former Indians pitching coach Carl Willis, former Indians catcher Scooter Tucker, as well as knowing Chris Tremie will return for a third season coaching the Columbus Clippers and Dave Wallace will return for his fourth season helming the Akron RubberDucks.

Fryman, who played for Cleveland from 1998 until his retirement following the 2002 season, returns to manage the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, which he managed from 2008 to 2010, after four years as a special assistant and infield coordinator.

May 3, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (left) is congratulated by pitching coach Carl Willis at the end of the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Seattle defeated Toronto 4-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Willis will join Treme in Columbus as the pitching coach, and he was former Indians manager Eric Wedge’s right-hand man as the Tribe’s pitching coach from 2003 until 2009, and former Indians hurlers CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee won Cy Youngs under his tutelage.  Willis rejoined Cleveland in 2014 as a special assistant after serving as the Seattle Mariners’ pitching coach (alongside Wedge) from 2010 through 2013, and Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez won a Cy Young while Willis was coaching there.

Former Indians reliever Steve Karsay will return as the Lake County Captains’ pitching coach. Clippers hitting coach Rouglas Odor is the uncle of Texas Rangers infielder Rougned Odor.

One last interesting nugget offered by Bastian — the Indians promoted Eric Binder to assistant director of player development. There’s a good chance you’re unfamiliar with Binder, as he’s a newcomer to MLB in general, joining Cleveland as an operations intern in 2013 after pitching for two years in the minor leagues.

But Binder has also instructed at the Texas Baseball Ranch, where he (presumably) met Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, which is kind of why this hire intrigues me: Binder is a believer in Effective Velocity, and when the Indians were scouting Bauer in the 2013 offseason at the Ranch, they were so impressed by Binder’s presentation on pitching mechanics they hired him. About two years later, he’s helping oversee player development (presumably pitchers).

Binder might not be some second-coming of Billy Beane or any other hotshot MLB GM, but I’m certainly intrigued by his quick rise in the Indians front office and Effective Velocity, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this.

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