Wendle, Anderson named Indians' top Minor Leaguers
Second baseman top position player, right-hander top pitcher for 2013
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have fielded a long list of standout middle infielders throughout the course of the franchise's history. To be put in the same sentence as Hall of Fame shortstop Lou Boudreau is an honor for any to have played for Cleveland.
On Thursday, Minor League second baseman Joe Wendle received such an honor.
The Indians named Wendle the 2013 recipient of the Lou Bourdreau Award, which annually recognizes the organization's top position player. Right-hander Cody Anderson took home the Bob Feller Award as the farm system's top pitcher for this past season.
Cleveland had previous Bob Feller Award winners Cody Allen (2012) and C.C. Lee (2011) in its Major League bullpen last season. Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (2010 and '11), catcher Carlos Santana ('09) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ('07) are past winners of the Boudreau Award.
Wendle might one day join them in Cleveland.
"There's very little doubt that he will be able to be a solid second baseman," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development. "He is very driven to be a better defender, a better baserunner and a more complete offensive player. He had a fantastic year on all of those fronts."
During the 2013 season, Wendle ranked third in the organization with a .295 batting average and was tied for second with 16 home runs. In 107 games for Class A Advanced Carolina, the 23-year-old second baseman also had 32 doubles, five triples, 64 RBIs, 122 hits and an .885 OPS. In the Carolina League, Wendle finished second in slugging percentage (.513) and extra-base hits (53) and was fourth in total bases (212).
Wendle, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, opened the season hitting .426 over his first 14 games before sustaining a fractured orbital bone on April 20. He missed a month of the season, but returned on May 21, continued his strong campaign and earned a spot on the Carolina League's postseason All-Star team.
Carolina's roster also featured standout prospects such as shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Tyler Naquin -- both former first-round Draft picks -- but Wendle fit right in.
"There wasn't necessarily a leader in that group," Atkins said. "Each of them brought a different component to the group, and I think they all took something from each other. Wendle brought just an insane amount of intensity and consistency to his work every single day. That took everyone else's game up.
"Believe me, Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor are hard workers. Joey was able to, if not raise the bar slightly, he certainly kept the bar on a steady rise."
After the Minor League season, Wendle suited up for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League and helped the club capture the championship. In 16 games in the AFL, the lefty-swinging second baseman hit at a .311 clip with seven extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and an .863 OPS.
"He obviously has a very good knack for making hard contact," Atkins said, "and for getting on base and driving the ball into the gaps. And he's made a ton of progress at second base."
The 23-year-old Anderson, selected in the 14th round of the 2011 Draft and ranked sixth on the club's Top 20 Prospects list by MLB.com, spent the bulk of last season with Carolina, posting a 2.34 ERA in 23 starts before being promoted to Double-A Akron in August. Overall, the right-hander went 9-4 with an organization-leading 2.65 ERA, piling up 122 strikeouts against 40 walks in 136 innings. Anderson was named to the midseason and postseason All-Star teams for the Carolina League and was also honored as the league's Pitcher of the Year.