CINCINNATI -- Vinnie Pestano received some bittersweet news on Thursday. The reliever has only known the Indians organization during his professional career, but it was becoming increasingly clear that a fresh start might do him some good.
On Thursday, Cleveland traded Pestano to the Angels in a Minor League deal for Class A right-hander Michael Clevinger. Pestano, who has been with Triple-A Columbus for the past few weeks, will join Los Angeles' Triple-A Salt Lake affiliate.
"I saw the writing on the wall a little bit," Pestano said in a phone interview on Thursday. "There are some other guys that [the Indians] are more fond of. It's part of the game and I get that. I'm excited for a new opportunity. It's good to feel wanted. You're always pitching for 29 other teams -- not just your own.
"I'm glad to get a fresh start with somebody else and an opportunity to impact their club. I'm not upset or mad or anything."
Pestano, 29, was optioned to Triple-A Columbus on July 12 after posting a 1.42 ERA in his most recent 10 appearances for Cleveland, which was using the former setup man nearly exclusively against right-handed batters. At Triple-A this season, the right-hander posted a 1.78 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 12 walks in 30 1/3 innings (32 games).
"I was getting a lot of swings and misses from righties," Pestano said of his work in the Minors. "In Cleveland, I was able to do that after I got called back up [on June 20]. So, I was just looking to carry that forward when I came back down. I've felt like I've been in a good spot for a while with where things are at."
Prospect acquired by Indians
Michael Clevinger, RHP: A fourth-round pick in 2011 out of Seminole State (Fla.) CC, Clevinger was establishing himself as the best pitching prospect in the Angels system the following year when he blew out his elbow. He missed much of the 2012 season and most of 2013 after Tommy John surgery, and he has been knocked around in the hitter-friendly high Class A California League this year. At his best, Clevinger shows the potential for four average or better pitches -- a low-90s fastball, a sharp slider, a curveball and a deceptive changeup. His delivery features more effort than scouts would like, which hampers his control and command. If he eventually has to move to the bullpen, he has hit 96 mph in a relief role in the past.
Pestano -- selected by the Indians in the 20th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft -- quickly became a fan favorite and energetic clubhouse presence during ascension to the setup role in the 2011-12 seasons. In those two years, the righty turned in a 2.45 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 160 strikeouts in 132 innings (137 games). He also set Cleveland's single-season holds record with 36 in the 2012 campaign.
Across the 2013-14 seasons, Pestano had a 4.26 ERA with a 1.62 WHIP, 50 strikeouts and 22 walks in only 44 1/3 innings (50 appearances) for Cleveland. During that span, he dealt with an elbow injury and diminished velocity, leading to trips to and from Triple-A.
The 23-year-old Clevinger has split his season between Class A (low) Burlington and Class A (high) Inland Empire, where he went a combined 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 18 starts. Clevinger (a fourth-round pick in the 2011 Draft) has 85 strikeouts against 32 walks in 79 1/3 innings this year.
"Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "As we've had Major League bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we've promoted other pitchers from Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels.
"In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years."
As for Pestano, who was raised near from Angel Stadium, he is looking forward to his next big league chance in his old stomping grounds.
"I grew up 10 minutes away from the stadium and I played in college 10 minutes away, to," said Pestano, who attended Cal-State Fullerton. "I've been in the shadow of that halo for a while, so it'll be nice to get back out there."