Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL

Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL

CHICAGO -- Indians third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh does not have to look too far to spot three of the players he managed in the Arizona Fall League four years ago.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis, lefty Marc Rzepczynski and catcher Roberto Perez suited up for Sarbaugh with the Peoria Javelinas in October 2010. Kipnis has since developed into an All-Star for the Indians, Rzepczynski is a key part of the Tribe's bullpen and Perez is serving as the backup catcher.

"It's kind of fun for me to see where they were at that point," Sarbaugh said, "and now to see what they've done with their careers."

On Tuesday, the AFL revealed rosters for this coming season and Cleveland will be sending catcher Tony Wolters, outfielder Jordan Smith and pitchers Louis Head, Dylan Baker and Nick Maronda to Peoria. Joining the Javelinas' staff will be Double-A Akron manager Dave Wallace (coach) and Class A Advanced athletic trainer Bobby Ruiz.

The 22-year-old Wolters could be considered the top prospect among the group being sent by the Indians. Wolters, ranked No. 18 among Indians prospects by, was selected in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft as a middle infielder, but has spent the past two years transitioning to catcher. Through 94 games for Akron this year, he has hit .249 with 18 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs, throwing out 47-percent of would-be stealers with no errors behind the plate.

"I think one way [the AFL] helps," Sarbaugh said, "you read so much about players, but getting to play them and getting that sense of, 'You know what? I know I can play with these guys.' I think that helps the guys that maybe don't have the big names to go in there and make an impact."

Smith, 24, has hit .247 with 27 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs in 121 games for Akron. The 24-year-old Head has a 2.85 ERA with 12 saves through 44 relief appearances between Carolina and Akron this season. Baker, 22, has missed most of this season due to a left fibula fracture and Maronde was acquired from the Angels in exchange for cash or a player to be named on July 12.

Sarbaugh said that adding a month to a player's season is also a good learning experience.

"They get to go home for a little while and it can be tough to get started again," Sarbaugh said. "But I definitely think that helps prepare them for that longer season, keeping their body in shape and dealing with the mental grind of it. That's a big part of it, too."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.