If you were watching or following along with the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 9, you know that Cleveland Indian’s starting pitcher Shane Bieber won All-Star Game MVP. Bieber was certainly deserving of that award, striking out the side in the top of the fifth inning to the delight of his home crowd at Progressive Field.
Bieber, however, was not the only MVP in the Indians’ organization during All-Star Week. On Wednesday, July 10, the International League All-Stars took on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars in the 2019 Triple-A All-Star Game at Southwest University Park in El Paso, Texas. The International League All-Stars, featuring two players in the Indians’ organization (catcher Eric Haase and outfielder Brandon Barnes (Columbus Clippers)), fell to the Pacific Coast League All-Stars, 9-3, due to an impressive power display from the PCL (two home runs).
While the International League did not win, Haase and Barnes made great impressions. Barnes was the IL’s starting center fielder, before being replaced by outfielder Trayvon Robinson of the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates’ AAA team).
Haase pinch hit for the IL’s starting catcher, Kyle Higashioka of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders (New York Yankees’ AAA team), and was the IL’s biggest source of offense. In his two plate appearances, Haase hit a sacrifice fly and singled, earning him two RBI’s on the night. Because of his outstanding performance, Haase won MVP honors for the International League. In last year’s Triple-A All Star Game in Columbus, Haase hit a two-run home run. You could say he has a thing for performing on the biggest stage.
Haase is currently enjoying one of his best years in minor league baseball, hitting .263 to go along with 23 home runs (third in all of the International League). If Haase keeps performing like he is down in Columbus, he will have a spot in Cleveland in no time. The Indians saw Haase up earlier this year, but in six plate appearances, he did not enjoy a ton of success, walking once, striking out four times, and not reaching base in the other plate appearance. The Indians also saw Haase up last year, as he made his major league debut on September 2, 2018, and recorded his first hit (and RBI) on September 16, 2018. In that same day Haase recorded his first major league hit, he also caught 2019 MLB All-Star game MVP Shane Bieber.
Roberto Perez is still the starting catcher in Cleveland, and he has revitalized his game at the plate, hitting a career-high .256, which includes 16 home runs and 36 RBI’s. This, combined with the fact that he is a great defensive catcher, is going to make it tough for Haase to gain that starting spot.
Indians fans should see Haase up in the majors for good very soon, however, and he could very well earn a backup role. Kevin Plawecki, who the Indians signed in the offseason, in only under contract for one year. I am sure the Tribe would love to keep Plawecki, but if the Tribe have a promising young catcher, combined with the fact that former prized catching prospect Francisco Mejia is now a San Diego Padre, it makes more sense for the Tribe to call up Haase and give him some valuable, major league experience, which would pave the way for him to start down the road.
The Indians have started to play better baseball as of late, climbing into the second Wild Card spot. They just hosted the 2019 MLB All-Star game, and Bieber won the MVP. Haase just won his team’s MVP award in the AAA All-Star game.
If the Indians can make the playoffs and win the 2019 World Series, it would put the cherry on top of a season that started out with a lot of questions.