The Cleveland Indians announced Friday that they had signed former Naturals right-hander Willy Lebron to a minor league contract for the 2012 season.
As we learned last season, the baseball-playing Lebron is a 32-year old right-hander from Las Matas de Farfan in the Dominican Republic. Kansas City signed Lebron as a minor league free agent in October 2010 and he began the season in Arizona in the Royals' extended spring training before being assigned to the Naturals in May.
Lebron made, ironically, exactly 23 appearances for the Naturals in 2011, including one start, during which he posted a 3-1 record and a 3.83 ERA, fanning 50 batters in 49 1/3 innings of work. He moved up to Triple-A Omaha and allowed just one earned run in nine late season appearances, good for a stellar 0.55 ERA.
After the regular season, Lebron remained with the Omaha Storm Chasers who went on to win a Pacific Coast League Championship. He became a minor league free agent following the season, free to sign with any team.
So, Lebron will receive a ring this spring and almost certainly will spend his entire summer in Ohio. Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate is in Columbus, and their Double-A affiliate is in Akron, of course.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.