INDIANAPOLIS -- MiLB.com has released its annual list of "Organizational All-Stars" for the 2013 campaign, which acknowledges the top Minor League player at each position in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization from the most recent season. Of the 11 players honored, seven suited up with the Indianapolis Indians last year including Ivan DeJesus (2B), Josh Harrison (SS), Kris Johnson (LHP), Andrew Lambo (OF), Gregory Polanco (OF), Tony Sanchez (C) and Zack Thornton (Reliever).
DeJesus proved to be a game-changer for Indianapolis, leading the team to a 50-31 (.617) record when he was penciled into the starting lineup. The hot-hitting infielder finished the season ranked second among all Indians batters with 27 multi-hit games, while his .319 batting average would have ranked second in the International League if he had enough at-bats to qualify. DeJesus was nearly unstoppable at the plate throughout the entirety of the 2013 campaign and recorded 96 total base knocks in 103 contests with the Indians.
His counterpart in the middle infield, Harrison, dominated IL pitching through his 64 games with the Tribe. The 2013 IL Midseason All-Star put the exclamation point on his Triple-A stint by tying a pair of Victory Field Era records with two triples and six RBI on June 24 against Charlotte. Prior to joining the Pirates for the remainder of the season on July 9, Harrison collected 46 base knocks in his last 29 games with the Indians to rank tied for second in the IL during that span.
Joining Harrison as both an IL Midseason All-Star and Organizational All-Star selection is Indians 2013 Pitcher of the Year, Johnson. The southpaw starter enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, and along with pacing the league in ERA (2.39), Johnson also ranked among IL leaders in WHIP (4th, 1.17), average against (5th, .234) and wins (T-7th, 10). The staff ace anchored a strong Indians rotation by working an unbelievable span of 11 straight quality starts in which he pitched at least 6.0 innings while allowing no more than three earned runs from May 30 - Aug. 7, en route to earning his first big league promotion on Aug. 18.
While Johnson dominated IL hitters, outfielder Lambo was similarly impressive against IL pitchers. The slugger set the tone for his eventual big league promotion by belting an IL-best 17 homers with 13 doubles and a league-leading 37 RBI in his first 54 games with the Indians. His strong showing with the Tribe capped off an impressive season for Pittsburgh's 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, as he concluded the campaign with the most homers (32) and RBI (99) of any Pirates farmhand.
Indianapolis' second outfielder on MiLB.com's list is Polanco, a top-ranked prospect who played across three levels of Pittsburgh's system in 2013. The highly-touted farmhand hit at a .285 clip with 12 homers and 38 stolen bases between Hi-A Bradenton, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, including going 2-for-5 with his first career Triple-A hit and stolen base in his second of two regular-season games with the Tribe. Polanco was also tabbed as a Florida State League Midseason All-Star prior to his promotion to the Indians.
Though not as varied of a climb as Polanco, Tribe catcher Sanchez also appeared in games at three levels of Pittsburgh's system, but aside from a brief stay in Altoona, spent the majority of the year with the Indians and Buccos. Indianapolis' backstop produced a career-year at the dish during his stint in Triple-A and set new personal marks in both doubles (27) and home runs (10). Sanchez's efforts led to a selection to the Triple-A Midseason All-Star Game, where he was named the IL's Top Star after belting the eventual game-winning three-run homer.
Rounding out the list of Indians Organizational All-Stars is Pirates up-and-coming reliever Thornton. The right-hander went a combined 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA, five saves and 90 strikeouts in 75.1 innings of work between Bradenton, Altoona and Indianapolis, including posting a 3-1 mark with a 3.91 ERA in 13 games with the Indians. Upon joining the Tribe, Thornton was immediately thrust into action as he pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve a combined shutout in his Triple-A debut on May 31. Thornton wrapped up the 2013 season with 31 strikeouts to just four walks in Indianapolis, which ranked as the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of all staff pitchers with at least 16.0 innings.
MiLB.com's list concluded with Stetson Allie (DH), Alex Dickerson (OF), Tyler Glasnow (RHP) and Aldalberto Santos (3B) also named 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational All-Stars. In addition, former Indians center fielder Alex Presley, who ranked eighth in the IL with a .298 average, received an honorable mention for the organization's outfielders.