Cleveland Indians signal Mike Freeman to minor-league deal, invite six extra gamers to major-league camp

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The list of Native Americans’ spring training sessions is slowly taking shape when the club signed veteran infielder Mike Freeman Thursday with an invitation to Big League camp.

The club also confirmed the start dates at its training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. Indians pitchers and catchers report on February 17th with their first training session the next day. The full squad reported on February 21 with the first full squad training one day later.

The 33-year-old Freeman has spent the last two seasons in Cleveland, beating in 99 games with 0.229 OPS to 0.270. He played everywhere for manager Terry Francona, including stints on the outfield and on first base.

The club announced that it has invited six other players from the organization to participate in the major league camp, including RHP Kyle Dowdy, RHP Nick Sandlin, C Gavin Collins, C Bo Naylor, INF Tyler Freeman and INF Owen Miller. The announcement follows Wednesday’s news that veterans are helping Bryan Shaw and Heath Hembree have also signed minor league contracts and is invited to the camp.

Dowdy, 28, joined the Indians in July 2018 with Leonys Martin from Detroit. It was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft in December and was later claimed by Texas before being returned to Cleveland. Dowdy was also a non-squad guest at the camp last spring.

Collins, 25, spent the 2019 season at Single-A Lynchburg, appearing in 54 games in catcher, 29 games in first base and one game in third base. Collins, who was selected in the club’s 13th round in 2016, was also at the camp as a non-squad participant last spring.

Freeman was number 2 for the club and 71st on the 2017 draft according to the MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old Californian spent last summer at the team’s alternative training location in Lake County after hitting the farm system in hits (151), runs in 2019 (89) and doubles (32).

Miller, 24, was taken over by the Padres on August 31st in dealings with Mike Clevinger. He spent time at the alternate training venues in San Diego and Cleveland, and performed eight times for the Padres as a non-squad player during spring and summer camp. His 147 goals for Class AA Amarillo led the Texas League in 2019.

20-year-old Naylor was the club’s first draft pick after graduating from high school in Ontario in 2018. Number 4 in the organization, Naylor was at the alternate location in 2020 after beating .243 in 107 games for Lake County in 2019 with 18 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs and 65 RBI. He is the younger brother of the Indian outfielder Josh Naylor, who joined the club in August in the Clevinger trade.

Cleveland’s number 2 on the 2018 draft was Sandlin after being eliminated from Southern Miss. Injury derailed his 2019 season, but the right-handed was another young man who spent the summer of 2020 in Lake County’s alternate location.

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