When Shane Bieber opened the season with Class A Lake County last year, he was only a 20-minute drive from Progressive Field. The Major Leagues probably felt a lot farther away than that for the right-handed pitching prospect.
Now, Bieber's big league dreams are only a few days away.
After Monday's 9-6 win over the White Sox, Indians manager Terry Francona confirmed that Bieber will be coming up from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday to start against the Twins at Target Field. In the wake of Trevor Bauer logging 127 pitches on Sunday, Cleveland wanted to provide an extra day of rest for its rotation, opening the door for Bieber to make his Major League debut.
"It seems like the right time," Francona said. "It'll be good for him. I think it'll be good for us. We'll kind of just get a chance to watch him pitch a Major League game. Hopefully, he helps us win, but it'll be just great experience for him."
This comes after Bieber -- selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by Cleveland -- was added to MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list on Sunday. Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler graduated from the rankings, allowing Bieber to check in as No. 100. The right-hander is ranked third on the Indians' Top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Bieber's pending promotion also follows a rain-shortened, seven-inning no-hitter against Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. In that outing, the right-hander struck out seven and walked none in the win for the Clippers.
"Man, he's awesome," said Indians starter Adam Plutko, who spent time with Bieber this season at Triple-A. "He's really good. That'll be a lot of fun to watch. Great for him. I'm really, really happy for him. He's done it every step of the way, so that's great to see."
#Indians RHP prospect Shane Bieber will make his MLB debut this Thursday vs the Minnesota Twins. Bieber this season has made a meteoric rise between AA & AAA now off to Cleveland.— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) 28 de mayo de 2018
- 65.1(IP) 43H 10R 8ER 3BB 61SO 1.10 ERA pic.twitter.com/9JCaGL8cLv
Through 10 starts this season, the 22-year-old Bieber has gone 5-1 with a pristine 1.10 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. In 65 1/3 innings, the precision-based righty has piled up 61 strikeouts against three walks. Bieber did not issue a walk in his first four outings of the season with Akron. Over three professional seasons, he has gone 15-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 244 strikeouts and 15 walks in 262 2/3 innings.
Francona did not have a chance to see Bieber pitch in person during Spring Training, but the manager has heard Chris Antonetti, the Indians president of baseball operations, and members of the player development staff rave about the right-hander.
"I think Chris was afraid to bring him over in Spring Training, because he knew we were going to want to latch on to him," Francona quipped. "By all accounts he is in the mold of [Corey] Kluber -- by routines and work ethic and poise. There's just so many things to like. He's not the finished product. He throws a ton of strikes -- there's so many good things -- but he's still developing, which is OK."
The front four of the Tribe rotation is locked into place with Kluber, Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger. Plutko recently took over the fifth spot for the struggling Josh Tomlin, who has shifted to a relief role. Plutko allowed five runs in five innings against the White Sox in his latest outing on Monday, but does not appear at risk of losing his place on the staff right now.
Francona emphasized that the outing-- one that will fall on Bieber's 23rd birthday -- will be a spot start for the pitcher.
"He's going to go back [to Triple-A] and we'll tell him that, if they haven't already," Francona said. "We're excited. It'll be fun to get to know him a little bit. Their first is always fun."
Jordan Bastian MLB.com