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Cleveland Indians’ top pick working his way up toward big leagues

The Cleveland Indians’ first pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft, Alex White, has recently made the move to the Class AA Akron Aeros and could be making his way to the Class AAA Columbus Clippers before long.

White, a 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound right-handed pitcher was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

While White hasn’t had the media hype this season that minor league pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman have, his physical talent is comparable.

White has a fastball that reaches into the mid-90s, and uses a slider and splitter as his off-speed pitches.

After a spectacular high school career, White was selected in the 14th round of the 2006 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but decided to play college baseball at the University of North Carolina instead.

As a sophomore in 2008, he had a 13-3 record with a 2.83 ERA and 113 strikeouts while earning the ACC Pitcher of the Year award. White was also named third-team All-America by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America also had White ranked as the No. 2 draft-eligible prospect in the country.

In his first start for the Akron Aeros, White pitched seven innings to collect his first win in Class AA baseball. He let up two runs on five hits while striking out two hitters.

While the Clippers may be excited about the possibilities of the young talent, they plan on giving him time to work his way through the farm system.

“He needs to make that progression and go through each step,” Clippers Manager Mike Sarbaugh said. “He’s going to be on a time table, when everybody feels he’s ready and when he feels he’s ready, he’ll make the move.”

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The Clippers have the opportunity to give him all the time he needs as their pitching staff has been very strong in 2010.

The Clippers’ pitchers lead the International League with 385 strikeouts. The pitching staff has a 3.97 combined ERA and has led the team to a 32-19 record.

It is unclear whether White will continue to be a starting pitcher or whether he will move to the bullpen for the Clippers and Indians.

The Clippers bullpen has been outstanding. Frank Herrmann has not allowed a run in his last 25 innings pitched. Jess Todd has converted 21 straight save attempts. Josh Judy, Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith have shown promise and kept the Clippers bullpen among the best in the International League.

Sarbaugh said that he hadn’t had a chance to watch White pitch this year. As the Clippers manager, he doesn’t get the time to evaluate talent at the other levels quite as often as he would like.

“I keep an eye out and look at stats and all of that, but it’s hard to get a good feel,” Sarbaugh said. “You really have to be there to see how it plays out.”

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