We've been running through the 2014 season for each member of the Indians and key prospects from their farm system. (You can find every entry in the series here.) Now we've reached a countdown of the top ten players on the team, as voted by the Let's Go Tribe staff.
#9: T.J. House
- Position: Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
- Age: 25
- Acquired: 16th round pick, 2008 draft
- Contract Status: Pre-arbitration ($500,000 in 2015, arbitration in 2018)
T.J. (Glen Anthony?) House was drafted in the 16th round of the 2008 draft, the second to last pick of that round. Amazingly enough, he is the seventh player from that round to make the majors.
After finishing high school in Picayune, Mississippi, he reported to Lake County in the South Atlantic League (A) as a 19 year old. Starting at a level that high straight out of high school didn't faze the youngster. He had a 3.15 ERA, 1.310 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 in 26 starts. He moved up to Kinston (A+) in 2009 and struggled a bit more, 3.91 ERA, 1.445 WHIP and 7.0 K/9 in another 26 starts.
He repeated Kinston in 2011, but the extra year was not beneficial. He dipped to a 5.19 ERA, 1.531 WHIP and 6.2 K/9 in 24 starts. In 2012, he again stayed in A+, but this time with Carolina as the team had moved from Kinston. He sparkled in four starts, 0.920 WHIP and 9,4 K/9, and quickly moved up to Akron.
There as a 22 year old, he did alright, 3.98 ERA, a.271 WHIP and 6.5 K/9 in 23 starts. Following the same pattern in 2013, House made just 4 starts in Akron before heading to Columbus. In 24 starts, he has a 4.32 ERA, 1.532 WHIP and 7.0 K/9. At this point, he still appeared to be nothing more than an organizational soldier.
But something clicked this year. He opened with Columbus, and after seven starts, had a 2.40 ERA, 1.113 WHIP and 7.4 K/9. And with Danny Salazar struggling in the rotation, House was recalled on May 17. After making a quick relief appearance on the 17th, House started five games, taking one loss and four no decisions. He pitched poorly against the Orioles and Rangers but was serviceable against the Red Sox twics and good against the White Sox.
When Zach McAllister was activated in mid-June, House went back down to Columbus, but only for two starts. He returned and pitched well against the Mariners and earned his first victory against the Royals before the Yankees roughed him up a little. With the All Star break on tap, House went back down, made a start for Mahoning Valley, came back to face the Twins and went back to Columbus for one start .
House was up for good after August 2 and made nine starts for the Tribe the final two months. It was during this stretch in which he was essentially the third best starter behind Kluber and Carrasco. In August and September, he averaged just less than six innings per start, had a 2.25 ERA, 1.096 WHIP and most surprising of all, a 8.3 K/9.
2014 Grade: B+
House's overall numbers were just a bit better than average, but that last two month stretch kicks his grade a bit.
Based on pure numbers, House should have a rotation spot coming out of spring training. However, with the potential roster crunch for McAllister, House could find himself in AAA to start the season. In any case, I bet he makes at least 20-25 starts again next season, health permitting. He is still just 25 and does present a very different look for opposing teams being the lone left handed starter on the 40-man roster (Nick Maronde notwithstanding). I doubt he is as good as the final two months this year, but would definitely love to be proven wrong.