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Minor league report: Sadler keeps producing without the hype

| Saturday, July 26, 2014, 8:58 p.m.
Casey Sadler has been one of the top pitchers for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Bill Gentry | Indianapolis Indians
Casey Sadler has been one of the top pitchers for Triple-A Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Casey Sadler doesn't have the background of a top pitching prospect, but he's nonetheless swiftly moved through the Pirates organization since being drafted in 2010.

The valedictorian of his graduating class from Ripley High School, located near Stillwater, Okla., Sadler received recruiting interest from just a handful of college programs and none were offering scholarship money.

Sadler ended up at Western Oklahoma State, where he was a third-team All-American and set the community college program's record for career strikeouts. However, he still wasn't drafted by the Pirates until the 25th round of the 2010 draft.

“He's not flashy in any sense of the word,” Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer said. “He's a blue-collar guy and everything about him is short and concise, and maybe that causes people to overlook him.”

The lack of hype or attention hasn't fazed Sadler, and the 6-foot-4 right-hander has let his results serve as his response. Sadler is 8-3 this season with a 2.85 ERA in Indianapolis, and he was selected a Triple-A All-Star. That follows being selected as a Double-A All-Star last season with Altoona.

“I didn't really care where I was drafted, I just wanted a chance to play ball,” said the 23-year-old Sadler. “I always had faith that I could do it with work ethic and determination. I wasn't going to let anybody get in my way. The only person who was going to keep me from getting it done was going to be me.”

Sadler's fastball consistently sits in the 90 to 93 mph range, while occasionally reaching 94. He only has struck out 61 in 91 innings, but uses a sinker to induce ground balls, and he also throws a changeup.

“One of the things Casey has the ability to do is throw strikes,” Filer said. “He has learned with his sinker that he has to keep the ball down. So he has the mentality of wanting to put the ball on the ground, and I think that has served him well.”

Sadler never has had an ERA higher than 3.73 at any of his stops within the Pirates' minor league organization, spending a full season with Low-A Bradenton and High-A West Virginia, before spending almost all of last season with Altoona.

“When you're in the average range (for fastball velocity), you have to pitch a little more,” Sadler said. “I have to mix speeds, mix pitches, change locations, pitch in more. I love thinking the game, and the game for me is a chess match. I guess I am a nerd in some aspects because I like the game of adjustments and counter moves.”

Sadler began his professional career as a reliever but started 17 of his 23 appearances with Bradenton in 2012, and became a full-time starter with Altoona last season. The Pirates have Sadler on the 40-man roster and have called him up two times this season to pitch in the bullpen.

“I don't want to pigeonhole him because I think he will be good in any role we put him in,” Filer said. “He could be a long reliever, someone that could pitch the sixth and seventh innings to get to the short guys. And if everything goes well and he's on top of his game, he could be that eighth-inning guy.”

Lambo back in full swing

Andrew Lambo hasn't missed a beat since returning from the disabled list July 17, hitting .448 (13 for 29) in seven games with two home runs and five RBIs.

He's hitting .362 in 34 games with Indianapolis this season, totaling four home runs and 24 RBIs. Lambo has played two games at first base since returning, also spending time in the outfield and as the team's designated hitter.

Milestone mark

Dean Treanor recently won his 300th game as Indians manager, becoming the seventh person to do so in franchise history. Treanor has a ways to go to catch the top spot, held by J.C. Hendricks with 764 wins.

Brian Peloza is a freelance writer.

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