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Tribe prospects sample big league experience

Indians' budding stars attend Fall Developmental Program
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- While Shane Bieber ran out of the center-field bullpen toward the mound at Progressive Field on Tuesday, his walkup music blared across the ballpark. When the right-handed starting pitcher looked up at the giant scoreboard in left field, he read his name and saw his picture.

The experience for Bieber (ranked by MLBPipeline.com as Cleveland's No. 11 prospect) was on hand as a part of the Indians' Fall Developmental Program. There were not any fans in attendance and the Indians were away in the midst of a six-game West Coast road trip through Anaheim and Seattle, but the magnitude of the experience was not lost on the club's budding stars.

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CLEVELAND -- While Shane Bieber ran out of the center-field bullpen toward the mound at Progressive Field on Tuesday, his walkup music blared across the ballpark. When the right-handed starting pitcher looked up at the giant scoreboard in left field, he read his name and saw his picture.

The experience for Bieber (ranked by MLBPipeline.com as Cleveland's No. 11 prospect) was on hand as a part of the Indians' Fall Developmental Program. There were not any fans in attendance and the Indians were away in the midst of a six-game West Coast road trip through Anaheim and Seattle, but the magnitude of the experience was not lost on the club's budding stars.

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"They told us to not take it for granted," Bieber said. "Try to look up, look at the stands, look at the scoreboard and try it soak it in and realize that it's going to help when your Major League debut comes."

Indians Top 30 Prospects

Tweet from @Indians: We're hosting top prospects -- incl. McKenzie, Krieger, Aiken & more -- this week at our Fall Development Program! https://t.co/l4lnTo6Wd3 pic.twitter.com/gVeYHdo2ui

Although the program is an annual event for the franchise's top prospects, the timing was impeccable for the 31 participating players -- which included 17 of the Tribe's top 30 prospects. The program comes on the heels of the Indians' American League-record 22-game winning streak and clinching of the AL Central title.

"It's awesome," said Brady Aiken, Cleveland's No. 24 prospect. "It's good to be here and be in the environment. Hopefully in a few years, this is where I'll be."

The Minor Leaguers in the program had the opportunity to spend time with the team during its recent weekend series against the Royals. Each player met and interacted with players, coaches and other members of the organization, got to spend time in the clubhouse and were able to observe the big leaguers during their pregame routines.

"There's no better messaging than the messaging that comes from our players," assistant general manager Carter Hawkins said. "And, ideally, that lines up with us and our messaging 100 percent of the time. It's really nice when it does."

For right-hander Trison McKenzie (Indians' No. 2 prospect and MLBPipeline.com's No. 20 overall), it was a thrill to experience a winning culture at the highest level.

"It's a great honor," McKenzie said. "We got to come here a little earlier, and I got to experience the win streak and the city of Cleveland, and it was just great to be around that and know that that could be in my future and that I could be a part of this city and that I could be a part of this team."

Prior to meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Indians' No. 8 prospect Will Benson said that he and No. 5 prospect Nolan Jones spent time in the Tribe's clubhouse. He said some of the lockers still had champagne bottles in them after the Indians celebrated the AL Central crown on Sunday.

Additionally, Benson said seeing Francisco Mejia and Greg Allen -- both of whom were a part of last year's program -- contributing to the Tribe's success has helped him believe that he will one day be able to help the club.

"To see [Allen] go up there and succeed is such an inspiration to me, and I'm sure a lot of other guys that he's touched along the way," Benson said. "Just to see [he and Mejia] go up there and be very impactful just kind of shows the foundation that the Indians have. They really go to their farm system, and they use those guys. They reward them with the hard work that they put in."

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @BillKosileski.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cleveland Indians