CLEVELAND -- One week from now, baseball's spotlight will be turned to the first round of this summer's First-Year Player Draft. This is where it bears reminding that teams can often find gems in the later rounds of the annual event.
Look no further than Indians reliever Cody Allen, who was picked by the Indians in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft. Allen (taken with the 698th overall selection) soared through Cleveland's farm system and is currently working as a late-inning reliever for the Tribe.
"The scout that's responsible for drafting him should get a bonus," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If you get a kid that low -- a kid like that -- that's pretty unique."
Heading into Thursday's game with Cincinnati, the 24-year-old Allen was sporting a 2.16 ERA through 22 appearances this season. Across 25 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander had piled up 33 strikeouts against seven walks with opponents batting .180 against him.
With two-time All-Star closer Chris Perez on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury, and setup men Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano subsequently moved to the eighth and ninth inning, respectively, Allen is getting more work in the seventh. Francona said he likes to use Allen and fellow righty Bryan Shaw in similar situations.
"Cody and Shaw, to me, are almost identical," Francona said. "We try to keep their innings just about identical, which they are. They both do the same things -- they can face righties and lefties. And we kind of try to stagger them."
Allen spent 27 games with the Indians in 2012 after opening the season with Class A Advanced Carolina. In 54 career Minor League games through 2011 and '12, he posted a 1.74 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 98 innings. When Cleveland called him up to the big leagues, he became the second player selected in the 2011 Draft to reach the Majors.
"Cody flew through the system, and you can see why," Francona said. "Cody's not the biggest kid in the world. But he's got tremendous arm speed."
Pestano's increased velocity a positive sign
CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano got his first taste of ninth-inning action on Wednesday since moving to the closer's role that Chris Perez temporarily vacated by going on the disabled list.
With the Indians leading 5-1, Pestano fell behind leadoff hitter Xavier Paul, 3-2, before giving up a solo home run. He then rebounded to retire the next three batters to seal the win.
What's more, his fastball velocity registered around 90-92 mph, as opposed to the 87-90-mph balls he was throwing at Fenway Park on Saturday, giving up four runs and taking the loss.
"I think he's getting better," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He gave up a leadoff solo homer, and it looked like he got a little aggravated. But I think each time he throws, he's getting closer to being Vinnie, and I think he probably feels the same way, too.
"I think he still feels like he has a little ways to go, but thankfully, or fortunately for us, he's such a competitor that while he's working himself back into top form, he'll compete and get people out."
In addition to velocity, Francona said it's also important that Pestano's heater has movement and reaches the desired destination. That becomes more likely when Pestano's motion involves proper extension, which is something the right-hander has made a point of working on.
"When the velo was down, I was trying to create velocity by muscling up and trying to sling the ball instead of just getting out front," Pestano said. "Velo was up a tick, which is good. That's encouraging, but I still got more work to do."
Right elbow tendinitis put Pestano on the 15-day DL to begin the month. Since coming off on May 17, the reliever has struggled, posting a 10.80 ERA while going 0-for-2 in save opportunities. In five innings this month, Pestano has struck out five and walked three, and opponents have hit .286 against him.
"I took about 15 days off without throwing, so the arm kind of went a little backwards," Pestano said. "We've been battling to get that back. But it's just tough. It's not Spring Training -- you're not throwing bullpens every other day. Just trying to keep up with shoulder programs and catch-play -- even though we do it every day, it's not really meant to build arm strength during the season. You usually do that through your outings. I just need to get out there more and throw more."
Swisher honored for donation which funds child ID kits
CLEVELAND -- Nick Swisher was supposed to be honored for his $25,000 donation to the FBI Citizens Academy Foundation before last Wednesday's game, but the birth of his baby girl Emerson pushed the proceedings back a week.
Before Thursday's game against Cincinnati, Swisher discussed his charitable effort -- which funded the purchase of about 15,000 child identification kits -- alongside FBICAF chairman of the board, Steve Williger. The Indians star said his actions were influenced by the birth of his first child as well as the recent rescue of three Cleveland women -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight -- a decade after they were kidnapped. He also expressed a desire to contribute to the community, not just the team.
"I could not have been more honored and more happy to be a part of this," said Swisher, whose wife JoAnna also played a crucial role in the donation process. "When this opportunity was presented to us, it was just kind of something that we knew that we had to jump on.
"For all of us on the Swisher side of things, man, we're happy to be part of it. We're excited about it."
Each identification kit contains an inkless fingerprinting card, a DNA collection envelope and a cut-out wallet card. They'll be distributed in the concourse behind home plate at Progressive Field during Thursday's game and throughout the Cleveland community later in the year. To see when and where, visit the FBI's website.
Toward the end of the press conference, Swisher was presented with three gifts for his new daughter, all of which were a familiar color.
"I'm getting used to this pink thing, man," Swisher said with a grin.
Quote to note
"Sometimes catching catches up with your body. I think through a normal course of events, you're not going to see a guy hit .450. And then when you add the catching responsibility to it, that's probably why. What he does offensively is phenomenal, even after he cooled off."
-- Francona, on Carlos Santana's average dropping from .389 to .285 in May
• After starting in right field on Thursday, Ryan Raburn left the game before the fifth inning because of lower leg cramping. Raburn, whose status is considered day to day, doubled in the fourth and scored on a two-bagger by Michael Bourn. Drew Stubbs filled Raburn's spot in right.
• After Tribe players got wind of pitching prospect Trevor Bauer's Indians-themed rap, "Gutter to the Grail," on Wednesday, Mark Reynolds decided to use the song as his walk-up music against the Reds. Naturally, Reynolds launched a first-pitch home run in his first at-bat and rounded the bases with Bauer's rap blasting through Progressive Field.
"I mean, it's cool," Reynolds said on Thursday. "It takes [guts] to do that kind of stuff. Not too many people can rap, let alone come up with those kind of lyrics. I think it's pretty neat."
• Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera appeared to limp into second base on his double in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Reds. Indians manager Terry Francona said Cabrera (in the starting lineup on Thursday) has continued to be bothered off and on with the right quad issue that flared up in late April.
"He's been feeling it for a couple weeks, so we keep an eye on him," Francona said. "I check with him after to make sure he's OK, because we always have [Mike] Aviles, who we can fire in there if we need to. ... He's pretty good about communicating about that."
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was hitting .340 (17-for-50) with four home runs and 12 RBIs through 12 games for Triple-A Columbus since being sent down by the Indians on May 13. Chisenhall had 10 strikeouts and six walks, and Francona said reports have been encouraging about his bat speed and strike-zone discipline.
"[He's been] a little inconsistent, but it's getting better," Francona said. "That's what we want. I think the biggest thing was for him to be able to take a deep breath. He probably needed that."
• Indians sinkerballer Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07 ERA) held the Reds to one earned run over six innings Wednesday, marking the sixth time this year that he has logged at least six frames with no more than one earned run allowed. Masterson is one of five Major League starters to have at least six such starts this season. The others: Clayton Kershaw (seven), Felix Hernandez (seven), Matt Harvey (six) and Patrick Corbin (six).
• Indians backup catcher Lou Marson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder issue, went 1-for-3 in six innings of Minor League game with Double-A Akron on Wednesday. Marson was slated for an off-day Thursday, with the goal of joining Triple-A Columbus Friday to continue his rehab assignment.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.