In 2013, Civale graduated from Loomis Chaffee High School in Connecticut. He pitched a no-hitter his senior year.
Aaron went to Northeastern University in Boston on a baseball scholarship.
He worked as a reliever until transitioning to the rotation in the spring of 2016. And he struck out 121 and walked only 15 in 114 innings, posting a 1.73 ERA for Northeastern.
In 2015, Civale followed up a strong sophomore spring with an other-wordly season out of the bullpen for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League.
June 2016: The Indians chose Civale in the third round, out of Northeastern Univ. in Massachusetts. He signed with scout Mike Kanen.
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Aaron the 20th best prospect in the Indians organization. He was at #14 in the winter before 2018 spring camps opened. He was at #15 in the spring of 2019.
2019 season: Civale wasn’t on many people’s radars heading into the season, but the 24-year-old has quickly emerged to be one of the most valuable players on the Indians roster.
Civale started the year at Double-A Akron, made a quick pit stop at Triple-A Columbus, and has since been an importance piece in the Tribe’s starting rotation. MLB Pipeline has recognized his incredibly quick rise, naming Civale Cleveland’s Minor League Pitching Prospect of the Year.
He spent all of 2018 in Akron and made his first five starts of the 2019 season there, posting a 2.67 ERA, before moving to Columbus for two outings. It was then that the Indians needed a spot starter in place of an injured Mike Clevinger, and Civale was their best option.
“The one thing that I’ve been impressed with with everybody that’s come up is they seem to have poise,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after Civale’s first outing. “That’s not easy to do under today’s circumstances for that kid.”
Civale rejoined the Indians starting rotation on a permanent basis on Aug. 5 after Danny Salazar was sidelined with a groin strain, and the rookie has yet to allow more than two earned runs through his first eight big league starts.
“He’s not afraid, he competes,” Francona said. “He’s got really good movement on his off-speed pitches, especially. He just throws strikes, he can elevate that fastball, I think he’s got some life through the zone on his fastball that plays up a little bit more than it shows on the gun and he can spin the ball and he throws a changeup.” (Mandy Bell - MLB.com - Sept. 19, 2019)
Aaron Civale’s passion for LEGOs
Civale says he always followed the instructions when building projects with LEGO bricks as a kid.
The Cleveland Indians pitcher grew up surrounded by LEGOs because his father, Kim, worked in a New England warehouse that distributed the wildly popular children’s toy. It led Civale to a lifelong curiosity about all things mechanical and scientific that shaped his education and passion for inspiring others to pursue their dreams.
But it’s no surprise that a pitcher who relies on precision and command like Civale was always determined to snap those tiny plastic pieces into exactly the right place.
“I don’t think I ever went rogue, I never strayed,” Civale said. “It was always by the book.”
On Thursday, Civale visited local youngsters at Great Lakes Science Center’s Camp Curiosity, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) summer camp for children in grades K-8. Civale helped campers design and build baseballs out of LEGOs while answering questions about chasing his dreams in the classroom and the big leagues. He took advantage of the occasion to point out that LEGO lessons translate to both places.
“Building something from nothing is very cool and it applies to a lot of things,” Civale said. “It’s small what they’re doing here with LEGOs, but you can build on that and add it to a lot of things in their everyday lives.”
Civale studied mechanical engineering at Northeastern University and has a science background that fits perfectly with this week’s theme at Camp Curiosity: STEM in sports.
“It was amazing that Aaron could come and be part of this, because this week we’re talking to the kids about all the different ways STEM impacts sports,” said STEM Learning Product Manager Karyn Torigoe. “It was an amazing match.”
Growing up in Connecticut, Civale took trips to a similar science center in Boston, but never attended a STEM camp there, or got to hang out with a big leaguer and build LEGO projects on a summer afternoon. The 26 year old welcomed the chance to provide a little inspiration for the campers.
“It’s totally up to them,” Civale said. “My goal in life is finding your passion and pursuing it and doing that. You don’t want to force somebody into doing anything.”
That philosophy has helped Civale find what works best for him on the mound, as well.
“Not everyone processes things the same way, you have to understand first what’s good for you,” Civale said. “I learned a few years ago that I’m a much better visual learner than I am a text learner. So, my scouting reports are largely visually based instead of text or numbers. I’m good with numbers on paper, but I don’t process it, it doesn’t stick with me. It’s about understanding what makes you ‘you’ and then expanding on that.”
Civale recalled as a kid playing with LEGOs with his father’s co-workers and their children, building a tank from their imaginations without the benefit of an instruction book. But mostly when he played with the tiny plastic bricks, he was determined to get the designs right according to how they were printed in those infamously meticulous instruction booklets.
“Other than that, I never really went rogue,” he said. “I was very ‘build-it-and-get-it-right’ according to the instructions.”
Civale said when he has kids someday, he’s not going to push them toward baseball or engineering.
“I’m just going to do my best to help them find whatever they’re passionate about,” Civale said. “That’s all you can do.” (Joe Noga, cleveland.com - July 15, 2021)
|Birth City:||East Windsor, CT|
|Draft:||Indians #3 - 2016 - Out of Northeastern Univ. (MA)|
Civale has a 5-pitch repertoire, including a CUTTER (that some call a tight slider). It's his best pitch and rates a 60 or 65 on the 20-80 scale. He also has a 91-93 mph FASTBALL. He spins an above-average CURVEBALL. And he has a SLIDER. Aaron also has a CHANGEUP.
Aaron has the stuff, size and makeup to be a workhorse at the back of a rotation.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 3.1% of the time, his Sinker 35.4%; Change 6.5%; Slider 15.1%; Curve 11.1%; and Cutter 28.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.1 mph, Sinker 92.6, Change 84.2, Slider 83.6, Curve 75.4, and Cutter 87.9 mph.
- 2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 2.1% of the time, his Sinker 29.1%; Change 9.2%; Slider 9.9%; Curve 21.2%; and Cutter 28.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 91.5 mph, Sinker 92.1, Change 85.6, Slider 82.5, Curve 76, and Cutter 87.7 mph.
His hard, tight slider has a chance to become a plus offering that he works down in the zone. He fills up the zone with his low 90's fastball. (Spring 2017)
Aaron has a smooth, clean, and compact righthanded delivery that he repeats well. He has impressive pitch-ability.
Civale throws strikes, and has solid command. That pinpoint control is his best tool.
- MLB Debut (June 22, 2019): It was 24-year-old Aaron Civale’s chance to soak in the spotlight, as he led the Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field.
“[The results were] just a testament to all the work I’ve put into everything, everyone around me,” Civale said. “It’s not just me out there, I’m trying to get the job done for everyone around me. It’s a great group up here. I'm happy to be a part of it.”
It took little time for Aaron to settle in, as he struck out the side in the first inning. And he retired the first eight batters. Civale allowed just two hits, both infield singles, walked three and struck out six through six innings while notching his first career win in front of friends and family from all across the country. Some came from his hometown in Connecticut, his girlfriend came from Boston, his aunt and uncle drove from Oklahoma, his host family from Mahoning Valley made the trip, and his brother, Nic, flew in from Hawaii.
“I thought the first time through, I thought fortunately, they chased some balls out of the zone,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The second time through, I thought he really commanded the strike zone a lot better. But man, I’ll tell you what, to the kid’s credit, he had a ton of poise, he competed like crazy. First time through, he used the breaking ball, the second time through, he used some fastballs when I think they weren’t expecting it. He did a heck of a job.”
Civale became just the seventh Indians starter since 1908 to allow two or fewer hits in his MLB debut.
“That’s the one thing that I’ve been impressed with, with everybody that’s come up, is they seem to have poise,” Francona said. “That’s not easy to do under today’s circumstances for that kid. You can say all you want, ‘Hey, relax. Have fun.’ This is the kid’s first Major League start. I’m sure it’s going fast, but he did a terrific job.”
“Once I’m out there, it’s nothing I haven’t done my whole life,” Civale said. “It’s been 60 feet 6 inches since high school, so once I get out there, it’s just another game.” (M Bell - MLB.com - June 22, 2019)
The Indians' 2016 MLB draft class has already started to make an impact at the highest level. Civale was selected in the third round, Shane Bieber was taken in the fourth round, and Zach Plesac was the club’s 12th-round pick. All three were promoted from Double-A to Triple-A to the big leagues within a month in their respective careers.
“They did a pretty good job with that one,” Civale said of the draft.
“These are the days where I think the player development people should be like bursting at the seams,” Francona said. “They should be proud because of their hard work. I think we’re 11 starters deep this season. It doesn’t guarantee that guys are going to always pitch well, but they know how to act and they know how to compete.” (M Bell - MLB.com - June 22, 2019)
2019 pitching prospect of the year: Aaron Civale: Not only did he log a 2.35 ERA in 13 starts at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, but in each of his first nine big league starts, he worked at least five innings without giving up more than two earned runs in each—the first rookie to accomplish that since King Cole in 1909-1910.
The Indians were in the process of eliminating an 11 1/2-game deficit in the AL Central last August 2019, and spent the month of September trying to earn an AL Wild Card spot. No matter how big of a moment it was for 24-year-old starter Civale—who began the year in Double-A—his teammates joked his heart rate would be so low that it was unreadable.
Civale made 10 starts in his rookie season and didn’t allow more than two earned runs in an outing until his final start of the year in Chicago. His teammates and manager Terry Francona mentioned seeing similarities between Civale and Corey Kluber, both in stuff and personality, and it’s hard to imagine a better comparison for an up-and-coming starter in the Indians’ organization.
Although Shane Bieber seems to have the immediate future locked up as the team’s ace, Civale’s poise, first-season 2.34 ERA, 0.6 homers per nine innings, ratio and his stoicism and arsenal give an early indication that a future ace may be in the making. (M Bell - MLB.com - April 2, 2020)
Civale debuted during the 2019 season and appeared in 10 games. In 2020, he pitched in 12 games. So he hasn’t had to endure the length of a full season yet and that will be the biggest test for him in the upcoming year.
He does have enough to be a bright light in what could be a dismal season in Cleveland. The question will be figuring out where he lands among his past seasons. His 2019 outing saw an ERA of 2.34, while his 2020 season saw that number jump to 4.74. He also allowed the most hits in the American League in 2020, giving up 82 over 74 innings pitched.
- Entering the 2021 season, Aaron had a career record of 7-10 and 3.69 ERA, allowing 126 hits and 15 home runs in 131 innings pitched.
August 29-July 20, 2018: Civale was on the DL with a right lat strain.
June 21-Sept 7, 2021: Aaron Civale was lost due to a right middle finger injury in the fifth inning. Indians manager Terry Francona didn’t have any more information on the severity of Civale’s ailment, saying the right-hander would meet with Dr. Thomas Graham, a hand specialist in Dayton, Ohio, for further evaluation. Francona’s expectation is that Civale will be sidelined for a period of time.
June 24, 2021: Aaron was on the IL with sprained right middle finger.