The Cleveland Indians annual Winter Development Program kicked off on Monday at Progressive Field. Now in its 18th year, the Winter Development Program consists of a week long program for 14 players in the Indians minor league system to help acclimate them to the major league environment.

The following players are in Cleveland for the program: first baseman Jesus Aguilar, right-handed pitcher Cody Anderson, right-handed pitcher Tyler Cloyd, right-handed pitcher Joseph Colon, left-handed pitcher Kyle Crockett, infielder Erik Gonzalez, left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes, catcher Jake Lowery, outfielder Bryson Myles, outfielder Tyler Naquin, right-handed pitcher Bryan Price, infielder Jose Ramirez, right-handed pitcher Will Roberts, infielder Giovanny Urshela and second baseman Joey Wendle.

The Winter Development Program is the brainchild of former GM and current President Mark Shapiro back in January of 1996. The idea behind the program is to hone in on each players' physical, mental and fundamental skills.

"When Mark Shapiro first put the program together back in 1996, there were not that many places that players could go in the offseason to have major league resources for strength and conditioning, for baseball work or just to be around other professional players," Indians assistant director of player development Carter Hawkins said in a phone interview on Monday. "Originally it was a four-week program in Cleveland where the top prospects would come in and workout every day at Jacobs Field and they would throw and then do baseball activities over at Case Western University. They would live with host families for those four weeks and it was a full month in the city of Cleveland in the middle of winter. In addition to the physical part of that there was also the mental side with speakers coming in helping to talk about things to help the players make the transition from a talented minor league prospect to a successful winning major league player."

The program mostly involves players who are expected to make their Major League debut in the upcoming season, who have recently been acquired in a trade, or are a high-level prospect nearing a big league opportunity. It serves as an introduction for many of the minor league players to the Progressive Field facility, big league coaching staff, and the city itself.

"It really is just to increase their comfort level with the environment and ease any anxieties they may have," Hawkins said. "To take that aspect of the transition to the major leagues out of the picture and let them focus on executing on the field and winning and things that are important and will impact the Indians going forward."

The Indians are conducting the program out of Progressive Field from for this week only. Several years ago they changed the program from four weeks to two-week program, and this year they whittled it down to one week.