by Gavin Potter
The RubberDucks only played three games last week due to the Eastern League All-Star Break, knocking off Altoona Sunday but dropping two games to Erie on Thursday and Friday. The Ducks now sit at 44-43, and are three games back of first in their division.
While there weren’t a ton of performances to note during the short week, the Ducks (and Indians) got some excellent news – outfielder Greg Allen was finally activated off the disabled list after missing about two months from a broken wrist. Allen had gotten off to a slow start in 2017 with a .693 OPS, but is considered one of Cleveland’s top ten prospects by most outlets.
Akron is scheduled to play nine games in the next week, due to rain makeups. The Ducks will take on Erie and Binghamton on the road, and Richmond at home.
Advanced-A Lynchburg (13-9 in 2nd half, – 1.o GB Carolina League North, 2-3 this week)
by Justin Lada
It was a good start to the week for the Hillcats taking two in a row from Salem (4-3 and 8-2). Dominic DeMasi pitched Sunday in place of Triston McKenzie who was in Miami for the Futures Game. DeMasi filled in well, going five shutout innings, allowing a hit and striking out three. He didn’t get the win, though, as the Hillcats didn’t score till the seventh thanks to a two run homer and two run double from Gavin Collins. Collins has eight RBI in nine games with Lynchburg since his promotion and an .826 OPS.
Speaking of McKenzie, he threw two pitches and retired the only batter he faced in the Futures Game Sunday.
In their second win vs. Salem, the offense waited until late to score. They plated six in the 10th inning of a 2-2 tie, spoiling a six inning, five hit, one run, six strikeout performance by Brock Hartson. Martin Cervenka and Jodd Carter homered and Daniel Salters homered.
Aaron Civale took a loss on Friday, allowing three runs in five innings. He also walked two batters, which ties his season high, which he only did once before.
McKenzie returns to pitch today but he may not have many starts in Lynchburg left whether he’s promoted to Akron sometime in the next two weeks or traded. After Saturday’s finale in Wilmington, the Hillcats come home to host Winston-Salem.
Low-A Lake County (10-11 in 2nd half, – 6.0 G Midwest League East, 2-2 this week)
by Justin Lada
Two weeks ago, Juan Hillman took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh. He followed that up with a pretty average start but then got back to good this past Sunday. He struck out nine in seven innings while allowing two runs on two hits. It’s good to see Hillman start to have some really good results after fighting through some injury/fatigue in 2016 and maybe not being totally ready to face this level of competition early on. Luke Wakamatsu hit a two run homer in Sunday’s win.
Brady Aiken finally earned his second win of the season on Friday, throwing six shutout innings on seven hits, three walks and two strikeouts. It’s the first time this year Aiken didn’t allow a run in any start and the first time in his last three starts he’s managed to walk less than five. Mitch Longo hit his third homer of the year and continues to rake. Henry Martinez struck out four in two innings of work and Dalbert Siri allowed his first run since June 11.
The Captains finish this roadtrip in Burlington and come home Wednesday to host Kane County.
Short-Season Mahoning Valley
by Caitlin Boron
While everyone’s focus was on the MLB All Star Break for the big leaguers and Futures Game attendees, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers continued their trek through their regular season. Currently they’re tied for second place with State College, a single game back from first place West Virginia at 13-10.
Over their last week, they swept their last series at home against the Brooklyn Cyclones. In the first game of that series on Wednesday, major league starter Danny Salazar pitched a rehab outing that turned out more promising than his last two. Danny went 5.0 innings, giving up just two hits and struck out seven. Being that he was pitching to short season single-A these numbers are almost expected, however it was more or less his command and velocity that stood out in a positive way. The Scrappers took the W with a 4-1 final.
Also in this series, the Scrappers stole game two on a walk off in the tenth inning. Shortstop Jesse Berardi was on 1B after a force out that got Nolan Jones tagged out at second. Berardi raced home on a Jason Rodriguez double, where the rest of the squad waited for him to bring in the winning run.
Over the coming week the Scrappers will face Batavia at home before taking off on a six-game road trip to Auburn’s Falcon Park and State College’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park before their next off day.
by Joe Coblitz
With two days off this week, we have quite the interesting set of games to consider from Arizona. They lost both games last weekend by a combined score of 5-10, then won 12-5 before losing on Thursday night 13-3. You could say the Indians have a pitching problem at their lowest levels and it’s not only apparent in the final scores, but the 5.00+ ERA of every non-rehabbing starting pitcher and 4.00+ ERA of every pitcher with at least 7 innings. While a lot of this is likely small sample size noise, I can personally attest to the batting practice thrown by Tahnaj Thomas on Thursday against San Diego.
The former infielder had a fine breaking ball, but had trouble throwing it high enough to be enticing for hitters. Instead, they waited for the fast ball, hitting three home runs including one that nearly hit the scoreboard in left off the bad of short stop Jordy Barley. Thomas is still only 18 and is still converting into a starter, however, so this looks rougher than it actually is.
On defense, things haven’t looked great either, but that is likely partly due to the team being a hodge podge of leftovers that aren’t ready for Mahoning Valley, but are beyond the DSL. With 8 outfielders (including the recently returned Greg Allen and the still rehabbing Michael Tinsley), Anthony Medrano has been hard tasked to get everyone enough playing time to see what they can do. Second round pick Tyler Freeman has been playing short daily since he signed, moving Jose Fermin to second. Because of this, normal second baseman Wilbis Santiago has played first and third in addition to his home position and Mitch Reeves has had a try out at first base.
Since we need a positive note, the hot weather that has hurt the Indians pitchers has helped the hitters and Quentin Holmes and Angel Lopez Alvarez have each hit their first professional home runs and Mitch Reeves already has three. Tyler Freeman has also been solid with the bat, hitting four doubles although his defense has been suspect.
by Joe Coblitz
Back to the non-combo team this week, the DSL Indians finished off the week with a couple big wins, taking out the Pirates on Wednesday and the Dodgers2 on Thursday before getting rained out Friday. The offense has been on and off all year, scoring 12 once and 19 another times, but were held to two or fewer runs 11 times in 35 games. Now, they’ve scored at least seven in four of their last five largely thanks to Jean Montero, who had a hit in all five games and now has six doubles and a home run on the season with a .457 OBP.
Of those I’ve seen personally from this team, Marcos Gonzalez remains the most interesting and he stole three more bases this week, being caught once for nine successful tries out of ten on the season. He’s a plus glove at short and great on the bases. As a lead off hitter, he could get on base more, but he has 13 walks to only 17 K’s this year, a respectable ratio if not as impressive as Montero’s 19 to 15. Gonzalez is 17 and won’t turn 18 until October while Montero turns 19 next February.