by Mike Melaragno
by Gavin Potter
The Akron RubberDucks went just 3-3 last week, but their recent improved play has let them overtake Altoona for first place in the Eastern League Western division. At 39-36, they are currently a half-game ahead of the Altoona Curve.
As much as Francisco Mejia is talked about, the Ducks have another catcher who is having a great season. Former 6th round pick Eric Haase went 8-20 last week, including a home run and two doubles. On the year, Haase is now slashing .257/.338/.575 for a career best 147 wRC+. At 24, his prospect clock is ticking, but if he can sustain some of his strong offensive production, he could see himself in AAA soon, and eventually the MLB.
Matt Esparza continued his outstanding season in Akron last week by pitching six scoreless frames against Erie, while striking out eight hitters and walking just two. That start brought his ERA to 1.82 in 39.2 innings in AA, while averaging 8.17 strikeouts per nine innings to just 2.04 walks.
Akron will play a double header against Bowie on Sunday, and once more on Monday, before heading to Harrisburg for a three game set next week.
Advanced-A Lynchburg (7-4 in 2nd half, 1st place Carolina League North – 4-3 this week)
by Justin Lada
It was another week of solid pitching performances for this rotation of domination. The standout performer this week for the rotation is unheralded Brock Hartson (2-0, 13IP, 1ER, 4H, 5BB, 10K). He won both his starts, one of which kicked off the week finishing a sweep of Fredrick.
Triston McKenzie was named to the MLB Futures Game which is a game that features baseball’s top prospects the Sunday of All-Star week. Why is he a Future Game participant? He turned in a five strikeout, two walk, two run start in 5.1 IP this week, which would be a solid start for any 19 year old prospect in High-A but for McKenzie that’s actually somewhat subpar for him. Expect the Indians to give McKenzie a bit of a breather after the Future’s Game next week, ease him back into the rotation and then possibly send him on his way to Akron after another few starts in High-A.
Aaron Civale also own another start by going five innings and allowing just a while striking out five. He hasn’t walked a batter in his last four starts now (26 IP).
SS Willi Castro had seven more hits with a homer and four RBI. C/1B/OF Sicnarf Loopstok‘s power surge continues as he hit two HR in another game this week (11 HR, .892 OPS). OF Jodd Carter had a nine hit week with a homer and five RBI. The Hillcats did lose Sam Haggerty to the DL this week with an oblique injury. He had significantly cooled off since his hot April even though he had a solid June.
Lynchburg returns home Tuesday July 4 for a six game home stand.
Low-A Lake County (7-3, – 1 GB Midwest League East – 5-2 this week)
by Justin Lada
The second half has been much kinder to the Captains as they got some offensive reinforcements. They put up a pair of five run innings last Sunday en route to a 15-6 win over Dayton thanks to seven RBI from Logan Ice, four from Luke Wakamatsu, three from OF Juan Soto and three hits from Gavin Collins.
Micah Miniard turned in his best start of the season this week (7IP, 5K, 3H, 0ER, 2BB). Tanner Tully turned in a solid seven inning performance on Saturday to help the Captains sweep a double header vs. Bowling Green while the bullpen of Henry Martinez, newcomer Randy Valladares and Ryan Colgate pitched well enough in the nightcap. In the nightcap they put up another five run inning on the way to 11 runs. Alexis Pantoja hit a grand slam and Emmanuel Tapia hit his Midwest League leading 18th homer. He has five homers in the last 10 games. Mayfield grad Mitch Longo also collected four hits. He has a hit in all five games since from off the DL for the second time on June 26. He has eight hits in those five games including three in the nightcap Saturday.
Wednesday Juan Hillman took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh inning. It was easily the best start of the Indians 2015 2nd round pick’s carer. He struck out eight in seven innings and allowed just one hit and two walks.
The Captains conclude their home stand and series with Bowling Green today and Monday.
Short-Season Mahoning Valley
by Caitlin Boron The Scrappers finished up week two going 2-3 with a day off Tuesday and a postponed game Saturday night. Currently the third place Scrappers sit 1.5 games out of first behind West Virginia (2nd) and State College (1st) with a 6-5 record.
In Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the West Virginia Black Bears, 3B Nolan Jones knocked out his first professional home run of the season. Of his ten games played, Jones leads the Scrappers in runs (6) and total bases (6). He’s also tied with Will Benson in RBI (4) and sits at 4th in hits (9).
Another player to keep an eye on, 2B Samad Taylor, who has come out of the gate blazing hot. He’s batting a respectable .326 through 11 games, and is currently tied with Ulysses Cantu and Oscar Gonzalez at 15 hits a piece (which at ten games, lead in the NYPL in hits) Taylor is also tied in doubles with Benson (3) and has the only triple so far this season.
In the coming week, the Scrappers have a double header facing Auburn on Sunday, before returning back to Eastwood Field to play second place West Virginia in a three game series. They then head to BB&T Park for the weekend, facing Williamsport for the first time this year.
by Joe Coblitz
It’s been a weird start to the AZL season for the Tribe and that could be partially to blame for their 2-4 start. With the infield being resodded at Goodyear Ballpark and a massive $11M renovation/addition being done to the Indians practice facility, they are currently sharing a field with the AZL Reds, forcing them to have odd start times and be on the road even when they’re at home. This will all change July 5th when they move back to Goodyear Ballpark.
In addition, many of the Indians 2017 draft picks have only signed within the last few days and those who have signed have yet to make a significant impact. This should change in short order as most of the Indians picks have signed including second round pick, the speedy Quentin Holmes.
Of those in the AZL right now, a pair of hitters who excelled in the DSL last year have continued with their top play as both Wilbis Santiago and Ronny Dominguez each have a home run and are hitting near or over .300. On the pitching side, things have been extremely ugly with the AZL staff allowing 9.2 runs
by Joe Coblitz
You could say the DSL Indians have had better weeks than their 1-5 record in their last six, but they’ve been pretty bad for a long time. It’s difficult to find positives, but a few are Nehemias Celeston who had two doubles and a home run (all in two games) and Yefferson Yannuzzi who pitched a five inning shut out (Luigence Thomas would blow the save). Celeston’s numbers for the year are far from great, but he’s played every day (generally as the DH rather than 3B where he’s listed) and it’s possible the recent power surge (three home runs and three doubles on the season) could add up to something eventually.
Yannuzzi, however, has been completely dominant all season. He’s allowed a 1.89 ERA in four starts, although with only 13 K’s and 12 walks, there’s some question of the legitimacy of these numbers. In all, control appears to be a big problem with the DSL squad as they’ve walked 123 to 153 K’s in 207 innings, sixth most of the 40 DSL teams.