by Mike Melaragno
by Gavin Potter
After rallying past the Altoona Curve to take first place in the Eastern League Western Division, Akron went 4-5 last week, including three losses against Altoona, and dropped to 3rd place in the division.
Yu Cheng-Chang was Akron’s best hitter last week, going 7-26, with a home run and two doubles. Chang has had an interesting season to date: despite jumping a level and playing in a pitcher-friendly park, he’s posted career-high power numbers (.279 ISO), but has also struck out more than ever (29.1 K%). To boot, he’s has only managed a .255 BABIP. With a relatively small sample, it’s too early to draw any major conclusions, but his second half will be on to watch.
Thomas Pannone and Matt Esparza had rough weeks compared to their usual standard. After allowing just 6 ER and 5 walks in his last 31.1 innings, Pannone gave up 5 ER and 4 walks in 10.1 innings last week. Similarly, Esparza gave up 6 ER in 4.1 innings on Wednesday, which was more runs than he had allowed in his previous 25 innings of work. Both pitchers will look to bounce back after the All-Star break.
Akron will play their series finale against Altoon on Sunday, before the two-day All-Star break begins Monday. Francisco Mejia, Yu-Cheng Chang, Thomas Pannone, and Cameron Hill will represent the Ducks.
Advanced-A Lynchburg (11-6 in 2nd half, tied 1st place Carolina League North – 4-3 this week)
by Justin Lada
Lynchburg started off the week with three strong pitching performances and wins. Shane Bieber allowed two runs on six hits, no walks and six strikeouts in a Sunday win vs. Fredrick. Aaron Civale followed that up with seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts and no walks on Monday in a win. Triston McKenzie shut down Wilmington Tuesday with seven innings, one run (unearned), 11 strikeouts and no walks. Bieber allowed three runs in a win on Friday in seven innings with nine walks and no strikeouts. Civale’s second start of the week was strong too but not backed by run support. He went 6 1/3 innings allowing just three runs in the loss.
3B/C Gavin Collins was promoted to Lynchburg this week and is 3-6 with a walk in two games. SS Willi Casto had eight hits in the seven games. They also got Sam Heggerty off the DL and a few other guys moved up to fill roster spots in Akron.
Offensively, OF/1B/DH/C Sicnarf Loopstok hit his 12th homer in .261 games. Newcomer Jorma Rodriguez had three hits in the loss Friday.
The Hillcats finish a home stand with Salem today and then head to Wilmington before coming back next Sunday to host Winston-Salem.
McKenzie is in Miami to play in the MLB Futures Game at 5:00 p.m. on ESPN. Don’t be surprised to see his first start after that showcase be pushed back and don’t be surprised if he’s also elevated to Akron after that start or soon after.
Low-A Lake County (8-9 in 2nd half, – 5G Midwest League East- 1-6 this week)
by Justin Lada
The only win of the Captains week was a 9-6 win at Fort Wayne on Wednesday. Mayfield, Ohio native OF Mitch Longo and first basemen Emmanuel Tapia both homered twice. His 20 HRs lead the Midwest League. The Captains scored one run or less in five of their six losses on the week. Besides Longo and Tapia’s big games in the win, OF Connor Capel had six hits in what was a rough week offensively for the team, especially after seeing Gavin Collins promoted.
In that win, Luis Jimenez’s four earned runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings was enough for the win. Dalbert Siri pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout to lower his ERA to 1.90. Siri allowed one hit while striking out six in three innings of work this week.
For the third straight start Brady Aiken allowed just two runs but has walked 17 times in those three starts. Reliever Ryder Ryan pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings this week
The Captains finish their home stand with West Michigan today and Monday then head to a west division roadtrip to visit Peoria and Burlington.
Short-Season Mahoning Valley (10-9, – 2 GB NYPL Pickney Division – 4-4 this week)
by Justin Lada
After sweeping a double header on Sunday the Scrappers then lost four of five the rest of the week. In game one of the double header last Sunday Grant Hockin continued to show confidence coming back from Tommy John surgery by throwing five shutout innings. He’s pitched eight innings in his last two outings but has only allowed two runs.
That allowed the Auburn Doubeldays in the Sunday double header. 2017 draft pick James Karinicheck two scoreless innings and three relievers held on to preserve the win. Ulysses Cantu hit his second homer of the year in the night cap of the double header. Felix Tati threw six shutout innings Monday before the Scrappers needed 15 innings to sweep the Doubledays. 2017 10th rounder SS Jessee Beradi had four hits in the extra inning affair. He has 13 hits in 33 at bats since joining Mahoning Valley.
In the Scrappers only other win of the week (Wednesday hosting West Virginia), Zach Plesac, nephew of former big league reliever Dan Plesac, pitched four innings allowing a run, two hits and with five strikeouts. The bullpen pitched five scoreless innings in relief in that win. 2017 20th rounder Jonathan Teaney struck out six in 2 1/3 innings.
The Scrappers finish up their road trip at Williamsport before coming home Tuesday to host Brooklyn for three games.
by Joe Coblitz
It was another rough week for the AZL Tribe as they lost four and won two, allowing 46 runs in 6 games. On the plus side, Indians 2017 2nd round pick Quinten Holmes made his professional debut and hit safely in his first four starts including two doubles in his second game. The Indians second pick, Tyler Freeman, has also had a great start to his career offensively, although his glove has been lacking. Like Holmes, he’s played in five games and hit two doubles, but he’s batting .450 thanks to four more singles.
Along with the new kids, Greg Allen has been rehabbing in Arizona and is three for ten so far with one strike out. He’s played some center and some DH as he tries to get back to AA after breaking his hamate bone. Also rehabbing, Luke Eubank, Sam Hentges and Jonas Wyatt (the latter two having pitched for the first time this year on Saturday morning) have all been dominant. Aside from them, the AZL Indians pitching staff has been fairly terrible with the possible exception of Jean Carlos Mejia in relief. While his numbers overall don’t look great, he pitched three innings this year and allowed just one run while striking out four. On the season, he’s struck out 12 in nine innings, but has struggled with his command. Only Adoni Kery, who has struck out 14 with just 6 walks between the DSL and AZL this year, has been comparable on the pitching staff.
by Joe Coblitz
The Tribe’s combination DSL team had a very divergent week as they lost their first three, then won four in a row. Of course, since two of those losses came to the other Indians DSL team, they can pretty much be considered a wash. There has been one aspect of this team that has been completely an apparently terrible and that is the pitching staff as they allowed 15 runs in their two wins against the Astros-Orange and 33 in two games against the DSL Rangers last weekend.
The good news Tribe fans, is that three of the Indians/Brewers pitchers who have allowed 17 or more runs this year (including Luis Cordero who has allowed 17 runs in 6.2 innings) play for the latter half of the name. Only Orlando Cedeno, who has a 9.39 ERA and 14 walks to 8 K’s is under Cleveland control. He allowed four runs (three earned) in short relief in Friday’s win.
Of the two offensive players worth noting, Makesiondon Kelkboom and Cristopher Cespedes, Cespedes went 1 for 14 during the week while Kelkboom didn’t play after being pulled from the game on July 4th. Both still have fine numbers for the season, however, with Cespedes hitting .286/.356/.397 and Kelboom going .293/.369/.414.