by Mike Melaragno
by Gavin Potter
Akron had mixed results in a week that saw them travel to the east coast, going 3-3 against Reading, Portland, and New Hampshire. The RubberDucks have failed to get any real positive momentum going this season, and they now sit at 27-30.
The main story around Akron last week was Francisco Mejia. While as a top-100 national prospect Mejia’s been covered plenty, his play last week certainly warrants the spotlight. Mejia went 10-21 in five games, including two home runs and two doubles. Despite being over three years younger than the average AA player, Mejia now owns a .354/.400/.597 slash line, with an excellent 12.9% strikeout rate. Offensively, he is just about as polished as a prospect can be, and with more offensive output like last week’s, he’ll force his way to Cleveland.
From the pitching side of things, Thomas Pannone continued his breakout season last week, pitching 6.2 scoreless innings on Sunday, with five walks and no strikeouts. After 30 AA innings, Pannone’s ERA sits at a pristine 1.80.
The Ducks will wrap up their road trip Sunday in New Hampshire, then will return to Ohio face Harrisburg and Portland in a six-game home stand.
Advanced-A Lynchburg (35-25, – 2.0 GB 2nd place Carolina League North – 5-2 this week)
by Justin Lada
The Hillcats started the week off by gaining on division leader Salem (Boston) by sweeping a double header but then dropped two in a row to the Red Sox later in the week, keeping them two back and then finished the week taking three of four from Fredrick (Baltimore).
Triston McKenzie fell one short of a career high in strikeouts (13) in his seven inning performance in a win Thursday. Aaron Civale only lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs in his second start after being promoted, taking a loss. He did strike out six. Civale, McKenzie and Bieber have gotten all the attention in Lynchburg, but Shao-Ching Chang had his second straight great start, allowing one runs in 6 2/3 innings and struck out six. He has a 2.57 ERA and a 7-3 record this year.
SS Willi Castro has a six game hitting streak (9-24) and is hitting .282 in his last 10 games. He’s up to .289/.343/.411 on the year. Sam Haggerty didn’t keep up his hot start completely but has a seven game hitting streak with three multi-hit games and has a .275/.355/.476 line on the year.
Lynchburg hosts Fredrick one more time then welcomes Wilmington before heading to Fredrick before the All-Star break.
Low-A Lake County
by Caitlin Boron
The Lake County Captains have had a slower first half than many would have hoped for. They’re currently in last place in their division, 17.5 games back from first. With a record of 22-38, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, luckily, they will get a second chance at a good start in the second half. Over their last week, they’ve won four of their last seven games, winning their 1000th game in Captain’s history on Friday night.
The pitcher who got the 1000th win, right-handed reliever Ryder Ryan, was named to the Midwest League All-Star team this week, to represent the Captains on June 20th at the Loons home field, Dow Diamond, in Michigan.
Through the 23 innings pitched this season, Ryan has a 0.78 ERA and 0.87 WHIP which leads in Captains pitching.
In his outing on Friday against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Ryan kept the Captains in striking distance late in the game, helping to set up what would be a walk-off win via Todd Isaacs home run ball.
A lead off single in the ninth looked to put Ryan in a bit of a situation to work out of. Following that hit, a sac bunt, another single and a throwing error by Junior Soto put the runners on the corners with one out. The closer found his way out of the jam, getting RF Eleardo Cabrera out swinging, and SS Lucius Fox called out on strikes to end the inning.
The Captains and BG will resume a suspended game from April 19th. It will start in the top of the fifth inning with Lake County trailing by two with Brady Aiken on the mound. Later this week they will face the Fort Wayne Tin Caps in a three-game series to end the home stand before heading to South Bend at Four Winds Field.
Extended Spring Training
by Joe Coblitz
With the DSL starting up and Mahoning Valley and the Arizona Rookie League starting soon, the Extended Spring Training season has come to an end. Things were really light by the end with one game featuring players who were primarily catchers at catcher (Simeon Lucas), first base (Jason Rodriguez) and left field (Miguel Jerez) with Oscar Gonzalez moving to center field (a rather unimpressive performance) and third baseman Jonathan Laureano playing second. Offensively, Rodriguez had a mammoth home run on Tuesday and Nolan Jones nearly went deep on Friday with a ball that bounced off the top of the fence in left, then back into fair territory for a double.
On the rehab side, Jacob Lee continued to work through the final game and, while Gabriel Mejia wasn’t able to get game action, he has begun to work his way back to Lake County.
DSL Indians & Indians/Brewers
by Joe Coblitz
This season has started out very similarly to 2016 for the DSL Tribe as they lost five of their first six to start the year. The one win was an impressive one over Astros Orange that saw Ignacio Feliz throw four shut out innings and Eric Perez throw another 3.2 in relief. Jonathan Lopez had a great effort in this game as well and has been the DSL Indians top hitter, batting .308/.444/.615 with a home run, double, and four walks to just two K’s.
As discussed in the DSL preview, the Indians make up about a third of the DSL Indians/Brewers team in addition to their primary squad. This team has done three times as well as the DSL Indians as they’ve won three games. Of the Indians starters on the team, Makesiondon Kelkboon (.333/.529/.417) and Cristopher Cespedes (.313/.294/.563) have been the most noteworthy. While they only have four pitchers on the team, one of those, Jahir Varela, had the best week of all the team’s starters with a five inning shut out innings where he struck out five, allowed three hits and walked none.