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The Sports Daily > Burning River Baseball
This Is Next Year: Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching

AAA Columbus Clippers

By Joseph Coblitz

The ClipShow ended the week on a strong five game win streak, taking out Durham in three of four and Gwinnet in the first in the first two of three. In the last week alone, one of the biggest contributors was Richie Shaffer. He’s on a tear with nine hits this week including three home runs, knocking in 11. While Shaffer would be a potential Major League option if needed in the near future, top prospect Bradley Zimmer has also had a killer week. He’s running off a seven game hitting streak including two hits in four straight during the winning streak. After striking out 29 times compared to just six walks through May 2nd, he’s walked eight times to 12 K’s since.

Since April 23rd, Zimmer has improved from .230/.299/.443 to .287/.367/.525, just the kind of improvements that the Indians have been looking for. If he continues, the idea of Zimmer making his MLB debut in 2017 could still be alive. One more possible MLB option, Daniel Robertson, has also had a solid week. After returning from the DL on May 7th, Robertson has had 7 hits including a four hit night against Durham.

In general, the starting rotation has been solid during the winning streak, but the bullpen is also worth noting. Shawn Armstrong hasn’t allowed a run (and only one hit and two walks) since April 25th and has 11 K’s in his last 6 innings. On the flip side, Carlos Frias has allowed ten runs in his last three innings across two appearances.

AA Akron RubberDucks

By Gavin Potter

For the second straight week, the Akron RubberDucks failed to get in all their scheduled games due to rain. Still, the Ducks managed to play seven of their nine scheduled games, and had a positive week, going 4-3.

20-year-old Bobby Bradley had a very interesting week for Akron, going 6-24, with a home run, two doubles, two walks, and two strikeouts. What is most interesting is that Bradley, known for contact issues, went five games without striking out. His current strikeout rate of 27.4% would be his lowest since his time in the Rookie League in 2014. For the season, Bradley is slashing .204/.323/.427.

After a 27.2 scoreless-inning streak, 23-year-old Thomas Pannone was promoted to Akron, and pitched 5.2 scoreless innings on Monday, striking out six and walking three. Pannone has had a breakout season to date, and is quickly pitching his way up the Indians’ top prospect lists.

Akron plays a double header Sunday at Binghamton, before coming home for a three game against Richmond. The Ducks will then get a day off before playing a weekend series at Hartford.

Advanced-A Lynchburg Hillcats

By Caitlin Boron

Lynchburg had their toughest week of the reason, only winning two games since their double header on Saturday. They also lost their first doubleheader on Wednesday. Currently they’re still in second place, but are tied at 4.5 games back with the Fredrick Keys (at 17-15), the Orioles high-A affiliate.

The upside of this week? Triston McKenzie. If you have not heard of him yet, he was drafted in the lottery round in the 2015 and has been insane ever since.

This week alone, the 6’5″/ 165LBS starter stuck out 14 in the course of six innings pitched before handing things to the pen. McKenzie lead his team last year in Ks (49 in Lake County and 55 in Mahoning Valley) and wins (6 in

Lake County and 9 in Mahoning Valley) before being promoted to Lynchburg. He currently plays for the Hillcats and is tearing things up for them whenever his spot comes up in the rotation.

In Lynchburg, McKenzie currently leads in strikeouts (44) and is in a three-way tie for wins (6) and had a .99 WHIP over 32.1 IP over his last ten starts. He has been a firestorm since the Indians signed him and has the abilities to be the pitching version of Francisco Lindor for the squad in the future. Bold prediction or not, he has all the potential in the world.

Full-season A Lake County Captains

13-22, 11 GB, 7th place Midwest League East – 2-5 this week

By Justin Lada

Indians minor league pitching was all the rage this week and the Captains were no different. In one of their two wins, 2016 draft pick Aaron Civale was magnificent again, striking out seven in seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win vs. Beloit. Michael Letkewicz and Dalbert Siri continued the Captains bullpen’s performance with two shutout innings and four strikeouts.

In the Captains other win, another 2016 draft pick, LHP Tanner Tully made his first official “start” even though he had been piggybacking this year. He threw six innings allowing just a run and struck out three in 3-1 Captains win. That game also featured Letkewicz and Ryder Ryan throwing three shutout innings. The Captains most consistent offensive force Li-Jen Chu knocked in a run as did OF Connor Capel.

Mayfield, Ohio native and 2016 draft pick OF Mitch Longo was activated after wrist surgery this spring and added to the Captains roster. The hometown guy has two hits in seven at bats over his first two games. He’s an Ohio University grad and had a strong showing at Mahoning Valley last summer. While the Captains offense continues to be an issue, Chu’s .836 OPS is in the top 20 in the Midwest League. The next closest is Emmanuel Tapia at .781 who has four of his seven homers in his last 10 games and has a .491 slugging percentage but also has a 38% K-rate.

Civale continues to dominate for the Captains with 41 strikeouts and three walks in 41 1/3 innings. His 0.92 WHIP is ninth in the league. Ryan, Siri, Letkwicz and Ben Krauth have all been dominant in the bullpen. Former first rounder Brady Aiken allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking four. It’s the third straight start he’s walked four and has 25 walks in 29 innings. There have also been reports that his velocity still has not touching far above the 89-90 range.

The Captains are off for Mother’s Day then take a quick three game trip to Great Lakes to face the Loons (Dodgers) this week and are back home for a four game set starting Thursday against West Michigan (Detroit).