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The Sports Daily > Burning River Baseball
This Is Next Year: Stretch Run Down On The Farm

AAA Columbus
by Pete Conti

The Clippers have had a full week of games going back to last Sunday, all of which have been on the road in the midst of a four game losing streak with one more game in Pawtucket. As of today, Columbus sit 4.5 games behind the Indianapolis Indians in the division.

The Clippers send left handed starter Ryan Merritt to the mound opposing righty Hector Velazquez who has never faced them in his career. Yandy Diaz has hit .390 with one home run and six RBIs in the last ten games with a steady average of .348 after tonight’s contest.. He has not hit the ball with power, but rather hitting sharp ground balls that due to his speed, is able to reach base a majority of the time. Ronny Rodriguez has hit .400 with two homers and six RBIs in the last nine games. Overall, Columbus has scored only 3.5 runs per game over their last twelve road games and only nine home runs as a team.

Ryan Merritt could be a viable back end of the rotation guy for the Indians as they look to play some October baseball. Tonight, he faces a Pawtucket team that has won the first three games of the series as he attempts to turn their fortunes around. On Saturday,  Merritt struggled in the fifth inning giving up seven hits and back to back home runs as the Pawsox chip away at the lead and the score is now 5-3 in the sixth. His night is finished after seven innings giving up nine hits and three earned runs as Diego Moreno is called upon in relief in the eighth inning.

The Clippers will finish the series in Pawtucket tomorrow and then return home to host the Rochester Red Wings Tuesday evening. This is after a scheduled off day on Monday which the Clippers desperately need as they have lost

AA Akron
by Jay Alan

The Akron RubberDucks continue to hover right around the .500 mark (60-58) like they have for a majority of this season. Fortunately in the Eastern League West, Akron is still in playoff contention sitting just two games behind the Altoona Curve for the second playoff spot, and 2.5 games behind the Bowie Baysox for first.

This was individually a very good week for Akron, as the Ducks managed to win six of their eight games. They started off extremely hot, as they won their last two of a series at Reading, and then returned home to Canal Park to take the first two of three from New Hampshire. After splitting a double header on Friday, and winning against Binghamton on Saturday, the RubberDucks have now won four straight series’ which is what has kept them right on Altoona’s tail for that last playoff spot.

After one more at home against Binghamton on Sunday, the Ducks get a much needed day off before heading to Trenton for a very tough series against the first place Thunder (78-40). If the Ducks can manage to win the Trenton series, they then go on the road to Richmond which will hopefully give them a chance to gain some ground on Altoona in the playoff hunt.

Advanced-A Lynchburg
by Justin Lada

Another strong week has the Hillcats atop the the Carolina League North standings again in the second half. They got great pitching again this week but also had a 14 run game (14-1 Friday vs. Winston-Salem). Andrew Calica collected three hits in that contest, Gavin Collins had a pair of hits and Ka’ai Tom had two hits and two RBIs. That pushed Collins’ OPS over .825.

Triston McKenzie had a nice rebound outing after two straight rough outings. In game one of a doubleheader sweep the 20 year old right hander had eight strikeouts in five innings with two walks and an earned run.Aaron Civale started off another tremendous pitching week with a seven inning, one run performance with four strikeouts and no walks again.

Calica had three more hits Saturday giving him eight hits this week and Willi Castro had four hits in Saturday night’s loss, picking him up from a slower week for a change. He’s hitting .294 on the year.

The Hillcats wrap up their road trip at Winston-Salem today and come home for a seven game penultimate home stand for the season on Monday.

Low-A Lake County
by Justin Lada

Connor Capel got the Captain’s week started off right with a two-homer, three RBI game in a 4-0 win over West Michigan in game one of a doubleheader. Sean Brady gave the Captains five shutout innings as his journey back from surgery continues to be a success. The Captains couldn’t carry it over into game two of that doubleheader, getting shutout 9-0. They dropped the next two to West Michigan including a 15-7 loss where Capel had two more hits, Mitch Longo had two and Li-Jen Chu had three and two RBI.

In one of their West Michigan losses, Zach Plesac (Dan Plesac’s nephew) made his Captains debut as he is on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery. He allowed a run in four innings of work.

Brady followed Sunday’s start up with another solid outing Saturday. He struck out three and allowed just a hit over five innings Saturday in a no-decision where the Captain’s bullpen allowed seven runs. Though he struggled as of late, the Captain’s lost a key cog in that bullpen, Ryder Ryan, who went to the Mets in the Jay Bruce trade.

For the week, Capel had 13 hits and is hitting .325 over his last 10 games, adding some contact to his power (.473 SLG). Nobody can figure out how to get Mitch Longo out still. He’s hitting .444 with 10 hits this week. He currently has a nine game hitting streak.

The Captains finish their road trip with one more game at Lansing and then four in Bowling Green before coming home Friday to start a seven game home stand.

Short-Season Mahoning Valley
by Gavin Potter

Last week was disappointment for the Scrappers, as they went 3-4, and dropped to 1.5 games back of West Virginia in their NYPL division.

19-year-old Oscar Gonzalez had a big week, going 8-24 in five games, including four doubles and four RBIs. Gonzalez’s .301 batting average on the season is impressive, but his free-swinging nature is stunting his production: with five walks in 42 games, his OBP sits at just .316.

Sam Hentges made his first start beyond Rookie League ball this season on Thursday, as he continues to work back from Tommy John surgery. The 6’6 lefty had a strong appearance, throwing four innings, allowing no runs, and just one hit, while striking out four. He’s a pitcher to watch for Tribe fans, as he had one of the higher upsides among Indians’ pitchers prospects before his injury. Having just turned 21, he still has plenty of time to develop.

The Scrappers will finish their series with Staten Island on Tuesday, before breaking for two days for the NYPL All-Star Game. Oscar Gonzalez, JJ Berardi, and Ulysses Cantu will represent Mahoning Valley.

AZL Indians

by Joe Coblitz

The AZL Tribe won half of a double header on Monday thanks again to Dylan Baker (rehab) and Maiker Manzanillo, but have lost six of their last seven overall. To help understand the Indians struggles, Matt Turner allowed nine runs (six earned) in one inning last Saturday, Luis Araujo gave up three in an inning in the game they lost on Monday, Juan Mota gave up six in five innings on Tuesday, Araujo gave up another three in an inning on Wednesday and Luis Valdez gave up six in five relief innings on Friday. A rain out Saturday was the best thing that could possibly have happened for this club.

There’s no real way to sugar coat it, this team is really bad. Tyler Freeman has been just about the only positive offensively (Henry Pujols had a moment this year, but has since struggled) and it may be the worst defensive team I’ve ever seen in Goodyear. On the mound, only Manzanillo has an ERA below four among pitchers with at least 16 innings this year. He and Tommy Dejuneas have been the only non-rehabbing pitchers to have any success at all. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of potential here, but it does make them very hard to watch right now. At least Quinten Holmes hit his second professional home run this week thanks to an extremely powerful wind out to left field.

DSL Indians-Brewers

by Joe Coblitz

Over the last week, it’s been more of the same from the DSL Indians-Brewers as they’ve dropped five of their last six. In their losses, they’ve been outscored 41 to 10. Trying to stick with the positive, Makesiondon Kelkboon is back from his injury and hit his second triple of the season last Saturday. Other than that, it was rough until Friday when he went 2 for 4 against Dodgers2. While he is, by far, the most exciting Indians prospect on this team, his season numbers have dipped significantly (likely due to injury) and he’s now hitting .250/.326/.363 and has been caught five times in seven stolen base attempts.

Since that attempt at positivity failed so greatly, take note of Luis D. Garcia (not to be confused with Luis C. Garcia) who pitched a gem for the DSL Indians against the Indians-Brewers on Monday, going seven, two hit, shut out innings with four strike outs and no walks. Since you didn’t confuse him with Luis C. Garcia, you should also note that Luis C. Garcia pitched four, one hit innings against the Dodgers2 on Friday in relief. On the season, D has a 2.00 ERA, with 40 strike outs, 27 walks and a .234 average against in 54 innings all for the AZL Indians. C has a 2.62 ERA, 28 strike outs, 14 walks and a .191 average against between both the Indians and Indians-Brewers, almost exclusively in relief.