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The Sports Daily > Burning River Baseball
This Is Next Year: Rain Can’t Stop the Young Tribe

AAA Columbus Clippers
By Joseph Coblitz

Just like the rest of the Indians farm system (and the MLB team), the Clippers dealt with bad weather this week and missed a game. Over the rest, they went 2-3, winning a series against Louisville, but losing games to Charlotte (as part of a four game series loss) and Indianapolis. In both wins, a Clippers pitcher went 6 innings and allowed one run, Shawn Morimando on Monday and Mike Clevinger on Tuesday and Yandy Diaz provided plenty of offense. Clevinger has already been announced as the Indians starter vs Kansas City on Sunday, but Diaz’s future lies in doubt. In those two games, Diaz went 5 for 9 with 8 RBI, a home run and a double and Terry Francona has insinuated that the Indians could be considering a recall to help deal with the Indians left handed problems.

With less immediate importance, Bradley Zimmer is 1 for 16 in his last four games with 9 K’s. If the Indians are looking for help in center right now, it’s unlikely to come from their #1 prospect. Tyler Naquin, on the other hand, has a 14 game hitting streak (every game he’s played in AAA) and went 3 for 4 on May 1st against the Bats. While Naquin might not be the offensive or defensive answer at the Majors, he’s proven time and again he’s beyond AAA.

AA Akron RubberDucks
By Gavin Potter

In a rain-shortened week, the Akron RubberDucks went 2-2 in games vs. Bowie, Binghamton and Altoona.

Yu-Cheng Chang was Akron’s best hitter in the four games this week, going an impressive 5-12 with a home run,  a double, and five walks. His big week was much needed, as he was coming off a 2-26 slump.  At the moment, the 21-year-old Korean is slashing .209/.303/.512.

Luis Lugo, a 23-year-old 6’5 southpaw, had another strong outing on Thursday, continuing what has been an excellent season to date. He pitched 5.1 innings, while only allowing one earned run and three hits. He struck out five batters, although he also walked four. On the year, he is carrying a 2.42 ERA, although his FIP is nearly double that at 4.88
Akron is scheduled for a double-header on Sunday and next Saturday to make up for the games postponed due to rain, and weather permitting, will play 9 games next week vs. Altoona, Trenton, and Binghamton.

High-A Lynchburg Hillcats
By Catilin Boron

Last Saturday the Hillcats lost to Myrtle Beach to end the first month of the season just a game under .500 at 10-11. To start their May though, they have won both series against the Winston-Salem Dash and the Potomac Nationals. They went 5-2 over their last week and are 6-4 in their last ten.  They also won their second doubleheader of the season Saturday, after Thursday’s game was moved due to rain. In those two Saturday games, Lynchburg had 14 runs off 21 hits, while their pitchers only gave up three on seven hits.

Currently, Lynchburg is tied for second with the Baltimore affiliate Frederick Keys, 3.5 games behind the Salem Red Sox.

Also in the last couple days, a few transactions have taken place around the Cleveland farm system. Lights-out lefty Thomas Pannone was promoted to AA Akron, RHP Shane Bieber was promoted from low-A Lake County, and 1B/C Juan De La Cruz was sent back down from Lynchburg to Lake County.

My player to watch for the week is starting righty Shao-Ching Chiang, who got his fourth “W” for the season during Friday’s 6-2 win against the Nations. Through eight innings he gave up just two earned runs on six hits and struck out three. Chiang is currently 4-1 this year with a 1.83 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and leads the Hillcats with 34.1 IP through five starts.

Low-A Lake County Captains
By Justin Lada

The Captains went 2-4, and are 11-17 overall (last in Midwest League East) this past week, capping it off with a 13-3 win over the Western Division’s second best team, Quad Cities. Emmanual Tapia hit his sixth homer of the year and has five in the last 10 games. He’s slugging .468 but has 39 strikeouts in 101 at bats. Connor Capel and Trenton Brooks also had two hits.

Li-Jen Chu is in a 4-24 slump but remains the best hitter on the team. Logan Ice also hit his second homer of the year this week and the teams top statistical hitter Jose Medina is on the DL.

SP Shane Bieber was promoted to High-A Lynchburg after five good starts to make up for LHP Thomas Pannone’s promotion. Aaron Civale had five strikeouts in six innings while allowing two runs in his only start this week. Brady Aiken had another tough start. He allowed four runs in five innings, walking four and striking out three. It’s his second straight start with four walks.

The bullpen continues to be the rock of the team. Tanner Tully continues to piggyback and allowed his first runs of the year this week but has 23K/1BB in 19 2/3 innings. LHP Ben Krauth lowered his ERA to 0.52 in 17 1/3 innings with three scoreless innings Saturday. RHP Ryder Ryan pitched three scoreless innings this week as well.

The Captains finally return home Monday to host Beloit and Wisconsin for six games in six days.

Extended Spring Training
By Joe Coblitz

Gonzalez gets ready to swing during a 2017 Extended Spring game in Goodyear, Arizona. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Starting with rehab news since that’s what most care about most, Grank Hockin had two great appearances on 4/24 and 5/1, allowing just two hits and two unearned runs in 4.2 innings across both starts. Hockin last pitched in an official game in 2014 in the AZL, but based on age and ability, he should go to Lake County as soon as he’s able to throw 4-5 innings per start.

Perci Garner has been in Arizona since being placed on the AAA DL on April 6th and has been pitching, but not particularly well. Daniel Robertson is also yet to play a AAA game, but got some action in center field in extended Spring last Monday. He hit the ball well (as a Major Leaguer playing against 18 year olds should) and even made an attempted diving grab in center.

As for the kids, Marcos Gonzalez stood out for the first time this week, stealing two bases after a single and walk against the White Sox. The extended ST Indians have been extremely aggressive on the bases, but the short stop Gonzalez was one of few to be reliably successful.