Scrappers Charging Past the Half Way Point
By Dave Roberts
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are a little past the halfway point in their season and currently stand in fourth place in the Pinckney Division with a record of 21-19, three games out of first. They are winners of six of their last ten games in the midst of a recent upswing in their play. Record wise the club has played better at home inside the confines of Eastwood Field as they have played to a 12-10 record at home versus a 9-9 record on the road. The interesting thing about this split is the Scrappers offense has performed much better on the road then at home owning a .257 batting average versus a .244 at home and 88 runs scored as a team on the road versus 76 at home. Meanwhile it becomes clear that the club’s fortunes have turned for the better at home because of the pitching staff’s 3.19 ERA at home against a 3.92 on the road.
The team ranks 4 out of 14 teams in the New York Penn League in batting average at .254 and sixth in runs scored with 177. This had been a rough part of their game in the early going of the season but in recent weeks, the offense has climbed up in several offensive categories. The Scrapper arms have equally done their job this season keeping the team in games on most nights. They rank eighth in team ERA at 3.67. As a team, they sit with a +6 Run Differential as the staff has allowed 171 runs to the opposition this season.
The biggest players in the Scrappers offense at this point have really played an important role and the most unique thing about is that two of them were products of the 2012 draft. Twenty-two-year-old second baseman Joey Wendle, drafted in the sixth round of this year’s draft, leads the team in batting average, good for fourth best in the entire league, with a .325 batting average (39-120). On top of that he is the team leader in doubles with 11, tied for triples with 3, second in runs batted in with 18, first in total bases and of course leads the club in slugging percentage with a .517, good for fourth best in the New York Penn League.
Joe Sever, a 21-year old infielder who arrived through the 2012 draft as well stands with the second best batting average on the team with a .314 (22-70). Although he has been around for a shorter period than Wendle, he has made no hesitations making a big contribution as along with the high average he has collected five doubles, and has driven in and scored 11 runs.
The other big man in the lineup is 21-year-old catcher Charlie Valerio, who spent last season playing on the Rookie ball team in Arizona. His batting average sits at .286 (37-130) giving him the third best average on the team but the contribution that he truly makes to the club is as the RBI leader with 23 to go along with four homeruns, good for second most on the team.
On the pitching side of things, everything seems to be working at a solid level, which has helped the squad to keep themselves in a majority of their games. One of these outstanding young arms, Luis DeJesus, a 20-year-old 2011 draftee who was sent down from Lake County at the start of Mahoning Valley’s season, has been dominant. DeJesus stands sixth in the league in ERA at 1.64; through 44 innings pitched, he has allowed just 11 runs on 31 hits while striking out 27 and only walking 10. He is not the only one turning in successful starts out of the rotation though as his teammate Jake Sisco possesses a sub 4.00 ERA as well. Meanwhile the other three arms are no slouches either with no one’s ERA in the staff above 4.50.
Meanwhile the Scrappers bullpen is a different story after the seventh inning. The Scrappers have allowed their opponents to score 57 runs in the last third of the game versus their own 36. Just five of the arms in the bullpen have an ERA under 4.00 and it has been this shaky pen that has cost the Scrappers many a late lead, definitely an area that could use some improvement throughout the latter half of the season if they plan to make a push for the postseason.
As is expected as a short season Single-A affiliate, the Scrappers will see their fair share of roster changes throughout the season and so far from the season’s beginning there have been a few. Infielder Jose Ramirez and outfielder Marcus Bradley along with pitchers Louis Head and Enosil Tejeda have all been assigned to the Lake County Captains. Meanwhile infielder Robel Garcia, outfielders Andrew Campbell and Logan Vick were assigned to Mahoning Valley along with pitchers Luis Morel and Nick Pasquale.
The Scrappers look to continue to build on the momentum they have been gathering in recent days with better offensive production and keep the pitching staff in a solid state to build upon their solid record and chase down the division leader. The month of August poses a tough challenge for the Scrappers as 21 of their last remaining 36 games pit them against teams ahead of them in the division making for a challenging but memorable run up to the end of the season.
Photo: Matthew White/DTTWLN