Scrappers Shine In New York-Penn League All-Star Game
By Dave Roberts
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers hosted their first ever New York-Penn League All-Star Game last night at Eastwood Field. Ted Kubiak, the Scrappers’ manager, was tagged as the skipper of the American League team. Meanwhile five of his Scrappers’ players, pitchers Luis DeJesus and Jacob Lee along with infielders Joseph Wendle, Joe Sever and catcher Charlie Valerio received the honor to represent the American League. After a bout of rain, the game finally ensued and unfortunately, Kubiak’s squad was bested 8-1, but the Scrappers All-Stars certainly put on a good show to their hometown faithful. DeJesus and Lee combined to toss two perfect innings to start the game, which included three strikeouts. On the offensive side of things, Valerio posted a 0-2 with two groundouts but Wendle and Sever combined to go 2-4 with two singles and a stolen base. Following is a brief player recap for each of the Scrapper all-stars and their 2012 season.
DeJesus, an 11th round 2011 draft pick out of Angelina Junior College, has been the most impressive arm on the Scrappers squad and in the New York-Penn League in 2012. After a solid stint in Rookie Ball last season, he served brief time in 2012 with the Lake County Captains with mixed results. Assigned to the Mahoning Valley roster at the outset of the season, DeJesus quickly made a name for himself in the Cleveland organization, which led to his recent award of the Indians Minor League Player of the Week for the week of July 28-August 5. For the 2012 season in Mahoning Valley, DeJesus owns a 4-1 record over 10 starts with a 1.93 ERA, good for seventh best in the NYPL. He also leads the league in innings pitched with 56 and seventh in WHIP at 0.94. His stalwart numbers led to him being tagged as the American League’s starting pitcher for the All-Star Game. “Oh yea it’s going be cool man, I’ve got my family in the stands and I got Charlie [Valerio] behind home plate, can’t get no better than that,” DeJesus said. DeJesus dazzled the crowd in his one inning to kick off the game. He tossed a perfect inning while striking out one along the way.
Lee, a 9th round 2012 draft pick out of Arkansas State University, has impressed in his first professional season with the Scrappers. He opened the season working out of the pen for the Scrappers but as of late has been moved back to starting again. On the season, Lee has a record of 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA. He has made a total 13 appearances this season, five of which have been starts. In his 34.1 innings pitched, the 22-year-old right-hander has struck out 40, making him the team leader in strikeouts. Opposing hitters are batting just a .185 of him this season as he has demonstrated the ability in his first pro season to dominate hitters. His ability to come out of the rotation and bullpen and be effective has definitely shown his value as a player and paid off as he was given an all-star roster spot along with DeJesus on the staff. “I have a brother and my mom are in town, yea they made the trip up for the all-star game. Actually thought I might have the days off but then found out I was in the game but I’m excited about being in the game,” Lee said. Lee followed in his teammate DeJesus’s shows, as he pitched a perfect second inning striking out two in the process.
Wendle, a sixth round 2012 draft pick out of West Chester University, has possibly been the most surprising player so far of the 2012 draft. The 22-year-old infielder has been one of the most consistent offensive tools on the Scrappers this season. On the season, Wendle owns a slash line of .323/.374/.500; his batting average is good for sixth best in the NYPL. The youngster also possesses the ability to drive the ball and hit in the clutch as he has three home runs on the season and 25 runs batted in along with 12 doubles. Wendle was one of two Scrappers players given the honor of Indians Minor League Player of the Week for the week of July 1- July 8, the other being Luis DeJesus. The solid consistent season put together by the young infielder earned him a ticket into the NYPL All-Star game at third base, a position he only just began playing regularly this season. “Especially playing my first year of pro ball from a small school it’s nice to know you can play with the better players in the league. It’s certainly an honor,” Wendle said. Wendle ended up going 1-2 in the game after collecting a single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Sever, a 21st round 2012 draft pick out of Pepperdine University, has continued the trend of 2012 Cleveland Indian draft picks who have stepped up performed well in their first professional season. He actually has a special family connection to professional sports; his uncle is the former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. Through 32 games this season, the recently turned 22-year-old Sever owns a .291/.383/.382 split. Along with that solid line, the scrappy infielder has one home run to go along with 13 runs batted in. Sever was given a special opportunity at the NYPL All-Star Game as he was appointed as one of four hitters to take place in the home run derby. He led the first round with five bombs but fell in the final round to Chris Serritella of the Williamsport Crosscutters. Come game time Sever who was slotted as the designated hitter for the American League went 1-2 in the game on a single and then stole second base in the second inning.
Valerio, a 2010 free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic, rounds out the Scrappers all-stars in his third professional season. Valerio, a 21-year-old switch-hitting catcher, has seen a promotion after each of his previous two professional seasons starting 2010 in the Dominican League; he spent 2011 in the Arizona League, and then 2012 with Short Season Single A Mahoning Valley. Valerio is not a newcomer to be named an all-star as he was named a Dominican all-star in 2010. Valerio is currently having a career year in Mahoning Valley this season with a .296/.371/.456 split to go along with five home runs and 35 runs batted in, good for tops in the NYPL. He was named the starting catcher for the American League squad and handled both his teammates, DeJesus’ and Lee’s, shutout performances. At the plate, he posted a 0-2 but all the while sported a smile on his face.
After all the festivities subsided, the New York-Penn League teams gets back to business to finish the roughly three weeks left in their season. The Scrappers resume theirs tonight at Eastwood Field against division leaders, Auburn Doubledays at 7:05.
Photo: Matthew White/DTTWLN photographer