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Mahoning Valley Scrappers: The Living Embodiment of Scrappy

Mahoning Valley Scrappers: The Living Embodiment of Scrappy

| On 26, Jul 2013

For the 2013 Mahoning Valley Scrappers this season has been an enduring one. The team currently stands at 14-23, good for fifth in the Pinckney Division, nine games out of first. Earlier in the month of July, the Scrappers endured a 12-game losing streak, the longest in the franchise’s 15-year existence. But since that abysmal stretch the team has played better baseball posting a 7-3 record in their last 10 games, including a four-game win streak going into Thursday’s game against the State College Spikes, their longest of the season.

The team ranks sixth out of 14 teams in the New York-Penn League in batting average at .243 but only 12th in runs scored with 122. The offense has certainly toiled this season but they have shown a rate of better success of late. The Scrapper arms have done their job admirably this season keeping the team in games on most nights. They rank seventh in the league in ERA at 3.17. As a team, they sit with a -26 Run Differential as the staff has allowed 148 runs to the opposition this season.

The lack of offensive power is overall a theme all the teams of the New York-Penn League seem to be dealing with, as it appears 2013 is the year of the pitcher. The Scrappers have their fair share of talented arms that have added to this trend.

Luis Lugo, a 19-year-old lefty out of Venezuela, has clearly shown himself to be one of the most talented arms on the staff. He owns a 1-3 record with a 1.47 ERA, good for tops in the NYPL, in eight starts. Over those eight starts he has logged 36.2 innings with 20 strike outs, only eight walks, and held opponents to just a .209 batting average. His most recent outing happened in the second game of a double-header on July 24 against State College. Lugo went 5.2 innings of shutout ball only allowing two hits while striking out six and walking two. Lugo may not be a hard thrower but his ability to control his pitches has making opposing batters look helpless.

Kenny Matthews, similar to Lugo is another 19-year-old lefty although the Indians picked him in the seventh round of 2013 draft. He has made five starts so far this season going 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA. Although Matthews has seen limited innings, just 12 innings in his five starts, he has shown the ability to dominate striking out 15 and only walking one in his outings along with holding opposing batters to just a .140 average.

Some other highlights from the Scrappers arms are eight other guys on the staff own ERAs under four. With the clear success they have experienced on the pitching side of things there is certainly a reasonable belief that will not change through the remainder of 2013.

When discussing the Scrappers’ bats one player cannot go unnoticed. Nellie Rodriguez, a 19-year-old first baseman the Indians drafted in 2012 out of high school has been the most consistent hitter and only fitting he usually bats clean up. Last week he was named the Indians minor league player of the week after hitting .464 with three home runs and nine RBIs.  Overall, he leads the team in most offensive categories: batting average, home runs, RBIs, and total bases. On the season in 36 games, he is batting .326, good for seventh in the NYPL, with five home runs, tied for second in the NYPL, and 22 RBIs, tied for fourth in the NYPL.

The other bat in the Scrappers line-up really enjoying a solid season is second baseman Claudio Bautista. Another 19-year-old non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Bautista has played in 31 games for the Scrappers posting a .273 average to go along with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

The Scrappers offense has the ability to collect hits evidenced by the seven position players in the lineup with an average of .250 or better but the problem is getting the big hit to cash in. The hope is the continued progress the team has shown continues to evolve and the bats continue to roll.

As the Indians short season Single-A affiliate the Mahoning Valley Scrappers really are more of a developmental team for the organization’s prospects so obviously when players really start to hit their stride they are called up to the next level. On the season, the Scrappers have seen pitchers James Stokes and Kyle Crocket promoted to Lake County as well as infielder Nick Hamilton. The Scrappers for their part gain players as well in the same process and with that they have added outfielders Cody Ferrell and Joel Mejia along the way.

The Scrappers have done their best with what they have and that is certainly why they are a fitting squad for the Scrappers uniform, but it appears as if maybe the best is yet to come. The squad has played better of late and even with the major July swoon, they stand 6.5 games back of the wildcard. With 39 games left to the season, they stand at roughly the half point so there is plenty of baseball to be had.

Photo: Jesse Piecuch/DTTWLN photographer