Santander and Mejia Continue Streaks, Brady Wins Award, and More in Hillcats Chatter
Bob Toth | On 10, Jul 2016
The Lynchburg Hillcats continue to chalk up series wins and splits, using quality starting pitching and some of the top run producers in the Carolina League to guide their powerful club.
The Hillcats finished off a four-game sweep of the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon last weekend before splitting four at home against Frederick. On the front end of a home-and-home series with rival Salem, they won the opener of the Lynchburg portion of the trip, 8-2, on Friday. On Saturday, they overcame an eight-run deficit, only to give up the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth in a 12-11 loss to Salem. The Hillcats successfully surmounted a four-run hole on Sunday in a 7-4 victory on the Red Sox’s home field.
Lynchburg (10-7) trails the Potomac Nationals by two games in the Carolina League North standings after claiming the first half crown. The Hillcats will wrap up their home-and-home set with the Red Sox on Monday night before getting a day off. They will continue their road trip on Wednesday with three at Carolina and four at Wilmington next weekend.
In other Hillcats chatter:
BRADY NAMED CAROLINA LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Brady threw seven scoreless innings against Wilmington on June 28, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out seven. He followed that up last Sunday with another victory, allowing one run on four hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts in six innings at Carolina. He ended the week with nine strikeouts and just one run allowed over 13 innings of work (0.69 ERA). He gave up six hits and four walks (0.76 WHIP) during the week.
The award not enough for Brady, who went out and threw six and one-third innings of two-run ball on Friday night in guiding the Hillcats to an 8-2 win in the series opener against Salem. He sat the side down in order of each of his first three innings on the mound and faced just two over the minimum through his first six innings.
With the win, his sixth in his last eight outings, he improved to 8-3 on the season with a 4.55 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 16 games (15 starts).
MEJIA’S STREAK NOW 33, GOES TO CALI
Francisco Mejia’s incredible bounce back season continued for the Hillcats this week as he extended his minor league leading hitting streak to 33 games with a single in his fourth at bat on Friday. He left the team and did not play the rest of the weekend, placed on the inactive list so that he could participate in Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities in San Diego, California, on Sunday night. He was one of two catchers on the World roster for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
In addition to his selection to the Futures Game, Mejia was also named the Midwest League Player of the Month for June, after hitting successfully in every game with the Captains during that month before he was promoted to High-A. The switch-hitting 20-year-old is hitting .333 over his last ten games, .308 through his first nine games at Lynchburg, and hit .347 in 60 games at Class-A Lake County. His combined slash through 69 games this season is .342/.371/.518.
ALLEN’S ON BASE STREAK SNAPPED SUNDAY
Center fielder Greg Allen saw his 27-game on-base streak come to an end in Sunday’s win with an 0-for-5 day at the plate.
His ten-game hitting streak came to a close on Wednesday with an 0-for-3, but he drew a walk to keep his streak alive at the time. That hitting streak included seven different multi-hit games, including two three-game efforts. He was 19-for-43 (.442) with a .529 on-base percentage during that span.
The sixth round pick by the Indians out of the 2014 draft entered the day Sunday tied with the third-most stolen bases in all of minor league baseball with 37 and had scored the most runs across all minor league levels with 81. He has a 21-run lead over the next closest player in the Carolina League, former Indians minor leaguer Hunter Jones of the Winston-Salem Dash.
BRADLEY’S BOMB BIG IN SUNDAY’S WIN
Big first base prospect Bobby Bradley’s long home run drought came to an end on Sunday, when the lefty homered to center in the sixth inning with the Hillcats trailing 4-0. It helped spark a big rally by Lynchburg, who would go on to win the game.
Bradley’s last home run came on June 10 against Myrtle Beach. Even with the month-long drought, he continues to lead the Carolina League with 16 homers and 63 RBI this season.
SANTANDER STREAKING ALONG
Anthony Santander’s recent tear at the plate continued as he hit in every game he played in this week to extend his hitting streak to ten straight games. Prior to starting this recent streak, he had hit in seven straight before his hitless game on June 29 against Wilmington.
With the improved results at the plate, the 21-year-old switch-hitting outfielder is now hitting .276 with a .349 OBP this season. He has 24 doubles, ten homers, and 59 RBI on the season through 77 games.
TRIO LEADING THE SCORING
Bradley, Yu-Cheng Chang, and Santander are the top three RBI men in the Carolina League. Bradley’s 63 lead the way, with Chang and Santander tied right behind him at 59.
Chang drove in a chunk of those runs on Wednesday, when he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a career-high six runs batted in in the Hillcats’ 11-7 victory over Frederick. Santander tied Chang with his two-run double in Sunday’s win, keeping pace after Chang singled Santander home earlier in the game.
The Hillcats have homered at least once in 51 of their 87 games this season, including nine of their last 14 games. Not surprisingly, the team is 33-18 when getting a homer from its offense.
The Hillcats have been part of an organizational deep roster shuffle over the last few weeks and this past week was no different.
Reliever David Speer returned from Triple-A Columbus on Monday, but was sent back to Columbus on Saturday. Martin Cervenka was transferred to the club from Lake County as Mejia was placed on the inactive list to participate in the Futures Game.
Cameron Hill was transferred back to Lynchburg on Tuesday from his brief stay at Columbus. Alex Monsalve replaced him on the Clippers roster to help fill their catching shortage after Adam Moore was placed on the seven-day disabled list at the Triple-A level. Dominic DeMasi and Billy Strode joined the bullpen from the Class-A Lake County roster. Strode has enjoyed a bit of success already in his first stint at High-A, working three and two-thirds innings in two outings without allowing any of his eleven batters faced to reach base.
Luke Eubank landed on the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday, retroactive to July 5. He has appeared in 18 games for Lynchburg in his first season at High-A, earning a 2-2 record with a save while posting a 4.97 ERA in 25 1/3 innings of work.
Photo: Whitney Holmes/Lynchburg Hillcats