Lynchburg’s McKenzie Named Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week Again
Bob Toth | On 11, Jul 2017
Triston McKenzie is still technically a teenager, but his list of professional accomplishments is growing at a rapid pace.
After pitching briefly in the ninth inning of the SIriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami, Florida, on Sunday afternoon, McKenzie was named the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
It marks the second time this season that McKenzie has received the honor, following his award on May 14.
McKenzie has etched his name onto the Cleveland Indians’ top prospects list with another strong performance down on the farm. Pitching in his third professional season, the 19-year-old right-hander has made 16 starts this season, inching closer to surpassing his previous career total of appearances from the first two seasons of his career combined (19). The Hillcats ace has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over 89 2/3 innings with 115 strikeouts.
His work on the Fourth of July earned him his second Pitcher of the Week honor of the season.
He made the start on Tuesday as Lynchburg hosted the Wilmington Blue Rocks at City Stadium. His own fielding error in the first inning would put him behind early as the Blue Rocks’ Nick Heath reached on the one-out error, stole second with two down, and scored on a single to left to give Wilmington a 1-0 lead. McKenzie ended the inning with his second strikeout.
McKenzie kept the ball low and on the ground in the early going. He got back-to-back grounders to Yonathan Mendoza to start the second before a strikeout to end the frame. He started the third with his fourth strikeout of the game before two more grounders to middle infielders.
Three straight singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth set up the Hillcats nicely for a big inning. Back-to-back line outs nearly ended the rally, but a pair of bases loaded walks pushed across the first two Lynchburg runs of the day as they gave their starter a 2-1 lead.
Pitching with his first advantage of the game, McKenzie came back out of the dugout firing. He struck out each of the first two batters in the fifth before getting a comebacker to the mound to end the inning. After a fly out to start the sixth, he allowed his second baserunner of the ball game on a single to left by D.J. Burt. McKenzie would get another out in the air for the second out and struck out the final out of the inning to leave Burt stranded at second, after he had advanced on a balk by the Lynchburg starter.
The Hillcats gave McKenzie another run of support in the bottom of the sixth and he responded to their efforts with two more strikeouts to start the seventh before a two-out double. A grounder to first ended the inning and his outing.
Lynchburg added four more runs in the bottom of the seventh before the bullpen took over in relief of McKenzie. Billy Strode struck out the side in the eighth before rains brought an early end to the contest, with the Hillcats taking a 7-1 victory.
In earning his seventh win of the season, McKenzie went seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits with no walks and eleven strikeouts. He struck out at least one batter in every inning that he pitched. He threw 91 pitches before exiting, with 73 crossing for strikes. It was his third outing this season with double-digit strikeouts. It also marked the fourth time this year that he had pitched at least seven innings while allowing no more than one earned run and the ninth time that he has allowed one earned run or less in an outing.
McKenzie was selected in the collective bargaining phase of the 2015 draft out of Royal Palm Beach High School in Florida. He was one of two Indians prospects to receive a player of the week honor on Monday, joining Double-A Akron catcher Eric Haase.