Aguilar and Perez Add to Indians List of Minor League All-Stars

The Columbus Clippers will be represented by two players this year at the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. Both first baseman Jesus Aguilar and catcher Roberto Perez were selected to be on the International League roster, and will be taking on the Pacific League, Wednesday July 16  at 7:07pm E.T. The game will be played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and will be broadcasted live on the MLB Network.

First baseman Jesus Aguilar leads the Clippers in home runs with 12, and runs batted in with 43, despite being called-up to the majors twice during the season thus far. Aguilar only played in eight games while up with the Indians, but missed a little less than a month’s worth of time with the Clippers in playing in 67 of the teams 87 games. Aguilar has cooled down some since his monster April in which he hit .356, with seven home runs and 16 runs batted in. Aguilar has made an All-Star team in each of the last four seasons in the minor leagues.

Catcher Roberto Perez will make his first appearance in the Triple-A All-Star Game. This is Perez’s second-career All-Star selection (2010 Midwest League). Perez leads the team in batting average (.315), slugging percentage (.537), and OPS (.957) and is first among all catchers in the International League in runs batted in with 40 on the season. Perez might have made his major league debut earlier in the year when the Indians Carlos Santana was hurt, but Perez himself was on the disabled list, and catcher George Kottaras got the call instead.

The (47-41) Columbus Clippers went two and two during the week, and their strong play of late has them only a game behind the first place Indianapolis Indians.

The hitting star of the week is outfielder Tyler Holt. Holt had nine hits in 17 at bats, good for a .529 average, scored five runs and two runs batted in. Holt was selected by the Indians in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of Florida State. Since Holt’s promotion to Triple-A Columbus he has a .303 average, with 35 runs scored in his 35 games. Holt also has 29 walks in the 35 games, helping him have a sensational .436 on base percentage. Holt would be a nice fit for the Indians as a fourth outfielder, as he is a great defender who can play all three outfield positions, can get on base and possesses some speed as well.

The pitching star of the week is right-handed pitcher, Danny Salazar. Salazar, tabbed as the next possible ace of the Indians major league staff, after dominating as a rookie in 2013 struggled mightily and was demoted to Columbus earlier in the season. Salazar was placed on the disabled list while in Columbus with a right triceps strain and was activated a little more than two weeks ago. Since coming off the disabled list Salazar has made four starts with some encouraging results, especially in his last two, which includes his start this week. Salazar threw seven and one-third innings, giving up just five hits, one run, one walk while striking out nine batters in earning the win. While Salazar’s 2014 has been a huge disappointment, the Indians and many around baseball still feel confident he will end up being a top of the rotation starter in his career. Salazar was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent back in 2006 and missed most of the 2010 season undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Akron remains in second place in their division at 49-38, three games back of first place Richmond. With the season ending injuries to both outfielder Tyler Naquin (fractured right hand) and second baseman Joe Wendle (hamate bone in right wrist) it will be interesting to see if they can stay in the race.

Akron’s hitting star of the week was local Kent State University product, outfielder Anthony Gallas. Gallas hit an incredible .647—yes that’s right .647—with 11 hits in only 17 at bats. Gallas also scored four runs, had three doubles, one triple, a home run and drove in four runs as well. Gallas was having a great season for the Carolina Mudcats and was named to the Carolina League All-Star team earlier in the year. Gallas was promoted to the Double-A RubberDucks when outfielder Bryson Myles injured his knee and he hasn’t looked back. Since his promotion in 20 games all he has done is hit for a .407 average with eight doubles, two triples, four home runs and has 14 runs batted in. Although already 26-years old, the Indians have to hope that Gallas might just be a late bloomer. If Gallas a non-drafted free agent who signed in 2010 can continue his tremendous 2014 season he might become an option as outfield depth for the major league team in the future.

The pitching star of the week for Akron this week is right-handed starting pitcher Will Roberts. Roberts earned his eigth victory on the year with Akron while throwing seven strong innings giving up just five hits, one run and striking out five. Roberts is in his fourth season with the Indians organization and was a fifth round draft pick in 2011 out of the University of Virginia. Roberts is currently enjoying his best season as a pro with a 8-8 record and a 3.64 earned run average. His eight wins are already a career high. Roberts and fellow starting pitcher Joe Colon have been the most consistent starters for the RubberDucks on the season and are a big reason for the teams success in 2014.

The second half of the season started Thursday, June 19 for the Mudcats with all teams’ in the Carolina League records starting fresh at 0-0. The Mudcats have gone 6-5 in the second half and currently sit in second place in the division just a half game behind the first half champions, Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Carolina’s hitting star of the week is 22-year old catcher Alex Monsalve. Monsalve hit .533 for the week on eight hits in 15 at bats with two doubles, a triple and seven runs batted in. The 6’2”, 225 lb., Monsalve was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in 2008. Monsalve was limited to only 25 games last year due to right elbow issues. In 2012 Monsalve was named as organizational All-Star and was named to the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars. In 2013 Monsalve made it all the way up to Double-A Akron but the Indians decided to have him start the 2014 campaign in Carolina.

The pitching star of the week is a familiar face in left-handed, starting pitcher Ryan Merritt as he has been unbelievable all year long for the Mudcats. Merritt in his lone appearance this week threw seven strong innings while allowing just five hits, one run, one walk and striking out five in earning a win.  Merritt has given the Mudcats quality starts in 11 of his 15 outings and gone at least seven innings eight times. He’s also struck out 74 batters with just 18 walks, and opposing batters are hitting .199 against him. Merritt at 6’0”, 165 lbs., needs to rely on pitch location and command since his fastball usually tops out in the high 80s. He also features a changeup and curve, but his command and pitch location this season have made him a more effective pitcher. Merritt’s 1.65 earned run average on the season currently ranks sixth best in all of the minor leagues.

The Lake County Captains started the second half of the season with seven wins in their first 10 games. This week the Captains were able to take two of the four games they played. At 9-5 the Captains are currently tied for first place with the South Bend Silver Hawks who have won six games in a row.

Hitting star of the week for the Captains was second baseman Claudio Bautista. Bautista during the first two months of the season was scuffling with his average in the low .200’s. In June Bautista got hot and hit over .300 and has continued so far during the first couple days of July. In his four games this week Bautista had six hits in 17 at bats for a .353 average. Bautista also scored four runs and added two doubles, a triple, a home run and drove in four runs as well. Bautista has his batting average up to .251 on the year and has 27 of his 71 hits on the season have gone for ectra bases. Bautista signed with the Indians as a 17-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. Bautista made his debut with the Captains as a 19-year old at the tail end of last season after spending most of the time at Mahoning Valley.

The Captains pitcher of the week is 20-year old right hander Mitch Brown. Brown in his one start this week threw six innings, gave up just three hits, one earned run, walking none and striking out seven while earning the victory. Brown has really turned around his season after a rough start, especially over his last five starts. Brown over his last five has two wins in 28.1 innings pitched allowing only 13 hits, while giving up just three earned runs, walking seven, striking out 26 and good for a 0.95 earned run average. Coming out of high school Brown was the 44th rated prospect by Baseball America.  In 2012 he was named Minnesota Baseball Gatorade Player of the Year. Brown was selected in the second round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft by the Indians with the 79th overall pick.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers won two of the three games they played this week but their overall record still sits at 8-12 which is good for last place in their division.

The Scrappers hitter of the week is one of the Indians top young prospects 18-year old catcher Francisco Mejia had four hits in 10 at bats with a triple, two runs batted in, two runs scored and a stolen base. Mejia signed out of the Dominican Republic skipped over the Dominican Summer League and was sent straight to the Arizona Rookie League in 2013 as a 17-year old. Mejia proved he was ready hitting .305 in 30 games adding 24 runs batted in with nine doubles and four home runs. The switch hitting Mejia is wiry strong at 5’10”, 175 lbs., and his bat speed creates impressive raw power. Defensively, he is advanced for his age. Mejia has great athleticism and well-above-average arm and good receiving skills. already had Mejia ranked as the Indians sixth best prospect entering the season.

The Scrappers pitcher of the week is right handed starting pitcher Kieran Lovegrove. Lovegrove in his one appearance this week threw five no-hit innings, allowing zero runs, walked two and struck out five earning his first win on the season. Lovegrove grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and spent his free time playing cricket on the beach until his family moved to California when he was five years old. Lovegrove was drafted by the Indians in the third round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft out of California’s Mission Viejo High School. Still just 19-years old, Lovegrove is still considered very raw as a pitcher but has a lot of upside if he can become more consistent and continue to evolve as a pitcher. Though he has struggled early on in his career there is still plenty to like about his game and he showed it off this last start. Indians fans should keep an eye on Lovegrove and his exciting potential he possesses.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer

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