Baseball has returned to Niles, Ohio, as the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ short-season is now underway.
Debuting on Friday, June 17, the Scrappers dropped each of their first two games to open the Class-A season last Friday and Saturday at home against West Virginia. They hit the road and claimed their first win on Sunday in Auburn behind a 14-3 offensive explosion. Mahoning Valley lost the final two games of their series with Auburn before moving on to Williamsport, where they lost three heartbreakers, 1-0 in the first game and 2-1 in the final two.
The late loss on Friday, after the Crosscutters scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the final at bat lead, knocked the Scrappers to 1-7 on the season and left Mahoning Valley buried deep in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division.
In other scraps from the Scrappers:
McKENZIE MAKING HIS MARK EARLY
Triston McKenzie has made a pair of starts for Mahoning Valley and has been impressive in both.
Despite taking a loss, the 18-year-old right-hander selected in the Collective Bargaining phase of the 2015 draft has not allowed an earned run in ten and two-thirds innings on the mound. He has walked two and hit a batter while giving up eight hits and one unearned run. His eleven strikeouts are tops on the Scrappers staff.
He made four appearances for the Arizona League Indians last year.
HILLMAN THE FIRST TO WIN
Nineteen-year-old left-hander Juan Hillman took home the Scrappers’ first win of the season behind six quality innings on the mound. He allowed three runs on five hits, walked one, and struck out five. In his second outing on Friday night, he was not quite as lucky, but he was even more sharp. He gave the Scrappers five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out four in a no-decision.
Hillman is in his second season in the Indians organization after appearing in eight games for Cleveland’s team in the Arizona League in 2015.
TAPIA TAGS TWO
First baseman Emmanuel Tapia has tattooed a pair of baseballs this season and has hit in five of the six games that he has started for the Scrappers. He has reached base safely via hit or walk in all six ball games.
Tapia hit a homer in the season opener last Friday while drawing a pair of walks. He had his first multi-hit game of the year on Sunday as he went 3-for-6 with a single, a double, a homer, three RBI, and three runs scored. He took Friday night off.
THE NEW GUYS
Several recent draft picks by the Indians have begun their professional careers this season with Mahoning Valley.
Catcher Logan Ice is 2-for-15 (.133) after Friday night’s action. The 21-year-old was Cleveland’s Collective Bargaining B pick (between rounds two and three of the June Amateur Draft) and its third pick overall. He has appeared in five games so far for the Scrappers.
Outfielder Mitch Longo, the club’s 14th round pick this year, is hitting .133 (2-for-15) through his first four games with two RBI and two runs scored. His first professional hit was a triple in his first game, the Scrappers’ second game of the season.
Reliever Mike Letkewicz, a 22-year-old right-hander, has appeared in a pair of games for the Scrappers. He has struck out a pair and given up one hit in two and one-third innings. He was the Indians’ 23rd round pick out of Augustana College.
Jonathan Laureno, the 20-year-old third baseman out of Connors State College, was taken in the 25th round by Cleveland this year. He singled, had a sacrifice fly, and drove in two runs in his pro debut on June 19 in Auburn.
BOBBLEHEAD DAYS AND YSU DAY
The first of three bobblehead days at Eastwood Field is Saturday, June 25, as the Scrappers honor Youngstown State University head football coach Bo Pelini on YSU Night with their game against Batavia. The Scrappers will wear a special YSU-themed jersey for the game that will be available for auction following the contest.
The team will give away two other bobbles this season. A bobblehead of Ohio native and famed musician Dave Grohl will be given out on July 22. Former Scrappers outfielder Bradley Zimmer will have a bobblehead day of his own on August 13.