The Lake County Captains wrapped up the first half of the Midwest League season last weekend with a 40-30 record, but a third place showing in the Eastern Division, falling a game and a half short of the first half division crown and a half-game short of locking up a playoff spot in the Wild Card chase.
The club took a break during the week for the Midwest League All-Star Game, which was attended by four members of the Captains roster. Play resumed on Thursday, with Lake County hosting the Great Lakes Loons at Classic Park. They dropped each of the first two games of the series before getting a well-pitched 1-0 shutout on Saturday night and a 6-3 win in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Captains (2-2) will head out to South Bend to take on the Cubs for four straight, with that series starting on Monday night.
In other notes in the Captains log:
MEJIA MAKES IT 24 STRAIGHT, GETS PROMOTED
Francisco Mejia’s time with the Lake County Captains appears to be over, as the Indians announced today that the 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher has been promoted to High-A Lynchburg for the first time.
Mejia was in his second season with the Captains after struggling in 109 games with the club last season. He hit .243 with a .324 on-base percentage in 2015 for the Captains while throwing out 34.4% of base stealers.
The 2016 Midwest League All-Star continued his torrid hitting at the plate after a day off on Thursday, following his participation in the exhibition game on Tuesday. He picked up where he left off in the first half of the season, getting three singles in Friday’s loss. He singled and walked in Saturday’s win, then had a walk, a single, and a homer in the finale on Sunday, driving in a pair of runs in the Captains’ win.
With hits in each of the first three games he has played in the second half, Mejia has extended his hitting streak to 24 games. That mark surpasses the season-high in the Midwest League this season, set by teammate and fellow All-Star Tyler Krieger, who had the high-water mark this year at 23. Mejia’s is the longest active streak in minor league baseball.
He was hitting a Midwest League-best .347 on the season with a .384 on-base percentage and .531 slugging mark at the time of his promotion. He has 17 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, has scored 41 times, and has driven in 51. He will now get his first look at High-A pitching in Virginia.
KRIEGER ON THE MOVE, TOO
All-Star second baseman Krieger, 22, will follow Mejia to Lynchburg in their joint promotion on Sunday night.
Krieger’s bat had cooled some in the past two weeks after his 23-game hitting streak came to an end on June 15, as he has hit just .161 in his last nine games. Despite the recent trend, the Indians’ fourth round pick in the 2015 draft out of Clemson has hit .313 for the season with a .385 on-base percentage. He has 13 doubles, four triples, three homers, and 35 RBI on the year and has stolen 15 bases.
ESPARZA BAKES A DOZEN
Matt Esparza continued his strong season on the mound for the Captains by setting career-bests for strikeouts and innings pitched on Saturday night as the Captains shut out the Loons, 1-0.
The right-hander retired ten straight after the biggest threat the Loons had on the night. He struck out a pair of batters in each of the first two innings and another in the third to escape a jam. He pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his professional career, giving up a single before getting his 11th and 12th strikeouts of the night before a grounder ended his outing with seven shutout innings recorded.
The 21-year-old has done well against Great Lakes in the past. His previous best of ten strikeouts was set on June 4 against the same Loons on their home field. The win improved his record on the year to 7-3, which includes a perfect 3-0 record against Great Lakes. In those games, he has allowed just six hits and two walks while striking out 27.
CHIANG LOSES FOURTH REMATCH WITH ANDERSON
Shao-Ching Chiang and Great Lakes starter Isaac Anderson have faced off on the mound four different times this season. Thursday was the most recent matchup and again, the advantage went to Anderson in a 2-1 Loons victory.
Anderson won his fourth game of the season and shut down the Captains, preventing a base runner until the fourth. He allowed just two hits, struck out eight, and did not walk a batter over six scoreless innings on the mound.
It spoiled a good outing from Chiang, who went five and allowed just two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks. But, as has been the case in all four appearances against the Loons’ righty, the Captains lost the matchup with Chiang on the mound.
Outfielder Jose Medina added a second home run to his Class-A season numbers on Friday night, hitting a solo home run in the loss to the Loons. It was his second homer in four games (both solo shots) and came in just his 13th game of the season. The 21-year-old outfielder from Santiago, Dominican Republic, spent 47 games in the Arizona League last year and 67 games in the Dominican Summer League for the Indians in 2014.
SHUFFLING THE ROSTER CARDS A BIT
The moves of Mejia and Krieger were part of a massive roster shuffle by the Indians organization on Sunday afternoon.
The Captains have also transferred infielder Erlin Cerda to the roster of the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Photo: Tim Phillis/TCP Photography