New ‘Cats Mejia and Krieger Excel, Sheffield Fans Ten, and More in Hillcats Chatter

The Lynchburg Hillcats have had problems with the weather all season long, so Saturday night’s game ending due to fog should be no major surprise. The team had four games postponed in May and two more in June due to weather issues and Saturday’s game against the Carolina Mudcats was delayed three hours before it started, only to be cut short at seven innings.

The Hillcats have bounced back nicely after being swept last weekend at home against the Potomac Nationals. They took to the road for a seven-game road trip and started it out by taking two of three from Wilmington. They closed the month of June with a win over Carolina and took the games on both Friday and Saturday from the Mudcats to secure the series win, with one more to play on Sunday night.

The Advanced-A Indians affiliate will return home to start a six-game homestand on the Fourth of July and will look to make up some ground in the Carolina League Northern Division. They are 5-4 in second half play thus far, tied for second place and one and a half games behind Potomac for the division lead.

In other Hillcats chatter:


In a matchup Saturday between a pair of Carolina League All-Stars, fans in Zebulon, North Carolina, were treated to a pitchers’ duel that went the way of the Hillcats as Justus Sheffield matched a career-high with ten strikeouts of the Carolina Mudcats on a rainy, foggy night.

The game, delayed three hours at the start, kicked off after 10 PM and lasted until 12:40 AM when it was called after seven innings due to fogginess. Sheffield went six innings for Lynchburg, allowing just one run on five hits on the evening. The left-hander improved to 6-4 on the season.


Catcher Francisco Mejia was promoted to Lynchburg last Sunday night and brought with him a 24-game hitting streak that started in his last three games of May and carried throughout the entire month of June. Despite facing High-A pitching for the first time in his career, he kept the streak going with a pair of singles in four trips in his first start for Lynchburg on Wednesday.

Not to be outdone, he added a double and two RBI on Thursday, a double and another RBI on Friday, and a triple in three trips on Saturday.

He hit .347 with a .384 on-base percentage for Lake County prior to his promotion and is hitting .313 with a .294 OBP so far for Lynchburg.


Mejia has had a couple of weeks to remember. Two weeks ago, he got to participate in the Midwest League All-Star Game as the starting catcher for the exhibition. He was promoted to Lynchburg last Sunday and on Tuesday, he was named to the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game to be played at Petco Park in San Diego on Sunday, July 10, as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend festivities.


Mejia did not travel alone to Virginia, as former Lake County second baseman Tyler Krieger was also promoted to High-A last Sunday night.

A Midwest League All-Star himself, Krieger had hit .313 for Lake County with a .385 OBP through 69 games for the Captains in his first season of professional ball after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Clemson. He had a minor league high 23-game hitting streak that carried from the third week of May into the middle of June, until Mejia’s current streak established a new longest streak before the tandem relocated to Lynchburg.

After hitting just three homers with the Captains, Krieger has put on a bit of a power display in six road games for the Hillcats, hitting homers on June 30 and July 1 against the Mudcats. He has hit in five of six games for Lynchburg and has driven in five runs while hitting .381 with a .444 OBP.


Outfielder Greg Allen’s underrated season for the Hillcats continued over the last week, as he extended his hitting streak to eight straight games. During their road trip through Wilmington and Carolina, Allen put together four straight multi-hit games, including a three-hit game on June 29. The streak has pushed his batting average up from .286 to .302.

Even more impressive has been Allen’s ability to get on base in general. With a double and a walk on Saturday night, he extended his on-base streak to 21 consecutive games. His OBP has climbed from .398 to .432 during that span.


Luis Lugo won his fourth game of the year behind six and two-thirds shutout innings against Carolina on Thursday. He struck out two and walked two while giving up four hits over the game. He set down ten of the first eleven batters and kept the Mudcats off of the bases, allowing no more than one base runner until his final inning.

The Hillcats came within an out of completing their ninth shutout of the season when reliever Matt Whitehouse allowed a run in the ninth after giving up three walks and a fielder’s choice.


On Tuesday, left-hander Sean Brady threw one of his best outings of the season in defeating the Wilmington Blue Rocks to earn his sixth win of the year. He allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings, walking one and striking out seven. After giving up a triple to start the bottom of the first, he retired 16 straight batters. David Speer and Trevor Frank completed the Hillcats’ eighth shutout of the season with a pair of scoreless frames.

It was a strong bounce back game against the Blue Rocks for Brady after he allowed eight runs on ten hits in two and one-thirds innings against them earlier in the month.


The Hillcats sent pitcher Nick Pasquale to Double-A Akron and left-handed reliever Speer to Triple-A Columbus on Saturday to fill roster holes, leaving the Hillcats with just 23 players for their game that night.

Last Monday, the roster was shuffled heavily as Pasquale, outfielder Luigi Rodriguez, and catcher Alex Monsalve were transferred to the club from Double-A Akron. Mejia and Krieger also joined from Lake County officially that day. David Armendariz and Sicnarf Loopstok were transferred back to the Single-A Captains, while All-Stars Julian Merryweather and Daniel Salters, plus infielder Claudio Bautista, were promoted to Akron.

Photo: The Tullahoma News (Cherished Memories Photography)

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