The successful development of young ball players generally takes precedence over wins and losses in minor league baseball, especially at the lowest levels. That may be the focus for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, who have won just five times in their first 21 games and are tied for the worst record in the short-season New York-Penn League.
On the road against State College last weekend, the Scrappers dropped the first two games of the series before winning a 4-0 finale on Sunday to avoid the sweep. They followed a similar recipe after returning home to host Vermont Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, dropping the first two before winning a 6-0 final to avoid the sweep again. After taking Thursday off, they started a three-game set in Staten Island against the Yankees, losing a 4-2 decision on a three-run fifth inning.
After finishing the series on Sunday, Mahoning Valley will return home from July 11 through 13 for three games at Eastwood Field in Niles when they host the Tri-City ValleyCats in three 7:05 PM ET starts.
More from the Scrappers’ scrapbook:
MORE TO LIKE FROM McKENZIE
Triston McKenzie took the mound on Sunday and fired off six scoreless three-hit innings against the State College Spikes on the way to a 4-0 shutout.
McKenzie walked just one batter and struck out six in his stellar start to win his second game of the season. Leandro Linares allowed two hits and a walk with a strikeout in two innings of relief and Ping-Hseuh Chen issued one walk and struck out a pair in the ninth.
The 18-year-old right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.40 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and .182 batting average against in four starts this season.
LATE LOSS ON THE FOURTH COSTS HILLMAN A W
Juan Hillman worked five and one-third innings of scoreless baseball in his fourth start of the season on the Fourth of July. He allowed just three hits and struck out eight and left with a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, his chances at a win were lost in the eighth inning when reliever Henry Martinez allowed three runs to the Vermont Lakemonsters, who held off two scoring opportunities in the eighth and ninth innings from the Scrappers to get the win.
The 19-year-old southpaw is now 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and .178 batting average against in those four starts this season.
JIMENEZ TAKES THE TOUGH LUCK LOSS TUESDAY
Luis Jimenez took his third loss of the season on Tuesday, despite allowing just one run over five innings of work, giving up three hits, no walks, and striking out three against Vermont. Reliever Dace Kime, working through rehab, worked the sixth inning and faced three batters in the seventh without recording an out and was charged with six runs on six hits with two walks and no strikeouts.
It was the longest start of the season for Jimenez, who had worked seven and two-thirds innings combined in his first three starts.
RAIN BENEFITS SCRAPPERS WEDNESDAY
Rain and a six-run bottom of the fourth for the Scrappers on Wednesday helped Mahoning Valley avoid a sweep at the hands of the Lakemonsters. Center fielder Andrew Calica (in his professional debut) and second baseman Erlin Cerda each drove in a pair, while right fielder Silento Sayles and DH Jonathan Laureno (25th round pick in the June draft) each knocked in one.
The Scrappers did all their scoring on the day despite having just three hits in the ball game and just two in the six-run inning. Calica was hit by a pitch before Alexis Pantoja reached on an error after a sacrifice bunt. Another hit by pitch loaded the bases and Cerda drove in two with a single. After a groundout, two batters walked before a strikeout by Gian Paul Gonzalez. A walk to Laureno forced in a run before Calica singled home two with his first pro hit. A groundout from Pantoja, the eleventh man to bat, ended the inning.
Calica was the Indians’ eleventh round pick out of UC Santa Barbara in the June 2016 draft.
Right-hander Argenis Angulo was assigned to the Double-A Akron RubberDucks from July 4 to 6. Reliever Linares was promoted to Class-A Lake County on July 6 when Angulo returned.
Catcher Juan Gomes, brother of Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes, was released on Friday. The 24-year-old was hitless in three games and four at bats in a crowded backstop bunch on the Scrappers roster. He was a 37th round draft pick by the Indians in the 2014 draft.
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