The Class-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers are starting to find the win column a little more consistently as the young club gels in Niles, Ohio.
Mahoning Valley took a tough 2-0 loss last Saturday with star pitcher Triston McKenzie on the mound before Juan Hillman led the club to a 6-4 win in the series finale with Staten Island on Sunday. After losing the opener at home against Tri-City, the Scrappers bounced back with 4-3 and 5-3 victories on Tuesday and Wednesday to win their first series of the season. They won Thursday’s opener at State College, 7-4, before a strong 8-5 win on Friday night.
The Scrappers are now 10-18 on the season and have won four consecutive games. Their season-high winning streak has helped to propel the club past the Batavia Muckdogs and out of the cellar of the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division. They are now in fifth place in the six-team league, trailing the first place State College Spikes by eight games.
In other notes from the Scrappers scrapbook:
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley appeared in a Scrappers uniform on Monday as he began his rehab assignment with Mahoning Valley. He was 1-for-2 at the plate with a single and a walk in three trips to the batter’s box.
HILLMAN WINS SECOND
The left-hander Hillman has not allowed an earned run in his last five starts, dropping his ERA for the season to 0.89 after the three runs he allowed in a win to open his season against Auburn.
This week, Hillman worked five and two-thirds scoreless innings against Staten Island on Sunday, allowing five hits, a walk, and one hit batsman while striking out four. He earned the win in the game to push his record to 2-0 on the season.
On Friday night, he threw four innings of one-run ball against State College. He gave up one unearned run on three hits, walking three and striking out two in the game before handing the game over to the bullpen.
McKENZIE CONTINUES TO SHINE
McKenzie’s incredible start to his season continued this week as he made a pair of starts. Last Saturday, he was dealt a loss despite not allowing an earned run. In five innings against Staten Island, he allowed two hits and walked four while striking out six to take the loss. On Thursday, he took a no-decision against State College after throwing four innings of five-hit, no-run ball. He walked five and struck out three.
Control has been the biggest problem of late for the 18-year-old right-hander, who has walked nine in his last nine innings after walking just three in his first four starts (22 2/3 innings).
Third round pick of this year’s draft, 21-year-old right-hander Aaron Civale, has started off with positive results for the Scrappers in four starts. He worked two innings in his first two appearances and three innings in each of the next two, posting scoreless outings in each. He has struck out nine and walked a pair while giving up four hits in each of his last two appearances.
ICE HITS IN FOUR STRAIGHT
Catcher Logan Ice, a collective bargaining phase B pick this season by the Indians, had hit in four straight games entering play on Friday night. He had a single and two walks last Friday, a single and a double on Saturday, a single in the middle game against Tri-City, and a double and one run batted in in the series finale with the ValleyCats on Wednesday.
For the season, he is hitting .170 with a .375 on-base percentage.
BACK-TO-BACK TWO-HIT GAMES FOR CALICA
Outfielder Andrew Calica, the Indians’ eleventh round pick in the draft this season, has had a solid start to his professional career. He hit in four straight games between the 9th and 13th, including a pair of two-hit games against Tri-City on Monday and Wednesday. He pushed his batting average to .346 after Friday’s game after going 2-for-4 with a single, double, and a hit by pitch.
CERDA’S STREAK ENDS
Erlin Cerda’s hitting streak ended at eight straight on July 12 in the middle game against the Tri-City ValleyCats. He bounced right back with a double on Wednesday and a single on Thursday, with RBI in each game, to keep his positive results at the plate going.
After play on Friday night, the 22-year-old was hitting .276 for the season, including a .284 mark in 21 games for the Scrappers after returning from Lake County, where he was 1-for-6 in a pair of games for the Captains.
Yonathan Mendoza was assigned to the Scrappers on Thursday from the Lake County Captains. He tripled and drove in three runs in his first game with the club that night. He was 1-for-2 Friday with another RBI.
Pitcher Kenny Mathews joined the Scrappers on Sunday from Arizona, where he was working his way back to health. He threw a scoreless inning in his debut on Tuesday against Tri-City. He worked in six games with the Arizona League team working five straight scoreless outings before rejoining the Scrappers. It has been a long, slow, and steady process for the 22-year-old left-hander, who had last appeared in a professional game on July 5, 2014, before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Infielder Luke Wakamatsu was placed on the disabled list on Thursday with a right shoulder strain.
Shane Bieber, the Indians’ fourth round draft pick in June, was assigned to the Scrappers on Monday.
BURSTING WITH COLOR
Eastwood Field will be the site of a color run 5K on July 23. Registration for the event is available here.
The fun run mashed together energy, colors, music, and “good vibes”. The race starting window is between 9 AM and 10 AM and concludes at noon. The Scrappers host the Lowell Spinners that evening at 7:05 PM.
SEARCHING FOR BIGFOOT
Next Sunday, July 24, the Scrappers will host Bigfoot Night from Eastwood Field with the Connecticut Tigers in town.
Special foods and drink will be available throughout the game, including the Bigfoot Brew, a Hairy Sandwich (pulled pork, not hair), The Bigfoot (a half-pound foot long hot dog), and a Patty Sandwich. Fans 6’6” or taller or those wearing shoes size 16 or larger will get free admission to the game. Fans will be judged between innings to see who has the hairiest back to win a Scrappers prize pack.
Photo removed by request