The first place Mahoning Valley Scrappers (32-22) will be well represented at Tuesday’s New York-Penn League All-Star Game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the home of the State College Spikes.
Five members of the Cleveland Indians’ short-season affiliate will represent the South squad in the annual exhibition, a reward for strong performances in the first half of play. Shortstop Tyler Freeman, first baseman Mitch Reeves, outfielder Hosea Nelson, and relievers Luis Santos and Randy Valladares will play together while looking to knock off the North club.
Freeman, who has worked a handful of games at second base but has worked the majority of the time at short, has been one of the biggest success stories in the Indians farm system this season. A second-year pro, the 19-year-old was taken with the 71st overall pick in the 2017 round with the team’s collective bargaining round B selection at the end of the second round out of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
He has been a champion of hitting streaks this season, putting together a 13-game streak in June and July (.491/.500/.618). He added a six-gamer a few days later, and then put up a monster 21-game streak from July 17 to August 9 (.419/.457/.686 in that span). At the break, he had appeared in 52 games, hitting .376 with a .424 on-base percentage and a .550 slugging mark with 21 doubles, four triples, two homers, and 32 RBI. He leads the NYPL in batting average, hits, doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, and OPS; is second in runs scored, runs batted in, and OBP; and is tied for third in triples.
Nelson is the reigning Player of the Month in the New York-Penn League after a power-packed month of July, when he was also named the league’s Player of the Week in the middle of the calendar. The 21-year-old ninth round pick in the 2016 draft out of Clarendon College in Texas, Nelson is in his third year of activity in the Indians organization and has surpassed his career numbers of a season ago when he worked in 42 games for the Scrappers. This season, he has taken the field 45 times, putting up a .273/.312/.460 line at the plate with ten doubles, one triple, seven homers, and 30 RBI while working regularly as the Mahoning Valley left fielder.
Reeves is in his second season of work in the Indians farm system. The first baseman and one-time corner outfielder was the team’s 32nd round pick in the 2017 draft out of Florida Southern. The 23-year-old debuted briefly last season with the Scrappers and has put up a strong showing in his second season in Niles – in 52 games, he is hitting .289 with a .370 OBP and a .416 slugging with 12 doubles, four homers, and 30 RBI. He put together his own 12-game hitting streak at the end of July and beginning of August to give his batting average a jolt.
Santos, a 23-year-old right-handed reliever, is second in the NYPL in wins at the break with five. He is 5-1 on the year with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in 17 games and 28 innings of work. The reliever originally signed with the Indians in October of 2014 and spent 2015 and 2016 working in the Dominican Summer League around a 16-game appearance in the Arizona League in the latter year. He pitched in five games in Goodyear with the Indians’ AZL affiliate again last season and made a pair of appearances with the Scrappers.
Valladares, 24, is a left-handed hurler who signed with Cleveland in 2013. He made his pro debut in 2014 in the Arizona League and worked there again the following season before spending 21 games with the Scrappers in 2016. He was back with Mahoning Valley a season ago and made a one-game appearance at Class-A with the Lake County Captains. Through his first 15 games this season, he is 4-0 with a 2.37 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings of work.
The battle of the best of the North and South clubs will kick off at 7:05 PM ET from State College, Pennsylvania, on August 14. New York-Penn League regular season action will resume on Wednesday, with the Scrappers hosting the Auburn Doubledays.