Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Coronavirus may have robbed us of the final season of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced its decision not to provide Minor League Baseball teams with players this summer as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. (Major League Baseball is still planning to play an abbreviated season this summer, but I remain less than certain that will come to pass too.)
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
When you are looking to make a name for yourself professionally, there is no such thing as an offseason, especially in Major League Baseball. Such is the case for a number of farmhands of the Cleveland Indians from this most recently completed season whom are active in league activities in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela.
In addition to the seven Indians minor leaguers who are in Glendale, Arizona, participating in the Arizona Fall League (position players Yu Chang, Li-Jen Chu, and Connor Marabell and pitchers Justin Garza, Rob Kaminsky, Jared Robinson, and Dalbert Siri), four members of their farm system are getting in work in the six-team Dominican Professional Baseball League, two are in the eight-team Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, and one is working in the eight-team Mexican Pacific League, running up and down the Gulf of California.
Luis Santos had his fair share of fun in State College, Pennsylvania, with one of the bigger moments of the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.
The 23-year-old Mahoning Valley right-hander’s battle with Batavia’s Sean Reynolds provided some on-the-field humor with an impressive triple-digit feat as the South rolled to a 7-1 win over the North in the annual exhibition of the league’s top performers.
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.
Hosea Nelson’s Player of the Week award on July 23 wasn’t enough, as the 21-year-old outfielder took home the New York-Penn League’s Player of the Month Award earlier this week for his impressive play all throughout July.
Nelson, a ninth round pick by Cleveland in the 2016 draft out of Clarendon College (Texas), is in his third season in the Indians organization and has already surpassed most of his offensive statistics at the plate and on the base paths while working in his second season with short-season Mahoning Valley.
Baseball America released its minor league All-Star teams across all minor league levels on Monday and four prospects from the Cleveland Indians farm system claimed spots on the annual rosters.
The biggest winner was 19-year-old right-hander Triston McKenzie, who was not only named as one of the five starting pitchers selected to the roster, but was announced as the Baseball America Short-Season Pitcher of the Year for his 4-3 record in nine starts while with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Despite giving it a remarkable run late, Mahoning Valley saw its Pinckney Division title hopes lost as the State College Spikes officially eliminated the Scrappers on Saturday night with their win over Auburn.
That the Scrappers were even in a position to be the last team eliminated in the division is astounding, given the horrible start to the short-season schedule for Mahoning Valley in 2016. At 35-33 after Monday night’s 6-5 win in extra innings, the Scrappers have done well to overcome that start and put together a promising season full of growth.
The Scrappers have two more games with Williamsport on the schedule to wrap up August before hosting State College in the final three home games of the season. They will finish the year on the road, playing two against West Virginia.
In other notes from the Scrappers’ scrapbook…
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ hopes of staying above the .500 mark and tracking down a wild card spot hit a bit of a bump in the road as play has resumed following the brief All-Star festivities last week.
The third place Scrappers (30-31) traveled to Batavia, splitting a doubleheader on Wednesday with the Muckdogs while splitting the final two games of the series on Thursday and Friday. They returned home over the weekend to host State College, the top team in the Pinckney Division, who reminded the Scrappers of that fact by taking two of the three contests.
Mahoning Valley will finish up the week with three in Brooklyn starting Tuesday night before returning home this weekend for three against West Virginia from Niles. The season is rapidly coming to its conclusion, as they will journey to Williamsport for three to wrap up the month before a week of September play.
In other news and notes from the Scrappers’ scrapbook:
The New York-Penn League held its annual All-Star Game on Tuesday night. A few early rain drops could only temporarily slow down the festivities from Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, New York, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Many of the six players from the well-represented Mahoning Valley Scrappers got to partake in their first professional midsummer classic and Erlin Cerda played the hero of the game as his South team defeated the North team, 9-5. Cerda took home MVP honors for his three-run home run in the fourth inning that gave the South All-Stars a 4-3 advantage at the time, a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Indians farm system has earned its share of in-season accolades, so it was only fair that Mahoning Valley joined the fun.
On Monday, pitcher Ryan Colegate was named the New York-Penn League’s Pitcher of the Week for games played between August 8 and August 14. He was one of three Indians minor leaguers to be recognized with a weekly honor, joining first baseman Bobby Bradley and starting pitcher Luis Lugo of the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. He is the first Scrapper to win such an award this season.
The only thing that could slow down the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the last week was Mother Nature, and she succeeded twice in doing so.
The Scrappers are playing their best baseball of the short season. They are 9-4 in August and riding a five-game winning streak. Coupled with a four-game streak earlier in the month, they have pulled into third place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division with a 27-27 record, nine games in back of State College and 12 games away from being eliminated from the division crown. The week was won by taking two games at home against Batavia before wet grounds cancelled the finale. After winning the opener against Williamsport on Friday, Saturday’s game was washed out before the Scrappers took a doubleheader on Sunday.
After the All-Star break this week, Mahoning Valley will travel to Batavia for four games in three days starting Wednesday before returning to Niles for three with State College starting Saturday night.
In other news and notes from the Scrappers’ Scrapbook:
It has been a common theme throughout the Cleveland Indians farm system this season, so it should be no surprise that the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers will be well represented when the New York-Penn League plays its All-Star Game on August 16 from Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, New York, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Six members of the Scrappers, including left-handers Juan Hillman and Tanner Tully, infielder Erlin Cerda, and outfielders Andrew Calica, Todd Isaacs, and Gabriel Mejia, were selected to the South team from the Mahoning Valley roster.