Two very different All-Star games took place on Wednesday with two very distinctly different results as the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League participated in their own midsummer classics.
The Double-A All-Star Game pitted the Eastern and Western Division clubs against one another from Akron’s own Canal Park. The Triple-A contest featured the International League versus the Pacific Coast League from BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The RubberDucks’ slide continues in Eastern League play, as the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians has played the opposite of their parent club, putting together an 8-22 month of June after Thursday’s 1-0 loss in Erie.
Somehow, despite the abysmal month, Akron is still right in the thick of things at the top of the Eastern League’s Western Division at 44-37, just a game and a half behind Altoona.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
The Cleveland Indians farm system has been well represented in midseason All-Star Games across the levels and the same will be said for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks later this month.
Six RubberDucks were selected for the Eastern League’s Western Division squad for the July 13 game from Akron’s Canal Park. The players will be coached in the game by their manager, Dave Wallace, hitting coach Tim Laker, pitching coach Tony Arnold, coach Luke Carlin, trainer Jeremy Heller, and strength and conditioning coach Scott Nealon.
Starting pitcher Shawn Morimando, reliever Perci Garner, catcher Jeremy Lucas, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer will stay at home in Ohio to participate in the honor during the Eastern League’s All-Star break. Frazier and Morimando made the club through the fan vote.
It has not been a fun week for the Akron RubberDucks, who will start a brief four-game road trip to Harrisburg to take on the Senators on Friday night.
On the road to start last weekend against Bowie, they won the first two games by 7-6 and 2-1 finals before the BaySox swept a doubleheader with a 6-0 victory by former Indians farmhand Jayson Aquino and a 12-7 loss in the nightcap Sunday. After a day off, Akron returned home to Canal Park to play three against the Reading Fightin Phils, but instead of bouncing back, the RubberDucks got squeezed in three straight to the team with the best record in all of minor league baseball. The ‘Ducks fell 11-1 on Tuesday, before losing 3-2 in extras on Wednesday and 6-2 on Thursday to complete the sweep by the Phils.
Despite the five-game losing streak, Akron remains in the driver’s seat of the Eastern League’s Western Division with a 38-22 (.633) record and has a four and a half game lead over the Altoona Curve.
In other RubberDucks tales…
If there is any area where the depth is lacking in the Indians system, it’s definitely in the catching department. Luckily, the Indians have been blessed to have two outstanding catchers in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez. While there is little to no young talent in Columbus, Akron has a pair of two very interesting catchers at their disposal. One of those guys that’s been standing out this season is Jeremy Lucas.
Lucas, 25, was drafted by the Tribe in the 12th round of the 2012 draft. He went to Indiana State University out of high school. He made his debut in 2012 with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In 29 games, Lucas hit .250/.364/.386 with two home runs, six doubles, eight RBI and struck out 14 times against 16 walks. He’s been well known as a good on-base kind of guy, and he certainly kept that up through most of the minors.
Akron continues to terrorize the Eastern League with its strong play. At 23-9, they have a strong hold on the top spot in the league already, owning a seven and a half game lead in the EL Western Division. Their most recent three-game homestand came to an end on Wednesday afternoon, when their series against the Detroit Tigers’ affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, wrapped up. They completed the series sweep with a walk-off 9-8 win in ten innings.
The RubberDucks now return to the road, playing seven straight in Harrisburg and Hartford to conclude a stretch of 20 straight games played for the Indians affiliate before their off day on the 19th. They will return home then for three games with Binghamton, but will head right back out on the road when that series with the Mets is done.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
Baseball makes its return to Akron on Thursday as the last of the full season minor league affiliates of the Cleveland Indians finally opens the home portion of its schedule.
The RubberDucks will host the Bowie BaySox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, for four games beginning Thursday night at 6:35 PM ET. Gates open at 5 PM.
The RubberDucks are off to a quick start after sweeping the BaySox in their home opening series before taking two of three versus the Altoona Curve, dropping a 9-5 decision on Wednesday. The young lineup for the 5-1 club features several notable top prospect names, including pitcher Rob Kaminsky and position players Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, and Nellie Rodriguez, and turned a triple play in Tuesday night’s win over the Curve.
If that isn’t enough to get you out to the ballpark, Indians one-time All-Star Michael Brantley will continue his rehab assignment with the RubberDucks on Thursday night.
With the All Star break over and gone, the Akron RubberDucks are looking forward to September. While this team may not have looked exciting on paper, they’ve managed to put together a solid season thus far through 2015. Through the first half of 2015, the RubberDucks stood at a record of 47-43 and as of July 20, they’re sitting in third place of the Eastern League Western division with a record of 50-44. Going into the second half, and beyond, they’re sporting a higher than .500 record, and have real chances of seeing playing time once September rolls around.
Looking back at the first half, the RubberDucks have a lot they should be proud of, but there are definite parts of their game that need to be improved on.
There was a passion for baseball in West Terre Haute, IN that exceeded all of sports recalled Carolina Mudcats catcher Jeremy Lucas. There was just one thing holding it back.
“I guess you could say it is the main sport there,” Lucas said. “But there are not a lot of people there so if everyone played there it still would not be big.
Although it’s often called “The Mistake on the Lake,” Cleveland’s proximity to the water is something that excites Lake County Captains catcher Jeremy Lucas. In fact, one of his 2013 season goals can only be accomplished because Cleveland has a coast.
“I saw the lake for the first time,” Lucas said of a recent drive that took him down the Shoreway. “By the end of the season, I want to go to the beach.”