The big league diamonds in Goodyear, Arizona, got a little less crowded on Monday as the Cleveland Indians announced several roster moves with just over two weeks to go until their regular season kicks off in Seattle.
Five players – Abraham Almonte, Francisco Mejia, Julian Merryweather, Shawn Morimando, and Adam Plutko – were optioned to Triple-A Columbus. Four more – Bobby Bradley, Louis Head, Josh Martin, and Adam Wilk – were reassigned to minor league camp. The most notable names of the nine, however, were those of Almonte and Mejia.
A quality start by left-hander Shawn Morimando sent the Columbus Clippers to an 8-1 victory over rival Indianapolis on Friday night.
With less than a month to go until the All-Star break, the Clippers have climbed back within two games of the .500 mark at 29-31 on the season. Their surge towards a winning record has been made possible by a 6-2 record in June. The bats in general have come to life for the Clippers over the course of the last three weeks, as since the final week of May, they have put up six runs or more in eight of the 15 games played.
The Akron RubberDucks roster received a big blow this week when the club placed outfielder Greg Allen and catcher Francisco Mejia on the 7-day disabled list with injuries. The moves will deprive the Akron lineup of a pair of its two more exciting players to watch.
The RubberDucks sat in the middle of the Eastern League Western Division pack heading into action on Saturday, winners of three straight to post a 15-17 record on the year, five games in back of the first place Altoona Curve while sitting in the fourth spot in the division.
The Akron RubberDucks returned home from their six-game road trip Thursday with a 2-3 record and their second postponed contest of the year as rains continued to wreak havoc on professional baseball games across the country.
After dropping the final two games of their three-game series with Binghamton last week to bring an end to their five-game winning streak, Akron (11-14) hit the road for Bowie and earned a series win. The offense was big, outscoring the Baysox 22-11 in the series, as they won a 6-1 final on Friday and an 11-2 decision on Sunday as the ‘Ducks bats erupted for five home runs to pace Julian Merryweather to his second win of the week. Monday’s opener in Binghamton was rained out before the club lost two in the middle of the week, dropping a pair of tough games by 5-4 and 1-0 finals.
The Eastern League announced on Monday that Akron starting pitcher Julian Merryweather had been selected as the league’s Pitcher of the Week for games played between April 24th and April 30th.
The 25-year-old right-hander was joined by Binghamton outfielder Champ Stuart in receiving the league’s weekly player of the week honors.
Weather played some havoc in the opening week of the season, forcing an early doubleheader. They won the first game of the double dip on April 9 and won the next day in the opener against the Trenton Thunder, but have struggled to find the win column since, dropping the final two against Trenton before hitting the road for three in Altoona. The first road trip of the season has started off on the wrong foot, as the club has lost one-run decisions in each of the first two games of the three-game set with the Curve.
The RubberDucks will finish their stay in Altoona on Saturday before taking Sunday off. They will play three in Reading against the Fightin Phils before coming home to host Altoona for three next Friday and Binghamton for three more before closing out April on the road.
The potential stars of the future united at Canal Park in Akron on Tuesday as members of the RubberDucks got settled into their new home after working out in Arizona over parts of the last two months.
The defending Eastern League champions will look to add a sixth title to the team’s mantel this season with a new skipper, some familiar faces, and an influx of new weapons with playoff experience who have advanced from High-A Lynchburg.
The quest for the championship begins Thursday night when the ‘Ducks host the Bowie BaySox.
For the second consecutive season as a Cleveland Indians’ affiliate, the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats reached the Carolina League playoffs. This year they took it one step further, winning the Northern Division playoff against the Potomac Nationals and advancing to the Mills Cup Championship before bowing to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who would win their second consecutive Carolina League title.
The Hillcats’ success as a team was achieved through a combination of a strong offense and consistent pitching.
A six-run onslaught in the seventh inning, plus three more for good measure in the eighth, pushed the visiting Akron RubberDucks past the Altoona Curve, 12-8, in Game 1 of the Eastern League Western Division Series on Wednesday night.
Akron started fast as shortstop Eric Stamets homered with one out in the first off of right-hander Alex McRae to give the ‘Ducks the early 1-0 lead. It would not last for long, however, as Akron starter Julian Merryweather quickly loaded the bases, giving up back-to-back singles and a walk to start the bottom half of the frame. A wild pitch allowed one run to score before he locked in and struck out Edwin Espinal and Anderson Feliz swinging, but Jin-De Jhang (older brother of Merryweather’s former teammate in Lynchburg, Yu-Cheng Chang) doubled to left, scoring both base runners to give Altoona a 3-1 lead.
Thursday’s loss to Hartford dropped the Akron RubberDucks to seven games in back of first place Altoona for the top spot in the Eastern League’s Western Division. At 58-60, things have not been going as well as hoped in Akron in the second half after some significant changes to the roster. With an 8-19 record since hosting the Eastern League’s Midsummer Classic, it is easy to see the time frame that the season got away from the ‘Ducks and there has been little slowing the losing skid down along the way.
August has been no better for the club. The RubberDucks dropped a three-game set in New Hampshire and followed it with losses in two of three in Portland. Returning home, they did find the win column twice in three games against the Yard Goats to win a series and will welcome in the Sea Dogs to Canal Park for three more this weekend before heading on a six-game road trip through Trenton and Bowie.
In other tales from the Rubber City:
It’s been a rough week to be a ‘Ducks fan.
Akron saw two of its star players promoted to Triple-A while the RubberDucks have dropped seven straight games. After winning their series opener last Thursday, 7-1, in Altoona against the Curve, Akron was tied for first place. Since then, the club has lost seven straight, including three to the Curve, three more at home against the visiting Richmond Flying Squirrels, and the first game against Bowie.
The RubberDucks will continue their seven-game homestand to close out the month with three more games against the Baysox. The ‘Ducks will take Monday off before hitting the road for New Hampshire and Portland.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
As we’ve seen all throughout baseball, the middle of the season is the time for transition. There comes a time when the guys that were signed to minor league deals end up getting released, or maybe a player whose team thought they’d be a big contributor hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Usually it’s just a case of a prospect doing well and has deserved a promotion to the next level, and that’s what we’re seeing with Julian Merryweather in Double-A Akron.