Down on the farm: Weekly checkin on Cleveland Indians affiliates, July 29

Triston McKenzie

Tribe prospect Triston McKenzie

It’s been a busy week for the Tribe’s Minor League affiliates, highlighted by some high-profile promotions, a historic hitting streak and some dominant pitching performances.

All numbers are through games played Thursday, July 28.

The Clippers went 4-2 over the last week, which was an eventful one for the Tribe’s Triple-A affiliate. Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Pawtucket Red Sox, it was announced that the Tribe’s top two prospects, Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer, were being promoted from Double-A Akron.

Frazier and Zimmer joined the club on Tuesday as the Clippers opened a six-game road trip with the first of three games in Norfolk. The Tides ultimately took 2-out-of-3 games from Columbus, but Frazier and Zimmer both recorded hits in their first two Triple-A contests and Frazier went 4-for-12 (.333) with a triple and two runs scored in the series.

Not to be outdone by their newest teammates, Jesus Aguilar and Yandy Diaz put up big weeks as well. Aguilar went 6-for-16 with one home run, five RBI and two runs scored over his last five games this week, and now leads the league with 62 RBI and is tied for the league lead with 20 homers. Diaz, the reigning IL batter of the week, extended his hitting streak to 17 games, which is tied with teammate Ronny Rodriguez for the longest streak in the IL this season. The IL leader in both batting (.340) and OBP (.415), Diaz went 10-for-21 (.476) with one triple, one home run, five RBI, four runs scored and three walks to just two strikeouts in six games this week.

The RubberDucks struggled this week, going 0-7 with losses in 10 of their last 13 games. Akron was outscored 23-45 this week and now sits in third-place, 5.0 games back in the Eastern League Western Division. Outfielder Jordan Smith put together the strongest week of any Akron hitter, going 7-for-17 (.412) with three runs scored. The 26-year-old is batting .308 (12-for-39) since the All-Star break after hitting just .232 (43-for-185) in the first half.

Veteran reliever Craig Stammen has been lights out for Akron this month. After opening the season on the disabled list, the 32-year-old right-hander made three rehab appearances with the AZL Indians before joining the Ducks on July 7. Since then, Stammen has worked 10.0 scoreless innings over eight appearances, with eight strikeouts and a 0.90 WHIP.

Lynchburg had an up-and-down week, going 4-4 overall as they sit one game behind the Potomac Nationals in the Carolina League Northern Division. Catcher Francisco Mejia made history on Thursday, however, extending his hitting streak to 40 games with an infield single in the 6th inning. Mejia is now one of 16 players in Minor League history to record a hit in 40 consecutive games, and the first to do so since 2009 when Seattle prospect James McOwen hit safely in 45 straight games.

The 20-year-old switch-hitter’s streak began with 24 games for Lake County and has continued in the next 16 games with Lynchburg since his promotion on June 27. Mejia’s .345 average leads all Indians farmhands and ranks 5th among all qualified full-season Minor Leaguers.

Lake County went 4-3 this week, including two series wins with a chance for a third on Friday against South Bend. Prior to his promotion to Lynchburg on July 27, outfielder Connor Marabell was hitting .325 (25-for-77) with nine doubles, two triples, one home run, 10 RBI and nine runs scored thru 22 games in July. His solid month for Lake County put him atop the ML with 31 doubles and moved him into 8th in the league with a .308 average

Since joining Lake County on June 4, right-hander Erick Algarin has posted a 2.30 ERA (4ER/15.2IP) in 11 relief appearances. However, he’s been even better in July, posting a 0.93 ERA (1ER/9.2IP) on five hits and four walks while striking out 15 in six appearances. He has struck out batters at a 42% clip, while boasting a 0.93 WHIP.

Mahoning Valley put together its best week of the season to date, going 5-0 in a week that included two rain outs, a doubleheader and a scheduled off day. The Scrappers five-game winning streak marks their longest of the season.

Mahoning Valley’s surge has come on the backs of some impressive offensive performances. Outfielder Andrew Calica led the club with 10 hits, batting .588 with six runs scored and five RBI. Catcher Gavin Collins was not far behind, going 9-for-16 (.563) with four RBI and three runs scored. Outfielder Gabriel Mejia also went 9-for-20 (.400) with nine runs scored and one RBI.

Right-hander Triston McKenzie continued his dominance this week, allowing just one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks in a win against Connecticut on Monday. McKenzie is now 4-2 with a 0.61 ERA (ER/44.1IP) and 47 strikeouts against 14 walks in eight starts this season.

The AZL Indians went 4-1 this week, and are 17-4 in July after going just 4-5 in June. At 21-9, the Tribe owns the best record in the Arizona League and has gone 21-6 since losing their first three games of the season.

Catcher Jose Vicente has been one of the Indians most effective hitters, leading the club with 28 hits and 21 RBI. The 20-year-old catcher is hitting lefties and righties equally well (.292 vs. LHP, .300 vs. RHP) and has not gone more than two consecutive games without a hit this season.

Cesar Ventura continues to dominate out of the bullpen. He tossed 3.0 scoreless innings over two appearances last week, bringing his ERA to 0.75 (2ER/24.0IP), the second-best mark in the AZL. The 6-foot righty is also 3-for-3 in save opportunities this season.

–TribeVibe contributor Robert Davidson

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