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Mahoning Valley Scrappers 2015 season preview

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The short-season affiliates are now underway, with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers launching their season last Friday.

Eastwood Field, home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Eastwood Field, home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Lindsay Semple/Getty Images

The short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers opened their new campaign last Friday, fielding a team that features some of the stars of last year's championship-winning AZL Indians as well as a dozen or so of the Tribe's selections from the MLB draft a few weeks ago.

MVS alumni include recent MLB debutants Giovanny Urshela (2010), Francisco Lindor (2011) and Cody Anderson (2011), so one or more of the 2015 Scrappers might make the team around about June 2019 or June 2020! (In actual fact, given that both Cody Allen and Kyle Crockett started their pro careers with the Scrappers, one of the relievers might even conceivably make it as soon as next year.)

The team plays at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio. They won their first and only league title in 2004, when they were managed by the current Tribe 3rd base coach, Mike Sarbaugh. Last year they fnished a disappointing 33-42 despite fine seasons from Bradley Zimmer, Francisco Mejia, Steven Patterson, Sean Brady, Cameron Hill and J.P. Feyereisen, among others.

One thing to note is that teams are allowed up to 35(!) players on their roster, 30 of whom can be active, with 25 allowed to suit up for any given game.

Hitters (17)

The Scrappers line-up looks potentially very exciting, featuring some good prospects from last year's Arizona team (Castro, Chu and Tapia), the rehabbing former top prospect Anthony Santander, and no less than three of the top eight picks from the recent draft (Mathias, Tom and Lukes).

Promoted from last year's AZL Indians

C Li-Jen Chu (the 21yo Taiwanese catcher lit things up in Arizona to the tune of .348/.431/.596 in 29 games)

1B/3B Gerald Bautista (after a great debut season, the 20yo just never got going when he returned to Arizona last year) Update — released 27 June.

SS Willi Castro (a debut line of .239/.285/.348 might be considered mediocre, were it not for the fact that the switch-hitting Castro was only 17 at the time; the fact that he is regarded highly enough to make it to MVS as an 18yo is most encouraging)

1B Emmanuel Tapia (the 19yo DSL slugging import was a very pleasant surprise last year, hitting .315/.405/.488)

3B Nathan Winfrey (selected in the 28th rd in 2014, Winfrey showed excellent plate discipline last year, going .211/.369/.337)

CF Silento Sayles (a 14th rd pick in 2013, the speedy 20yo Sayles recorded a respectable .262/.347/.315 in his second season)

Returning players

SS Austin Fisher (the 22yo 13th rd pick from last year's draft gets another chance after a dismal .196/.266/.222 rookie campaign)

C Sicnarf Loopstok (another 22yo, the 13th rd pick from 2013 struggled during his brief time with Captains earlier this season)

OF D'vone McClure (a big disappointment since being taken in the 4th rd in 2012, his career slash line is just .219/.294/.300)

OF Anthony Santander (a high profile signing for $385K in 2011, Santander had a great rookie campaign in 2012 that took him up to No.13 in Baseball America's Indians list; the switch-hitter was then aggressively bumped up to Lake County, and after suffering from an elbow injury that derailed him over most of the last two seasons he is now at Mahoning Valley trying to resurrect his career as a 20yo)

2015 draft picks

(You can find official profiles of all the 2015 draft picks here.)

C Jack Goihl (28th rd)

2B Sam Haggerty (24th rd)

CF Nathan Lukes (7th rd)

OF Connor Marabell (25th rd)

2B Mark Mathias (3rd rd)

C Daniel Salters (13th rd)

OF Ka'ai Tom (5th rd)

Pitchers (17)

The pitchers are fairly split evenly between returning, promoted and newly drafted players. There appears to be some decent depth, but it is somehat lacking in star power. While Casey Shane is potentially the exception, much will hinge on whether they can obtain breakout seasons from a pair of hitherto underwhelming international signings, starters Shao-Ching Chiang and Leandro Linares, along with the promising Jared Robinson.

Unfortunately, two potentially valuable contributors, SP Grant Hockin and RP Jordan Dunatov, both underwent TJ surgery earlier this month (while of course Justus Sheffield and Thomas Pannone both skipped Mahoning Valley to go straight to full-season ball at Lake County).

Promoted from last year's AZL Indians

RHP Ping-Hsueh Chen (Taiwanese 20yo reliever who pitched 15 innings for a 2.70 ERA/1.02 WHIP last year)

RHP Shao-Ching Chiang (following his signing for $250K in October 2011, Chiang basically missed two years due to injury, including TJ surgery;  the 21yo came back to make eight starts and two relief appearances last year, pitching to a 4.53 ERA/1.05 WHIP; he'll be in the rotation for the Scrappers)

RHP Leandro Linares (a very expensive $950K 21yo Cuban signing in July 2013, Linares was very disappointing in his debut year, recording a 7.62 ERA/1.74 WHIP, but he is understandably being given another chance in the rotation)

RHP Yoiber Marquina (very promising 19yo who converted successfully from catcher to pitcher last year, leading the Arizona League with seven saves)

RHP Johan Puello (like Marquina, a DSL import who pitched to a solid 1.69 ERA/1.24 WHIP as a reliever last year)

RHP Jared Robinson (2014 11th rd pick who recorded a superb 1.23 ERA/0.95 WHIP as a reliever last year, often pitching three innings in a "piggyback" role; he has begun the new season in the rotation)

Returning players

RHP Kieran Lovegrove (disappointing 2012 3rd selection who has a career 5.02 ERA/1.66 WHIP; will be given one last chance in the rotation)

RHP Carlos Melo (now 24 and on his third team; pitched poorly in Lake County and Carolina last year) Update — released 27 June.

RHP Casey Shane (the 2013 6th rounder is not really repeating, as after a fine season as a starter in Arizona, Shane was promoted to MVS for just the last couple of games of 2014; still only 19, he has been in the top 25 of Baseball America's Tribe farm rankings in each of the past two seasons)

RHP Grant Sides (who has recently come off the DL at Akron and presumably was sent to the Scrappers for rehab purposes)

RHP James Stokes (2012 22nd rd selection who is now a 24yo reliever and thus not really much of a prospect)

RHP Jose Zapata (22yo DSL product who has been a solid reliever in his two season in the States)

2015 draft picks

(You can find official profiles of all the 2015 draft picks here.)

RHP Matt Esparza (14th rd)

RHP Brock Hartson (21st rd)   

Switch-pitcher Ryan Perez (12th rd — see also profile by Matt Lyons here)

RHP Devon Stewart (9th rd)

LHP Billy Strode (10th rd)