Ryan Merritt earned his second award last week, soaking in 32% of the vote thanks in part to some late support for his excellent two-start effort.
One would be surprised to see the team most represented this week if they'd been following the mid-season teams from the beginning, as Mahoning Valley's offense really struggled out of the gate. That's changed in a big way, however, as the Scrappers now have a pretty high powered offense thanks in part to the arrival of 2016 draft pick Andrew Calica as well as several top prospects heating up at the plate.
Without further ado, here are the Tribe's top performers from the past week (August 14-August 20):
* * *
Gabriel Mejia (A-, OF) - .448/.515/.448
I have been a huge fan of Gabriel Mejia ever since he stole 72 bases in 70 games his first year at the DSL in 2014. The speedy Dominican had a breakout season last year after being promoted to the AZL Indians, batting .357 and earning a late season promotion to Low-A Mahoning Valley, which is where he started this year.
Well, Mejia may be in line for another promotion. After a slow start to his season, he's now batting .324 from the leadoff spot, scoring 46 runs already in 54 games. He's third in the league in hitting, second in runs scored and third in stolen bases with 19 (although he's been caught nine times). Mejia is not a power hitter, having never hit a home run in his career thus far, but he makes solid contact and his speed helps him get on base at a high rate. He also had a pretty good eye at the dish, walking 22 times thus far in 2016.
This past week, Mejia led all Indians batters with 13 hits including three three-hit games, although every base knock was a single. He walked five times, stole four bases and scored nine runs to lead a resurgent Mahoning Valley offense. He also made an appearance in the New York Penn League All-Star game
Andrew Calica (A-, OF) - .436/.519/.565
Despite playing a shortened season, Andrew Calica is no stranger to the POTW, joining rare company by making the list for the third time despite having just been drafted in the 11th round this past June and not officially debuting until July 6th. Calica has been a dynamo for Mahoning Valley, settling into the three-hole in the lineup and producing incredible results. He also earned an All-Star nod, going 1-1 in the game with an RBI single.
The talented 22-year old out of UC Santa Barbara had a big week, going 10-23 over the course of six games with three doubles, four RBI, three walks and a stolen base. He also only struck out one time all week. Don't be shocked if he either earns a late season promotion to Lake County, or skips LC entirely and starts next season at High-A Lynchburg like Mark Mathias did due to his advanced hitting chops.
Emmanuel Tapia (A-, 1B) - .476/.542/1.000
A 20-year old out of the Dominican Republic, Emmanuel Tapia is having a solid season for Mahoning Valley, showcasing improved power at the plate. Tapia's 2015 campaign was cut short by a fractured ankle, which ended his season in late July and forced him to repeat at Mahoning Valley.
Thus far in 2016, Tapia leads MV in home runs (6) and doubles (10) but also is by far the team leader in strikeouts with 59.
This past week, he tore the cover off the ball, going 10-21 at the dish with five doubles, two home runs and three walks while only striking out three times. He also scored five runs and had five runs batted in. If he can continue making solid contact while working on the strikeout rate, he might be a player to keep an eye on.
Willi Castro (A, SS) - .370/.383/.519
Castro is far away the best offensive prospect at Lake County now that Francisco Mejia, Tyler Krieger and all of his other friends have moved on to Lynchburg. The talented 19-year old has had to pick up the slack now that he's one of the leaders of the offense and he's definitely done just that.
Now primarily batting leadoff for the Captains, Castro raised his batting average 10 points this past week with 10 hits in six games, including three multi-hit games. The talented shortstop socked four doubles and even drew a walk, stealing three bases as well without getting caught. Perhaps best of all, he's getting more and more confident defensively, failing to commit an error this entire week, raising his fielding percentage to a career high .949
Tyler Krieger (A+, 2B) - .600/.667/.900
Tyler Krieger had been a bit quiet the past few weeks while all the hype was surrounding his teammate Francisco Mejia. People forget Krieger had a nice 23 game hitting streak himself for Lake County this season before being promoted.
After a brief slump, the talented 22-year old second baseman bounced back in a huge way this past week, going 12-20 at the plate with two doubles and two triples, raising his batting average a whopping 40 points in the process. Krieger also walked three times, scored seven runs and batted in four runs. Welcome back, Tyler!
Matt Esparza (A+, RHP) - 1.54 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.11 WHIP
Matt Esparza earned a promotion to High-A Lynchburg on July 27th and he has not missed a beat. In fact, he's pitching even better for Lynchburg than he was for Lake County, with a 2.10 ERA through five starts compared to 3.14 for LC.
This past week, Esparza had two starts, tossing 5.2 shutout innings on August 14th while striking out six and walking one in a 6-0 victory. He followed that up by throwing six innings on August 20th, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two. He earned a win in both starts and seems poised to enter the top 30 prospect rankings for Cleveland prospects in 2017.
* * *
Ryan Merritt (32%) - Week of 8/7-8/13
Giovanny Urshela (43%) - Week of 7/31-8/6
Anthony Santander (31%) - Week of 7/24-7/30
Yandy Diaz (74%) - Week of 7/17-7/23
Juan Hillman (38%) - Week of 7/10-7/16
Triston McKenzie (63%) - Week of 7/3-7/9
Francisco Mejia (41%) - Week of 6/26-7/2
Argenis Angulo (69%) - Week of 6/19-6/25
Taylor Murphy (47%) - Week of 6/12-6/18
Francisco Mejia (71%) - Week of 6/5-6/11
Brock Hartson (64%) - Week of 5/29-6/4
Nathan Lukes (60%) - Week of 5/22-5/28 (goodbye)
Clint Frazier (89%) - Week of 5/15-5/21 (farewell)
Ryan Merritt (52%) - Week of 5/14-5/20
Francisco Mejia - 5
Anthony Santander - 4
Tyler Krieger - 4
Greg Allen - 3
Bradley Zimmer - 3
Yandy Diaz - 3
Bobby Bradley - 3
Ryan Merritt - 3
Matt Esparza - 3
Andrew Calica - 3