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Indians minor league recap: Tribe rookie leaguers take home MVP honors

The AZL Indians season is over, but they still have something to celebrate.

The Cleveland Indians affiliates are starting to see their seasons come to an end. While some, like the Columbus Clippers, are preparing for a playoff run, others like the AZL Indians were already in one last night. Unfortunately for the Indians, they were eliminated by a powerhouse of an AZL Angels offense as their Pitcher of the Year, Francisco Perez, was knocked around early.

Speaking of the Clippers, they continued to win, while the Akron RubberDucks followed in their footsteps. The powerful Lynchburg Hillcats offense was held scoreless, but I bet you can guess who still managed to have a two-hit game.

The game was a disaster, but I was able to make the drive the Williamsport to see the Mahoning Valley Scrappers play and it was quite the experience.

Columbus Clippers 5, Durham Bulls 1

Box Score · Clippers improve to 80-58

At the heart of the Columbus Clippers batting order, Jesus Aguilar and Michael Choice combined to go 5-for-8 with a home run and three runs batted in, enough to propel the Indians’ Triple-A affiliates to their 80th win of the season.

Erik Gonzalez had a great day leading off as well, going 2-for-5 with a run batted in and a run scored. Conversely, Bradley Zimmer’s deep slump continues, as the 23-year-old was blanked again for the third game in a row. He is now 5-for-32 with 16 strikeouts in his last 10 games.

Toru Murata pitched a strong six innings, striking out three and allowing one run off of five hits. TJ House and Cody Anderson, two relievers who could aid the Indians in September, combined to pitch three scoreless innings for Columbus.

Yandy Diaz, who sat out last night’s game, was named the International League’s Rookie of the Year. In 93 games with the Clippers, Diaz slash .322/.396/.455 with seven home runs and five stolen bases. He leads qualified International League batters in batting average, on-base percentage, and he is fourth in on-base plus slugging (.850).

Akron RubberDucks 4, Erie SeaWolves 1

Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 72-62

All four of the Akron RubberDucks’ runs against the Erie SeaWolves came in a big second inning, but that’s all they needed.

Even more impressive, all four runs came with two outs. Jeremy Lucas and Eric Haase started the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. The next four batters hit singles.

Akron batters finished with 10 hits, combined, with Greg allen, Mike Papi, and Joe Sever all adding two hits apiece.

Nick Pasquale earned his third win of the season with 6.2 dominant innings. He struck out six and walked three, while allowing one earned run off of two hits.

Lynchburg Hillcats 0, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 1

Box Score · Hillcats fall to 82-52

Despite 10 innings of shutout baseball between Lynchburg Hillcats pitchers Brock Hartson and Jared Robinson, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans still pulled out a win in the bottom of the 11th.

Lynchburg mustered just four hits in the game, with two coming from Francisco Mejia. Mark Mathias struck out four times from the leadoff spot; the Hillcats, as a team, whiffed 14 times.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3, Williamsport Crosscutters 10

Box Score · Scrappers fall to 35-34

I live a good hour away from any baseball, minor- or major-league caliber, and the Williamsport Crosscutters are one of those teams in range. So, when I saw that Juan Hillman would be pitching, I thought I’d make the hour trek to the beautiful BB&T Ballpark to watch him start. The park lived up to the hype, but unfortunately, Hillman’s start wasn’t as pretty.

Admittedly, Hillman is 19 and fatigue is playing a factor right now, but he was rocked pretty early. His first inning went smoothly with a 1-2-3 order, including a strikeout. However, he found trouble in the second.

He started with a strikeout, but the Crosscutter batter bailed him out big time by swinging at several pitches nowhere near the zone. From there, Hillman walked a batter who rattled him on the bases and eventually stole second. Hillman then balked, walked the next batter, then allowed a tower three-run home run. He would stay in through the third inning and finish with four earned runs off of three hits.

First baseman Emmanual Tapia’s defense is... questionable. The 20-year-old had some issues fielding, including catching a ball thrown after a batter was running out a strikeout. The error was called a throwing error on catcher Jack Goihl, but Tapia was easily in range of the ball.

Conversely, third baseman Jonathan Laureano made a couple great plays, including a sliding stop and quick hop up to throw out a runner.

Offensively, Todd Isaacs did not record a hit, but that kid can absolutely fly down the first base line. He took a lot of bad swings at bad pitches, but if he can develop even an average hit tool, I could see him doing some damage in the minors with that speed. He was a half-step away from running out a hard-hit liner to shortstop in his first at-bat, and he ran hard no matter what kind of hit he had (even when he struck out and didn’t realize there was a runner on first).

AZL Indians 6, AZL Angels 11

Box Score · Indians eliminated from playoffs

The AZL Indians enjoyed a successful 2016 season thanks to a strong draft, but their playoff run was cut short yesterday with an 11-6 loss to the AZL Angels.

After a scoreless first inning, the Angels teed off on starting Francisco Perez, scoring seven runs in his three innings of work. Perez also walked four while striking out no one.

The Indians offense combined for 11 hits, but were just 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Jose Vicente and Oscar Gonzalez each had two hits, with the former adding two doubles as well. Will Benson and Nolan Jones, two 2016 draft picks, combined to go 2-for-9 with a run batted in.

Although their rookie-league season is over, outfielder Oscar Gonzalez and left-handed pitcher Francisco Perez took home Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, respectively.