Pitching was the big storyline of Saturday for the Cleveland Indians farm system. Young stud Triston McKenzie made his High-A debut at just 19 years old, and former first-overall draft pick Brady Aiken made his 2017 debut in a strong showing for the Single-A Lake County Captains.
Columbus Clippers 9, Louisville Bats 8 (F/10)
Box Score · Clippers improve to 2-1
The Columbus’ Clippers opening series has been nothing if not thrilling. Last night’s 10-inning win was the second extra-innings affair of the series and it featured a combined 17 runs and 26 hits between the Clippers and the Louisville Bats.
Lonnie Chisenhall, on his first rehab start back from a shoulder injury, was 4-for-4 n the day with a double. He led all Clippers batters in hits, but he was far from the only one to have a multi-hit day. Ronny Rodriguez finished with two, Chris Colabello finished with three, Erik Kratz had two hits, and top prospect Bradley Zimmer capped the night with two extra-base hits — a double and a triple.
Erik Gonzalez spelled Chisenhall late in the game as a right-field replacement and eventually hit the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th.
Shortstop Eric Stamets’ season is off to a rough start. The 25-year-old is hitless in eight at-bats with four strikeouts.
The Clippers used seven pitchers yesterday, mostly due to Adam Plutko’s ineffective 2.2-inning start in which he gave up three runs off of four hits. Tyler Olson and Josh Martin both gave up runs late as well, while Joseph Colon was able to hold the Bats silent for the final inning for his first save of the season.
Akron RubberDucks 1, Bowie Baysox 4
Box Score · RubberDucks fall to 0-2
The Akron RubberDucks managed just four hits against Bowie Baysox pitcher John Means; four of them coming from leadoff batter Greg Allen. Allen led off the eighth inning with a double to give the ‘Ducks their only real shot at tying the game up, but it was thwarted by an ill-advised run home on a flyout.
Francisco Mejia got another hit today, his third of the young season. Similarly, Yu-Cheng Chang continued his hot start with another home run, his second in two games.
Michael People lasted a strong seven innings in his 2017 debut, striking out four and walking none. He did allow two runs, however, and that was all the Baysox needed. Cameron Hill and David Speer each allowed runs to cross the plate, as well.
Lynchburg Hillcats 6, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 1
Box Score · Hillcats improve to 1-2
At just 19 years old, Triston McKenzie made his High-A debut with the Lynchburg Hillcats. As anyone who watched McKenzie coming up through the system can probably guess, he was outstanding.
Facing hitters who were, on average, three years older than him, McKenzie struck out five and walk two in 5.2 innings. His lone earned run given up was a home run in the fifth inning. In his minor-league career, McKenzie had struck out four or more batters in all but one start.
Offensively, most of the Hillcats output came from the middle of the lineup. Connor Marabell and Martin Cervenka combined for four hits, including a double. Lynchburg took the Kansas City Royals circa 2015 approach to hitting, with several singles bunched up to get runners into scoring position. Despite just two extra-base hits, the Hillcats had 13 runners in scoring position; they stranded eight of them.
Lake County Captains 3, Dayton Dragons 7
Box Score · Captains fall to 2-1
Despite eight hits as a team, the Lake County Captains dropped their first game of the season to the Dayton Dragons. All but two of those hits were single, however, with the only extra-base hits coming from Erlin Cerda and Jorma Rodriguez — both doubles.
The Captains also struck out 10 times and walked just twice.
Most importantly for this game, Brady Aiken made his first start of the season two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Aiken struggled early, allowing two hits and issuing two walks in the first inning. But he seemed to get better as he went on, according to multiple reports. He finished the game with five strikeouts, including three in his final two innings.