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Mike Clevinger and Triston McKenzie shine brightly in dominant starts for Columbus and Lynchurg

Cleveland Indians minor league recap for May 3, 2017.

Columbus Clippers 6, Louisville Bats 1

Box Score · Clippers improve to 11-14

Sometimes rain can be beneficial.

Mike Clevinger only pitched 0.1 innings this past Friday due to rain, so Columbus moved up his start a couple days to Tuesday and he was once again brilliant. The powerful right-hander tossed six innings, giving up one run while striking out five, and he’s now in step with Corey Kluber in the Indians rotation in case the Klubot needs some maintenance on his bothersome back.

Columbus once again looked strong offensively, with Yandy Diaz having another big day. This time, Diaz went 2-4 with a double and three runs batted in, netting him eight RBI in his last two games. Giovanny Urshela, Erik Gonzalez and Ronny Rodriguez also joined him with multi-hit performances.

Also of note, Tyler Naquin left the game following a first inning single and there doesn’t seem to be any injury involved. Perhaps the Indians will be calling him up today for some outfield help with Austin Jackson on the 10-day DL? Naquin has hit .396 in 14 games since being demoted earlier this month.

Akron RubberDucks 4, Binghamton Rumble Ponies 5

Box Score · RubberDucks fall to 10-13

Akron saw the return of a familiar face as Mark Mathias was activated yesterday, but it wasn’t enough to will them to victory. Mathias started at third base, going 1-4 with a double (he hit over 40 last season) and two runs batted in.

Shorstop Yu-Cheng Chang had a monster game, going 3-4 with a double and an RBI, but other than a lead-off home run from Todd Hankens, that would pretty much be all the Akron offense had to offer.

Starter Michael Peoples had a rough game, giving up five runs in five innings on eight hits and only striking out one to take the loss. Dylan Baker again looked strong in relief, tossing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

Lynchburg Hillcats 0, Winston-Salem Dash 1

Box Score · Hillcats fall to 11-12

Top pitching prospect Trison McKenzie was downright brilliant in this game. He had the longest start of his young career, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball, giving up one run (zero earned) while striking out seven and walking three, but McKenzie ran into some trouble of his own doing in the fifth inning.

McKenzie led off the fifth with a walk, a wild pitched advance the runner to second, and he walked the second batter as well. He struck out the next hitter, and a groundout made it runners on first and third with two down. Unfortunately, an errant pick-off attempt from McKenzie allowed the runner from third to score, and that would be the only run of the entire game.

The Hillcats offense was downright pitiful as no one from Lynchburg had a multi-hit game or even an extra base hit, although Ka’ai Tom did reach safely twice with a single and a walk in four plate appearances.

Lake County Captains 3, Cedar Rapids Kernals 7

Box Score · Captains fall to 9-15

I actually watched the first five innings of this game on to see if I could observe anything interesting on struggling southpaw prospect Juan Hillman, and I got to witness his best start of the young season.

Hillman gave up three runs in five innings on six hits. He didn’t walk a batter and he struck out three. What I noticed is that he can throw strikes whenever he wants, but he has trouble finding the edges, hitting the spots where he can still get strikes but also miss bats or force weak contact.

Hillman got ahead of just about every hitter he faced, but when the Kernals hit him, they hit him hard. All three runs he gave up were solo shots from batters swinging early in the count when the youngster was trying to get ahead. I also noticed he had some trouble putting batters away when he was already ahead of them in the count, whether it’s expanding the zone or just getting that “out” pitch. This was an improvement, as Hillman entered the game with 10.59 ERA, but there is still work to be done.

One last thing I noticed is that Hillman has thrown slightly better in each of his five starts. None have been particularly good yet, but at least there’s been some development compared to last season when he faded down the stretch.

There wasn’t much to speak of offensively. Logan Ice and Alex Pantoja reached base safely twice, while speedster Gabriel Mejia was caught stealing for the third time this season. Mejia has only stolen three bases thus far in 2017, compared to the 72 he stole in the DSL in 2014, so hopefully he can turn things around on the basepaths soon.