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Cleveland Indians Minor League Player of the Week: June 23 - June 29

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Who were the top Tribe prospect performers the past seven days?

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You guys were feeling the Bieber Fever last week as Shane Bieber walked away with 49 percent of the vote to earn his first Player of the Week award.

This week features only nominations from the full season leagues, but one top 10 prospect finally debuts after a rocky start to his 2017 season.

Without further ado, here are the Tribe's top minor league performers from the past week:

* * *

Juan Hillman (A, LHP) - 1.50 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 1.00 WHIP

It’s about time.

Juan Hillman, a 2015 second round draft pick, could not have started his 2017 season any worse. In fact, after four starts this year, his season ERA stood at a horrific 10.59.

But he’s slowly and steadily begun to turn things around. Hillman has dropped his ERA in every one of his past 11 starts and he hasn’t taken a loss in any of his last 10, culminating with an incredible performance on Wednesday night where he pitched the game of his life.

On Wednesday, the 20-year old southpaw was perfect through five innings, took a no hitter into the seventh and finished with one hit allowed, two walks and a career high eight strikeouts in seven full innings of work. If you combine that start with his five innings and two runs allowed last Friday, he had a very impressive week.

Last year, the story of Hillman’s season was that he started strong with over 25 straight scoreless innings, but he faded down the stretch. It seems he’s only getting stronger as the 2017 campaign rolls on.

Willi Castro (A+, SS) - .423/.444/.731

One thing has been constant for Willi Castro in 2017 ever since the first few weeks of the season, his bat.

Having just turned 20 this past April, the talented shortstop out of Puerto Rico continues to impress despite playing opposition significantly older than him.

Castro now bats in the heart of the Lynchburg order where he was extremely productive this week, racking up 11 hits in total, eight runs batted in and six runs scored.

In one game, he missed hitting for the cycle by a single...a single! Castro also hit two more doubles and stole two bases to round out his impressive week.

Bobby Bradley (AA, 1B) - .391/.462/.913

Something has clicked for Bobby Bradley over the past month and a half, which has seen his batting average consistently rise as the clean-up hitting first baseman for Double-A Akron. On May 16th, Bradley was batting just .193, but by June 28th, his average had risen 66 points to .259.

Bradley just turned 21 years old in his first season in Double-A and since May 16th, he’s batting .301, has struck out just 20 percent of the time and has still bashed 17 extra base hits while walking 10.5 percent of the time.

This past week, he had some huge games, going 3-4 with two doubles and a walk last Friday and he followed that up with a massive three homer game this past Tuesday where he collected a ridiculous seven runs batted in. He walked three times in total and struck out just three. Don’t look now, but Bradley might be rocketing up prospect lists if he can keep up this kind of production

Matt Esparza (AA, RHP) - 1.42 ERA, 7.82 K/9, 0.87 WHIP

Thomas Pannone may have earned the All-Star nod, but Matt Esparza has certainly put up All-Star worthy numbers ever since being promoted to Double-A Akron.

Esparza was promoted to Double-A after nine starts in Lynchburg, where he carried a 3.26 ERA and opponents batted .251 against him.

Through six starts with Akron, he’s holding opposing hitters to a .162 average, has seen his strikeout rate increase to 8.2 K/9, his walk rate drop to 2.0 BB/9 and his ERA plummet to 1.82 as he has gone 5-0 overall.

This past week, Esparza allowed just two runs in two starts covering 12.2 innings overall where he struck out 11 and walked five. Still just 22 years old, the right-hander has proven himself quite a steal as a 14th round draft pick in 2014.

Shawn Morimando (AAA, LHP) - 0.00 ERA, 12 K/9, 0.55 WHIP

Perhaps jilted that fellow Triple-A starters Mike Clevinger, Adam Plutko and Ryan Merritt were all called up to Cleveland this year without him, Shawn Morimando has started to pitch his absolute ass off.

Two weeks ago he threw his first career shutout to earn his second POTW nomination, and he followed that up this week by throwing an even more impressive shutout, his second in just three starts.

This time around, Morimando struck out a career high 12 batters while walking none as he tore through the opposition en route to a five-hitter on just 107 pitches.

The 24-year old southpaw is certainly making a case for himself as an emergency starter or at least the 26th man for future double-headers at this point.

Ronny Rodriguez (AAA, Util) - .474/.474/.789

Ronny Rodriguez was competing this spring for the Indians super utility job off the bench, but couldn’t beat out Michael Martinez or Erik Gonzalez. He was just going through the motions for the first two months of the season in Triple-A Columbus until an injury sidelined him and forced him to miss the first two and a half weeks of June.

Since returning on June 18th, Rodriguez has been a man possessed, collecting a hit in all but one game.

This past week, he racked up nine hits in 19 at bats which included three doubles, a home run and two stolen bases and he did this while playing both second base and right field. He also picked up two outfield assists, gunning down a baserunner at home and at second base.

Poll

Who was your minor league player of the week in the Tribe system?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Juan Hillman (A - 2 GS, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 11 K)
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    Willi Castro (A+ - 6 G, 11-26 for .423, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, BB, 8 K, 2 SB)
    (7 votes)
  • 55%
    Bobby Bradley (AA - 6 G, 9-23 for .391, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO)
    (60 votes)
  • 10%
    Matt Esparza (AA - 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 11 K)
    (11 votes)
  • 20%
    Shawn Morimando (AAA - 1 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K)
    (22 votes)
  • 1%
    Ronny Rodriguez (AAA - 5 G, 9-19 for .474, 3 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, 5 K, 2 SB)
    (2 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now

Previous Winners

Shane Bieber (49%) - Week of 6/16-6/22
Aaron Civale (67%) - Week of 6/9-6/15
Francisco Mejia (60%) - Week of 6/2-6/8
Eric Stamets (63%) - Week of 5/26-6/1
Conner Marabell (34%) - Week of 5/19-5/25
Shawn Morimando (34%) - Week of 5/13-5/18
Triston McKenzie (75%) - Week of 5/5-5/12
Thomas Pannone (33%) - Week of 4/28-5/4
Tyler Naquin (28%) - Week of 4/21-4/27
Erik Kratz (31%) - Week of 4/14-4/20
Conner Capel (35%) - Week of 4/6-4/13

Most Nominations

Triston McKenzie - 4
Francisco Mejia - 4
Thomas Pannone - 4
Willi Castro - 3
Matt Esparza - 3
Julian Merryweather - 3
Shawn Morimando - 3
Richie Shaffer - 3