One of the wrinkles of minor-league baseball coming back in 2021 is that every organization plays a six-game series, followed by an off-day on Monday to lessen travel expenses after the lost 2020 season drained the coffers of the already cash-strapped MLB affiliates. That meant that Cleveland’s farm system came into Tuesday with all arms refreshed and ready to go — and they showed it.
The Lynchburg Hillcats were the only farm team to allow a run last night, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the ninth when they already had a 10-0 lead.
Columbus Clippers 2, Omaha Storm Chasers 0
Box Score · Clippers improve to 5-1
Starting pitcher Kirk McCarty built upon his strong 2021 debut with an even better outing against the Omaha Storm Chasers last night: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO.
Converted outfielder Anthony Gose received his first hold out of the bullpen in Triple-A, striking out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning. Combined with Robert Broom’s three strikeouts in the seventh, it was a rough couple of innings for Omaha batters.
Keeping an eye on the future, Bobby Bradley, Owen Miller, and Nolan Jones combined to go 5-for-11, including back-to-back-to-back singles in the sixth inning. Miller accounted for three of the group’s hits and has a 1.247 OPS in the young season.
Bradley Zimmer and Oscar Mercado were 0-for-8 at the top of the order. Zimmer struck out three times.
Akron RubberDucks 5, Erie SeaWolves 0
Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 6-0
The Battle of Unnescary CamelCase went to the RubberDucks, with Eli Lingos, Skylar Arias, and Nick Mikolajchak holding the SeaWolves to six hits and zero earned runs.
Mikolajchak, who struck out five of the eight batters he faced in his 2021 debut, struck out three more last night in two innings of work. He also gave up his first two hits of the season while closing out the game.
First baseman Trenton Brooks hit his first home run of the season, a three-RBI shot in the top of the third inning.
In fact, all five of Akron’s runs came in the fifth — the other two came when Alex Call singled home Jose Fermin and Tyler Freeman.
Richie Palacios was 0-for-2 on the day, but walked twice and didn’t strike out.
The RubberDucks have come out of the gate hot and are off to their best start since moving to Akron in 1997. Also of note last night, Tyler Freeman — who is typically a shortstop — got the start at third base.
Lake County Captains 3, Fort Wayne TinCaps 0
Box Score · Captains improve to 4-3
The story of the night, in a night full of outstanding pitching performances, was Hunter Gaddis’ bounce back from a dreadful debut last week. He responded by pitching five no-hit innings against the Fort Wayne TinCaps, striking out six and walking one on his way to an easy victory.
Nathan Oaker gave up the only two hits of the night, but still struck out five and held Fort Wayne hitless over his three innings of work. Kellen Rholl closed things out with a walk and a strikeout in one inning.
On a team with a trio of highly-touted international prospects, it was 2019 eighth-round draft Will Brennan who led the way with two hits on the night. Joe Naranjo hit the Captains’ only homer of the night, while George Valera, Brayan Rocchio, and Jose Tena each had a hit.
George Valera also just doesn’t seem to stop on the bases. First, after drawing a walk in the fourth inning, he tried to steal second when Aaron Bracho swung with a full count. Bracho struck out and Valera was thrown out. After he hit a single in the seventh inning, Valera stole second, then third, and eventually scored on a Jose Tena single. Talk about a motor.
There was no video from Lake County, but Indians Baseball Insider was there and caught Joe Naranjo’s home run in the third inning.
Lynchburg Hillcats 10, Salem Red Sox 1
Box Score · Hillcats improve to 7-0
The Lynchburg Hillcats had 16 hits in their series-opening win over the Salem Red Sox, but they only two of them to remain undefeated on the season.
Designated hitter Andres Melendez and left fielder Micah Pries each had three hits on the day, and center fielder Julian Escobedo had the team’s only walk (in addition to his two hits). The Hillcats played more like the Royals circa 2015 than their parent club. They didn’t hit a single home run on the night but had seven doubles and a triple as hits dropped all over the field.
First baseman Jhonkensy Noel continued his torrid start to the season with two singles. He’s registered at least two hits in all but one game this season (he only hit one on Saturday), and currently sports a 1.304 OPS.
Like the rest of the farm system, the story of the day here was pitching. Xzavion Curry made his second start of the season, holding Salem scoreless over five innings of work. He has yet to allow a run this season and has 12 strikeouts in nine innings. Eric Mock finished off the game with four innings, including the fateful bottom-of-the-ninth solo homer.
I also saw Julian Escobedo make a diving catch in center field, but no one seemed to post a Twitter video of it and now I can’t find it. You’ll just have to take my word for it — it was a really good catch.