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Xzavion Curry strikes out 11 in dominant start for Lynchburg

Cleveland minor league recap for May 19, 2021

There have been a lot of compelling storylines in the first month of minor-league baseball, but for my money, Xzavion Curry is one of the best. Curry hadn’t had a chance to pitch a professional game since being drafted 220th overall in the 2019 draft, but his first three in Lynchburg have been nothing short of spectacular.

He entered play last night with nine innings under his belt, with two hits allowed zero earned runs, and 12 strikeouts. He would improve upon all those numbers against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Columbus Clippers 6, Toledo Mud Hens 1

Box Score · Clippers improve to 7-5

This would have been Jean Carlos Mejía’s third start of the season, but he received the call to the show and will be joining Cleveland in Los Angeles for the time being.

In his place, Columbus went with a bullpen game led by Anthony Gose, who threw 1.1 innings and walked three without a strikeout. He walked the first batter of the game and induced a double play before giving up a solo homer, Toledo’s only run of the game. Gose walked two more in the second inning before being pulled.

Four other relievers, including Matt Koch’s 3.2 innings, held the Toledo lineup to scoreless over the final 7.2 innings. Kyle Nelson closed out the game by striking out two of the four batters he faced.

Owen Miller, whose time in Columbus may be winding down, had another multi-hit game and lowered his batting average to a mere .479. He’s currently riding a five-game hitting streak and has more multi-hit games (9) than games where he’s gone hitless (2).

Everyone in the Columbus lineup got a hit besides Oscar Mercado, who went 0-for-5 with a strikeout from the leadoff spot. He’s batting .130 on the season with a .433 OPS. That’d be the worst OPS in today’s lineup if it wasn’t for Nolan Jones’ .384.

Veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway added his fifth home run of the season, with a three-run shot in the sixth that put the game out of reach.

Akron RubberDucks 3, Reading Fightin’ Phils 1

Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 8-4

Sometimes it’s not the number of hits you have, but when you have them. That was the case for the Akron RubberDucks in their 3-1 win over the Reading Fightin’ Phils last night.

Despite being outhit, 7-4, Akron pulled off the win thanks to clutch hitting from catcher Bo Naylor and outfielder Alex Call in the sixth inning. Naylor singed home Andruw Monasterio and Tyler Freeman, and two batters later Call brought home Richard Palacios with a two-out single of his own.

The Phils, meanwhile, were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

On the mound, Juan Hillman pitched six innings, allowing one earned run off of four hits. He struck out three and walk three en route to his victory of the season. Nick Mikolajchak got the save, his first of the season. So far this year he’s pitched 7.1 innings and struck out 12 batters without allowing a run.

It was a nice bounceback game for Hillman, who allowed four runs in 4.1 innings of work against the Erie SeaWolves last week.

Lake County Captains 10, Great Lakes Loons 6

Box Score · Captains improve to 9-4

Yeah yeah, Captains win, baseball fun. But right now I’m a little more concerned with the fact that outfielder George Valera hasn’t played in five straight games after being taken out in the middle of one last week. Not many updates on it, but something to keep an eye on.

The Captains, finally playing a team with an MiLB TV broadcast, came out with 10 runs against the Great Lakes Loons. The Valera-less offense was led by Brayan Rocchio and Jonathan Engelmann’s two hits apiece. Everyone except Raynel Delgado registered at least one hit, and outfielder Will Brennan went 1-for-2 with three walks.

Hunter Gaddis continues to put his awful debut behind him, and last night he did it with three innings, and one earned run off of four hits.

Eleven of the 16 runs scored last night came in the fifth inning — seven from the Captains, four from the Loons. Lake County drew five walks in the inning and Michael Amiditis cleared the bases with a double. That set up the Captains to fend off the response runs in the bottom of the frame and ultimately earn the win.

Lynchburg Hillcats 2, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 0

Box Score · Hillcats improve to 10-3

The Lynchburg Hillcats rotation is full of big-name prospects, but an unheralded seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech has been the best of them so far. Xzavion Curry has exactly three professional games under his belt, and he has yet to allow a run in any of them. He had his best performance of the year last night, carrying a no-hitter through six innings and striking out 11 over 6.1 innings of work.

Of course, striking out 11 batters and not allowing a hit through six innings is pretty good a sign of dominance, but he also just looked dominant out there. A man among boys, if you will. These poor Low-A batters — just doing their best, trying to make a living — could not keep up with his high heater to save their lives. It was like watching a three-time Cy Young winner on a rehab start. I don’t know what the future holds for Curry, but the present is pretty bright and I don’t think it’ll be long before he puts on a Lake County Captains uniform.

Here is a GIF of a man whose spirit has been broken.

The Hillcats didn’t get much offense last night, but they also didn’t need it. The hit Curry gave up in the seventh inning was the only one of the game for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Lynchburg managed just three of their own (two from first baseman Will Bartlett), but it was enough to scratch across two runs and take home a narrow victory.