Image: TCP Photograph/Courtesy Lake County Captains
Coming off a split series with a tough Fort Wayne club on the road, Lake County returned home to face the West Michigan Whitecaps, though the task for pitching got a little easier with Detroit choosing to promote top prospects from their 2020 draft class, C Dillon Dingler and 3B Spencer Torkelson, to Erie to start the week. But in the 5-1 series win, they still needed some poor defense from West Michigan to squeak out a weird win. In three of Lake County’s five wins this week they came back late to win the game.
Lake County got good pitching most of the series, some nights from the bullpen, some nights starters, and some nights both, as well as timely hitting. Rain threw them off their schedules on both Friday and Saturday, as the team didn’t get to prepare for a normal game Friday with the tarp being on all day, and Saturday, the game not being played until 9:30 at night due to rain.
Prospects learned something new about preparation under different circumstances in more ways than one this week.
Day by day
6/15: W 3-2 vs. West Michigan – W: Wisely (1-0); L: Hess (0-2)
6/16: W 4-2 vs. West Michigan – W: Ocker (2-0); L: Jaiver (0-1); S: Kelly (4)
6/17: W 6-3 vs. West Michigan – W: Janczak (3-0); L: Tassin (0-3); S: Enright (3)
6/18: W 9-4 vs. West Michigan – W: Coulter (3-3); L: Shepherd (4-1); L: Wisely (1)
6/19: L 9-2 vs. West Michigan – W: Brieske (3-2); L: Mock (0-2)
6/20: W 3-0 vs. West Michigan – W: Hickman (3-2): L: Montero (2-5); S: Ocker (1)
6/22: L 9-1 at Great Lakes – W: Jimenez (2-0); L: Gaddis (2-3)
Player of the Week
INF Brayan Rocchio: 8-23, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 4K/BB
Rocchio’s overall line might not show it, but he’s showing gains in the power department and had a hit in five of the six games he played this week and raised his slugging percentage from .405 to .440 in the process.
OF George Valera: 7-23 (.304), HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 3K/1BB, CS
Valera has done nothing but hit since he returned from his oblique injury this month. He has an OPS over 1.000 in June, with two homers and a double. He’s only playing every other game for right now, but he’s staying on the field and hitting, and he’s not striking out. Cutting down on strikeouts was important for Valera to begin with. But being able to do it right after missing a month with an injury is not easy for anyone, so this is a big step. Valera mentioned he was working on some things while he was hurt, mostly mentally and his approach. That he was able to put it into the game right away and show results is most impressive. Valera this week swung at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and fouled it off, and then hit an 0-2 changeup for his homer. He is a confident guy in any at bat and is fun, plays with passion and likes to get his teammates fired up. He did that by turning and yelling to his teammates in the dugout after his homer this week. Smart, fiery, bi-lingual and a hard worker, Valera has a lot of intangibles and now we’re seeing the talent translate into games.
RHSP Mason Hickman: 6IP, 4H 9K
This was by far the best start of Hickman’s young career in the Cleveland system. Six innings and nine strikeouts were a career high as well. He was able to throw his fastball up in the zone for strikes and keep hitters guessing by continuing to pitch backwards by using his fastball in two-strike counts. His breaking ball is continually hard to hitters to do much with because it is big and slow and comes from the same release point as the curveball over the top. He also mixed in his slider and has been adding a changeup to his arsenal in games as well.
RHSP Hunter Gaddis 2 GS – 8.2 IP, 8ER, 14H, 17K, 0BB
It’s hard to say this was a BAD week for Gaddis. In one start, he allowed just a run in five innings. He hasn’t walked anyone, so his control has been fine. He’s missing bats every game at a great rate thanks to his changeup and his slider has been impressive. He has started to rely on his curveball quite a bit lately and at times, because it his very big and slow, 69-72, it stays up and becomes hittable. Hickman throws his curveball at the same speed, but there may be something in the way of Gaddis’ release point and probably the command of his curveball that is causing him issues. In his bad start on Tuesday of this week, he had trouble locating his fastball on the corners but it was the fastball and curveball as to what got him hit around between missing bats with the changeup and slider.
INF Aaron Bracho: 5-21, 2 2B, RBI, 4K/2BB
Bracho was probably just a few balls going his way from having a better week, but to note that he is one of the young hitters here having a hard time finding consistency. He’ll have games where he has a hit or two and then goes two games or so without collecting a hit. Nothing to worry about other than hoping he finds some consistency soon.
6/23-6/27 AT Great Lakes
6/29-7/4 HOME vs. South Bend
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