Earlier in June when Lynchburg Hillcats hosted the Salem Red Sox, the Hillcats dropped four of six of the contests. Fast forward to the end of the month, the two teams are still in the middle of the standings together with the Hillcats trailing Salem by 3.5 games thanks to splitting the series in Salem 3-3. However, the Hillcats series with the Delmarva Shorebirds is off to an ugly start in the middle of this week. The three wins the Hillcats picked up in Salem, they got stout pitching from less than likely sources Jordan Jones, Juan Zapata, and a good outing from Daniel Espino. In his second start during this week’s correspondence, Espino did set a career high in strikeouts with 13 but also allowed six runs in 5.1 innings.

This week, the Hillcats also got a possible OF reinforcement in 2020 draft pick Petey Halpin, who went 0-3 with a steal in his first appearance of the 2021 season at an affiliate. 

Micah Pries, who had done nothing but hit since the start of the season, was sidelined for a bit with a hamstring injury, hasn’t played since June 22nd. Jhonkensey Noel continues to be sidelined with an ankle injury since June 5 as well.

Day by day

6/24 5-2 W at Salem
6/25 1-0 W at Salem
6/26 6-0 L at Salem
6/27 11-10 L at Salem
6/29 13-2 L vs Delmarva
6/30 8-6 L vs Delmarva (Game 1)
L 3-0 vs. Delmarva (Game 2)

Player of the week

INF Angel Martinez 10-21, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI 

Martinez continues to be the offensive dynamo for the Hillcats offense, win or lose. He’s still one of the youngest players in minor league baseball and he continues to just hit. There’s no room for him up in Lake County to play but there’s no doubt he’s on the map now with his .913 OPS tearing through Low-A pitching. Strikeouts are still something to watch but he’s a legitimate switching hitting force that is firmly on the radar right now.

Who’s hot

SP Jordan Jones – 5.2 IP, 5H, BB, 6K 

Jones turned in the best start of his career this week without a doubt in the Hillcats 1-0 win at Salem, which they desperately needed.

SP Daniel Espino – 5.1IP, 5H, 6ER, 2BB, 13K

It’s hard to say where to put this start for Espino. He stuck out a career high 13 in his game 1 of the double header start vs. Delmarva on June 30. But he allowed a career high six runs. So he’s not hot, but he’s not, not hot? I think? 13 strikeouts with 88 pitches is pretty darn dominant. It was just one of those starts where he struck out everyone who didn’t reach base against him. 

Baseball in 2021?

Who’s not?

OF Alexfri Planez 6-24 HR, RBI

This was still a solid week for Planez considering where he started the year. Hitting his OPS near .700 has been a big accomplishment the way he has struggled in full season ball for the first time. But this is more to show that Planez might be a little streaky early in his career and he’s starting to cool off some after getting hot to raise his average and OPS with a big few weeks in June. In July I’d think he’ll spend a week in the Who’s Hot section once again.

OF Hosea Nelson

Here’s to hoping that Nelson catches on with another organization. He was Clevland’s 9th round pick in 2016 out of Clarendon College in Texas. This week, Cleveland released Nelson with the arrival of Petey Haltpin in Lynchburg. Nelson had a lot of power and some speed, but never could keep the strikeouts down. Nelson is still just 24 and never did get above Low-A, but maybe he’ll find a team in affiliated ball or independent ball that will let him work on his approach and work his way back into the minors for a second chance.

Up next

7/1-7/4 HOME Vs. Delmarva at 6:30

7/6-7/11 AT Carolina 

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