Image: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks
Steven Kwan (LF, Cleveland): 2-3, BB – We’ll keep tabs on the prospects in the majors here, too. And especially because Steven Kwan is the talk of the town in Cleveland baseball right now. He was moved up to the two spot in the order, where I thought he would be by the end of the season (apparently the season moved VERY fast), and nothing changed. He drew a walk in his first at bat and then later singled and doubled. He’s reached base five times in two games so far. He also added a nifty catch in left field.
RHP Daniel Espino (SP, Akron): 4IP, 3H, 2ER, (2 HR), 9K – All three hits Espino allowed were extra base hits, including two homers, but he didn’t walk anyone and he struck out nine in four innings. He didn’t walk a batter in his final two outings in 2021, either, so he’s certainly still holding on to some new found control. His fastball was overpowering, getting strikeouts seven of the nine times with it. He had the power slider working as well.
RHP Xzavion Curry (Piggyback SP, Akron): 4.1IP, 4H, BB, 7K – Speaking of picking up where they left off, Curry followed Espino with just as impressive a performance of his own. His big curveball was on early as was the ride on his fastball. Curry is talented and dominant in his own right.
RHP Gavin Williams (SP, Lake County): 4IP, 2BB, 8K – Just your standard four no hit innings for Williams in his pro debut. No big deal. His fastball was also overpowering and his big curveball was devastating. He actually showed more of an impressive pitch mix in his outing than Espino. It’s very easy to dream on Williams and Espino being something of a 1-2 combo in the Guardians rotation in the next few years. There’s a lot of arms in Akron, so it could be tough to find room, but wouldn’t be shocking if he’s in Akron sometime this summer.
Johnathan Rodriguez (RF, Lake County): 3-3, 2 3B, RBI – Some defense aided Rodriguez’s two triples, but he had three hits, all hit well the other way. It was a good performance by him. Hopefully his swing looks good out of the gate in 2022.
Milan Tolentino (3B, Lynchburg): 3-5, 2 2B, R – An impressive 2022 debut for Tolentino, who looked like he was starting to settle in at the plate at the end of 2021.
Petey Halpin (CF, Lake County): 3-8, 2 SB – He started in center both games and hit leadoff and second. Halpin stole a base in both games of the double-heater and collected two of the three hits in the nightcap.
Josh Naylor (DH, Columbus): 0-3 – Naylor played in his third consecutive game during his rehab for Columbus but went 0-for in this one. Cleveland said he might only need about six games or so to come back. So he’s halfway there.
Best of the rest
Brayan Rocchio (SS, Akron): 2-3, 3B, RBI – In addition to his triple, Rocchio also drove in a run with a sac fly in the win. He finished all nine innings in this one.
Will Brennan (RF, Akron): 2-4, BB, R – Brennan had a tough first two nights but picked it up as the leadoff hitter in this one by getting on base three times.
Zac Fascia (DH, Lake County): 1-2, 2 RBI – One of the Captains catchers and Cleveland’s 2021 UFDA, Fascia, plated two runs in the Captains 3-0 win with an RBI single and later a sac fly.
Gabriel Rodriguez (3B, Lake County): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI – It was good to see Rodrguez go the other way with a pitch, even if it was almost on the ground. But it knocked in two runs by doing it. It was a good piece of hitting that he really needed.
LHP Doug Nikhazy (SP, Lake County): 3IP, 2H, 3B, 6K – Nikhazy wasn’t quite as sharp/overpowering as Williams, but he still didn’t allow a run. Fastball command was his issue at points but it worked well at the top of the zone and he flipped in that nice curve when he needed it, too. A solid debut #DougDay
Jorge Burgos (RF, Lynchburg): 2-5, RBI, R – In a crazy, suspended game finish, Burgos had a solid two hit day driving in one of the runs in a loss.
Jake Fox (2B, Lynchburg): 1-4, 2 RBI, BB, R – Fox got on base three times in his affiliate debut and stole a base.
Dayan Frias (SS, Lynchburg): 1-2, 2B, BB, R – It wasn’t a big day for Frias, but reaching base twice in your debut, stealing a bag and scoring a run is a nice way to make an impact regardless.
Carson Tucker (DH, Lynchburg): 0-2, 2B – Tucker was able to work two walks but also fanned twice.
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