I got a look at the loaded Mahoning Valley Scrappers team, the NYPL affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, as they came through Auburn, NY during the early part of the season. Currently, the Scrappers lead the Pinckney Division by 2.5 games over Auburn, and are tied for the second best record overall in the NYPL with the Tri-City Valley Cats (Houston), and are one game behind the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay). This team pounds the strike zone from the mound, and swings the bats aggressively at the dish.
Freeman may be on his way to earning league MVP honors, as the 2017 2nd Round Pick has put up a tremendous season for the Scrappers. Through the team’s first 63 G, the NYPL All-Star has hit .380/.428/.561, where his batting average is currently a ridiculous 70 points ahead of anyone else. Freeman also leads the league in Runs (45), Hits (90), Doubles (29), and Total Bases (133). Freeman recently set a Scrappers club record for Doubles in a season and tied a franchise record with a 21 game hit streak, both great accomplishments for the young middle infielder.
Freeman gets his bat on pretty much everything. He is an adept contact hitter with a line drive swing, gaining more thump from a big stride. Freeman’s speed was faster than expected seeing him live. He runs out everything with good hustle. He has also been successful on 12/15 SB this season. Freeman was a DH the night I saw the Scrappers play so there was no defense to capture in my look. We will see how the excellent Hit tool plays in the more advanced levels of the minors, because Freeman has only 8 BB this season (3% BB Rate) but still has a low 8% K Rate. Though I didn’t see him field that night, Freeman has been billed as a future second basemen, which is less of a reflection of his skills and more as a testament to the incumbent MLB defensive wizard at shortstop, 24 year old Francisco Lindor. Recently turned 19, they young Freeman will add some mass as he approaches his early 20’s, but the frame will always play as a lean middle infielder. Overall, I cleared my schedule to see Freeman play, and he did not disappoint. I was glad to get this footage of this 8th inning double, which he would come around to score on a Richie Palacios double.
The Scrappers starting pitcher that night, Alex Royalty, was the 8th round selection of the Indians in the 2018 draft. Royalty looks like a good arm, he pitched three innings and allowed 2 R, 0 ER, with 3 K. Royalty allowed some early contact and a defensive mishap allowed the unearned runs to score in the first inning, but Royalty bounced back nicely with two scoreless frames afterwards. The fastball and curveball were working well for Royalty that night, and he competed well and battled through some adversity. Here is a look at Royalty striking out Auburn’s Jamori Blash.
Reeves, a NYPL All-Star this season, was among the league leaders in many hitting categories before his recent promotion to A level Lake County. Primarily a 1B, Reeves has a compact swing that yielded a low 16.8% K rate during his 60 games for the Scrappers. Reeves put together a .274/.349/.384 performance during his time in the NYPL, swatting 4 HR, and compiling 12 2B’s and 4/5 SB. Here is a Reeves single, demonstrating his line drive ability at the dish.
Palacios looks like a hitting machine. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Palacios has spanned three levels this season, currently playing in Lake County. During his short stint in the NYPL of 20 G, he obliterated opposing pitchers to the tune of .411/.477/.589. Overall on the season, Palacios has hit .361/.421/.538, with 6 HR, 19 BB: 27 K, and 7/8 SB. I didn’t catch it on film, but the lefty Palacios ripped a majestic 2B off the right-centerfield wall to score Freeman in the 8th inning against Auburn batting out of the 3 spot in the lineup. It looks like the talented Palacios will be battling Freeman for the organization’s future second base job over the next few years.
Pujols hit an absolute bomb over the left-center scoreboard in the 3rd inning on a fastball, only to look overmatched by off-speed offerings in his subsequent AB’s. Pujols will need to make some adjustments on his current 36% K rate and 4% BB rate to take advantage of his significant raw power in games and at higher levels.
The 6’4″ lefty, the Indians 4th Round Pick this past summer, has also ascended three levels this season and is currently a member of the Lake County squad. Scott looks like an innings horse with his big build, which will play well at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen. Scott has had a dominant beginning to his professional career: in 30 IP, Scott has a 2.10 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 43 K: 4 BB. Scott attacks the zone and can give up some flyball contact. Given his age (23) and fast movement through the system, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Scott might even debut by mid 2019 for the Tribe.
The solidly built Nelson, hailing from Texas, has put together a very solid All-Star campaign for the Scrappers. Nelson’s 8 HR are good for third overall in the NYPL. The lefty swinger also ranks in the league’s top 10 in RBI, and there is some swing and miss to his profile as he is 5th overall in K’s with 70. While speed is not a huge part of Nelson’s game this year, he has been successful on 23/25 SB attempts in his three year professional career. Nelson had a scorching month of July, slashing .340/.376/.553, while playing a big role in the middle of the Scrappers lineup. Nelson’s strength should play well as he continues to develop in the Indians system.
Ben covers the New York Penn League and New York Mets minor league baseball for Prospects1500. Ben is a Massachusetts native and Red Sox fan now living in Upstate New York, a haven for taking in Short Season A Ball, AA, and AAA games. Ben has played fantasy baseball for over 15 years and is involved in multiple dynasty leagues, including Scott Greene's Diamond Duos 4. Ben broke into baseball writing with the great support of Mark Nikolov as a team writer at realmccoyminors.com, and has also contributed to notesfromthesally.com. Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for player video and dynasty baseball content.