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April recap The Lynchburg Hillcats rounded out the first month of the 2018 season with a 12-11 record through 23 games. In those 23 games, 16 of them were played at home at City Stadium. Lynchburg tallied a home record of 8-8 and went 4-3 on the road in April. The first month of the year contained three rainouts, two double-headers and two extra-inning games. The 2018 campaign began with a rematch of last year’s co-champions in the Carolina League, between the Hillcats and the Down East Wood Ducks. Each team won two games in the four-game series.

Lynchburg did not win back-to-back games until April 16-17, when they ended up winning three straight to sweep the Frederick Keys. They won 8 of 10 games from April 16-26. As a team, the Hillcats’ batting average of .229 in April, good for seventh in the league. On April 16, the Hillcats were hitting just .188 as a team, and raised their batting average 41 points over their last 13 games of the month.

From a pitching perspective, the Hillcats boosted a 3.73 ERA in April, which was fourth-best in the league. Lynchburg starting pitchers had a seven-game stretch in which they pitched 43 innings and allowed just three earned runs (0.63 ERA). In each of those games, the ‘Cats starter went at least five innings and allowed one earned run or fewer. Outfielder Conner Capel led the club with a .325 batting average in April. The

left-handed hitter also was tops on the team in hits (27) RBI (13) doubles (7) OBP (.394), and stolen bases (9). Capel had an 11-game hitting streak from 4/14-4/27. Another outfielder, Mitch Longo, finished the month with a team-best 13-game hitting streak, in which he hit .327. Longo reached base in all 19 games he played in last month. He hit .288 overall, but batted .328 since being inserted into the leadoff spot in the order. Hillcats starter Justin Garza won back- to-back Carolina League Pitcher of the Week awards for the first two weeks of the season. The right-hander did not allow an earned run through his first 18.1 innings of the year. The weekly awards were the first Garza has earned in his career, after missing a majority of the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Left-hander Sam Hentges earned the Opening Day start for the Hillcats, and went 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA through five starts in April. The former fourth round pick had a dominant 10 strikeout performance against the Frederick Keys on April 17, when he tossed six scoreless innings.

Relief pitcher Ben Krauth had a domi- nant April, striking out 23 batters in 12.1 innings pitched. The lefty had a 0.73 ERA and had the second most strikeouts in the league for a pitcher who had not started a game. Hitters batted just .053 against him in April, the lowest mark in the league. He also ranked first in the league in highest strikeout/9 IP ratio (16.87), and second in fewest baserunners/9 IP ratio (5.06). Krauth, as well as reliever Henry Marti- nez and infielder Alexis Pantoja, were- members of the Hillcats Opening Day Roster who were already promoted to Double-A Akron this season. Krauth was transferred back to Lynchburg af- ter one Double-A appearance, in which he tossed two scoreless innings. As of the end of April, Martinez and Pantoja are still playing in Akron. In May, the Hillcats have just one off day, playing 30 games in 31 days. Lynchburg will play host in 12 of those games, with 18 road contests sched- uled after a home-heavy April. The Hill- cats will face Salem, Myrtle Beach and Carolina for the first time this season after not seeing them in the first month of the year.

Hillcats 2018 Roster

LastUpdated:April27,2018 NUMERICAL ROSTER






Ht. 6’1

Wt. 180 170 245 170 180 185 195 210 200 190 190 180 200




Birthplace Rowlett,TX Glendora, CA


1 4 7 8 9

Conner Capel

11 36 23 41 22 34 31 25 30 32 45 44 29

Justin Garcia Justin Garza Sam Hentges Luis Jimenez

38th Rd. - 2013 8th Rd. - 2015 4th Rd.- 2014 Intl FA - 2013 16th Rd. - 2016 3rd Rd. - 2012 8th Rd. - 2014 MiLB FA - 2018 12th Rd. - 2016 Intl FA - 2011 Intl FA - 2014 10th Rd. - 2015 26th Rd. - 2016

9/16/92 3/20/94 7/18/96 1/2/95 3/10/94 7/28/94 4/12/96 2/17/92 1/21/95 9/6/92 7/19/95 8/10/92 11/30/94

25 24 21 22 24 23 22 26 23 25 22 25 23


Erlin Cerda Jodd Carter Gavin Collins



6’6 6’4 6’0 6’4 6’7 6’7 6’2 6’3 6’2 6’0 6’0

Maplewood, MN


Yaguate, D.R. Concord, CA


Dillon Persinger

Ben Krauth


10 11 12 13 15 20 22 23 25 27 28 29 30 31 32 34 36 40 41 44 45

Mitch Longo Justin Garcia

Kieran Lovegrove

Johannesburg, South Africa


Micah Miniard Jake Paulson

Danville, KY Wixom, MI


LukeWakamatsu Trenton Brooks


Zach Plesac

Crown Point, IN


Jose Medina Logan Ice Ben Krauth Sam Hentges Jake Paulson

Anderson Polanco

Santo Domingo, D.R.


Dalbert Siri Billy Strode TannerTully

Moca, D.R.


Boca Raton, FL



Elkhart, IN

Li-Jen Chu



EmmanuelTapia TannerTully Zach Plesac Micah Miniard Anderson Polanco Kieran Lovegrove





Wt. 200 180






27 20

Li-Jen Chu Logan Ice

5’11 5’10

Intl. FA - 2012

3/13/94 5/27/95

24 22







Justin Garza




Ht. 5’9

Wt. 170 190 240 180 215 185 Wt. 180 185 175 185 185






Anthony Miller Luis Jimenez

4 8

Erlin Cerda Gavin Collins Anthony Miller Dillon Persinger EmmanuelTapia LukeWakamatsu

Intl. FA - 2012 13th Rd. - 2016 18th Rd. - 2015 18th Rd. - 2017 Intl. FA - 2013 20th Rd. - 2015

5/5/94 7/17/95 10/4/94 1/31/96 2/26/96 10/10/96

23 22 23 22 22 21

Santiago, D.R.



Newport Beach, CA Kansas City, MO FountainView, CA

Billy Strode Dalbert Siri






28 12

6’3 6’3

Santo Domingo Centro, D.R.


Phoenix, AZ






Ht. 6’0 6’1




Birthplace Alpine, CA



JustinToole Tony Arnold Rougie Odor


Trenton Brooks* Conner Capel

17th Rd. - 2016 5th Rd. - 2016 24th Rd. - 2014 14th Rd. - 2016 Intl. FA - 2013

7/3/95 5/19/97 7/20/96 1/12/95 2/14/95

22 20 21 23 23


17 24 33

1 7

Katy,TX Hilo, HI


Jodd Carter Mitch Longo Jose Medina



Grant Fink

10 15

6’0 6’1

May eld, OH


Santiago, D.R. COL/LYN/LC


* -DisabledList *** - Indians40-man roster % - Inactiveplayer # -MLB rehab ^ -RestrictedList



24 17

Rougie Odor Tony Arnold JustinToole Grant Fink Bobby Ruiz Eric Ortego


Pitching Coach Hitting Coach Bench Coach AthleticTrainer



Strength & Conditioning Coach






4/27 -RHP JustinGarciapromoted toA-Adv.Lynchburg fromShort- SeasonMahoningValley 4/27 -RHPHenryMartinezpromoted toDouble-AAkron fromA- Adv.Lynchburg 4/25 -1BAnthonyMiller reinstated from7-dayDL 4/23 -LHPBenKrauth transferred fromDouble-AAkron toA-Adv. Lynchburg 4/22 -OFTrentonBrooksplacedon7-dayDL (Loblique tightness) 4/18 -OF JoseMedinapromoted fromSingle-ALakeCounty toA- Adv.Lynchburg


Conner Capel


13 15 23 34



Alexis Pantoja Sam Hentges



Kieran Lovegrove


THe Team

Alexis Pantoia Infielder

Anderson Polanco Pitcher

Ben Krauth Pitcher

Anthony Miller Infielder

Billy Strode Pitcher

Gavin Collins Infielder

Connor Capel Outfielder

Dalbert Siri Pitcher

Emmanuel Tapia Infielder

Erlin cerda Infielder

Logan Ice Catcher

Luis Jimenez Pitcher

Henry Martinez Pitcher

Li-Jen Chu Catcher

Luke Wakamatsu Infielder

Mitch Longo Outfielder

Jake Paulson Pitcher

Micah Miniar Pitcher

Jiminez Director of Fun

Jodd Carter Outfielder

Justin Garza Pitcher

Kieran Lovegrove Pitcher

Sam Hentges Pitcher

Tanner Tully Pitcher

Trenton Brooks Outfielder

Zach Plesac Pitcher

Community Impact

Donated $55k+ to local youth league teams and non-profit organizations

Donated 12,000 books designed by the Lynchburg Hillcats and 24,000 tickets to students in Central Virginia.

32 Player appearances to local schools and organizations.

75 Southpaw community appearances.

Presented “Southpaw Goes to School” Reading Program to 50 different schools across 5 counties.

Hosted 8 middle schools and over 800 students for “Say No to Drugs Day at the Ballpark.”

$179k+ in in-kind gifts donated to community organizations.




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1. FRANCISCO MEJIJA, C BORN: Oct. 27, 1995. B-T: B-R. HT.: 5-10. WT.: 175. SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2012. SIGNEDBY: Ramon Pena. TRACKRECORD: Mejia’s precocious talent has been apparent since the Indians signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 and sent him to make his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League the following season. He had an eventful path through the minors that included a historic hitting streak and nearly being included in a blockbuster trade before making his major league debut in September 2017 as a 21-year-old. Mejia broke out in 2016 and authored a 50-game hitting streak at two Class A levels that is the longest in the modern era of the minor leagues (dating back to 1963). He kept hitting in 2017 as he advanced to Double-A Akron. He finished the year in the Arizona Fall League, where he was one of the cir- cuit’s leading hitters. SCOUTINGREPORT: Mejia has long been known for his hitting ability, and the switch-hitter consistently makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. He has matured as a hitter to use the whole field to hit, instead of relying on the pull-oriented approach he had when he was younger. His bat speed gives him more raw power than his lean 5-foot-10 frame would suggest, but he more typically drives balls into the gaps than over the fence. He has an aggressive

† ProjectedFutureGradesOn20-80ScoutingScale HIT: 60. POWER: 45. SPEED: 40. FIELD: 50. ARM: 80.

approach and doesn’t walk much, but his excellent feel for the barrel means he also doesn’t strike out much and is comfortable working behind in the count. Mejia has made strides defensively, has elite arm strength and has become a good receiver. He has gotten comfortable speaking English, a key skill for him to work with his pitchers, and has developed more consistency behind the plate. For all his progress defensively, however, Mejia’s bat remains ahead of his glove. Because his bat isn’t far off from being ready for the big leagues, and because the Indians haveYan Gomes and Roberto Perez, a pair of excellent defensive catchers, in Cleveland, Mejia went to the AFL to get experience at third base. He is naturally still learning the position but he will continue to see action at the hot corner in 2018. THEFUTURE: Mejia will open 2018 atTriple-A Columbus, and if he continues to hit the way he has throughout his career, he will find his way into the big league lineup during the summer. His long-term future remains behind the plate, but his added defensive versa- tility will help him as he breaks into the majors. 2017Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Akron (AA) .297 .346 .490 347 52 103 21 2 14 52 24 53 7 Cleveland (MLB) .154 .214 .154 13 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 3 0

2. TRISTON M c KENZIE, RHP BORN: Aug. 2, 1997. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 165. DRAFTED: HS—Royal Palm Beach, Fla., 2015 (1st round supple- mental). SIGNEDBY: Juan Alvarez. TRACKRECORD: McKenzie contin- ued to build on his track record of success in 2017 and ranked second in the minors with 186 strikeouts. He

3. BOBBY BRADLEY, 1B BORN: May 29, 1996. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 225. DRAFTED: HS—Gulfport, Miss., 2014 (3rd round). SIGNEDBY: Mike Bradford. TRACKRECORD: Bradley has been one of the most productive players in the Indians’ farm system since they drafted him. He won the

4. NOLAN JONES, 3B BORN: May 7, 1998. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 195. DRAFTED: HS—Bensalem, Pa., 2016 (2nd round). SIGNEDBY: Mike Kanen. TRACKRECORD: Jones was regard- ed as one of the best prep hitters in the 2016 draft class, but he slipped to the second round, where the

presents the same challenge to evaluators today that he did as an amateur: His track record is unimpeachable and he has impressive stuff, but he is listed at a rail-thin 6-foot-5 and 165 pounds. SCOUTINGREPORT: McKenzie’s fastball can get up to 95 mph and averaged about 92 in 2017. He held that velocity throughout the season, and while it would dip during starts, he also showed the ability to reach back for more at the end of his outings. His fastball plays up and gets swings and misses thanks to the extension in his delivery and the high spin rate on the pitch. He also has a feel for spinning his curveball, which can be an out pitch. His changeup isn’t as advanced but has the poten- tial to be above-average. McKenzie needs to improve his routines and physique to allow him to manage a start- er’s workload. THEFUTURE: McKenzie is speeding toward the big leagues and has the upside to be a frontline starter. He will advance to Double-A Akron in 2018 for his first taste of the upper minors. 2017Club (Class) W L ERA G GS SV IP H HR BB SO AVG Lynchburg (HiA) 12 6 3.46 25 25 0 143 105 14 45 186 .203

Rookie-level Arizona League triple crown in 2014 by hitting .361 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs. He led the Midwest League with 27 home runs in 2015 and the Carolina League with 29 home runs in 2016. He fell short of making it four straight home run crowns, however, when he ranked sixth in the Eastern League with 23 homers at Double-A Akron in 2017. SCOUTINGREPORT: Bradley’s raw power is the best in the system, and he has shown he is adept at getting to it in games. He has a strong, physical frame and creates excellent bat speed that allows him to drive the ball out to all fields.That power comes with a lot of swing and miss, but he cut his strikeout rate in 2017 from 29 per- cent to a much more manageable 22 percent. Bradley is a well below-average runner with an average arm, limit- ing him to first base. THEFUTURE: Bradley will advance toTriple-A Columbus in 2018, where he could take advantage of Huntington Park’s hitter-friendly dimensions. He has the potential to become a middle-of-the-order hitter. 2017Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Akron (AA) .251 .331 .465 467 66 117 25 3 23 89 55 122 3

Indians were happy to take him at No. 55 overall. He got back to his elite hitting in 2017 at short-season Mahoning Valley, where he led the NewYork-Penn League with a .912 OPS as a 19-year-old. SCOUTINGREPORT: Jones has an easy lefthanded swing and uses the whole field to hit. He is a patient hitter who led the NYP in with 43 walks. He reduced his strike- out rate, but his patience means he works many deep counts and will always strike out a fair amount. He has proven to be an advanced hitter but also has above-av- erage raw power that he is still learning to get to consis- tently in games. As he physically matures, he projects to hit for plus power. Jones fits the third-base profile, but he still has work to do to ensure he can stick at the hot corner. He has plus arm strength but needs to improve his glove work and infield actions. If he moves, his ath- leticism and average speed will play in right field. THEFUTURE: Jones provides plenty of upside. He will get his first taste of full-season ball in 2018 when he opens the year at low Class A Lake County. 2017Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Mahon.Valley (SS) .317 .430 .482 218 41 69 18 3 4 33 43 60 1



January 12–26, 2018


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Promotional Schedule 2018

Lynchburg, Va. – The Lynchburg Hillcats, A-Advanced affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, unveiled their 2018 promotions schedule filled with exciting giveaways, entertain- ment, themed nights and fireworks to engage fans for the upcoming season. The jam-packed promotional schedule begins with Opening Day at Calvin Falwell Field on April 5. The game will feature a schedule magnet giveaway, as well as the first of 12 Thirsty Thursday’s during the 2018 season. A highlight of the Hillcats theme nights in 2018 will be four bobble- head giveaway nights. The Hillcats will be giving away the bobble- heads as part of the Bobblehead “Love” Series this season. When put together, the four bobbleheads create a Love Sign, making them a memorable collectable throughout the year. The annual Star Wars Night is on May 4, along with the Southpaw Bobblehead giveaway. Greatefully Dead Christmas Night is on May 19th, presented by My Guitar Shop and Speakertree Records, which in- cludes a pre-game cover band per- formance and post-game fireworks presented by Woodforest National Bank. Additionally, Lynchburg will wear Gratefully Dead Christmas-

themed jerseys that fans will have the opportunity to bid on during the game. June 22 is Jurassic at the Park Night, plus the Francisco Mejia Bobblehead giveaway. The Hillcats will also be giving away an Evan Gattis Bobblehead on You’re Killing Me Smalls Night on July 20. Mar- garitaville Night is coming to Calvin Falwell Field on August 10. Fans will enjoy a t-shirt giveaway as well as a pre-game cover band performance. August 17 features Mario Kart Night at the ballpark, and the Hillcats will be passing out a Triston McKenzie Bobblehead. The Hillcats will wear special jerseys that will be auctioned off for char- ity on two additional nights this season. April 28 is the Hillcats’ 10th annual Autism Awareness Night, and all of the proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit Growth Through Opportunity.. Breast Cancer Awareness Night is on June 8, with the jersey auction benefiting the Susan G. Komen foundation. Both nights will also feature a t-shirt giveaway in support of autism and breast cancer awareness. All of the player and coach’s jerseys will be bid on during the game and given to the winner following the game. The 2018 promotional schedule including giveaways, fireworks and daily value promotions is listed on the next few pages.

Giveaways (15)

April 5 & 6 – 2018 Hillcats Magnet Schedule – (1,000) courtesy of Nadine Blakely April 27 – Team Photo – (1,000) courtesy of Clarke Printing April 28 – T-shirt for Autism Awareness – (1,000) courtesy of Physicians Treatment Center of Lynchburg May 4 – Bobblehead – Southpaw – (1000) courtesy of Pepsi May 18 – Paint the Park Purple Night: T-shirt for American Cancer Society – (1,000) courtesy of Gastroenterology Associates of Central Virginia June 8 – T-Shirt for Breast Cancer Awareness – (1,000) courtesy of Centra June 15 – Sunglasses – (1,000) courtesy of HighPeak Sportswear June 22 – Bobblehead – Francisco Mejia – (1,000) courtesy of Pepsi July 6 – Patriotic Cap – (1,000) courtesy of Foster Fuels & KD Country July 20 – Bobblehead – Evan Gattis – (1000) courtesy of Pepsi July 21 – Used Car Giveaway – Courtesy of D’NX Motor Sales August 10 – Hawaiian T-shirt – (1,000) courtesy of HighPeak Sportswear August 17 – Bobblehead – Triston McKenzie – (1,000) courtesy of Pepsi

Fireworks (12) April 7 presented by Select Bank April 28th presented by Physicians Treatment Center May 5 presented by Assurance Financial May 19 presented by Woodforest National Bank June 9 presented by Central Virginia Federal Credit Union June 16 presented by The Leaf Creative Salads and La Carreta June 23 presented by Hillcats Baseball July 4 presented by Kroger and Westover Dairy July 7 presented by MemberOne Federal Credit Union July 21 presented by D’NX Motor Sales August 11 presented by Food Lion August 18 presented by Food Lion

2018 Daily Value Promos

2Fur Tuesday : Fans receive a $2 concessions deal that will be rotated each week throughout the season, as well as buy-one-get-one specials on tickets. Winning Wednesday : Any fan who attends the game will receive a free ticket to the following Wednesday’s home game, presented by WNRN. Thirsty Thursday : Fans will enjoy $2 beer specials on Miller Lite and Yuengling, presented by Blue Ridge Beverage. Fantastic Friday : The first 1,000 fans will receive a free giveaway. Sparkling Saturday : All fans will see a sparking post-game fireworks show. Sandlot Sunday : Kids Run the Bases and Family Catch in the Outfield post-game. Fans can also play whiffle ball in the outfield following the game, presented by MedExpress. For information about tickets for the 2018 season to watch the Hillcats defend their Carolina League Championship, fans can either call (434) 528-1144 or visit the Hillcats Box Office Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

hillcats ownership The Elmore Sports Group LTD.

David G. Elmore is one of the most respected owners in Minor League Baseball. He founded the Elmore Sports Group in 1969, a sports & entertainment organization com- prised of Minor League Baseball and hockey teams, as well as companies specializing in facility management, travel, concessions and special events. Dave is a member of the Pa- cific Coast League Board of Directors and currently serves on the league’s Executive Committee. D.G. Elmore , son of Dave Elmore, holds both legal and M.B.A. degrees. He is currently the chairman and owner of several different companies including Gant Travel Manage- ment and Cornerstone Information Systems. D.G. is on the Board of Directors for the non-pofit charity New Horizons Foundation and The Navigators, an international Christian organization.

Doug Elmore , son of Dave Elmore, is Managing Director of the Elmore Sports Group, Ltd and President & owner of the Diamond Concessions companies and Vail Service Stations, LLC. Elmore is also involved in real estate, having owned and developed hotels, industrial parks, condominiums and gas stations. Doug Elmore has a B.S. in Public Affairs from Indiana University and an MBA in Finance from Pepperdine University. Elmore and his wife, Julie, live in Chicago and have three grown children.

About Elmore Sports Group: For almost half a century, Elmore Sports Group has provided first-rate and affordable family entertainment, specializing in all things sports, including Minor League Baseball, the East Coast Hockey League, the Premier Develop- ment League, the National Premier Soccer League, and facility management, hospitality, special events & concessions. Elmore Sports Group invests in the community through premium events, outreach initiatives and monetary con- sideration. Elmore Sports Group also strongly believes community is the most important structure in society and it is their honor to contribute to strength- ening this fabric.

hillcats front office staff

Chris Jones President

Ronnie Roberts General Manager

Matt Klein Assistant General Manager

Kestrel Kerl Director of Promotions & Fan Engagement

Max Rettig Director of Sales

Ryan Henson Clubhouse Manager

Max Gun Broadcast & Media Relations Manager

Lincoln Evans Director of ticketing

Crystal Williamson Director of Finiance & Accounting

Mike Georgiadis Head Grounds- keeper

Jordan Speicher Concessions Manager

Collin Tyzinski Grounds Assistant

Matt Present Broadcast & Media Relations Assistant

SouthPaw Director of Fun


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2018 coaching staff

Manager: Rouglas Odor Odor, 49, is entering his 18 th year coaching in the Indians or- ganization and his first with the Hillcats. The former shortstop

Pitching Coach: Tony Arnold Arnold, 58, is back in Lynchburg after serving as the pitching coach for the Hillcats in 2015. The former right-handed pitcher played collegiately at the University of

played in the minor leagues for the Indians from 1988-1994 and for the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 1995. Although he has not managed since 2008, Odor brings a decade of skipper experience to Lynch- burg. He led San Felipe in the Venezuelan Summer League for two seasons from 1999-2000, the Burlington Indians for four seasons from 2001-2004, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers for two years from 2005- 2006 and the Gulf Coast League Indians for two campaigns from 2007-2008. The Maracaibo, Venezuela native spent the past three seasons as the hitting coach for the Colum- bus Clippers, Cleveland’s Triple-A affili- ate.

Texas and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 10 th round (258 th overall) in the 1981 MLB Draft. The El Paso, Texas native played in parts of two major league seasons with the Orioles in 1986 and 1987. He appeared in 38 total games in relief, ac- cumulating a 0-2 record with a 5.06 ERA in 78.1 innings pitched. Arnold has coached in the Indians organization since 1992 and most recently was pitching coach of the Akron RubberDucks, Cleveland’s Double-

A affiliate, for the past two seasons.

Hitting Coach: Justin Toole Toole, 31, is in his first year on Lynchburg’s coaching staff and third in the Indians orga- nization. The former infielder

Bench Coach: Grant Fink Fink, 27, joins the Hillcats as bench coach for the first time in 2018, now in his sec- ond season as a coach in the

played in parts of seven minor league seasons with Cleveland from 2009-2015, reaching Triple-A Columbus. The Council Bluffs, Iowa native worked as the hitting coach last year for Single-A Lake County.

Indians organization. The former infielder was drafted by Cleveland in the 23 rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Missouri Western State University. A native of St. Joseph, Mo., Fink played in parts of three minor league seasons for the Indians from 2013-2015, reaching Single-A Lake County. Fink was the bench coach last season for Rookie-Level Mahoning Valley.

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In 2017, the Hillcats partnered with local youth sports leagues in the area to provide community events and fundraisers that were both financially beneficial to the Little Leagues, and a fun night out at the ballpark for players, coaches, parents, and friends alike. Each league picked a Hillcats game to be their “League Night.” The leagues all pre-sold tickets to their selected league night game and received a kickback from each ticket they sold. Players and coaches also participated in an on-field pre-game parade, where each team was recognized over the public-address system. Top selling individuals in each league had the opportunity to throw out first pitches before the game and the top selling team for each league as a collective got to participate in a field of dreams ceremony. As part of the youth sports league fundraising night program, Southpaw and the Hill- cats went to numerous youth league opening and closing ceremonies to promote the league nights and to expand community outreach. Youth Sports Fundraisers HAVE GREAT SUC CESS The Hillcats look to expand this program in 2018, working with several new area programs, in addition to ones from last season including: - April 28 th : Nelson County Dixie Youth Night - May 4 th : Goode Recreation Association Night - May 5 th : Lynchburg Little League Night - May 18 th : Madison Heights Dixie Youth Night - June 16 th : Forest Youth Athletic Association Night

- May 20 th : Appomattox Dixie Youth Day - June 9 th : Timberlake Dixie Youth Night

You can contact your local league or the Hillcats ( to buy a special pre-sale only ticket to have a portion of the funds benefit your selected league. To sign up your league, please contact mrettig@lynchburg- for more information.

Meet southpaw

Southpaw was adopted as the team’s mascot from the Lynchburg Humane Society on January 9, 2017. The bright-colored cat with a big smile & youthful energy has already become a well-known entity with both kids and adults around Lynchburg. Sporting a backward cap and oversized sneakers, Southpaw has made numerous appearances at community and charity events in addition to visiting more than 40 local schools as part of the Hillcats "Hit The Books" reading program. Southpaw can be seen entertaining the crowd and distracting the opponent with his crazy antics.

Full Name: Southpaw Gender: Male Height: 5’10” Birthday: 8/24/2016 Resides: City Stadium

Adopted from the Lynchburg Humane Society on 1/9/17!

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Directions: 12 miles west of Lynchburg on Route 460. Left on New London Road, 1/2 Mile to Entrance. TEE TIMES REQUIRED, CALL 434-525-GOLF (4653)

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Johannesburg Roots, Tokyo Aspirations

Kieran Lovegrove’s quest to become an Olympian

Lynchburg, Va. – Kieran Lovegrove tries to picture it. “I really can’t even fathom the idea of sixty thousand or so in a stadium,” Lovegrove said, a Hillcats reliever for the second straight season. While it might be challenging for Lovegrove to picture the scene, the opportunity for him to pitch in the 2020 Sum- mer Games in Tokyo has become an increasingly real possibility. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1994, the first ball Lovegrove picked up was a cricket ball, and the first bat he swung was a paddle. However, when Lovegrove was five-years- old, the family relocated to Southern Cali- fornia, where his mother, Kelly, is from. At that point, it made sense to make the transition to baseball. Lovegrove fell in love with baseball in America and continued to excel at the game as he grew older. His father, Keith, who was born in South Africa and lived there for much of his adult life, would mention the possibility to eran as no more than a hypothetical, as baseball at the time had been removed from the list of Olympic completion. His dad has played an integral role in Lovegrove’s development. “He’s been my number one supporter since day one,” said Lovegrove. “He’s been there every step of the way.” While Kieran was growing up in Cali- fornia, Keith found a job that would al- Kieran of play- ing at the inter- national level. At the time, it seemed to Ki-

low him to work from home, so that he would be able to make it to all of his son’s games. That included road trips to Arizona and cross-country flights to tournaments in North Carolina. Lovegrove’s first exposure to baseball on an international stage came at the World Baseball Classic in 2009. South Africa played Mexico, and Lovegrove got a chance to watch players from his country of birth participate in interna- tional competition. “They didn’t really know who I was at the time, or realize that I was born in South Africa,” recalls Lovegrove, but it planted the seed that his father’s proposition wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Lovegrove would dominate the high school ranks at Mission Viejo, earn- ing a third-round selection from the Cleveland Indians in 2012. Following his first professional season, Loveg- rove got his opportunity to play on the international stage. Team South Africa was competing in rove, the highlight was meeting the South African natives on the team, and realizing what baseball meant to them. “The guys on the team more or less play baseball as a hobby, very few play professionally, but they have a passion for the game that either matches or exceeds that of the American play- ers,” said Lovegrove. “Getting to meet them and spend time with them is pretty cool.” a tournament in Jupiter, Florida, and Lovegrove competed against the likes of Spain, France, and Israel. For Loveg-

“Lovegrove fell in love with baseball in America”

Lovegrove has since stayed in contact with many of the players on the team, including the handful that, like Loveg- rove, are working their way up the minor league ranks. In spring training, he and fellow pitch- ers Dylan Unsworth (Mobile – Angels Double-A) and Tayler Scott (Round Rock – Rangers Triple-A) will often meet for lunch, and just last season, Lovegrove and his countrymen got to celebrate a major milestone together. South African shortstop Gift Ngoepe made his debut in the big leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming the first player from the entire continent to appear in a major league game. “There was just this collective feeling of jubilation that we had done it, that we had broken though,” said Loveg- rove, “and now there’s a few of us coming up, Dillon with Angels, Taylor with the Rangers, so it’s starting to very slowly trickle down, and the ath- letes in South Africa are beginning to play baseball.” Talking with Lovegrove, the excite- ment for playing internationally, and representing his country is palpable. That feeling was taken up a level when the 2020 roster was released this spring, and he saw his name, along with many familiar faces. “There’s a sense of national pride, that I think, supersedes any sort of team pride,” he said. “And don’t get me wrong, the Indians have been so good to me for seven years, but I wasn’t born an Indians fan, I was born South African, so there’s that different feel- ing, standing on the line and hearing the South African national anthem, and having the guys next to you singing it. It feels like it carries a lot of weight.” While the schedule is still being fleshed out, the road begins in the not- so-distant future. The team will begin training in October, then comes the Africa qualifiers, and following that, a unification qualifying stage against European nations.

It’s unclear yet whether the qualifica- tion games will take place in South Af- rica, but regardless, Lovegrove hopes to return to his native county, for the first time since 2013. “I don’t know if I’d call it home be- cause of the small amount of time I’ve spent there,” Lovegrove said, “but it feels like a place that I was meant to be. I love the people there, the culture, the food, the drinks. The life that exists in South Africa is incredible.” While it’s a long road ahead for Lovegrove and team South Africa, the Hillcats righty looks forward to the possibility, not just for him, but for his father too. “I hope he gets the opportunity to come with me, because I don’t think there’s anything he would enjoy more,” said Lovegrove, who adds that Toyko has always been a city that he has longed to visit. While it’s easy to fantasize over the big stage and bright lights, Lovegrove remains focused on the present. “I don’t think I’m going to start think- ing about it until it becomes more of a possibility, because I think it might be overwhelming to try to do so. After seven years of pro ball I’ve learned what is, and what isn’t important to think about, and I think the most important thing is what’s right in front of you.”

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Southpaw’s “Hit the Books” Reading Program

The HIllcats are proud to present “Hit The Books” program to over 40 schools to Lynchburg and surrounding counties in 2018. “Hit the Books” is a reading program established by the Hillcats Front Office to encourage local students to read more while providing them with the opportunity to earn two free tickets to a 2018 Hillcats game. Kestrel Kerl, Max Rettig, and Southpaw act out a day in the life of an elementary school student (Southpaw), based on the book “Southpaw Goes to School” written by Hillcats staff.  Southpaw must touch all  four bases (respect, integrity, learning and teamwork) throughout his day. The assembly highlights the four values above in parentheses with a strong focus on reading everyday.  “The reading pro- gram is such a fantastic way, not only to engage and interact with our community, but also a wonderful tool to help show students, that reading is not only impor- tant, but fun and rewarding as well! It truly is a joy to be able to bring and share our program with so many local children” says Rettig. Each student receives a copy of the book and bookmark that tracks reading progress. If a student completes the goal of reading four books they’ll earn two

free tickets to a reading program game presented by Blue Eagle Credit Union. “It is a joy to see students attend a game and excitedly tell me they read four books. The true meaning of our “hit the books” program is to get kids reading consistently and develop a joy. It’s been a pleasure going to so many schools and meeting so many students. It really is one of the highlights of my job and I love see- ing so many familiar faces at the game” Kerl said. Reading Nights for the 2018 season: April 7th, May 5th, May 16th, May 20th, June 9th.

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Sandlot Sundays - During the 2018 season, the Lynchburg Hillcats are starting what is sure to be an instant fan favorite with “Sandlot Sundays”. Every Sunday, the Hillcats will don special Sandlot themed jerseys as a tribute to the 25th movie anniversary. The game worn Sandlot jerseys will be auctioned off on Sunday, August 19th (the last Sunday home game of the season). In addition, the Hillcats will also have their traditional Kids Run the Bases and Family Catch in the Outfield presented by MedExpress with a new twist. Fans will also be able to play wiffle ball on the field after all Sunday games. A special added bonus for Lynchburg area families. The Hillcats will continue their family value 4 for $40 Family 4 Packs for all Sunday games.


Ralph Northam Visiting Lynchburg

On Saturday, June 23rd Lynchburg City Stadium will play host to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam as he tours the state’s Minor League Ballparks. Gov. Northam will be throwing out a ceremo- nial first pitch before the game begins and may address the crowd. Northam took office as the 73rd State Governor of Virginia in January of 2018. Before taking office as Governor, he was the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.

Governor Northam is a native of Nas- sawadox, Virginia and will be joining the Hillcats on a night that already includes a post-game Sparkling Saturday Fireworks Show. Gates will open at 5:00 PM with first pitch at 6:00 PM. Be sure to arrive early to catch Gov. Northam as he will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the official start of the game. You can purchase tickets for the game on Saturday, June 23rd here: Click me

Prospects to watch


Outfielder Mitch Longo batted .361 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 55 games for the Captains before injuries robbed him of a full 2017 campaign. Longo was activated from the disabled list on August 31 when he made his debut with the Hillcats, and played in 5 games while going 9-for- 16 at the plate. Cleveland’s 14th round pick in 2016 looks to have a healthy ‘18 and build on his .349 career average through 98 games. Third baseman Nolan Jones finished the 2017 season on a tear. The 19-year-old hit .371 with three home runs and 18 RBI in August for the Short-Season Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In 62 games, he batted .317 overall with four homers and 33 RBI. Jones, a 2nd round pick by the Tribe in 2016, is ranked by as the Indians No. 5 prospect. Although he has just two minor league seasons under his belt, it’s possible that Jones could find himself in a Hillcats uniform at some point in 2018. Left-hander Brady Aiken is likely to be a big part of the ‘Cats pitching staff in 2018. The 21-year-old spent the entire 2017 season in Single-A Lake County, where he went 5-13 with a 4.77 ERA in 27 starts. Aiken struggled at times with his control (101 walks in 132 innings pitched), but is still considered one of Cleveland’s top pitching prospects. He was the Indians first round pick in 2015 out of the famous IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Aiken is ranked as the Indians No. 24 overall prospect by Left-hander Juan Hillman also figures to be a part of Lynchburg’s pitching plans at some point in 2018. He spent last season with Single-A Lake County, going 7-10 with a 6.08 ERA in 26 starts for the Captains. Hillman’s best month was June, when he sported a 2.89 ERA in five starts. He was selected by the Indians in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Orlando, Fla. Hillman is ranked by as Cleveland’s No. 17 prospect. Shortstop Luke Wakamatsu could potentially play a big role in the Hillcats infield this year. The switch-hitter spent last season with Single-A Lake County and batted .239 with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 100 games. He is the son of Don Wakamatsu, who is a coach on the Texas Rangers major league staff. Wakamatsu had a strong second half of the season with the Captains when he hit at a .249 clip with nine homers and 36 RBI. The Indians selected Wakamatsu in the 20th round of the 2015 draft and he is ranked by as the Tribe’s No. 27 prospect. A variety of Indians prospects who made some noise throughout Cleveland’s other affiliates last season figure to be in the Hillcats plans in 2018.

Prospects to watch Outfielder Conner Capel is ranked by Baseball America as Cleveland’s No. 15 prospect, and has already played a key role in Lynchburg this season. He led the club with a .325 batting average in April. The left-handed hitter also was tops on the team in hits (27) RBI (13) doubles (7) OBP (.394), and stolen bases (9). Capel had an 11-game hitting streak from 4/14-4/27. Capel was set to follow in the footsteps of his father, former big leaguer, Mike Capel, by playing college ball at Texas before the Tribe drafted him in the fifth round in 2016. The Katy, Texas native excelled last season for Lake County in the Midwest League, placing third in the league in Cont.

home runs (22) and fifth in slugging percentage (.482). Left-hander Sam Hentges has been one of the anchors of the Hillcats rotation so far this season. He earned the Opening Day start, the first of his career, and went 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA through five April starts. He had a dominant 10 strikeout performance on April 17 against the Frederick Keys. Hentges was mostly a first baseman in high school, but converted to pitching full time after being drafted by the Indians in the fourth round in 2014. He was one of the youngest players in the 2014 draft class, and will pitch the majority of the 2018 season at age 21. Hentges is ranked as the Indians No. 18 prospect by Baseball America. Catcher Logan Ice made Lynchburg’s Opening Day roster in 2018. Known for his defensive ability as a good blocker, solid receiver and ability to handle a pitching staff, Ice was drafted by the Indians after a breakout 2016 season at Oregon State. Cleveland drafted him in the 2nd round in 2016. Through April, when Ice has been catching, Hillcats pitchers have just a 2.96 ERA, which is the best of any other catcher on the team. The switch-hitter is ranked by Baseball America as the Indians No. 19 overall prospect. Third baseman and catcher Gavin Collins is another Top-30 prospect that has started the season in Lynchburg, being pegged by Baseball America as the No. 27 overall prospect in Cleveland’s system. Collins played his college ball at Mississippi State, and helped lead the Bulldogs to a SEC title and was drafted by the Indians in the 13th round in 2016. He became the first Mississippi State player to earn SEC- all freshman honors. Collins has mostly played third base throughout the first month of the season, but has started two games at catcher.

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