After a successful — and wet — southern swing, the RailRiders return home Monday for an eight-game homestand.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s upcoming opponents for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The RailRiders return to PNC Field on Monday after a doubleheader at Gwinnett to face Indianapolis, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, for four games.
The Indians are different than many other teams Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has played recently, as they have the best record in the International League entering this weekend. They are winners of seven in a row and a league-high 21 victories, and they hold a commanding lead in the West Division over second-place Columbus. The last two opponents of SWB began the weekend combining for 19 wins on the season and were on long losing streaks when the RailRiders faced them.
Indianapolis has been winning with pitching, leading the I.L. with a 2.71 ERA — almost a half run better than the second-place team. On the mound and at the plate, the Indians have a veteran club with several players having plenty of Major League experience.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole, the organization’s top prospect according to Baseball America, is expected to pitch later in the series for Indianapolis. He began the weekend with a 2.31 earned run average and a 2-1 record.
SWB will likely miss Pittsburgh rehabbing starter Francisco Liriano, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason.
The RailRiders and Braves finish off a series in the suburb of Atlanta this afternoon and the G-Braves travel to Moosic a week later for four games beginning Friday.
The Braves’ best prospect on the club is left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who is rated fourth by Baseball America. Gilmartin has been very good this season for Gwinnett, but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeated the 22-year-old last week — getting to him for three runs in 6 2/3 innings to deal him his first loss of the season.
Jordan Parraz, who used to call PNC Field home while playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, returns to the site with Gwinnett after manning the SWB outfield in 2011. Infielder Luis Nunez, another former farmhand of the Yankees, is also on the Braves’ roster after seeing time for SWB in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Gwinnett slugger Ernesto Mejia leads the I.L. in home runs, beginning the weekend with eight longballs and 23 RBI. Like many power hitters though, he also strikes a lot, averaging more than a strikeout per game.