Lynchburg, Va. - Earlier this week, the Cleveland Indians announced the prospects that will head to the Arizona Fall League to represent the organization in 2019. The Arizona Fall League, founded in 1992, is an off-season six-team league owned and operated by Major League Baseball, which attracts many of the top prospects in Minor League Baseball.
Current Hillcats players Gavin Collins, Brock Hartson and Kirk McCarty will play for the Mesa Solar Sox, a team comprised of prospects from the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics organizations. Nolan Jones, who was with the Hillcats earlier this season, will also join the Solar Sox club this fall.
Collins, 24, has appeared in a career-high 96 games this season for Lynchburg. He is batting .266 with seven homers and a career-best 60 RBI. The right-handed hitter has appeared at both catcher and first base this year for the Hillcats, throwing out nearly 40% of base stealers from behind the plate. The Newport Beach, Calif. native was drafted by the Indians in the 13th Round in 2016 out of Mississippi State.
Hartson, a right-handed pitcher, has made nine appearances with seven starts for the Hillcats this year, going 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA. He joined the Hillcats in July after beginning the year in Extended Spring Training. The 26-year-old retired following hip surgery during the 2017 season, and spent the 2018 campaign as a coach at the University of Texas-San Antonio, his alma mater. Healthy again, Hartson returned to action this season and has been a key component of Lynchburg's pitching staff during the final two months of the season. The Houston, Texas native was drafted by the Tribe in the 21st Round in 2015.
McCarty joined Lynchburg in June and has made 12 starts. The 23-year-old has gone 3-6 with a 5.37 ERA, striking out 57 batters over 54 innings and walking only 14 hitters. One of the best pitchers in Southern Mississippi history, the Hattiesburg, Miss. native has yielded just one home run this season. The left-hander was selected in the 7th Round of the draft in 2017.
Jones, 21, is currently ranked as the Cleveland Indians No. 1 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and checks in at No. 38 in MLB Pipeline's top-100 prospect list. He appeared in 77 games with Lynchburg before his call-up to Double-A Akron on July 8. The left-handed hitter slashed .286/.435/.425 with seven home runs and 41 RBI. His 65 walks led the Carolina League at the time of his departure, and his .435 OBP was also tops in the league. Jones was both a Mid-Season and Year-End All-Star in the Carolina League this year. Drafted in the second round by Cleveland in 2016 out of Holy Ghost Prep High School (PA), Jones represented the Indians in the 2019 SirusXM Futures Game on July 7. Since being bumped up to Akron, the everyday third baseman is hitting .245 with seven homers and 20 RBI over 44 games.
Infielder Ernie Clement, who played in Lynchburg in 2018 and batted .346 in 33 games, will also head to Mesa to play for the Solar Sox. Clement is currently playing for Double-A Akron, where the 23-year-old is hitting .265 with a home run and 24 RBI in 97 games.
Current Hillcats Athletic Trainer, Jacob Legan, will hold the same position in Mesa.
The Arizona Fall League season begins on Wednesday, September 18 and goes through the championship game on Saturday, October 26. The league utilizes four Phoenix-area, state-of-the-art Spring Training venues, with two stadiums hosting two teams each.
The Hillcats have five games remaining in the 2019 season, all at home. The team plays the finale of the four-game series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Thursday. Lynchburg will look to left-hander Kirk McCarty (3-6, 5.37), who will square off against 'Rocks lefty Daniel Lynch (4-2, 3.36). First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
Thursday's game will also be a Thirsty Thursday with $2 specials on Coors Light and Yuengling. Homestand highlights also include Fantastic Friday, Sparkling Saturday, and Sandlot Sunday. Friday's game will feature post-game fireworks. It will also be Margaritaville Night at City Stadium with a Jimmy Buffett cover band and an Aloha Jersey Auction, as well as a sunglasses giveaway courtesy of High Peak Sportswear. Saturday's game will have the final fireworks show of the season at City Stadium.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.
The Lynchburg Hillcats are the Advanced-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The Hillcats are eight-time Carolina League Champions, having most recently won the Mills Cup Championship in 2017. The Hillcats play their home games at City Stadium, which has been home to Minor League Baseball in Lynchburg since 1963. Visit the Hillcats online at Lynchburg-hillcats.com, and follow the Hillcats on Twitter (@LynHillcats), Instagram (@LynHillcats) and Facebook (Lynchburg Hillcats). For more information about the Lynchburg Hillcats, please contact Max Gun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.