Kluber shows award-winning form for 'Ducks

Former AL Cy Young winner allows one hit over five in rehab start

Corey Kluber went 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA in five starts with Double-A Akron in 2010. (Akron RubberDucks)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | May 26, 2017 10:39 PM

The Indians' present and future was on full display for the 7,706 fans at Canal Park on Friday night. They didn't leave disappointed.

Corey Kluber allowed one hit over five innings in a rehab start and Francisco Mejia had three hits and an RBI as Double-A Akron recorded its second straight shutout, 10-0 over visiting Bowie.

Indians No. 4 prospect Bobby Bradley singled, doubled and drove in three runs for the RubberDucks, who have won four in a row.

Gameday box score

Out since May 3 with a lower back strain, Kluber (1-0) faced the minimum and threw 33 of 47 pitches for strikes. It was just the sort of performance Akron manager Mark Budzinski expected and wanted to see from the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

"He pitched really well," he said. "He worked ahead and was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He looked ready to go."

Kluber echoed his manager's sentiments.

"Obviously, I didn't throw very many pitches, but what I did, I felt very good," the 31-year-old said. "Just going out there and pitching like I usually do ... trying to go out there and get used to pitching in a game and stuff and it went well."

Kluber allowed a one-out single in the first to Adrian Marin, who was immediately erased on a double-play grounder by Orioles No. 22 prospect D.J. Stewart. The right-hander retired the last 13 batters he faced before giving way to Dylan Baker

Video: Akron's Kluber fans Haase to begin the fourth

"When you can get in a groove and stick with it, it goes well," Kluber said. "And sometimes, obviously, you run into more trouble than that, but they were fairly aggressive and [Mejia] did a good job of keeping them off-balance."

"I certainly hope [the other pitchers] were watching him," Budzinski said of Kluber. "He's a true pro, a Cy Young winner. We're excited to have him and I hope our guys were paying attention and picking up on things he does, because he does it well." 

In addition to catching Kluber, Mejia collected his third multi-hit performance during a six-game hitting streak. After flying out in the first, the Indians' No. 2 prospect singled to left and scored on Dorssys Paulino's base hit in the fourth.

He added to Akron's lead with a single to center in the fifth and came home on Bradley's two-run double to center. MLB.com's No. 35 overall prospect singled to left in the seventh and scored a third run on No. 11 Indians prospect Yu-Cheng Chang's sacrifice fly.

Video: Akron's Mejia extends the lead with an RBI single

"He's swung the bat well and is hitting a lot of line drives," Budzinski said of Mejia. "That's what you want to see him do at the plate and tonight he drove it. He's got a special ability to put the bat head on the ball consistently and hit it hard. We're excited to have him and help him get to the bigs as soon as possible."

Bradley added his third RBI on a single to right in a six-run seventh. The 20-year-old has hit safely in six of his last seven games, batting .400 with seven RBIs in that span.

"[Mejia and Bradley] are presences in this lineup," the 43-year-old manager said. "Bobby has worked hard in the cage the last six weeks or so and he feels like he's in a good spot right now. He's ready to hit the fastball and he's driving it to all parts of the field.

"They're young for Double-A. The pitchers have better command and if you don't make adjustments, they'll go at that. It's a learning process for everybody and both of them are working hard."

Mike Papi added a double among his three hits for Akron. Baker, David Speer and Leandro Linares combined to allow three hits with two strikeouts and no walks over the final four innings.

John Means (2-5), Baltimore's 24th-ranked prospect, lost for the fourth time in five starts. The right-hander surrendered four runs on seven hits with four walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. 

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Followhim on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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