The West Virginia Power’s first Atlantic League road trip didn’t go as hoped for manager Mark Minicozzi — there wasn’t much to like in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Lexington Legends — but the Power will have an immediate chance at redemption.
After a day off Monday, Lexington makes the return trip to Charleston for games Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to open up a six-game home stand for the Power at Appalachian Power Park.
“A lot went wrong. It was a pretty ugly weekend,” Minicozzi said after the Power (4-5) dropped into a tie for third place with the Gastonia Honey Hunters in the Atlantic League’s four-team South Division. “We don’t like [the Legends], and they ... well, they probably like us because they beat us three times. It’s time for us to return the favor back here.
“We play them  times. It’s gonna be a heated rivalry.”
That rivalry resumes at 7:05 Tuesday when local product Arik Sikula makes his third start of the season. Sikula (1-1, 4.91) is coming off a six-inning, one-run performance against the Long Island Ducks last week in which he earned his first Atlantic League win.
“He told me he wanted to be the ace of our staff,” Minicozzi said of Sikula, “and he showed me he could be that kind of guy.”
David Kubiak (0-0, 1.80), who allowed one run and one hit in five innings in his one start, is Wednesday’s scheduled starter for the Power, followed Thursday by Elih Villanueva (1-1, 7.36).
Lexington (7-3) is in first place in the South Division. The Legends’ best-known player is former Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who’s hitting .389 with two home runs in just 18 at-bats.
Lexington’s top hitter through the first 10 games is Ben Aklinski, who’s hitting .435 with four home runs and nine RBIs.
Rubi on a roll
The Power’s leading hitter? It’s clearly outfielder Rubi Silva, who’s batting .436 and shares the league lead with five home runs and 13 RBIs.
“He’s definitely been the catalyst of our offense,” Minicozzi said of the 31-year-old Cuba native.
Silva’s not the only Power hitter swinging a hot stick at the start of the season.
Former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata’s hitting .414, second baseman Scott Kelly is at .385 and outfielder Teodoro Martinez is batting .361.
On the negative side of the Atlantic League statistical ledger is the fact that the Power ranks (eighth) last in average home attendance at 1,215 per game.
Comings and goings
The Power was a bit short-staffed, pitching-wise, at Lexington. Part of that was due to the absence of reliever Erik Manoah, the older brother of former WVU and current Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alex Monoah.
Minicozzi said Erik Manoah, 25, was signed to a minor-league deal by the Minnesota Twins. He was a stalwart during his brief stay in the Power bullpen, allowing no runs, no walks, just two hits with six strikeouts in four innings covering three relief appearances.
“He came out here and showed he can pitch at the next level,” Minicozzi said. “He has a bright future.”
Minicozzi added that several players on the roster are also receiving interest from MLB teams.
While Manoah has departed, the Power is looking forward to the arrival of several signed international players who are closer to getting their visa issues resolved.
Minicozzi said Edwin Espinal, a 27-year-old corner infielder from the Dominican Republic who played for the Power in 2014 when the team was an MLB affiliate, has had his visa approved and is expected to arrive Thursday. Also due in Thursday is Eleardo Cabrera, 25, a pitcher who can also play the outfield.
He’s coming in from Venezuela.
Further down the road, the Power is awaiting the arrival of several players Minicozzi hopes will play key roles.
Arnaldo Hernandez, a 25-year-old pitcher from Venezuela who climbed as high as Class AAA 2019 in the Kansas City Royals system, is about a week away, according to Minicozzi, who expects Hernandez to be slotted into the Power’s starting rotation.
Minicozzi is especially anticipating the arrival of some signed hitters who should bolster the Power lineup.
Rymer Liriano, a 29-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic who spent parts of two seasons (2014, 2017) in the major leagues, is “probably 10 days away,” Minicozzi said.
Leonardo Reginatto, a 31-year-old infielder from Brazil with MLB experience as recently as 2018 in the Twins system, is also awaiting visa clearance. Minicozzi sees him as a leadoff-type hitter for the Power.
“Whenever we get all these guys here, we’re gonna have a pretty special lineup,” Minicozzi said.