Launching off with the Aeros: 4/17/12 - 4/23/12
The past week wasn’t as kind to the Akron Aeros as the first two, as they went 2-3 and fell out of first place in the Western Division. The Aeros started off the week by splitting their final two games against the Bowie Baysox at home before splitting two more games at the Reading Phillies. After they were rained out Sunday, the Aeros started a 3-game set at the Bowie Baysox Monday with a loss. The Aeros now stand at 9-6 on the young season.
The Aeros still can’t complain about their pitching, which only allowed 17 runs in 5 games this past week. The issue in Akron remains the hitting. You can’t get away with scoring so few runs (16 in the 5 games last week) and keep winning.
The Aeros will continue their 3-game set in Bowie Tuesday and Wednesday before headed home for a 3-game series against the Altoona Curve Friday the 27th through Sunday the 29th. The Aeros will then stay home for a 4-game set against Binghamton.
If you’re looking for a feel-good story out of Akron this year, SP Steven Wright should be your man. Wright has been trying to remake himself by adding a knuckleball to his arsenal and to this point, it has been working. Last week, Wright got a win after getting 7 strikeouts in 6 innings, only allowing 1 earned run. He has had issues with walks (4 last week, 5.19 BB/9 on the year), but Wright is striking people out at a high rate (9.87 SO/9) and has a great ERA (1.56). With his FIP standing at 2.74, Wright has been the real deal this year and may be re-establishing himself as an option for the Indians. He is in his age-27 season and needs to work on control, but Wright is certainly on the right path.
In a way, putting RP Bryce Stowell on this list isn’t as much for what he’s done over the past week but recognition of how elite he’s been on the year. Stowell only appeared in one game over the past week – going two shutout innings with four strikeouts – but his season has been off-the-charts good. Over four appearances, Stowell has a 0.00 ERA, a -1.08 FIP and a15:0 SO:BB ratio in 7.0 IP. Stowell has struck out nearly two-thirds of the batters he has faced this year and clearly is overmatching AA hitters. As Buster Olney and Keith Law recognized on Monday, Stowell is clearly ready for a callup to AAA Columbus and could even be in Cleveland by the end of the year.
OF/3B Jared Goedert makes his second straight appearance on the In Orbit side of the equation thanks to his great all-around hitting over the past week. Any time you post a .471/.591/.588 slash line, 1.179 OPS, .522 wOBA, with a 2:5 SO:BB ratio in 22 PA, you’re obviously seeing the ball well. Goedert has been aided by some luck so far this year (.465 BABIP), but it is obvious that like Stowell, Goedert has nothing left to really prove offensively in Akron. Hopefully, Goedert will find himself in Columbus soon so he can try to be the Tribe’s right-handed hitting outfielder by year’s end. Since this is his age-27 season, this may well be Goedert’s last real chance.
(Honorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Chun Chen, Nick Weglarz)
There is no doubt that 3B Kyle Bellows is one of the best defenders in the Indians’ minor league system, but his bat remains a work in process. After struggling to a .222/.263/.278 slash line and .245 wOBA last week, the question of whether Bellows will ever figure out how to hit. More concerning, Bellows has struck out 19.6% of the time this year, including 4 times in 19 plate appearances last week. Sure, Bellows has drawn plenty of walks this year (15.7 BB%), but he’s still striking out too much. Bellows should be a bit better at not striking out on his second time through AA, plus he only has below-average power (.326 SLG) at this point. All of those factors point to a player who really needs to work at limiting his strikeouts to keep his standing as a prospect.
After another week of struggling at the plate, C Roberto Perez finds himself on the Grounded side of this notebook for the second straight week. No matter how good Perez is behind the plate, his .167/.286/.250 slash line and .241 wOBA over the past week (and his .214/.267/.310 slash line and .274 wOBA on the season) will not play. Even more alarming, Perez added 3 more strikeouts and only 1 walk in his 15 plate appearances last week, pushing his SO:BB ratio to 14:2 in 46 plate appearances on the season. Perez has shown no plate discipline this year and is a black hole offensively. If Perez does not get himself together offensively soon, he will be relegated to being a AA backup catcher with no real hopes of making it much farther.
2B Ryan Rohlinger had a big week two weeks ago, hitting 2 home runs, but he came back down to Earth last week. Rohlinger limped to a .071/.067/.071 slash line and .060 wOBA last week and struck out in 3 of his 15 plate appearances. Rohlinger came into the year as a non-prospect and it has showed. He currently holds a .658 OPS and .287 wOBA, and a much more troubling .277 OBP and 17.0 K%. Rohlinger likely is just keeping the seat warm at second base until one of the Tribe’s younger, more heralded prospects (potentially someone like Tony Wolters) grabs it.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Juan Diaz, Tim Fedroff, Thomas Neal)
For the full Aeros weekly and yearly stat sheet, click on this link.
1 is the number of home runs Nick Weglarz has now hit on the year. Saturday’s home run was obviously very welcome after his terrible start to the season, but Weglarz is still having a pretty rough season (.211/.333/.342 slash line, .332 wOBA) and has seen his strong plate discipline erode (37.8 K%, 13.3 BB%). Weglarz will need to see his power continue to resurface if he wants to remain a prospect in the Tribe’s system.
5.02 is currently Giovanni Soto’s ERA. Yet, Soto’s peripherals (10.67 SO/9, 1.88 BB/9, 1.46 FIP) are beautiful. Watching Soto’s start in Akron two weeks ago, he seems to struggle with runners on base (which would account for a higher ERA than FIP), but that doesn’t explain this high of an ERA. Look for Soto’s ERA to drop in the coming weeks as it falls more in line with how well he really has pitched so far this year.
.410 is Chun Chen’s BABIP. BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is a rough measure of how lucky a player has been on the balls they have made contact with. Players can control their BABIP slightly with how hard they hit the ball and how fast they are, but for the most part, it will regress to around .300. Considering how high Chen’s BABIP is – and that his other peripherals (21.3 K%, .058 ISO) are still a mess – I’m not buying his .308/.410/.365 slash line right now. I need to see more power and fewer strikeouts from Chen before I’ll say he’s back on the right track.
SP Paolo Espino remains the only member of the Aeros on the DL with a strained oblique. There is still no timetable for his return.
Moves (Like Orbit)
April 19 RP Toru Murata called up to AAA Columbus
April 19 SP David Huff received on a Major League Rehab Assignment
April 21 C Michel Hernandez demoted from AAA Columbus
April 22 SP recalled from Major League Rehab Assignment
April 23 RP Kyle Landis called up to AAA Columbus
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.
but when he figures it out...and he will...he's an incredible starter. He's one of those kids that just has it...you can see it when he's pitching. His make-up is off the charts...and when he gets his stuff consistent...
He'll make the major league roster...brass thinks real highly of him...