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Launching Off With The Aeros: 4/9/13 – 4/15/13

Akron falls to the bottom of the Eastern League after rough stretch of pitching

Launching Off With The Aeros: 4/9/13 – 4/15/13
Launching Off With The Aeros
April 16, 2013
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Last week was not kind to the Akron Aeros, as they went on the road and lost five of six games. The Aeros now sit at 3-8, the worst record in the Eastern League.

The losses piling up were a result of the team's pitching imploding, with the Aeros allowing a staggering 47 runs in 51.0 innings. The offense was actually not all that poor -- scoring 31 runs in six games -- but it is hard to overcome such poor pitching.

The Aeros will look to get back on track in the final two games of a road series in Trenton before coming home for a seven game stretch starting on Thursday.

In Orbit

Chun-Hsiu Chen, DH

.348/.464/.522 line, .436 wOBA, 8-for-23, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9:4 SO:BB, 1 HBP, 2 SB in 28 PA

Last week is about everything we could want to see out of Chen as he attempts to hit his way to Columbus. He got on base, he hit a home run, and he drew just enough walks to limit the damage from his strikeouts. Plus, despite a lack of speed, Chen even opportunistically stole two bases!

After being moved to first base in 2012 and designated hitter this year, there is a ton of pressure on Chen's bat to carry him through the upper levels of the minors. Chen is not bringing any value on defense, meaning that he really needs to tap into his power if he is going to stick in the organization.

The Eastern League and Canal Park are not easy places to hit home runs, but hopefully last week is the start of some sort of power binge for Chen. He may not be a high profile prospect, but his bat would be intriguing if some real power manifested itself in 2013.

Quincy Latimore, LF

.400/.455/.600 line, .457 wOBA, 8-for-20, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4:1 SO:BB, 1 HBP in 22 PA

The return on the Jeanmar Gomez trade is looking pretty good so far in 2013, posting a .361/.395/.556 line with two home runs. Granted, that run is heavily-fueled by an unsustainable BABIP (.458) and is undercut by a poor walk rate (10:1 SO:BB in 38 plate appearances), but Latimore's run is still encouraging on some level.

This is the third time through Double-A for Latimore and he has never been particularly good with strikeouts (140 in 2011, 105 in 2012), which does not bode well for his future in the organization. Still, if he finds a way to keep hitting, Latimore will make some fans. It would be great to see him start drawing some walks, but time will tell if he can make that adjustment.

Carlos Moncrief, RF

.333/.444/.400 line, .389 wOBA, 5-for-15, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1:3 SO:BB, 1 CS in 18 PA

Moncrief's overall line was not all that impressive, but the strikeout-to-walk ratio is a very good sign. Even more encouraging, Moncrief only has two strikeouts in 39 plate appearances on the year, something that has been far from the case in the past.

Last year in the Carolina League, Moncrief struck out 126 times in 101 games while only drawing 46 walks. It is still very early, but with most players in Akron striking out fairly frequently (19.8 K% as a team), the fact that Moncrief is the one that is limiting strikeouts is a great thing to see.

Moncrief has so many tools, and if this is him putting them together, he is certainly someone who could find himself with in the big league picture in short order. Assuming, of course, I am not making way too much out of 11 games...

(Honorable Mentions: Jesus AguilarShawn ArmstrongCole CookJose FloresGiovanny Urshela)

(Previous Winners: T.J. House (4/9), Toru Murata (4/9), Jose Ramirez (4/9))

Temporarily Grounded

The Starting Rotation

6.83 ERA, 5.17 FIP, 1.83 WHIP, 40 H, 26 R (22 ER), 17:13 SO:BB, 4 HR in 29.0 IP

And you thought the Cleveland starting rotation was struggling.

If you are looking for a reason for why the Aeros lost five of six games this week, this is a good place to start. The only game Akron won was a 10-7 shootout on Friday when the offense did enough to overcome.

Some starters did a decent job, like Paolo Espino (three runs in 5.1 innings) and Matt Packer (three runs in 5.2 innings). Some were the victims of a barrage of unearned runs, like Toru Murata (seven runs, but only three earned, in 4.2 innings). Others, like T.J. House (five runs in 5.2 innings) and Danny Salazar (eight runs in 7.2 innings between two starts) simply struggled.

It is hard to believe that the starting rotation will stay this bad, so look for them to bounce back in the upcoming weeks. Once the rotation gets it back together, the wins will likely start coming for the Aeros as well.

Fabio Martinez, RHP & Edward Paredes, LHP

27.00 ERA, 6.20 FIP, 3.23 WHIP, 10 H, 13 ER, 6:4 SO:BB, 1 HR, 1 HBP in 4.1 IP

It wasn't just the rotation that struggled for the Aeros last week.

Martinez turned in one of the worst performances of the young season last Tuesday, allowing nine runs to the Altoona Curve while only getting two outs. The right-hander has a reputation for being a little wild and unpredictable, but even this is ridiculous.

Right now, Martinez's ERA is sitting at 33.75. Totally unsustainable, but certainly part of why he was taken off the 40-man roster in the offseason and went unclaimed by the other 29 teams.

As for Paredes, the left-hander was off to a hot start, not allowing a walk or a run in his first three outings. That streak came to a stop on Saturday, though, when Paredes allowed four runs in 0.2 innings to the Bowie Baysox.

Now, everything 11 games into a season is a small sample size. Plus, relievers like Martinez and Paredes, by definition, have an even smaller sample size, rendering these early season statistics relatively useless.

The fact right now, however, is that these two had very forgettable performances last week, and hopefully they will push those outings out of everyone's minds in the upcoming weeks.

Jose Ramirez, 2B

.087/.160/.087 line, .166 wOBA, 2-for-25, 3 R, 2 RBI, 6:2 SO:BB, 1 SB in 25 PA

Really, some setbacks for Ramirez should be expected.

The young switch-hitter is making a very difficult jump in going from Low-A Lake County to Double-A Akron and is probably going to have plenty of bumps along the way to establishing himself. Ramirez is known for his ability to simply get hits, but when those hits are not falling in, weeks like this happen.

Now, it is way too early to sound the alarm; after all, Ramirez was In Orbit after a 9-for-19 showing two weeks ago. A little caution, though, is probably warranted.

Making the adjustments to and getting past the Eastern League is probably something that will take Ramirez all year if he can pull it off. Any visions of him in Columbus and/or Cleveland by the end of 2013 (something I let myself entertain after the first week) are probably something that should be shelved.

Ramirez is a very good ballplayer, but I am going to let him make his way in Akron without attaching even higher standard to him.

(Dishonorable Mentions: Delvi CidTyler HoltAlex LaviskyRonny Rodriguez)

(Previous Losers: Tyler Holt (4/9), Carlos Moncrief (4/9), Matt Packer (4/9), Ronny Rodriguez (4/9), Giovanny Urshela (4/9))

Stats Oddities

See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here. 

2.04

Most of the pitching for the Aeros was pretty bad last week, but most of the bullpen found a way to keep opposing lineups in check to the tune of a 2.04 ERA. Left-hander Eric Berger and right-handers Shawn Armstrong, Brett Brach, Cole Cook, Kyle Landis, and Bryce Stowell combined to hold down the fort in 17.2 innings, unlike the other seven pitchers on the roster (9.45 ERA in 33.1 innings).

If the Aeros are going to win more games heading forward, they will need more than their relievers to throw well in about a third of the innings. It is good that Akron has this, though.

.239

Center fielder Tyler Holt is the prototypical leadoff hitter and tablesetter, yet things have not gone so smoothly to start the year. It is hard to complain about an offense that is averaging over five runs a game, but if Holt was getting on base at a higher rate, the offense could be even better.

With an extremely low BABIP likely to stabilize before too long (.200), it is hard to believe that Holt will have a .239 on-base percentage by the end of April. Yet, Holt is in need of a big season to leave his mark on the system and this is not the foot he wanted to get off on in 2013.

6:6

Considering that power is first baseman Jesus Aguilar's calling card, it seems strange to see him without an extra base hit for the week. On the bright side, however, Aguilar walked as much as he struck out, possibly showing growth in his approach at the plate.

You cannot scout the box score, since the walks could be a byproduct of poor pitchers, but manager Edwin Rodriguez noted that Aguilar had been making adjustments. If Aguilar can get to the point that he is able to take the ball the other way and draw plenty of walks, that could be one of the final touches he needs to make it on his trip to Cleveland.

Odds & Ends

Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez is yet to draw a walk this year, a pretty big concern considering he only has 32 walks in 224 career games. Rodriguez has decent pop, but you have to walk more than every once and a while to make it in the upper levels of the minors.

Fellow young callup third baseman Giovanny Urshela is still working on adjusting. His .300/.364/.350 line from the past week is a good sign -- as is him only striking out once in 22 plate appearances -- and with more weeks like this, Urshela will avoid the slow start that plagued him last year.

M*A*S*H Unit

The catching problem in the Cleveland organization reached Akron over the past week, with catcher Alex Lavisky suffering a broken left big toe that has put him on the disabled list. Lavisky had not had the best start to the season (.235/.350/.294 line), but on the bright side he had not struck out yet and earned praise from his manager at how he handled pitchers.

On the bright side, Stowell was activated from the disabled list and threw well in his first night back. He still has talent, but needs to stay healthy.

Moves (Like Orbit)

April 8 - RHP Bryce Stowell placed on 7-day DL retroactive to April 7

April 8 - RHP Robert Whitenack added to active roster

April 9 - C Roberto Perez assigned to Columbus Clippers

April 9 - RHP Robert Whitenack designated for assignment

April 9 - RHP Brett Brach assigned from Mahoning Valley Scrappers

April 14 - C Alex Lavisky placed on 7-day DL (Fractured Left Big Toe)

April 14 - C Jeremy Lucas assigned from Mahoning Valley Scrappers

April 14 - RHP Bryce Stowell activated from 7-day DL

April 15 - LHP Eric Berger traded to Houston Astros organization for C Chris Wallace

April 16 - INF Matt Lawson promoted to Columbus Clippers

April 16 - 3B Kyle Bellows activated from 7-day DL

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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