Launching Off With The Aeros: 5/1/12 - 5/7/12
Another week, another glut of Akron Aeros’ victories. The Aeros finished taking three games out of four from the Binghamton Mets at home last week before taking two of three at the Bowie Baysox over the weekend. After going 4-2 on the week, the Aeros now come home to play the Erie SeaWolves through Wednesday, then continue their homestand against the Harrisburg Senators Thursday through Sunday.
The Aeros still don’t have the high-profile prospects as Lake County or the many legitimate big league options like Columbus, but the motley crew that assembles in Akron has found a way to be 19-8 on the season and still in 1st place. With players like Jesus Aguilar and Tyler Holt pounding on the door to get called up to Akron, it seems like this team is only going to get better. Even after some Aeros eventually get the call to Columbus (Tim Fedroff, Jared Goedert, etc.), this team figures to be competitive all year.
There is a lot of chalk from last week’s edition of Launching Off With The Aeros in terms of the In Orbit and Temporarily Grounded section, with four of the six players remaining exactly where they were last week. 1B Adam Abraham is the first of these. By all means, Abraham is very deserving of being honored again this week. After posting a .368/.429/.632 slash line, .451 wOBA and five doubles over the past week, Abraham has become one of the few Aeros actually reliable at the plate. Though Abraham is not a highly regarded prospect, he’s a hard worker who has made a name for himself this year. Hopefully he continues to see the fruits of his hard work as the season progresses.
Like Abraham, SP Giovanni Soto was honored as being In Orbit in last week’s notebook. In what is in no way a coincidence, Soto dominated his start Wednesday, getting the win after striking out 9 in 7 innings, only allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Despite having a fastball that tops out in the low 90s on a good day, Soto has turned his great secondary offerings into a dominant combination that is tearing up the Eastern League (3-0 W-L, 3.33 ERA, 1.53 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, 10.00 SO/9, 1.67 BB/9 in 5 starts on the season). Since Soto is still fairly young (this is his age-21 season), there is a chance that he could add some velocity. Without any more velocity, Soto is likely a back-end starter or decent bullpen arm. With it, Soto may develop into a strong 3rd starter for the Tribe. Either way, Soto will continue to be an exciting player to watch in 2012.
As if there would have been any way to keep SP Steven Wright off of this list this week. Wright has been all over IPI this past week on the strength of his impressive performance last week (a complete game shutout with 6 strikeouts, 2 walks and 5 hits allowed) and on the season (3-1 W-L, 1.13 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 7.88 SO/9, 3.60 BB/9 in 6 starts on the season). Wright is not overpowering, but his knuckleball is working and he’s getting results. Considering that he’s already 27, Wright will likely be called up to Columbus soon so the Indians can see what he has. Since his career looked like it was at a dead-end two years ago, Wright’s transformation into a legitimate back-of-the-rotation prospect is reminiscent of the mighty phoenix rising from the ashes. A little over-dramatic, but it’s a good metaphor for Wright nonetheless.
(Honorable Mentions: Juan Diaz, Jared Goedert, Michel Hernandez, Matt Langwell, Ryan Rohlinger)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1), Tim Fedroff (4/17), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), T.J. McFarland (4/17), Thomas Neal (5/1), Giovanni Soto (5/1), Bryce Stowell (4/24), Steven Wright (4/24))
Jose De La Torre/Bryan Price
I’m going to cheat a little with this spot because RP Jose De La Torre and RP Bryan Price pitched relatively poorly in limited innings this past week. De La Torre returned to Akron last week and responded by giving up 4 earned runs in 3 innings of pitching Thursday. Price struggled in similar fashion, giving up 4 earned runs in 4.3 innings of work. That’s a very rough week for those two, but there are encouraging signs. First off, both pitchers performed better than meets the eye (De La Torre: 2.87 FIP, Price: 3.43 FIP). Second, De La Torre and Price have performed much better on the season as a whole (De La Torre: 4.50 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 7.88 SO/9, 4.50 BB/9, 1.50 WHIP in 8.0 IP; Price: 3.18 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 12.18 SO/9, 3.71 BB/9, 1.12 WHIP in 17.0 IP). More than likely, last week was a bump in the road for two relievers who will continue to have strong seasons.
With 3B Kyle Bellows becoming the first 3-time member of either list in these notebooks, it really is looking like the end of the road may be coming up much quicker than anyone could have anticipated. When the .222/.300/.278 slash line, .269 wOBA, .056 ISO and 4:2 SO:BB in 20 PA Bellows posted last week has become par of the course, it’s very clear that you simply cannot hit. Bellows remains an elite defender, but with the way his bat remains stagnated in his second year in Akron, you can’t help but wonder if this will be it for him. His defense will likely keep him in the lineup for the foreseeable future, but if the Indians call up another third baseman or want to shuffle people around to make room for callups (Adam Abraham and Jared Goedert have played 3B in the past), Bellows could be in trouble.
Last week epitomized everything that is wrong with OF Nick Weglarz. His entire value is wrapped up in plate discipline and power, yet he spent another week posting a .235/.278/.235 slash line, .291 wOBA, and 7:1 SO:BB in 18 PA. That’s right, another week with no extra-base hits and a ridiculous amount of strikeouts. Whatever is wrong with Weglarz this year, it does not seem like it can be fixed easily. It might not even be fixable at all. As much as it’d be nice to see Weglarz finally put it all together and make it to the Majors, it really looks like this story will end with Weglarz being DFAed and never making it back to AAA.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Thomas Neal)
(Previous Losers: Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1), Eric Berger (4/17), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24), Nick Weglarz (5/1))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
While 1.006 is only slightly greater than 1, in terms of OPS, it is an impressive one. 1.006 is currently Jared Goedert’s OPS, further highlighting how great of a season he has had to this point. Sure, he’s been fairly lucky (.432 BABIP), is playing down a level, and will be 27 later this month, but when life gives you lemons, you’ve got to make do. Goedert is making the best of a bad situation and will be in Columbus as soon as a spot is open.
It may be one of the smallest of sample sizes available, but Matt Langwell’s 5 batter, 4 strikeout performance from the last week (good for a 80.0 K%) further illustrates the good season he’s posted in Akron this year. In 9 appearances, Langwell has posted an impressive 0.68 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 10.80 SO/9 and 3.38 BB/9. There is some doubt that the Indians value him as much as his numbers would seem to indicate (he keeps getting passed over for promotions), but at the very least, Langwell is a part of a very deep, very valuable bullpen group in the Tribe’s system.
.403 is currently Chun Chen’s BABIP. Yep, there was no possible way to make it through this notebook without me complaining about Chen. I don’t hate him as a player, but his success this year is absolutely unsustainable and hiding the fact that his season is actually a failure to this point. His .348 wOBA – and that’s with being aided by that ridiculous BABIP – is much lower than it should be, his average .108 ISO is does not show the above-average power bat Chen is supposed to have, and his 24.3 K% says that Chen still does not have plate discipline. So people can buy into Chun Chen all they want right now; I need to see him improve and stop skating by on luck before I’ll jump on the bandwagon.
SP Paolo Espino was finally activated to the active roster last week after being placed on the DL after Opening Day for a left oblique strain. For now, it seems he will be working out of the bullpen.
Unfortunately, the Aeros bullpen took a hit over the past week, losing RP Bryce Stowell (right forearm strain) and RP Preston Guilmet (lower back strain) on the DL. As of right now, there is no timetable for either’s return.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 2 RP Jose De La Torre demoted from AAA Columbus
May 4 RP Mason Radeke demoted to A Lake County
May 4 OF Ben Copeland promoted to AAA Columbus
May 6 RP Toru Murata promoted from High-A Carolina
May 6 RP Loek van Mil assigned after trade from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
If you want to follow Jim, he’s @DarkestDiamond
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.