Launching off with the Aeros: 5/14/13 – 5/20/13
Akron falls to 20-24 after a down week
Things just did not come together for the Akron Aeros over the past week as the team dropped five out of six games and fell to 20-24 on the season. This Akron team remains young and talented, though manager Edwin Rodriguez knows the key ingredient missing right now.
"We keep preaching that [they need] consistency," Rodriguez said of how his team needs to improve. "The difference between minor leagues and big leagues? It's consistency. If you get to Double-A, it's because you have the talent to pitch in the big leagues, or to play in the big leagues.
"It's the consistency part of that, it will keep you out of there or it will get you there."
Akron will look to work on gaining that consistency at home Tuesday through Thursday as they finish out a homestand against the Bowie Baysox. The Aeros will then go on the road for a four-game series against the Erie SeaWolves before returning home next Tuesday.
Tyler Holt, OF
.360/.385/.680 line, .529 wOBA, 9-for-25, 6 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1:1 SO:BB, 1 SB, 1 CS in 27 PA
Holt may have started the year ice-cold, but the outfielder turned it around after the first few weeks and looks good out there on the field. His line is up to .272/.354/.414 (with a sustainable .310 BABIP) and his 26:20 SO:BB in 197 plate appearances show someone prepped to be a tablesetter at the top of the lineup.
The outfielder has also gone all-out on defense, making all sorts of great plays in the field. He can get a little reckless at times (like when he dives or jumps into the wall), but Holt says he has no plans to change how he plays.
"Play after play, you just get used to it," Holt said of playing recklessly. "At this age, you just know. I've been an outfielder since I was a little guy, so I know how to take hits."
"He's all over the place," Rodriguez said. "If he's not the best center fielder in the league... he's one of the best...If you are pre-programmed to play that way, if you try to slow down, you might get hurt.
Rodriguez also noted that he has not told Holt to tone it down, joking that "he won't listen anyway. He never listens."
Holt is the kind of hard worker that you want on your team. Assuming he can keep his bat going and stays healthy, he will likely play in the big leagues in some capacity.
Brett Myers & Blake Wood, RHPs
2 GS, 0.00 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 0.00 SO/9, 2.25 BB/9, 0.50 WHIP, 1 H, 0 R, 0:1 SO:BB in 4.0 IP
It was rehab week in Akron, as Myers and Wood joined the team for major league rehab assignments. Myers started Friday's game, posting three scoreless innings with one hit and one walk. Wood followed suit on Saturday, going three-up, three-down in his only inning.
The results were there for Myers and Wood, though the process may not be sustainable. Wood's outing was not long enough to draw many conclusions from, but the severe lack of swing-and-miss in Myers' start is not a good sign. As everybody knows, Myers struggled mightily during his time in Cleveland pre-injury and is still having difficulty getting Double-A hitters to miss.
It was only three innings, but the early scouting reports on Myers were not positive. Myers will look to keep getting results and hopefully dominate a little more during his next rehab start on Wednesday.
Rob Bryson, Cole Cook, Jose Flores, Bryan Price, RHPs
9 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.79 FIP, 6.35 SO/9, 0.00 BB/9, 0.35 WHIP, 4 H, 0 R, 8:0 SO:BB, in 11.1 IP
Some parts of the bullpen imploded over the past week, but the quartet of Bryson, Cook, Flores, and Price shut down opposing hitters.
Bryson had some issues in his first exposure to Triple-A (5.14 ERA, 14:12 SO:BB in 14.0 innings) but has looked good in his return to Akron. Hopefully the right-hander only needs a little time to regroup before forging ahead in Columbus again.
Price was in a similar spot, only getting two appearances before coming back to Akron. He has not allowed a run in 11 Double-A appearances, though, and should make his way back to Triple-A before too much longer.
Flores has dominated in 2013, taking over the back-end of Akron's bullpen while only allowing two runs in 20.2 innings. He does not have plus stuff, but Flores makes what he has play up with some nice deception in his delivery.
As for Cook, the right-hander's season is still ugly (7.94 ERA, 6.02 FIP in 22.2 innings), though his last two appearances have been spotless. This could be Cook adjusting to being an established member of the Double-A bullpen, though he needs to keep this up to erase his early season scuffles.
(Honorable Mentions: Chun-Hsiu Chen, Paolo Espino, Bo Greenwell, Toru Murata, Matt Packer, Roberto Perez, Jose Ramirez, Will Roberts, Ronny Rodriguez)
(Previous Winners: Austin Adams (5/14), Chun-Hsiu Chen (4/16, 4/30, 5/14), Jose Flores (5/14), Trey Haley (5/14), Tyler Holt (4/23), T.J. House (4/9, 4/23), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7), Toru Murata (4/9), Bryan Price (5/14), Jose Ramirez (4/9, 4/30), Danny Salazar (4/23, 4/30, 5/7), Bryce Stowell (5/14), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7))
Trey Haley, RHP
2 G, 94.50 ERA, 31.70 FIP, 13.50 SO/9, 94.50 BB/9, 18.00 WHIP, 5 H, 7 ER, 1:7 SO:BB in 0.2 IP
There just is not much to say about Haley's struggles over the past week. His ability to throw strikes can come and go, and man did it go in this case. His manager agrees, noting that Haley's problems are mostly mental.
"He's struggling throwing strikes," Rodriguez said. "He just can't repeat his delivery and I think he's pressing now because of that. He had a bad outing in Binghamton... now he's pressing because before that he was fine.
"It's not like he got a new arm. He's the same Haley, it's just more mental."
Haley has walked 26.4 percent of batters on the season, a comical number if he somehow kept it up. The right-hander has so much talent, but until he starts throwing the ball over the plate, he will be stuck in neutral.
Jordan Cooper, RHP
1 GS, 10.80 ERA, 5.60 FIP, 9.00 SO/9, 5/40 BB/9, 1.80 WHIP, 6 H, 6 ER, 5:3 SO:BB, 1 HR in 5.0 IP
Since being called up Cooper has done nothing but impressed. That is, until this past week.
Still, one bad start does not erase the impressive way Cooper pitched after making it to Double-A for the first time. The right-hander only allowed three runs in his first 14.0 innings with a 13:5 SO:BB, but Wednesday's outing bumped his ERA from 1.93 to 4.26.
Cooper is not a high priority prospect, but assuming that his first few outings are the real Cooper -- not his past week -- then he should have a nice, long career of filling bulk innings and throwing strikes.
Quincy Latimore, OF
.188/.300/.188 line, .245 wOBA, 3-for-16, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5:2 SO:BB, 1 HBP, 0 SB in 20 PA
Defense, hitting, and walking are not Latimore's forte; in order for the outfielder to find success, he needs to be hitting for power. Over the past two years, Latimore has hit 30 home runs and 56 doubles. This year, it is only five and five.
Especially when he has weeks like this, Latimore is not of much use to the team. His power escaped him for the past five games, leaving Latimore with a limited amount he can add. Since he has shown it at the Double-A level before, I expect the power the return for Latimore. Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later, as players in the level below like Tyler Naquin are pushing for his spot.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Austin Adams, Jesus Aguilar, Jake Lowery, Carlos Moncrief, Bryce Stowell, Justin Toole, Giovanny Urshela)
(Previous Losers: Austin Adams (4/23), Jesus Aguilar (5/7, 5/14), Shawn Armstrong (4/23), Brett Brach (4/23), Cole Cook (4/23, 5/14), Paolo Espino (4/16), Tyler Holt (4/9), T.J. House (4/16), Kyle Landis (4/23), Quincy Latimore (4/23), Fabio Martinez (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/9, 4/30), Toru Murata (4/16), Matt Packer (4/9, 4/16, 4/30), Edward Paredes (4/16, 4/23), Jose Ramirez (4/16, 5/7), Ronny Rodriguez (4/9, 4/23, 5/7, 5/14), Danny Salazar (4/16), Giovanny Urshela (4/9, 4/30), Robert Whitenack (4/23))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Designated hitter/first baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen finally got the call to Triple-A this past week after posting a .328/.427/.547 line in 164 plate appearances. Most importantly, Chen's power returned, as he hit six home runs during that time -- one more than all of last year. Some of his success is unsustainable, as evidenced by his .424 BABIP, but that power is what will make or break Chen.
For what it's worth, his manager thinks he has what it takes.
"He's a very good hitter," Rodriguez said. "It's a matter of finding a position for him. But he's a very good first baseman, he can catch, and there's no question about his offense.
"He will hit anywhere, and I'm talking anywhere, even the big leagues."
Time will tell how Chen adjusts to Triple-A, but at least he is getting the chance to show what he can do. After his time in Akron, it is nice to see him getting that opportunity.
Somehow we have reached the point where outfielder Carlos Moncrief is routinely hitting home runs over the 60-foot batter's eye in center field that is 400 feet from home plate in Canal Park. Moncrief launched another one Sunday afternoon, not something that surprised his manager.
"His power is up the middle," Rodriguez said about Moncrief's ability to hit it over the batter's eye. "If he tries to pull the ball, he won't show that kind of power. He will hit line drives to right field, but his power is up the middle, center field."
Moncrief's week was not all that good (.174/.240/.348) and his season leaves something to be desired (.241/.315/.359). The important thing for Moncrief is making the adjustments necessary to be successful at Double-A. This jump from High-A to Double-A may be the hardest in baseball and how Moncrief fares the rest of the season will be indicative of what kind of prospect he really is.
Right-hander Toru Murata was summoned from Columbus for a start Monday night and he picked up right where he left off, posting a 2.57 ERA in seven innings. Murata has not pitched much in Akron, but in his 29.1 innings, he has a strong 3.38 ERA, 8.28 SO/9, and 1.23 BB/9.
No one is pretending that newly 28-year-old pitcher (his birthday was yesterday) is a major league option, but his high-strikeout, low-walk combination makes him extremely valuable to a team like the Aeros. He gets the job done, throws well, and keeps Akron in the game; you can't ask for much more than that.
Odds & Ends
Akron's up-the-middle combination of Jose Ramirez (.308/.357/.385) and Ronny Rodriguez (.250/.250/.500) was good this week, though Rodriguez does need to get on base more consistently in addition to hitting for power. Both are top prospects and young, however, and should improve and adjust as the season continues.
As a byproduct of the two rehab assignments, right-hander Will Roberts (1.80 ERA, 2.80 FIP in 5.0 innings) and left-hander Matt Packer (1.80 ERA, 2.60 FIP in 5.0 innings) technically pitched out of the bullpen despite being starters. Both took it well, though, and should return to starting once these rehab assignments end.
First baseman Jesus Aguilar avoided striking out too much, posting a 2:3 SO:BB in 21 plate appearances, but he also had no extra-base hits. Hopefully Aguilar will find a way to put it all together -- hitting for power and not striking out too much -- in the weeks ahead. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela had the same problem, turning in a weak .222/.263/.222 line that simply lacked any power.
Catcher Roberto Perez may not have hit very well, going 2-for-9 over the past week, but he did walk in six of his 15 plate appearances. If you're not going to hit well, Perez has the right idea, adding those walks to balance it out.
Nothing changed with Akron's disabled list over the past week, with catcher Alex Lavisky (fractured left big toe), right-handers Shawn Armstrong (right hand contusion) and Kyle Landis (right lat strain), and left-hander Mike Rayl (left forearm strain) all remaining on the DL. No timetables have been released for any of the injured players.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 17 - RHP Brett Myers received on major league rehab assignment
May 17 - RHP Brett Brach promoted to Triple-A Columbus
May 17 - RHP Toru Murata demoted from Triple-A Columbus
May 18 - RHP Blake Wood received on major league rehab assignment
May 18 - RHP Brett Brach demoted from Triple-A Columbus
May 19 - 1B/DH Chun Chen promoted to Triple-A Columbus
May 19 - OF Bo Greenwell demoted to High-A Carolina
May 19 - OF Cedric Hunter demoted from Triple-A Columbus
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