Launching Off With The Aeros: 5/15/12 - 5/21/12
After going 3-5 two weeks ago, the Akron Aeros got back on track over the past week, posting a 5-1 mark to move to 27-14 on the year. Two of those wins – Friday’s and Saturday’s – came with massive offensive breakouts. The Aeros annihilated the Richmond Flying Squirrels by scoring 16 runs on Friday and 15 on Saturday, and then they finished the sweep by winning 3-2 on Monday. They also split two games earlier this week on Tuesday and Wednesday in Erie (a 8-1 win and a 2-1 loss) and took the series opener in Trenton on Monday 5-1.
“There are a lot of good players here. They work hard and they play the game the right way and now they’re getting results from it,” Manager Chris Tremie said of his team’s development on Sunday. “I think it’s what was expected of themselves and they’re proving it.”
The Aeros won’t be home at all this week, as they spend Tuesday through Thursday in Trenton before headed to Erie again Friday through Monday. They will be back in Akron Tuesday, May 29 to host the Bowie Baysox. Akron is currently 5 games up on the Harrisburg Senators in the Western Division and 2 games up on the New Britain Rock Cats for best record in all of the Eastern League.
3B Kyle Bellows denied that finding out that I jumped off of his bandwagon last week inspired him to his dominant .417/.462/.917 slash line, .597 wOBA week when I talked to him on Sunday, but he had some insights into his recent surge. He said he’s been spending plenty of time in the cages and “it’s starting to pay off. I’m just staying out of my own way and playing the game and having fun.” Luckily for the Aeros, Bellows seems to finally be having fun and has raised his season line to a .244/.343/.412 slash line and .353 wOBA. After his terribly slow start, it’s hard to have all be forgiven after one hot week, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
1B Chun Chen continued to swing a hot bat over the past week, posted a ludicrous .500/.593/.591 slash line and .560 wOBA. I still maintain that he’s continuing to be very lucky with his balls in play (.550 BABIP over the past week, .430 BABIP on the season) and should be showing more power (.091 ISO over the past week, .113 ISO on the season), but there are good signs for Chen. He is finally starting to show some plate discipline (7.4 K% over the past week) and is walking more (14.8 BB%). I’m not sure he’s quite ready for a callup to Columbus, but if the Clippers need a first baseman after Matt LaPorta is (potentially) called up to Cleveland, I could see Chen getting the call.
There’s not much more to say about SP T.J. McFarland. In his two starts this week, he showed why the AA level really doesn’t have anything more to offer him right now. McFarland went 14 innings in his two starts, only allowing 1 run, walking none, and striking out 12. After struggling to strike people out earlier in the year, McFarland has shown the ability to get more punch outs while still limiting his walks. His season line is very impressive (8-1 W-L, 1.79 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 5.86 SO/9, 1.79 BB/9) and the Indians should challenge him at the AAA sooner rather than later.
(Honorable Mentions: Ben Copeland, T.J. House, Ryan Rohlinger)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8), Chun Chen (5/15), Tim Fedroff (4/17), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8), Bryce Stowell (4/24), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8))
Well, saying the bullpen is a little unfair; Jose De La Torre and Loek van Mil don’t deserve to be lumped in with the Aeros’ underperforming bullpen from the past week. Overall, though, it was not a great week for the Bullpen Mafia Lite. In 18.2 innings, the bullpen had a 4.34 ERA, 5.77 FIP, and, most damningly, allowed 5 home runs. The bad performances were the responsibility of Rob Bryson, Preston Guilmet, Kyle Landis, Toru Murata, Bryan Price, and Mason Radeke, all players who had been mostly successful for Akron this year. This was likely just a hiccup on an otherwise good year for these guys, but it’s rough that they all had a bad week at the same time.
He had to cool off eventually. OF Tim Fedroff started the year red-hot, but this past week saw him regress to the mean a little bit. He struggled with the bat all week (.136/.240/.273 slash line, .236 wOBA) and saw his plate discipline slip (20.0 K%, 12.0 BB%). After how well Fedroff was hitting earlier in the year, I’m not going to freak out over one bad week, but it bears noting that Fedroff’s season line (.308/.401/.427 slash lie, .372 wOBA) has been slowing creeping down for a while now. He’s still a very good player, so I’d like to see him given the opportunity to prove himself at the next level soon. But if Fedroff continues to struggle, he may see his opportunity vanish. It’s a little early for this, but it bears mentioning.
1B Adam Abraham didn’t have a terrible week, but it was pretty bad (.240/.296/.320 slash line, .279 wOBA). Abraham was kind of lucky on balls in play this past week (.333 BABIP), which makes it worse that his overall stat line was still that bad. Without that luck, he would’ve been much worse off, so it’s good that some of his balls in play found some holes. Also, Abraham’s vaunted plate discipline this year went away (25.9 K%, 7.4 BB%), as did his power (.080 ISO). It’s only one week, though, and I expect Abraham to rebound headed into next week.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Michel Hernandez, Davis Stoneburner)
(Previous Losers: Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15), Rob Bryson (5/15), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1), Toru Murata (5/15), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Bryan Price (5/8), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15), Giovanni Soto (5/15), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8), Steven Wright (5/15))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Early on in the season, SP Giovanni Soto had a high ERA, but was also sporting a sterling SO:BB ratio, pointing to better things to come. Recently, however, Soto has been struggling in that department, posting a 7:9 SO:BB in his past three starts. While I still think that Soto has the potential to be a #3 or #4 starter in the big leagues, his recent struggles with walks are concerning. If this is the league figuring him out, that lends credence to the theory that he’s a bullpen guy long-term. If this is just a rough patch that will pass by, then there’s still hope for Soto’s starting chances. Soto is still at a 37:14 SO:BB for the season (good for a very strong 2.43 FIP), so he’s far from failing, but it’d be nice to see him get fully back on track in his next start.
Before he returned to Akron this week, OF Ben Copeland had posted a terrible .136/.156/.182 slash line and .164 wOBA, only getting a callup to Columbus because the Clippers needed a 4th outfielder. Copeland inexplicably did well in Columbus and has now carried that success over to the Aeros, posting a .412/.444/.588 slash line and an off-the-charts .549 wOBA. While this success is in no way sustainable – there’s a reason Copeland is just organizational depth – but it’s performances like this from unexpected places that have kept the Aeros in 1st place.
1.089 is a bittersweet adieu to former Aeros OF Jared Goedert. That was his OPS during his tenure in Akron, which not shockingly earned him a well-deserved callup to Columbus. It was always clear that Goedert should have been in Columbus all along and was only in Akron because of depth in the upper levels, but the way he tore up Eastern League pitching reminded everyone why he could help a big league club in the very near future. It may not be Cleveland and he may not be able to sustain his success, but after a rough few years, Akron and 2012 will always be a special time for both Goedert and the fans that came out to watch him. We all wish him the best of luck with the Clippers.
Odds & Ends
Now that we’re at the quarter-mark for the baseball season, it’s fair to call some players’ starts into question.
We start with SS Juan Diaz, whose addition to the 40-man roster in the offseason – which raised questions at the time – seems ridiculous now. Diaz’s .239/.288/.358 slash line, .289 wOBA, 21.1 K% and 6.1 BB% wouldn’t be acceptable if this were his first time through AA, let alone someone repeating this level. I know he has the range of a Major League shortstop, but his anemic bat combined with his frustrating inconsistency with routine plays in the field spell major problems for Diaz’s future. I’d assume he’ll get every chance to succeed, but he needs to start showing something soon. The same goes for C Roberto Perez, whose defense can’t make up for his lackluster .216/.327/.318 slash line and .305 wOBA.
OF Thomas Neal continued his turn around in the past week, posting a .348/.360/.435 slash line and .331 wOBA. We’re all still waiting on his power to come back, but with his season line at .284/.368/.353 with a .333 wOBA, he’s on his way to re-establishing his prospect stock.
The bullpen may have struggled this week, but the Aeros starting pitching was solid this week. SP Brett Brach was effective in two starts, going 9 innings while only allowing 9 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Similarly, SP T.J. House didn’t dominate on Friday walking 4 batters, but he made it through 6 innings only allowing 2 hits, 1 run and striking out 5. House in particular has impressed since being called up, posting a 3.91 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 9.00 SO/9, and 3.52 BB/9.
Finally, the Aeros welcomed OF Nick Weglarz back into the fold Monday, where he went an uninspiring 1 for 3 with a strikeout. It's been a rough year for Weglarz, whose .207/.296/.333 slash line and .314 wOBA were major factors in getting him DFAed and clearing waivers in the past week. Maybe now he can work his way back up, but it will be a long road.
It was a fairly active week on the DL for the Aeros, as RP Preston Guilmet was activated Wednesday after dealing with a lower back strain for 2 weeks. Taking his place on the DL was SP Steven Wright, who broke his toe when he was struck by a liner. Both he and RP Bryce Stowell (right forearm strain) do not have set timetables for their return.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 15 RP Mason Radeke promoted from A Lake County
May 16 RP Preston Guilmet activated from DL
May 18 SP Steven Wright placed on DL
May 18 OF Ben Copeland demoted from AAA Columbus
May 18 OF Jared Goedert promoted to AAA Columbus
May 19 SP Paolo Espino demoted from AAA Columbus
May 19 RP Mason Radeke demoted to A Lake County
May 19 OF Nick Weglarz assigned to roster after clearing waivers
May 21 OF Jordan Casas demoted to A Lake County
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