Launching off with the Aeros: 5/21/13 – 5/27/13
Akron continues to slide down standings after another rough week
The Akron Aeros stumbled over the past week, dropping five of seven games and falling to a 22-29 record. After the team's recent string of losses, the Aeros are 10 games behind the Erie SeaWolves and only 1.5 games ahead of the last-place Altoona Curve.
Before heading out on the road, manager Edwin Rodriguez reiterated his belief that his team needs to focus on taking it one day at a time.
"If they take that approach," Rodriguez said. "Not only to their game but to their career, chances are it will improve their chances to play in the big leagues because it's a long season and if you start worrying about what's going to happen a week from now, you're going to go crazy."
There is no way to know if the Aeros made sure to take it one day at a time or not, but either way, the team needs to turn things around starting tonight with a three-game homestand against the Harrisburg Senators.
Cedric Hunter, LF
.333/.429/1.056 line, .574 wOBA, 6-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4:3 SO:BB, 1 CS in 21 PA
With results like this, what on Earth could Hunter be doing stuck in Double-A?
"The main reason that Hunter is here is to work on some things on his swing," Rodriguez said. "He's a solid player, but he needs at bats. That's why the sent him here, to work on little things, details on his swing."
Only 27 plate appearances into his Akron Aeros career, it looks like Hunter is ready to get going back up to Triple-A again. Hunter is far from a priority prospect -- so he probably does not figure heavily into the organization's plans -- but hitting like this is how you turn some heads. The power will subside, but overall, Hunter is simply destroying Eastern League pitching.
Matt Packer, LHP
1 GS, 0.00 ERA, 0.34 FIP, 12.86 SO/9, 0.00 BB/9, 0.71 WHIP, 5 H, 0 R, 10:0 SO:BB in 7.0 IP
And to think I was concerned about Packer at the beginning of the year.
Sometimes pitchers just lose it and can't find it again. Other times, pitchers only lose it for a few starts and get it back. Right now, we have to assume that Packer simply faltered coming out of the gate but has turned it around.
In his start Friday night at Erie, Packer completely shut down the SeaWolves for seven innings, scattering five hits with no walks, no runs, and 10 strikeouts. Packer is known for his control but certainly not that kind of strikeout ability.
On the season, Packer owns a 3.33 ERA and 3.39 FIP in 54.0 innings, even with those early season struggles. The left-hander may not have come into the season with much prospect helium, but Packer is certainly doing his best to catch some now.
Ronny Rodriguez, SS/2B
.333/.357/.556 line, .389 wOBA, 9-for-27, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 28 PA
Well, maybe this is the beginning of things turning around for Rodriguez. Sure, looking at his season line of .239/.258/.364 leaves one disheartened, but the key for Rodriguez was always going to be how he adjusted to his first month or so of Double-A.
At the risk of taking a small sample size and chopping it down even future, over the past two weeks, Rodriguez owns a .302/.318/.535 line and 5:1 SO:BB in 44 plate appearances. Yes that is far too few walks, but what is most important is that Rodriguez is getting hits and showing the power that made him stand out last year.
These past few weeks could just be small sample size noise. They could also be Rodriguez making the adjustment to a new level after an insanely slow start just like in 2012. No one knows for sure which is right; we will just have to wait and see.
(Honorable Mentions: Jesus Aguilar, Carlos Moncrief, Roberto Perez, Bryce Stowell, Enosil Tejeda, Blake Wood)
(Previous Winners: Austin Adams (5/14), Rob Bryson (5/21), Chun-Hsiu Chen (4/16, 4/30, 5/14), Cole Cook (5/21), Jose Flores (5/14, 5/21), Trey Haley (5/14), Tyler Holt (4/23, 5/21), T.J. House (4/9, 4/23), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7), Toru Murata (4/9), Brett Myers (5/21), Bryan Price (5/14, 5/21), 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), Blake Wood (5/21))
Austin Adams, Rob Bryson, Cole Cook, Jose Flores, Rob Nixon, & Bryan Price, RHPs
11 G, 9.49 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 10.95 SO/9, 9.49 BB/9, 2.43 WHIP, 17 H, 13 ER, 15:13 SO:BB, 1 HR in 12.1 IP
As anyone who watched the Cleveland bullpen over the past few days can attest, sometimes a bullpen just goes bad. The Akron Aeros had the same experience, with Adams, Bryson, Cook, Flores, Nixon, and Price combining for an ugly 9.49 ERA and an even uglier 9.49 BB/9 over the past week.
The sextet overpowered the opposition with strikeouts -- something the team as a whole has done well in 2013 -- but could not find the plate consistently. This has been a recurring problem with the team, with far too many pitchers issuing copious amounts of free passes.
The walks will always be a byproduct of having the type of power arms Akron employs, but until they can limit the walks at least a little bit, the results will be far from pretty.
Quincy Latimore, DH
.130/.276/.130 line, .218 wOBA, 3-for-23, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2:4 SO:BB, 1 HBP, 0 SB in 29 PA
On the bright side, Latimore found a way to draw more walks than he typically does. The bad news is it was accompanied by a complete loss of his power. Now, one week without power is not the end of the world, but it is the continuation of a problem for Latimore in 2013.
To date, Latimore has five home runs and five doubles and only a .128 ISO. Last year, in Latimore's second time through the Eastern League, the outfielder hit 15 home runs and 24 doubles while posting a .181 ISO. The samples are obviously a little different, but the downward trend of Latimore's power in 2013 is concerning.
Latimore only played designated hitter over the past week -- possibly a referendum on his poor defense -- so he really needs to be hitting for power. If that does not come back, Latimore will find himself even farther down on the priority list.
7 G (5 GS), 7.45 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 7.14 SO/9, 4.66 BB/9, 1.79 WHIP, 37 H, 25 R (24 ER), 23:15 SO:BB, 3 HR, 3 HBP in 29.0 IP
When a team loses five out of seven games, there is a pretty strong chance that starting pitching is one of the culprits. Two of these appearances came in relief as Akron's starting rotation was shifted around, but the point still stands.
The graduation of Danny Salazar and T.J. House to Columbus has left the state of Akron's starting pitching a little shaky. The Aeros went from having the #5 and #24 prospects in their rotation to having #45 (Packer), #75 (Cooper), #76 (Espino), #97 (Murata), an unranked pitcher (Brach), and someone struggling on a major league rehab assignment (Myers). Akron has some good performers in their rotation, but sometimes weeks like this will happen without a truly elite stopper at the top.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez, 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), Jordan Cooper (5/21), Paolo Espino (4/16), Trey Haley (5/21), Tyler Holt (4/9), T.J. House (4/16), Kyle Landis (4/23), Quincy Latimore (4/23, 5/21), 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.
Catcher Roberto Perez went to the plate 20 times over the past week and walked in 10 of them. That just is not supposed to happen. Perez has certainly shown the ability to draw walks in his career but getting them at a 50 percent rate is obviously extreme. The catcher currently owns a very high on-base percentage in Akron this year (.431), though he is still struggling when it comes to hitting the ball (.237 batting average). Perez will probably only be a depth catcher in the minor leagues due to his good defense-no bat combination, but it is great to see him draw walks like this and help his team.
Right fielder Carlos Moncrief, however, went the other way, striking out 11 times in 30 plate appearances over the past week. Granted, that high number of strikeouts did not drag down Moncrief's overall line (.296/.367/.519), but it is still not something you want to see. Moncrief talked last week about how he needs to constantly remember to make adjustments when at the plate (like not only look for fastballs in fastball counts or breaking balls in breaking ball counts) now that he's in Double-A, though he forgets from time to time. The outfielder has treaded water so far in his first experience in Akron (.250/.323/.384 in 196 plate appearances), though hopefully he will continue to adjust and see his power come through a little more.
Center fielder Tyler Holt did not do exceptionally well over the past week, but he ran out there every day and has pretty good stats on the year (.266/.347/.402). He has appeared in 49 of 51 games this year -- most on the Aeros -- and is a top defender in the field.
"When you get that feel from any position," E. Rodriguez said. "That whatever's hit that way is going to be an out, you're talking about a big leaguer... He's a big leaguer out there."
Holt is durable, he is consistent, and he catches almost everything hit to center field. With 104 Double-A games under his belt, it would not surprise me to see Holt make his way up to Columbus sometime around the All-Star break.
Odds & Ends
First baseman Jesus Aguilar got back on track over the past week, hitting .333/.433/.500 with a 2:5 SO:BB. Power, plate discipline, and hitting; if Aguilar keeps this going, everything will work out just fine.
Utility man Justin Toole kept hitting in limited time (.556/.600/.778 in 10 plate appearances), spending his two games in left field. It is nice to see Toole still hitting, though his presence in left field instead of Latimore in very interesting if one wants to read between the lines.
Second baseman/shortstop Jose Ramirez (.219/.265/.313 in 34 plate appearances) and third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.185/.185/.296 in 28 plate appearances) did not have strong weeks, but their combined .212 BABIP suggests that they will improve in time.
There was no movement on or off the disabled list in Akron, 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 inactive.
Catcher Roberto Perez left Sunday's game after being hit by a pitch, with Twitter saying that the pitch hit him in the hand (hat tip to @stepbron). Perez did not play Monday, though there is a chance he was just given a routine day off.
Right-hander Trey Haley did not pitch over the past week after walking seven batters in his previous 0.2 innings. There has been nothing released on a possible injury, but his lack of work combined with extreme wildness does not look good.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 24 - RHP Bryan Price promoted to Triple-A Columbus
May 24 - RHP Enosil Tejeda promoted from High-A Carolina
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