Launching Off With The Aeros: 5/22/12 - 5/28/12
The Akron Aeros spent the entire last week on the road and it left them yearning for the friendly confines of Canal Park. The Aeros went 2-5 between games in Trenton and Erie, leaving them at a still solid 29-19 for the year. That mark puts them 3 games ahead of the Harrisburg Senators in the Western Division and 1 game ahead of the New Britain Rock Cats for best record in the Eastern League.
Over the next week, the Aeros will stop home for a quick 3-game set against the Bowie Baysox Tuesday through Thursday before headed out to Binghamton for a 4-game set Friday through Monday. Then, the Aeros will start a 6-game homestand on June 5th against the New Britain Rock Cats and the Altoona Curve.
A week after cooling off enough to merit being placed in the Temporarily Grounded section, OF Tim Fedroff came back with a vengeance this week. Fedroff posted a .308/.438/.500 slash line and .401 wOBA for the week and – more importantly – drew 6 walks compared to 1 strikeout in 33 plate appearances. The role that Fedroff plays in the Aeros’ offense is table setter, so when he’s getting on base like this and not striking out, he’s helping the whole team. Since we’ve started to see the promotion train working between Cleveland and Columbus, an outfield spot will soon open up for Fedroff to again show what he can do in AAA. He’s done really well in Akron this year (.308/.407/.438 slash line, .377 wOBA, 13.9 K%, 13.9 BB%) and might be able to succeed in Columbus
It’s been a long road back for SP Paolo Espino after he got hurt during his Opening Day start. After his lengthy rehab and recovery, Espino seems to be hitting his groove now. Espino had a 2.70 ERA in his 2 starts this week, going 10 innings with 3 earned runs allowed, 8 hits, 4 walks, and 8 strikeouts. It’s true that Espino isn’t considered much of a prospect and is more of a swing guy for the Tribe, but he’s still a valuable member of the organization. He has done admirably pitching wherever he is needed and will likely get at least a few more spot starts in Columbus before the year is done.
After being named the Eastern League’s player of the week two weeks ago, 3B Kyle Bellows continued his season-turnaround this past week, posting a .320/.393/.360 slash line and .379 wOBA. While the ridiculous power he showed two weeks ago (understandably) regressed, the fact that Bellows controlled the plate (3:3 SO:BB in 28 plate appearances) and got on base. Bellow has a long way to go before fixing his prospect stock, but if he can continue to work his season line (a solid .257/.352/.403 slash line, .358 wOBA) into something spectacular by year’s end, he could end up replacing Lonnie Chisenhall in Columbus for 2013.
(Honorable Mentions: Jose De La Torre, Preston Guilmet, Michel Hernandez, T.J. House, Kyle Landis, Nick Weglarz, Steven Wright)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8), Kyle Bellows (5/22), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22), Tim Fedroff (4/17), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8), Bryce Stowell (4/24), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8))
Rob Bryson/Toru Murata:
It’s not a good sign for anyone if you’re Temporarily Grounded three weeks in a row. But if you’re a reliever pulling that off, it’s even worse. RPs Rob Bryson and Toru Murata have now accomplished that feat, and both will have a lot of work to do to re-establish themselves as real prospects going forward. For Bryson, the root of the problem is the 8.44 BB/9 he’s had over the past three weeks. There’s no pitcher on Earth that can succeed with that sort of control issue. For Murata, the walks are also an issue, albeit a slightly lesser one (7.88 BB/9). As long as both Bryson and Murata figure out their walk issues quickly, both can help both the Aeros and the Indians in the short- and long-term. If they continue their massive struggles, however, they’ll both flame out here in Akron.
The descent of 1B/DH Adam Abraham over the past two weeks has been hard to watch. As someone whose big calling card is squeezing the most out of his less-than-stellar physical gifts, it’s hard not to root for Abraham. He had a real rough go of things last week, however (.214/.241/.393 slash line, .262 wOBA, 26.7 K%, 3.3 BB), compounding his bad two week stretch (.226/.268/.358 slash line, .270 wOBA, 26.3 K%, 5.3 BB%). Before these past two weeks, Abraham had been a revelation, posting an outstanding .271/.411/.494 slash line, .422 wOBA, 11.2 K%, and 18.7 BB%. His season line is still at a respectable .254/.362/.442 slash line, .369 wOBA, 16.5 K%, and 14.0 BB%, but if he continues this slide, he’ll be in real trouble fast.
The honeymoon didn’t last long for OF Ben Copeland. After his dominant week two weeks ago, Copeland came crashing down hard last week, posting .105/.190/.211 slash line, .186 wOBA, and 28.6 K% in 21 plate appearances. It was always clear that his hot week was the outlier and this past week is the real Ben Copeland, which is too bad. This past week proved once again that Copeland is really just organizational depth and shouldn’t be playing every day. Hopefully the Aeros will callup one of their better prospects (like Tyler Holt) to take the spot Copeland is currently inhabiting, because he isn’t going to do much with it long-term.
(Dishonorable Mentions: T.J. McFarland, Davis Stoneburner)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1), Tim Fedroff (5/22), Preston Guilmet (5/22), Kyle Landis (5/22), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), 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.
After a 10 starts, an 8-2 record, 60.1 innings pitched, a 2.69 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and, possibly most importantly, a 2.65 FIP, SP T.J. McFarland finally got the call to AAA Columbus. He’s been a groundball machine this year and despite his lack of strikeouts (only a 6.12 SO/9), his 3.42 SO:BB has kept opposing lineups at bay. His callup is well deserved and I wish him the best of luck proving himself at the next level.
Conversely, SS Juan Diaz’s week .232/.280/.348 slash line and .281 wOBA do not point to someone ready for the rigors of the Major Leagues – just someone called up due to dire circumstances. While Diaz has managed to have some success in his short time with the Indians (.273/.385/.273 slash line, .312 wOBA), the fact that he hasn’t been able to handle AA pitching in 34 games this year means his success is likely short-lived. He should be back down with Akron soon enough where he can work on legitimately getting called up to the Majors.
In the past week, 26.7 was both the K% and BB% for C Roberto Perez. At this point, that seems to be Perez’s biggest strength and flaw: he manages to draw walks but strikes out so much it largely doesn’t matter. The meager .111/.429/.111 slash line and .302 wOBA that Perez posted over the last week could have been worse, but stats like that are largely forgettable in the big picture. Perez really needs to get his bat going to complement his good 13.3 BB% on the season, otherwise he’ll be just another backup catcher with great defense and no bat.
Odds & Ends
Both 1B Chun Chen (.240/.321/.400 slash line, .318 wOBA, 25.0 K%) and OF Thomas Neal (.316/.350/.421 slash line, .340 wOBA, 30.0 K%) had decent weeks marred by high strikeout rates. They are certainly capable of more, and the Aeros will need to see them fulfill that in order to win more games next week.
2B/SS Ryan Rohlinger did a good job drawing walks last week (27.3 BB%), but unfortunately he wasn’t able to do much when he actually made contact with the ball (.214/.429/.214 slash line, .319 wOBA). 2B/SS Davis Stoneburner had a little more success with the bat (.118 ISO), but didn’t walk or really produce at all (.235/.263/.353 slash line, .263 wOBA, 5.3 BB%). It was nice to see 2B Matt Lawson back in an Aeros uniform after he voluntarily retired last year, and maybe he’ll be able to produce a bit more than he did in his 3 games this week (a solid .375/.333/.375 slash line but weak .270 wOBA).
OF Nick Weglarz was very good in limited time (.400/.500/.500 slash line, .501 wOBA), but with a 28.6 K% and a recent history of poor performances, it’s going to take more than 14 plate appearances to convince anyone that he’s back.
SP Brett Brach has certainly had better starts than his outing Saturday (3.2 innings, 3 earned runs, 5 total runs, 8 hits, 2 walks), but his solid underlying 2.65 FIP for the day and 2.59 FIP for the year in Akron show a pitcher that is pitching well all things considered. The other starters for the week pitched well, but they all had their warts. SP Giovanni Soto struck out 9 and only walked 1 in 7 innings Thursday, but his day was soured by giving up 2 home runs. SP T.J. House was also solid in 7 innings on Wednesday, striking out 4, walking 1, hitting 1 batter and giving up 1 home run, getting the win. Finally, SP Steven Wright pitched adequately in his return from the DL Sunday (no runs allowed, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks), but he only made it through 3 innings and 55 pitches as a precaution.
It was a good week for the Aeros on the DL front, as they got RP Bryce Stowell (right forearm strain) and SP Steven Wright (broken toe) back. They currently have no players on the DL, though it’s doubtful it’ll stay that way for long.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 22 RP Bryce Stowell activated from DL
May 25 2B Matt Lawson promoted from low-A Mahoning Valley
May 25 SS Juan Diaz promoted to Cleveland
May 27 SP T.J. McFarland promoted to AAA Columbus
May 27 SP Steven Wright activated from DL
May 28 C Michel Hernandez promoted to AAA Columbus
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