Launching off with the Aeros: 5/28/13 – 6/3/13
Winning week begins Akron's push toward .500
The Akron Aeros won four of their six games over the past week and moved to 26-31 on the season. The team remains in fifth place in the Western Division -- six games out of first place -- though the Aeros began to climb out of the hole they dug by losing 12 of 15 from May 13-May 28.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez was impressed with how his team played over the past week, particularly in their 15-inning victory Thursday night against the Harrisburg Senators.
"More than the win, I think that we are very pleased with the way the guys played," Rodriguez said of the extra inning win. "They showed character [and] they showed intensity. It got to the point where whatever the outcome would be, I was pleased [with] the way they were playing."
The Aeros will look to keep that intensity and character going as they start a six-game homestand against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Portland Sea Dogs tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Ronny Rodriguez, 2B
.450/.476/.700 line, .501 wOBA, 9-for-20, 5 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 21 PA
Since May 14, Rodriguez has a .349/.369/.587 line, a .406 wOBA, a .238 ISO, four doubles, one triple, and three home runs. Also during that stretch, Rodriguez has cut down on his strikeouts, though the walks still are not there (8:2 SO:BB in 65 plate appearances).
After preaching about the dangers of small sample sizes, it may seem wrong to ignore Rodriguez's first 149 plate appearances for his most recent 65. We do not know if Rodriguez has made any adjustments, but heating up like this fits with Rodriguez's pattern from 2012:
April 2012: .203/.241/.304, 18:4 SO:BB in 83 plate appearances
May-September 2012: .277/.313/.484, 70:15 SO:BB in 397 plate appearances
We have to continue to wait and see how this unfolds, but there are some encouraging signs. The jump to Double-A is very hard and Rodriguez is a year young for this level. Would it surprise me if Rodriguez just needed a while to adjust? Not at all.
.333/.500/.417 line, .426 wOBA, 4-for-12, 2 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4:4 SO:BB, 0 SB in 16 PA
Perez is known as a good defender behind the plate who simply does not hit enough to be a big league regular. So far in 2013, Perez is trying to prove that he does not need to actually "hit" to find success.
In 118 plate appearances with the Aeros, Perez has a 22.9 BB% and a .441 on-base percentage. The power has not been all that great -- five doubles and two home runs -- but who needs power when you can just get on base?
To be fair, there is no way that Perez will keep this extreme walk rate up without the threat of some hitting or power, but there is something to be said about just getting on base and Perez is doing just that.
Jose Ramirez, SS
.346/.414/.462 line, .365 wOBA, 9-for-26, 4 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2:3 SO:BB, 2 SB, 1 CS in 31 PA
If we are giving Rodriguez credit and slack for being a year young for the Double-A level, then Ramirez deserves even more since he is two years young for the level after skipping High-A. Ramirez turned in a very good week and has done pretty well in 2013 all things considered (.264/.329/.333 line, 20:20 SO:BB in 214 plate appearances).
Interestingly, in all six of Akron's game over the past week, Ramirez played shortstop while Rodriguez played second base. The two had been switching back and forth on occasion, but it typically was Ramirez only taking one or two games at shortstop.
Such a dramatic switch will be interesting to follow as a decision may have been reached on Rodriguez's ability to stick at shortstop. Or maybe it is nothing. Either way, it is something to watch over the next week.
(Honorable Mentions: Austin Adams, Cole Cook, Jose Flores, Carlos Moncrief, Rob Nixon, Matt Packer, Will Roberts, Enosil Tejeda, Giovanny Urshela)
(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), Cedric Hunter (5/28), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7), Toru Murata (4/9), Brett Myers (5/21), Matt Packer (5/28), Bryan Price (5/14, 5/21), Jose Ramirez (4/9, 4/30), Ronny Rodriguez (5/28), Danny Salazar (4/23, 4/30, 5/7), Bryce Stowell (5/14), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7), Blake Wood (5/21))
Robert Whitenack, RHP
2 GS, 21.00 ERA, 9.03 FIP, 6.00 SO/9, 15.00 BB/9, 3.67 WHIP, 12 H, 14 ER, 4:10 SO:BB, 1 HR, 1 HBP in 6.0 IP
There is not much more to write about Whitenack, who has as many outs as runs allowed (18) with Akron in 2013. He certainly has a live arm -- otherwise he would not be given any more chances -- but he really needs to put the pieces back together.
In order for Whitenack to even have a chance of success, he needs to stop walking batters. He has 11 walks in 43 batters faced in 2013 -- a terrible 25.6 BB% -- and all his problems likely stem from this. He has not thrown the ball over the plate, and when it actually makes it over, hitters have tattooed the ball (15 hits).
This is not an easy situation to fix, but he needs to correct things fast. I cannot imagine that he will get many more chances if he keeps pitching like this.
Adam Abraham, 1B/3B/LF/DH
.154/.214/.192 line, .192 wOBA, 4-for-26, 1 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 9:2 SO:BB, 0 SB in 28 PA
Playing sparingly in Columbus, Abraham struggled to a .247/.310/.351 line in 21 games and was sent down to Akron to get more consistent playing time. The playing time was there for Abraham as he played in all six of Akron's games over the past week, but the results simply did not follow.
One explanation is that Abraham is simply knocking the rust off. He also still does not have a set position as he bounced between first base, third base, left field, and designated hitter. One thing that is for certain, though, is that Abraham will keep his head down and work hard. Things should turn for Abraham in time.
Nate Spears, 3B/DH
.167/.286/.222 line, .248 wOBA, 3-for-18, 1 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3:3 SO:BB, 0 SB in 21 PA
Similar to Abraham, Spears had some rust to knock off as he came to Akron. Not similar to Abraham, Spears had even more after missing the entire season with a back strain.
Spears did not hit the ground running, though that is not a surprise after missing multiple months. The more important thing for Spears is that he is back in action. The 28-year-old only has eight major league plate appearances and is not likely an option in Cleveland, but it is good to see him healthy and playing. Just because he is not likely an option does not mean he is guaranteed to not be an option. Baseball can be a weird game.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Jesus Aguilar, Quincy Latimore)
(Previous Losers: Austin Adams (4/23, 5/28), Jesus Aguilar (5/7, 5/14), Shawn Armstrong (4/23), Brett Brach (4/23, 5/28), Rob Bryson (5/28), Cole Cook (4/23, 5/14, 5/28), Jordan Cooper (5/21, 5/28), Paolo Espino (4/16, 5/28), Jose Flores (5/28), Trey Haley (5/21), Tyler Holt (4/9), T.J. House (4/16), Kyle Landis (4/23), Quincy Latimore (4/23, 5/21, 5/28), Fabio Martinez (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/9, 4/30), Toru Murata (4/16, 5/28), Brett Myers (5/28), Rob Nixon (5/28), Matt Packer (4/9, 4/16, 4/30), Edward Paredes (4/16, 4/23), Bryan Price (5/28), 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.
A bad game or two can make a bullpen look much worse than it actually is and that has happened from time to time in Akron this season. The majority of Akron's relievers did well over the past week, posting a 1.29 ERA and helping the Aeros win four of six.
Right-handers Austin Adams, Cole Cook, Jose Flores, Rob Nixon, and Enosil Tejeda all impressed, even if Nixon was sent down to Carolina after Thursday's game. This group overpowered opponents (32.5 K%) while limiting their walks (6.0 BB%).
Adams (3.54 ERA, 2.95 FIP in 20.1 IP) and Flores (1.65 ERA, 2.07 FIP in 27.1 IP) definitely deserve a shot in Columbus sooner rather than later and hopefully they will get it. They may pitch completely differently -- Adams with power and Flores with deception -- but both need to be challenged by Triple-A.
They may not have been as overpowering as the relievers, but Akron's starting pitching (outside of Whitenack) gave the Aeros chances to win all week. The Aeros went 4-0 in games started by right-handers Brett Brach, Toru Murata, Will Roberts, and left-hander Matt Packer, even if those pitchers did have their issues.
Each starter allowed a home run in their start over the past week -- Murata gave up two -- driving their FIP up to a not-so-good 4.68 figure. Still, while these four are not top prospects, their 23:6 SO:BB in 25.0 innings is very good and they will not allow home runs every time. The long balls will regress, and assuming these four keep striking batters out and avoiding walks, good results will continue to come.
Now that we are 51 games and 223 plate appearances into first baseman Jesus Aguilar's season, I think it is time to be a little concerned with his power production. The .126 ISO he has right now is comparable to tablesetter center fielder Tyler Holt (.122), not something you want to see out of one of your top power prospects. Aguilar is not a failure -- he is only 71 games into his Double-A career -- but some growth is still needed. He needs to make more solid contact and really let his power come out. It is there, as anyone who has seen him home runs can attest, but getting to it consistently is the key.
Odds & Ends
Speaking of Holt, the center fielder posted a solid line, though it lacked any power (.348/.360/.348). The power is not as important, though. As long as Holt is getting on base and playing great defense, things are working out.
Right fielder Carlos Moncrief (.300/.391/.450) and third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.333/.368/.500) both turned in great weeks as they both continue to look to establish themselves in their first year in Double-A.
Outfielder Quincy Latimore (.217/.217/.261) stumbled again this past week, dropping his season line to .229/.303/.346 in 201 plate appearances. This being his third season in Double-A, he needs to get it going before top prospect (and current Carolina Mudcat) Tyler Naquin pushes Latimore out of the starting picture.
Catcher Lou Marson made a brief stop on his rehab tour in Akron, going 1-for-3. His road back to Cleveland still has quite a few steps left, though, and he is currently working in Columbus.
Outfielder Cedric Hunter was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain after running into a wall while making a catch last week. There is no established timetable for his return, though first indications were that Hunter will not be back soon.
Right-hander Trey Haley once again did not pitch this past week, furthering (my) speculation that he is hurting right now. He is not on the disabled list, but it is not normal for pitchers to be shut down for more than two weeks for no reason.
Catcher Alex Lavisky (fractured left big toe), right-handers Shawn Armstrong (right hand contusion) and Kyle Landis (right lat strain), left-hander Mike Rayl (left forearm strain), and third baseman Kyle Bellows (left wrist strain) all remain on the disabled list with no set timetable for their return.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 26 - INF Adam Abraham demoted from Triple-A Columbus
May 27 - RHP Rob Bryson promoted to Triple-A Columbus
May 27 - RHP Paolo Espino promoted to Triple-A Columbus
May 27 - RHP Rob Nixon promoted from High-A Carolina
May 27 - RHP Robert Whitenack promoted from High-A Carolina
May 29 - C Lou Marson received on major league rehab assignment
May 30 - C Lou Marson recalled from major league rehab assignment
May 30 - INF Justin Toole demoted to High-A Carolina
May 30 - OF Cedric Hunter placed on 7-day DL (left shoulder strain)
May 30 - INF Nate Spears assigned to active roster from Columbus 7-day DL
May 31 - RHP Rob Bryson demoted from Triple-A Columbus
May 31 - RHP Rob Nixon demoted to High-A Carolina
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