Launching Off With The Aeros: 5/29/12 - 6/4/12
It was a short week for the Akron Aeros, as their games versus the Binghamton Mets on Sunday and Monday were suspended due to rain. In the few games the Aeros did get to play this week, they played well, winning four of five. The Aeros took all three games against the Bowie Baysox at Canal Park and split two games in Binghamton Friday and Saturday.
The Aeros are now at 33-20 on the year, 4.5 games ahead of the Harrisburg Senators in the Western Division. Akron also holds a 2 game lead over the New Britain Rock Cats for the best record in the entire Eastern League. Over the next week, the Aeros will try to defend that crown during a 3-game set at Canal Park against the Rock Cats Tuesday through Thursday and another 3-game set at home versus the Altoona Curve before having an off-day on Monday. Then the Aeros will head out on the road to New Britain and Reading.
It’s shocking that OF Tim Fedroff has only been In Orbit here twice on the season. I guess he’s just been so good it seemed more important to write about other, more under-the-radar Aeros. After another strong .348/.400/.478 slash line and .422 wOBA over the past week (and a great .313/.406/.443 slash line and .382 wOBA on the season), I’m sick of writing about him. It’s time for Fedroff to be challenged in Columbus and get the heck out of Akron. I can only hope that this is the last I have to write about him.
The fact still remains that 2B Ryan Rohlinger is simply organizational depth for the Indians and not in their long-term plans. That doesn’t mean we can’t commend him for his great showing this past week. Rohlinger posted a .308/.500/.308 slash line and .400 wOBA, buoyed by 5 walks in 18 plate appearances. Rohlinger still doesn’t show much power or have much of an offensive profile (.231/.354/.315 slash line, .322 wOBA on the season), but his 14.2 BB% shows that he understands AA pitching. He’s not much, but players like Rohlinger are why the Aeros are in 1st place right now.
Bryce Stowell/Loek van Mil/Kyle Landis:
Another reason why the Aeros are in 1st place is the contributions they’ve been getting from their bullpen. While some members of the junior Bullpen Mafia haven’t been producing (Rob Bryson and Toru Murata have been Temporarily Grounded for the past 3 weeks), RPs Bryce Stowell, Loek van Mil, and Kyle Landis have been on fire. In 5 appearances this past week, those three combined for 7 scoreless innings, 9 strikeouts, 1 walk and 1 hit. As long as Stowell remains healthy, van Mil continues working on his mechanics and perfecting his form and Landis keeps achieving on a high level, there’s no reason to believe they won’t end up in Columbus by the end of the year and become Major League depth options at the very least.
(Honorable Mentions: Brett Brach, Jose De La Torre, Matt Lawson, Steven Wright)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8), Kyle Bellows (5/22, 5/29), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22), Paolo Espino (5/29), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29), 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))
It’s been a bad three weeks for 1B/DH Adam Abraham. After a .217/.208/.391 slash line and .284 wOBA with 5 strikeouts and no walks in 24 plate appearances, Abraham currently stands at a .224/.250/.368 slash line, .274 wOBA, 24.7 K%, and 3.7 BB% since May 15. Abraham still has plenty of power (.186 ISO on the year) and doing well all things considered (.248/.342/.435 slash line, .358 wOBA, 17.0 K%, 12.2 BB% for the season), but he really needs to turn things around soon. Promotions from High-A Carolina will start coming soon, and Abraham is much more likely than most players on the Aeros to lose his playing time when those guys start getting called up.
After spending the previous two weeks tearing the cover off of the ball, it wasn’t that surprising to see 3B Kyle Bellows cool off. There’s not much to say about his .136/.208/.136 slash line, .211 wOBA and 33.3 K% over the past week other than it was bound to happen. The important thing is that if Bellows can stop going between these highs and lows and be more consistent, he’ll be more valuable for the Aeros and the Indians going forward. His past 3 weeks (2 good, 1 bad) average out well (.296/.359/.479 slash line, .400 wOBA), and if Bellows could post that going forward, everyone would be happy.
SP Giovanni Soto continues to frustrate people like me. He pitched a seemingly strong 5.2 innings on Wednesday, striking out 5 and only walking 1. Yet, allowing 7 hits, hitting 2 batters, allowing 1 home run and allowing 5 runs (4 earned) left him with a 6.35 ERA for the day and a 4.26 FIP. Soto has plenty of positives (2.92 FIP, 8.45 SO/9, 2.65 BB/9), so maybe he’ll be just fine with time. It’s still too early to panic over a player with such strong peripherals, but it’s hard not to be concerned about Soto’s inability to prevent runs from crossing the plate.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Rob Bryson, Paolo Espino, Davis Stoneburner, Nick Weglarz)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22, 5/29), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22, 5/29), Ben Copeland (5/29), 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, 5/29), 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.
It may be lower than the 31.9 K% he currently sports for the year, but the 26.1 K% that OF Nick Weglarz posted over the last week is still an issue. Weglarz continues to struggle at the plate (.150/.261/.350 slash line, .272 wOBA over the past week), and it would have been much worse if his home run on Friday wasn’t pushing it up. Weglarz is still getting regular at bats, but one has to wonder how much longer it will last. Like with Adam Abraham, the Indians have prospects pushing up from the lower levels, and Weglarz could end up be the odd man out before long.
SP Brett Brach hasn’t been dominant in his 5 Akron starts, owning a 4.09 ERA and 1.86 WHIP, but if his 2.70 FIP is any indication, he could be in line for some better performances ahead. Brach has been fairly unlucky while in an Aeros’ uniform to date (.434 BABIP) and while he’s not dominating (5.32 SO/9), he does a great job of limiting walks (2.05 BB/9). One comparison for the way Brach pitches is Josh Tomlin, someone who overachieves and gets the most out of his stuff. We can only hope that Brach has things start to fall better into place in the near future.
At this point, I’m almost hoping that RP Rob Bryson is hurt, because then at least he’d have an excuse for his walks. Over the past three weeks, Bryson’s BB% has gone from 21.4% to 30.0% to 28.6%. There’s no possibly way for a pitcher to succeed when he’s walking over a fourth of the batters he faces and Bryson is well on his way to pitching himself out of prospect status. Any Indians fan wants to see Bryson succeed since he was part of the CC Sabathia trade, but the truth is Bryson is simply not pitching well at all right now.
Odds & Ends
1B Chun Chen, OF Ben Copeland, and C Roberto Perez all had disappointing batting averages this past week (.238, .176, and .176 respectively), but their overall performances were descent (.344 wOBA for Chen, .343 wOBA for Copeland, .333 wOBA for Perez). Their production combined with 2B Matt Lawson’s coming out party after being activated from extended Spring Training (.333/.500/.500 slash line, .450 wOBA in 10 plate appearances) fueled the offense in the Aeros’ winning week.
In theory, Lawson should start eating into some of 2B/SS Davis Stoneburner’s playing time. It was another bad week (.200/.250/.333 slash line, .257 wOBA) in an already bad season (.196/.245/.304 slash line, .260 wOBA). When Juan Diaz is demoted back down to Akron, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Indians leave Matt Lawson up and have Stoneburner demoted off of the roster.
SP T.J. House started the Aeros’ week off right with a win on Tuesday. Even though his performance left something to be desired (1 strikeout, 4 walks in 5.1 innings pitched), he didn’t let a run in and gave his team a chance to win. Many times, that’s the best thing you can say about a starting pitcher. SP Steven Wright did the same thing in his start on Friday, going 6 innings with 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 runs allowed (1 earned) and only 1 hit. Granted, that hit was a home run, but Wright still pitched very well. SP Paolo Espino didn’t have a good start Saturday, however, allowing 5 runs in 5 innings pitched on 7 hits. His 5 strikeouts and 2 walks were good, but Espino will need to do better to become more than a swingman bouncing around the minors and never making it to The Show.
RPs Jose De La Torre, Preston Guilmet, Toru Murata, Bryan Price weren’t as impressive as their In Orbit brethren, but they all pitched effectively when called upon all week. Their combined 10 strikeouts, 5 walks, 5 hits, and 0 runs in 13 innings pitched is nothing to sneeze at and was another huge factor in getting the Aeros 4 wins in 5 games this past week.
OF Thomas Neal joined the DL for a hamstring pull this past week, putting the brakes on his comeback year. Neal’s lack of power had been concerning, but a .292/.364/.365 slash line and .333 wOBA could be worse. The 1st place Aeros will miss Neal’s steady presence in right field.
Moves (Like Orbit)
May 31 OF Thomas Neal placed on the DL
June 2 C Dwight Childs promoted from High-A Carolina
June 4 OF Trevor Crowe assigned from Columbus DL
If you want to follow Jim, he’s @DarkestDiamond
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.