Launching off with the Aeros: 6/11/13 – 6/17/13
Surging Aeros within three games of first place
The Akron Aeros found success despite being away from Canal Park all week, going 3-2 during their road trip to New Hampshire and Portland and moving back to .500 on the season. The team actually made it back above .500 for the first time since May 12 after Saturday's win, but a loss on Sunday dropped them back down to an even 34-34.
The offense carried the load for the Aeros, posting a collective .339/.403/.585 line with an amazing 22 doubles, four triples, and five home runs in the five games. They also showed good plate discipline with an remarkable 21:19 SO:BB.
The Aeros will look to continue their hot hitting as they return to Canal Park for a six-game series against the Trenton Thunder and New Britain Rock Cats. Tonight's game starts at 7:05 p.m.
Carlos Moncrief, CF/RF
.429/.478/.905 line, .564 wOBA, 9-for-21, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3:2 SO:BB, 0 SB in 23 PA
Honestly, there might not be another player in the whole organization that is as talented as Moncrief. The outfielder covers a ton of ground in the outfield, has an absolute cannon for an arm, runs the bases well, can hit the ball a mile, and -- in a more recent development -- has shown the ability to hit the ball consistently.
With a season line currently sitting at .294/.362/.462 with 11 doubles and nine home runs, it is time to get excited about Moncrief. We still need to see if he can keep this success going, but with the way he is hitting, Columbus should be within reach either late this season or certainly to start 2014.
The biggest knock on Moncrief is that he is 24 years old after starting his career as a pitcher. He had no room to stumble this year and needed to establish himself quickly and, so far, he has done just that.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B
.333/.417/.810 line, .498 wOBA, 7-for-21, 3 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2:2 SO:BB, 1 HBP, 0 SB in 24 PA
After spending the entire season waiting for Aguilar to show us his immense power, the first baseman finally showed it over the past week. The RBI are nice -- he is up to 55 on the year -- but none of that matters without this.
Aguilar's ISO rivaled tablesetting outfielder Tyler Holt for most of the season, but now Aguilar is at a more appropriate .157. The bottom line here is that power is his game and what will carry him. Without it, there is no real major league value for Aguilar.
It feels like Aguilar has been at the Double-A level for a while, but he has only played in 82 games. With essentially half a season under his belt, Aguilar has 11 home runs and 20 doubles. Playing in a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league, that is not all that bad. He needs to keep it going, but this is the Aguilar that we all want to see in Cleveland.
Ronny Rodriguez, SS/2B
.435/.440/.696 line, .470 wOBA, 10-for-23, 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI, 3:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 25 PA
Over the past month or so (since May 14), Rodriguez has a .348/.364/.571 line, 10 doubles, three triples, three home runs, and a 12.7 strikeout rate. That strikeout rate is only slightly above that of Michael Brantley this year, who is considered a professional hitter and someone with a very beautiful swing.
Sure, Rodriguez does not walk very much (3.4 walk rate over the same span), but he knows how to hit the ball. He will likely regress from this past month's torrid pace, but the power and contact are real. Rodriguez knows how to hit.
I am very high on Rodriguez and think he has what it takes. It is easy to pick apart his game, but watching him in person, I am struck by how much I love his talent. He made adjustments to his swing and is dominating Double-A; what more can you want out of a prospect?
(Honorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Jordan Cooper, Tyler Holt, Cedric Hunter, Quincy Latimore, Chen-Chang Lee, Jake Lowery, Toru Murata, Matt Packer, Bryce Stowell, Enosil Tejeda, Justin Toole)
(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, 6/11), Toru Murata (4/9), Brett Myers (5/21), Matt Packer (5/28), Roberto Perez (6/4), Bryan Price (5/14, 5/21), Jose Ramirez (4/9, 4/30, 6/4), Will Roberts (6/11), Ronny Rodriguez (5/28, 6/4), Danny Salazar (4/23, 4/30, 5/7), Bryce Stowell (5/14), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7, 6/11), Blake Wood (5/21))
Trey Haley, RHP
2 G, 33.75 ERA, 6.95 FIP, 13.50 SO/9, 20.25 BB/9, 5.25 WHIP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2:3 SO:BB, 1 HBP in 1.1 IP
At this point, I simply cannot believe that Haley is healthy. He already missed two and a half weeks from May 19 to June 6 with a groin/hip flexor injury and has not looked good since returning, allowing eight hits, four walks, four strikeouts, and seven runs (all earned) in three innings.
It seemed that Haley was finally healthy after struggling with a misdiagnosed sports hernia for years but that just is not the case. Or, if Haley is healthy, then he still has no control. The most likely thing here is that Haley is pitching through an injury and should take more time off to heal. Hopefully that will fix the former second round pick.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/SS
.174/.200/.217 line, .186 wOBA, 4-for-23, 5 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1:1 SO:BB, 1 SB in 25 PA
With a 23:26 SO:BB in 279 plate appearances this year, Ramirez is clearly able to make contact and not be overpowered after skipping the High-A level. A player walking more than he strikes out is clearly a good thing and is a sign that Ramirez is managing to keep his head above water.
I do wonder about Ramirez, though, as his BABIP has slipped to .263 in 2013. The switch-hitter posted a .378 mark in 2012 -- a likely unsustainable number itself -- but with his speed and line drive swing, Ramirez should end up in the .330 range. Ramirez's low BABIP could be some bad luck, but it could also be a sign that he is not making hard contact against the advanced pitching.
It is not time to give up on Ramirez or demote him, but we will need to watch how he progresses as 2013 goes on. He was given an aggressive assignment and hopefully will grow as the summer goes on.
Rob Bryson, RHP
2 G, 9.00 ERA, 8.70 FIP, 18.00 SO/9, 9.00 BB/9, 2.00 WHIP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4:2 SO:BB, 1 HR in 2.0 IP
Putting Bryson here is not necessarily about the past week but the right-hander's season as a whole. In 9.2 innings -- still a small sample -- Bryson has allowed eight runs, seven walks, and two home runs. Sure, Bryson has 16 strikeouts, but with a 7.45 ERA and 4.75 FIP, the reliever has a lot of room to grow.
Bryson has also struggled in Columbus this year (6.19 ERA, 8.45 FIP in 16.0 innings), leaving the 26-year-old without a clear future. His poor performance in 2013 and crazy relief depth are limiting his major league future, despite his live arm. The results just aren't there to change the situation.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Will Roberts, Giovanny Urshela)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (6/4), 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, 6/11), 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, 6/11), Ronny Rodriguez (4/9, 4/23, 5/7, 5/14), Danny Salazar (4/16), Nate Spears (6/4), Justin Toole (6/11), Giovanny Urshela (4/9, 4/30), Robert Whitenack (4/23, 6/4))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
The offense continues to impress with over-the-top performances, but that should not overshadow the accomplishments of the rotation. The starts from right-handers Brett Brach (4.50 ERA, 2.87 FIP), Jordan Cooper (0.00 ERA, 2.26 FIP), Toru Murata (0.00 ERA, 4.60 FIP), Will Roberts (9.64 ERA, 3.41 FIP), and left-hander Matt Packer (0.00 ERA, 3.65 FIP) are rarely overpowering, but they almost always get the job done.
This group combined for a 2.60 ERA and, outside of Roberts' issues, kept the Aeros in the game all week. Time will tell if any of them can elevate their prospect status with continued success but there is no denying that all of them are doing that of late.
Taking out all the position players listed above, the Akron Aeros still had a .948 OPS for the week. Third baseman/designated hitter Adam Abraham (1.292 OPS), center fielder Tyler Holt (1.067 OPS), designated hitter Cedric Hunter (1.009 OPS), outfielder Quincy Latimore (.955 OPS), catcher Jake Lowery (1.235 OPS), left fielder Justin Toole (.871 OPS), and catcher Chris Wallace (.833 OPS) may not have been the hottest performers, but they still did quite well.
Third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.572 OPS) and catcher Roberto Perez (.600 OPS) did not do as well, but it did not matter much for the Aeros. This team is filled with hitters who are all performing right now.
Even after losing a top hitter like Chun-Hsiu Chen to Triple-A, Akron's offense is still just going right along. There are plenty of prospects on the roster, they are performing, and it is nice to see.
After a mere 5.1 innings, it would be easy to write off right-hander Chen-Chang Lee's 1.69 ERA as unsustainable. His 1.70 FIP, however, backs up Lee's early success. The right-hander has seven strikeouts so far to go with two walks and looks ready for the challenges of Triple-A.
Heading into last year I expected Lee to become a key member of the Bullpen Mafia. After seeing him pitch during his rehab outings from Tommy John surgery, I have not seen anything to change that assessment. As long as everything keeps going well, he should just keep climbing the ladder to Cleveland.
Odds & Ends
The rest of the Akron bullpen pitched well as right-handers Austin Adams (0.00 ERA, 6.20 FIP), Cole Cook (0.00 ERA, -0.80 FIP), Bryce Stowell (0.00 ERA, 0.20 FIP), and Enosil Tejeda (0.00 ERA, 0.95 FIP) shut down the opposition all week. Jose Flores (18.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP) blew up on Wednesday, though he was solid in his other outing on the week.
This group of relievers simply overpowered hitters with a 12:1 SO:BB in 9.2 innings, a theme for the Aeros this year. The team as a whole has almost a strikeout per inning (8.83 SO/9) and is tops in the Eastern League with 601. If you love power pitching, then the Akron Aeros are your team.
Center fielder Tyler Holt and third baseman Adam Abraham both last played on Wednesday, though there is not yet word on any injury. It could be a coincidence, though I would speculate that the two are a little banged up.
Outfielder Cedric Hunter (left shoulder injury) was activated from the disabled list, though he has not played in the field yet. Hunter hit well before going on the DL and picked up right where he left off (.353/.421/.588 line in 19 plate appearances).
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 DL.
Moves (Like Orbit)
June 11 - C Roberto Perez activated from temporary inactive list
June 12 - OF Cedric Hunter activated from DL
June 13 - C Alex Lavisky transferred to High-A Carolina
June 13 - C Roberto Perez promoted to Triple-A Columbus
June 13 - RHP Cole Cook received from Triple-A Columbus
June 13 - C Chris Wallace received from Triple-A Columbus
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at email@example.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.
As for Armstrong, he's still working back from the early-season injury. He might be in Arizona if I heard right a few weeks ago, though I'm not sure on that.
Any word if that results in a promotion from Tyler Naquin. OR... will they hold off.
What's the news on Shawn Armstrong?