Launching off with the Aeros: 6/18/13 – 7/1/13
Two down weeks leave Aeros looking up from bottom of division
While Launching off with the Aeros was off during the past two weeks the Akron Aeros stumbled to a 5-10 record, falling to a 39-44 record. The team had been surging before this dry spell but now finds itself 5.5 games out of first place in the Western Division and in fifth place.
Despite the poor performance of the team as a whole, the Aeros got some good news recently as Carlos Moncrief, Jesus Aguilar, Matt Packer, and Jose Flores were named to the Eastern League All-Star game. The game will take place July 10 in New Britain, Connecticut.
The Aeros will look to get back to their winning ways on the road over the next week, playing seven games in Bowie and Richmond heading into the All-Star break. They will then return to Canal Park for a seven-game homestand starting July 11.
Matt Packer, LHP
3 G (2 GS), 2-0 W-L, 1.02 ERA, 1.73 FIP, 9.68 SO/9, 2.04 BB/9, 1.02 WHIP,14 H, 2 ER, 19:4 SO:BB, 0 HR, 2 HBP in 17.2 IP
Packer continued his All-Star season with another three outstanding outings, shutting down opposing lineups and keeping his team in games. He technically relieved in one game to accommodate a few major league rehab assignments, but in all actuality, Packer pitched starter innings in all three games.
With a 2.56 ERA and 3.27 FIP in 91.1 innings, suddenly the left-hander looks like an intriguing options in the near-future. While he does not have top-of-the-rotation upside, the 25-year-old could potentially eat innings or offer an arm from the left side for the bullpen and I would like to see what he can do at the Triple-A level.
Cedric Hunter, OF/DH
.292/.358/.563 line, .391 wOBA, 14-for-48, 9 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 9:5 SO:BB, 1 SB in 53 PA
Like Packer, I really want to see what Hunter can do in Triple-A. The outfielder clearly outclasses the competition in the Eastern League (.295/.362/.621 line in 105 plate appearances) and appears to be fully healthy after missing some time following a shoulder injury sustained during a jumping catch into the wall.
Though he is already 25 years old and far from a high-end prospect, the way Hunter is carving up Double-A is intriguing. He did not fare so well during his time in Columbus earlier this year (.250/.305/.365 line in 106 plate appearances), but hopefully he will get another chance. Hunter is showing his ceiling in Akron and would be an interesting outfield option if he can carry it over to Triple-A.
Carlos Moncrief, RF
.294/.410/.490 line, .426 wOBA, 15-for-51, 9 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 10:9 SO:BB, 1 SB in 61 PA
In the same way that I am ready to see what Hunter can do in Triple-A, I cannot wait to see Moncrief playing in Columbus. He is still in his first Double-A season, but with a .294/.371/.467 line in 330 plate appearances and developing plate discipline (10:9 SO:BB in the past two weeks), Moncrief looks ready for another challenge.
Moncrief's All-Star bid was well-deserved and the people of New Britain will enjoy him flashing all five tools during the game. A little old for this level after starting his career as a pitcher, I would like to see Moncrief go straight from the All-Star game to join the Clippers in Columbus. It may be aggressive, but Moncrief is too talented to not push.
(Honorable Mentions: Austin Adams, Jesus Aguilar, Trey Haley, Jake Lowery, Toru Murata, Ronny Rodriguez)
(Previous Winners: Austin Adams (5/14), Jesus Aguilar (6/18), 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, 6/18), 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, 6/18), 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))
Quincy Latimore, OF/DH
.195/.267/.220 line, .252 wOBA, 8-for-41, 3 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 11:4 SO:BB, 1 SB, 1 CS in 45 PA
Now that we are halfway through the season and 293 plate appearances into the Quincy Latimore experience, I think it is time to call this one over. With a .235/.304/.348 line and 62:21 SO:BB in his third time through Double-A, Latimore is posting his worst Eastern League season of his career.
At 24 years old without a strong defensive reputation, Latimore does not have a clear role in the organization right now. He is still playing regularly in Akron, but it would not surprise me if he moves to the bench after the All-Star game. Tyler Naquin is rumored to be coming up around that time and Latimore is the apparent odd man out.
Brett Brach & Will Roberts, RHPs
6 GS, 2-4 W-L, 6.12 ERA, 5.36 FIP, 4.45 SO/9, 2.23 BB/9, 1.55 WHIP, 42 H, 24 R (22 ER), 16:8 SO:BB, 6 HR, 2 HBP in 32.1 IP
When a team loses 10-of-15 games, an obvious reason is going to be some substandard starting pitching. The culprits for the Aeros over the past two weeks were Brach and Roberts, as they averaged a home run per start and over a baserunner and a half per inning.
These struggles from Brach and Roberts are not necessarily surprising as the two right-handers are not overpowering pitchers. They are guys who pitch to contact and sometimes are subject to getting beat around a little bit. As both are not big-time prospects, they need to perform much better than they have to date (Brach: 4.79 ERA, 3.93 FIP; Roberts: 4.90 ERA, 4.60 FIP) if they want to raise their position in the organization.
Rob Bryson, Cole Cook, Jose Flores, Kyle Landis, Chen-Chang Lee, Chris Perez, Enosil Tejeda, & Blake Wood, RHPs & J.D. Reichenbach LHP
28 G, 0-4 W-L, 11.25 ERA, 6.48 FIP, 9.56 SO/9, 6.47 BB/9, 2.43 WHIP, 52 H, 41 R (40 ER), 34:23 SO:BB, 8 HR, 4 HBP in 32.0 IP
More than the starting pitching struggles, though, it is very hard for a team to win when the majority of the bullpen owns a 11.25 ERA and 2.43 WHIP. The problems came from established relievers in the Akron bullpen (Cook, Flores, Landis, Tejeda), up-and-down guys (Bryson, Reichenbach), and major league arms coming back from injuries (Lee, Perez, Wood).
The good news is that Cleveland's relief depth remains deep; these kinds of struggles are just the natural ebbs and flows of bullpen arms. Of course, not all of these arms are the same in importance to the organization -- Landis, in fact, was released during this time and we here at IBI wish him the best in the future -- and hopefully things turn sooner rather than later for all of these guys.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Kyle Bellows, Jose Ramirez, Justin Toole, Chris Wallace)
(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, 6/18), 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, 6/18), 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, 6/18), 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.
Right now, the Orioles' Chris Davis (.396), the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez (.308) and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (.303) own the three highest ISOs in the major leagues. While all of those are likely to fall a bit, that is what out of this world power looks like.
The players who equal first baseman Jesus Aguilar's .152 ISO so far in Double-A -- the Reds' Brandon Phillips, the Rangers' David Murphy, and the Cardinals' Yadier Molina -- are not nearly the names that you want to see associated with your best power prospect. Aguilar is starting to come around -- he posted a .194 ISO in June -- but there is still work to be done. Power is Aguilar's only plus tool and he needs to show it a little more consistently in order to continue moving in the organization.
On a brighter note, catcher Jake Lowery has continued tearing up the Eastern League, posting a .297/.355/.486 line, .842 OPS, and .380 wOBA in his first 121 plate appearances. Lowery had a year to forget in 2012 and he is doing his best to push it out of everyone's minds this year.
It is doubtful that Lowery will continue this level of production in his first exposure to Double-A, as the promotion was aggressive and he is currently riding a .405 BABIP, but Lowery does look good at the plate. He also has the faith of his manager, Edwin Rodriguez, and has earned more and more playing time since being called up to be a backup catcher. So far in 2013, Lowery is putting on a clinic as to how you rebound from a bad year and rebuild lost prospect stock.
Right-hander Toru Murata found success over the past two weeks, posting a 0.69 ERA and 2.82 FIP in his two starts. Improbably, the 28-year-old did it with a 2.77 SO/9, an insanely low figure that all gives some insight into why Murata does not figure into Cleveland's long-term plans.
Murata fills in well in the upper levels of the minors as he can pitch effectively out of the rotation and the bullpen, however his stuff just is not that overpowering and he would be exposed if he were called up to the majors. Murata is fun to watch pitch in Canal Park, though, and he does a great job of striking out enough batters while walking next to none (51:7 SO:BB in 65.1 innings).
Odds & Ends
Right-hander Jordan Cooper managed to hold opposing lineup in check during his three starts (2.89 ERA) despite some control issues (11:11 SO:BB in 18.2 innings) that made it difficult. Cooper has looked good since his callup (3.39 ERA, 4.35 FIP in 61.0 innings), though he needs to maintain that production throughout the second half.
Outfielder Tyler Holt (.255/.352/.340), second baseman/shortstop Jose Ramirez (.254/.299/.365), and third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.255/.286/.426) have all had better weeks, though things could have been worse. These three are all having decent seasons and should keep it going through the rest of the season.
Most of the bullpen struggled over the past two weeks, but right-handers Austin Adams (1.93 ERA, 2.99 FIP in 4.2 innings), Shawn Armstrong (0.00 ERA, -0.80 FIP in 1.0 inning), Trey Haley (0.00 ERA, 3.76 FIP in 5.1 innings), and Bryce Stowell (0.00 ERA, 4.70 FIP in 1.1 innings) did their part. Additionally, right-hander Brett Myers turned in a scoreless inning during his rehab assignment.
The Aeros got third baseman Kyle Bellows (left wrist strain) and right-hander Shawn Armstrong (right hand contusion) back from the disabled list, though they also saw more players go on the disabled list to replace them. Right-handers Bryce Stowell (right shoulder strain) and Rob Bryson (right hip strain) and utility man Adam Abraham (left hamstring strain) were all placed on the disabled list over the past two weeks and could be there for a while.
Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez has not played since June 22, though he has not been placed on the disabled list. There is no confirmation of an injury, though I would bet he is hurting in some way. This is particularly unfortunate as Rodriguez had been hitting quite well and posted a .478/.500/.522 line in the 25 plate appearances he had during the past two weeks.
Left-hander Mike Rayl (left forearm strain) remains on the disabled list and, two months into his stay, there is still no indication as to when he will return.
Moves (Like Orbit)
June 17 - RHP Toru Murata promoted to Columbus
June 18 - RHP Toru Murata received from Columbus
June 18 - RHP Chris Perez received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment (single game)
June 18 - RHP Blake Wood received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment
June 23 - RHP Bryce Stowell placed on 7-day DL (right shoulder strain)
June 23 - RHP Kyle Landis activated from DL
June 24 - RHP Chen-Chang Lee promoted to Columbus
June 24 - 3B Kyle Bellows activated from DL
June 26 - RHP Brett Myers received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment
June 28 - LHP J.D. Reichenbach received from Carolina
June 28 - RHP Rob Bryson placed on 7-day DL (right hip strain)
June 30 - RHP Shawn Armstrong activated from DL
June 30 - RHP Kyle Landis released
July 1 - 2B Matt Lawson received from Columbus
July 1 - INF/OF Adam Abraham placed on 7-day DL (left hamstring strain)
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