Launching off with the Aeros: 6/4/13 – 6/10/13
Sustained success brings Aeros to the brink of .500
With nine wins over the past two weeks, the Akron Aeros have almost climbed back over .500 for the first time since May 10. The recent hot streak moved the Aeros to only four games back of the first place Richmond Flying Squirrels, though the team is still in fourth place.
Akron's winning ways have been the combination of some very efficient pitching and great all-around play on offense. The team has been a lot of fun to watch and is filled with players to keep an eye on.
Unfortunately, the Aeros will be on the road for the entire week, heading to New Hampshire and Portland. The team will be back in Akron next Tuesday to host the Trenton Thunder.
Carlos Moncrief, RF
.480/.519/.640 line, .505 wOBA, 12-for-25, 7 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3:2 SO:BB, 2 SB in 27 PA
In order to go 12-for-25, a player will need a little BABIP luck. That much is a given. That does not mean that there is no skill behind the stretch, though, as a player like Moncrief typically makes hard contact and produces.
Last week was a sign of everything Moncrief is capable of, as he sprayed hits all over the field, hit for some power, stole bases, covered a ton of ground in right field, and uncorked powerful throws with his right arm. While he cannot always show them at this point, that is all five tools.
We will see if Moncrief can make up for lost time and establish himself as a major league option in the next few years, but during weeks like this, it is easy to dream on him.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
.333/.360/.583 line, .400 wOBA, 8-for-24, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 25 PA
As of right now, we can pick out Urshela's 3.3 percent walk rate and .304 on-base percentage and say that he is not dominating Double-A. There is more to the story, however.
The continued development of Urshela's power -- as he evidenced over the past week -- is something that will carry the third baseman going forward. The focus in 2013 is on Urshela finding pitches in the strike zone to drive and he is doing just that. Urshela's hand-eye coordination is great, but it also causes him problems when he is making weak contact on pitches out of the zone.
Someone with Urshela's ability will likely be able to lay off pitches in time and draw more walks. For now, as long as the power and pitch selection is coming, 2013 is a success.
Will Roberts, RHP
2 GS, 3.00 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 6.00 SO/9, 2.25 BB/9, 0.92 WHIP, 8 H, 4 ER, 8:3 SO:BB, 1 HR in 12.0 IP
With a 3.80 ERA and 1.90 BB/9 in his first 47.1 innings of Double-A, the 22-year-old Roberts is doing a decent job of adjusting to this level. His seven home runs so far are driving up his FIP a bit (4.45), but Roberts is working hard as he tries to stick with the Aeros.
"I'm working every day with Hibby [pitching coach Greg Hibbard] trying to get better," Roberts said. "He's got a lot of things that I can eventually get in my game that will be good, trying to work in my changeup more, and throwing my curveball for strikes.
"I've got a lot of confidence in my fastball and my slider and once I get those two pitches in the mix, I feel like I'll be more effective and as the season's gone on here, it's starting to pay off."
He may not be overpowering, but Roberts has gone at least five innings in all eight of his outings in Double-A. That consistency does count for something.
(Honorable Mentions: Austin Adams, Jesus Aguilar, Brett Brach, Jordan Cooper, Jose Flores, Chen-Chang Lee, Jake Lowery, Toru Murata, Matt Packer, Enosil Tejeda)
(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), Roberto Perez (6/4), Bryan Price (5/14, 5/21), Jose Ramirez (4/9, 4/30, 6/4), 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), Blake Wood (5/21))
Tyler Holt, CF
.200/.286/.200 line, .238 wOBA, 5-for-25, 3 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 11:3 SO:BB, 0 SB in 28 PA
When Holt made contact with the ball over the past week, he actually saw it fall in for hits (.357 BABIP). The problem is that he struck out 11 times, driving done his overall line and effectiveness.
Holt has over 100 strikeouts in each of his two full professional seasons, so this is not something that is necessarily surprising. It is something that holds him back, however, as Holt's ultimate goal is to get on base by any means necessary. Without much power (.109 ISO), Holt is best served acting as a tablesetter for the middle of the lineup.
It's possible that hitting in the #3 spot in the lineup has Holt trying to do too much, but that is not something anyone can prove. As it is, this is probably just a slump Holt will come out of soon enough.
Jose Ramirez, 2B
.182/.321/.227 line, .269 wOBA, 4-for-22, 6 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2:5 SO:BB, 2 SB, 1 CS in 28 PA
Personally, I did not really hate Ramirez's week and did not want to put him here. Unfortunately, when a team is winning five of six games, there are not many truly bad performances, knocking Ramirez into this section.
The hits were not there for the switch-hitter, though that could easily be bad luck. The important thing for Ramirez is that he is showing some great plate discipline, both over the past week (2:5 SO:BB) and the season (22:25 SO:BB).
Ramirez likely has the skillset to sustain a higher BABIP than normal, making his .274 mark in 2013 a significantly low number. If he keeps maintaining a good approach at the plate and making contact, I would expect his .256/.328/.323 season line to rise.
Justin Toole, INF
.125/.222/.125 line, .180 wOBA, 1-for-8, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 9 PA
Once again, the Aeros had so many good performances that Toole ends up here. The utility infielder only played two games, struggling to make contact, but that is something that just happens.
Toole is not much of an offensive threat, but his value comes from his ability to come off the bench and play every position on the field. He typically hits better than this, though not as high as his pretty amazing .358/.452/.434 line in 63 Akron plate appearances. He is a great guy to have on the team and will come around.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Trey Haley, Alex Lavisky, Bryce Stowell)
(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), 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), Nate Spears (6/4), Giovanny Urshela (4/9, 4/30), Robert Whitenack (4/23, 6/4))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Taking out Roberts, who was featured above, the rest of the Akron rotation sported a 2.16 ERA. Right-handers Brett Brach, Jordan Cooper, and Toru Murata and left-hander Matt Packer did not overpower opposing hitters (5.40 SO/9) but made do by being quite stringent with walks (1.44 BB/9).
Winning teams need strong starting pitching and this group accomplished that. They may not have a bunch of flashy prospects and big names, but the Aeros rotation is keeping the team in the game; you cannot ask for much more than that.
After the starting rotation put the Aeros in a position to win, the bullpen (for the most part) took it home. Their collective 2.70 ERA, even weighed down a bit by right-handers Bryce Stowell (7.36 ERA) and Trey Haley (10.80 ERA), is quite impressive.
Right-handers Austin Adams (0.00 ERA, 2.60 FIP), Rob Bryson (0.00 ERA, 4.70 FIP), Jose Flores (0.00 ERA, 2.20 FIP), Chen-Chang Lee (3.86 ERA, 2.34 FIP), and Enosil Tejeda (0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP) are once again proving that Cleveland has a ton of relief depth in the upper levels of the minors. Some of these players will help in the major leagues, possibly as soon as the end of this year.
It may only be 64 plate appearances, but catcher Jake Lowery's .306/.328/.484 line and .812 OPS is very good to see after Lowery's struggles last year. The 22-year-old bounced around last year after being unable to produce at the plate and really should not be in Double-A this year. He only got called up due to the catching shortage earlier in the year.
With 19 strikeouts, two walks, and a .429 BABIP, Lowery's fast start in Akron is unlikely to last. The power is real, though, and if he can adjust as pitchers start pitching around him and giving him fewer pitches to hit, he may be able to make this jump much earlier than expected.
Odds & Ends
Designated hitter Adam Abraham got started in 2013 with a .300/.364/.400 line over the past week. After missing time with injuries and being buried on the Columbus depth chart, but manager Edwin Rodriguez thinks Abraham can turn it around quickly.
"Sometimes it might only take one at bat, one pitch, one swing for a guy to turn everything around," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully yes [this will be it]."
First baseman Jesus Aguilar (.348/.400/.478) and shortstop Ronny Rodriguez (.269/.286/.423) both had good weeks with some power. The two are doing well enough in 2013, though both still have some work to do if they want to keep progressing through the system.
Catcher Alex Lavisky was finally activated from the disabled list after missing 49 games with a fractured left big toe. Hopefully he will get going now that he is back in action at long last.
Right-hander Trey Haley never went on the disabled list but a groin/hip flexor injury kept him out from May 19 to June 6. He returned this past week, though, struggling through 1.2 innings with two runs.
Still on the disabled list are right-handers Shawn Armstrong (right hand contusion) and Kyle Landis (right lat strain), left-hander Mike Rayl (left forearm strain), third baseman Kyle Bellows (left wrist strain), and outfielder Cedric Hunter (left shoulder injury).
Moves (Like Orbit)
June 4 - 2B Nate Spears promoted to Triple-A Columbus
June 4 - INF Justin Toole promoted from High-A Carolina
June 5 - RHP Chen-Chang Lee promoted from Low-A Lake County
June 5 - C Alex Lavisky activated from DL (fractured left big toe)
June 5 - RHP Rob Whitenack demoted to short season Mahoning Valley
June 7 - RHP Cole Cook promoted to Triple-A Columbus
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