Launching off with the Aeros: 7/2/13 – 7/8/13
Winning road trip pushes Aeros heading into All-Star break
The Akron Aeros got back to winning after a bit of a dry spell, taking five-of-seven games on a road trip to Bowie and Richmond. The winning pushes the Aeros to 44-46 on the year, 5.5 games behind the first-place Harrisburg Senators.
In addition to the good news on the field, the Aeros got more good news off the field as right-handers Austin Adams and Toru Murata were added to the Eastern League All-Star rosters. They join right fielder Carlos Moncrief, first baseman Jesus Aguilar, left-hander Matt Packer, and right-hander Jose Flores on the roster.
After a day off on Tuesday and those six participating in the All-Star game on Wednesday in New Britain, Connecticut, the Aeros will look to continue their winning ways Thursday during a seven-game homestand against the Altoona Curve and Erie SeaWolves.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/SS
.500/.545/.667 line, .526 wOBA, 15-for-30, 11 R, 5 2B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2:3 SO:BB, 7 SB, 1 CS in 33 PA
A player cannot get much hotter than Ramirez was over the past week. This season could have gone a little better for the 20-year-old (.271/.333/.354 line in 380 plate appearances), but instead of looking at the negatives, let's look at the positives.
One, Ramirez has shown the ability to steal bases at a tremendous rate (33 steals in 80 games). Two, his 28:33 SO:BB would be impressive no matter what, but it is even more striking following Ramirez skipping High-A entirely. Three, though he does not ooze tools at shortstop, Ramirez looks like a solid defender at the position, raising his overall profile.
The raw stats may not show all that much for Ramirez, but given the circumstances, 2013 can be considered nothing but an unqualified success.
Jake Lowery, C
.353/.478/.706 line, .483 wOBA, 6-for-17, 3 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6:5 SO:BB, 0 SB in 23 PA
Sure, there is no possibly way that Lowery will continue hitting .305 on the year, as a .405 BABIP is propping that figure up. Through 144 Double-A plate appearances, however, Lowery is showing something that just might be sustainable: his power.
Before the season, the scouting report on Lowery was that the defense and hitting still needed work, but the power is what made him worth paying attention to. With a .211 ISO, five home runs, and 18 doubles in his first 39 games, Lowery is not just padding his batting average with bloop singles; he is doing real damage.
Some regression will come in eventually, but what is clear is that, for now, Lowery is a force. If he keeps this up Lowery could become a priority prospect in the coming years.
Jordan Cooper & Will Roberts, RHPs & Matt Packer, LHP
4 GS, 4-0 W-L, 1.82 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 6.57 SO/9, 1.82 BB/9, 0.89 WHIP, 17 H, 5 R, 18:5 SO:BB, 0 HR, 2 HBP in 24.2 IP
The Aeros' winning ways this week began with the starting pitching and four notable outings from Cooper, Roberts, and Packer.
Packer was the main horse in the rotation, only allowing three runs in 11.0 innings in his two starts. The left-hander struck out a batter per inning and now owns a 2.55 ERA and 3.13 FIP in 102.1 innings in 2013. With a lack of left-handed options in Triple-A and the majors, I would like to see the 25-year-old pushed to Columbus to see if he can succeed.
As for Cooper and Roberts, the two right-handers did not come into the season as priority guys, though they are both trying to change that. They still have work to do, but if Cooper (3.31 ERA, 4.16 FIP) and Roberts (4.46 ERA, 4.43 FIP) close out the season strong they will raise their prospects going into next year.
(Honorable Mentions: Austin Adams, Jose Flores, Trey Haley, Tyler Holt, Quincy Latimore, Matt Lawson, Carlos Moncrief, Enosil Tejeda, Justin Toole, Chris Wallace)
(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, 7/2), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7, 6/11, 6/18, 7/2), Toru Murata (4/9), Brett Myers (5/21), Matt Packer (5/28, 7/2), 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))
Brett Brach & Toru Murata, RHPs
3 GS, 0-1 W-L, 13.94 ERA, 6.30 FIP, 9.58 SO/9, 4.35 BB/9, 2.71 WHIP, 23 H, 18 R (16 ER), 11:5 SO/9, 3 HR in 10.1 IP
On the other end of the starting pitching spectrum were Brach and Murata, both of whom stumbled during their outings over the past week. Neither of these two are strikeout pitchers -- making the 11 strikeouts in 10.3 innings surprising, but both were knocked around by opposing hitters and walked too many.
This goes to a bigger point with Brach and Murata in that the two right-handers have both allowed quite a few hits in 2013 (10.1 H/9 for Brach, 9.9 H/9 for Murata). While some of that could be some bad luck, another explanation is that these two are being squared up more frequently. Either way, Brach (5.10 ERA, 4.09 FIP) and Murata (4.11 ERA, 3.78 FIP) both could use better second halves as they look to solidify their standing going into 2014.
Cole Cook, RHP & J.D. Reichenbach, LHP
6 G, 1-1 W-L, 16.20 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 6.48 SO/9, 4.32 BB/9, 2.28 WHIP, 15 H, 15 R, 6:4 SO:BB, 1 HR, 1 HBP in 8.1 IP
After winning five out of seven games, the Aeros understandably did not have many poor performances. Cook and Reichenbach, however, were the exception. A quick glance at their stat lines shows that these two did not have their best stuff recently.
Reichenbach (27.00 ERA, 7.45 FIP in 4.0 innings) is a recent callup, seemingly more because of a lack of left-handed relief options in the upper levels than merit. Cook (7.16 ERA, 5.12 FIP in 49.0 innings), however, started the year in Akron and has really disappointed. As always, there is still time left in the season to turn things around. The problem for Cook, though (and, since the pressure is always on, Reichenbach too), is that sports are a "what have you done for me lately?" business. So far in 2013, the answer is not much.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
.174/.174/.304 line, .202 wOBA, 4-for-23, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3:0 SO:BB, 0 SB in 23 PA
Most of Akron's offense was on this past week, covering for Urshela's poor performance quite well. This is not the real Urshela, as the .158 BABIP indicates, and the third baseman will rebound in the coming weeks.
This type of performance, however, does show the flaw that still remains in Urshela's game. The complete lack of walks makes Urshela too reliant on his bat and hits falling in. When things are going well, there are no issues. When they are not, however, there is nothing left to fall back on.
Even when things even out over a whole season, Urshela's .266/.289/.403 line in 306 plate appearances is still lacking the on-base percentage necessary to make him a real threat (same goes for Ronny Rodriguez's .292/.312/.431). While I love how the 21-year-old is handling Double-A in his first exposure, a little more consistency with the walks (2.9 BB%) will do wonders for Urshela's game.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Jesus Aguilar, Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Bellows)
(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, 7/2), Rob Bryson (5/28, 6/18, 7/2), Cole Cook (4/23, 5/14, 5/28, 7/2), Jordan Cooper (5/21, 5/28), Paolo Espino (4/16, 5/28), Jose Flores (5/28, 7/2), Trey Haley (5/21, 6/18), Tyler Holt (4/9, 6/11), T.J. House (4/16), Kyle Landis (4/23, 7/2), Quincy Latimore (4/23, 5/21, 5/28, 7/2), Chen-Chang Lee (7/2), 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), Chris Perez (7/2), Bryan Price (5/28), Jose Ramirez (4/16, 5/7, 6/11, 6/18), J.D. Reichenbach (7/2), Will Roberts (7/2), Ronny Rodriguez (4/9, 4/23, 5/7, 5/14), Danny Salazar (4/16), Nate Spears (6/4), Enosil Tejeda (7/2), Justin Toole (6/11), Giovanny Urshela (4/9, 4/30), Robert Whitenack (4/23, 6/4), Blake Wood (7/2))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Trying to boil right fielder Carlos Moncrief's first half down into one statistic is impossible (at least until minor league WAR is a thing). His .851 OPS hints at his overall worth, but it does not capture everything. His .298/.372/.479 line and .376 wOBA get closer, but that leaves out his cannon arm and good range in right field. And none of that touches his decent speed that he is still learning to harness.
Moncrief still has plenty to learn and, at 24 years old, needs to continue to do that fast. The good news, though is that the right fielder is already showing he can keep up with the accelerated learning curve and maybe even surpass it. Personally I would push Moncrief to Triple-A just to see if it sticks, but even if he finishes out the year in Akron, his ability to handle this level -- just a few years after being a professional pitcher -- is astounding.
We could use this opportunity to talk about the uselessness of RBI as a measure of a hitter's worth, but there is no denying that first baseman Jesus Aguilar's 67 first-half RBI are pretty amazing. Minor league hitters are not meant to get 100 RBI, but Aguilar just might get there anyway.
Of course, those RBI do not hide Aguilar's dip in power (.141 ISO) or that his overall line leaves quite a bit to be desired (.266/.349/.406 in 364 plate appearances). We are coming up on a full year in Double-A for Aguilar and a little more growth would be nice to see. The "first baseman of the future" seat is wide open, waiting for Aguilar to claim it, but before he can, he needs to hit the ball with a little more authority and drive it. That is simply what teams look for in a first baseman.
The Akron Aeros seem to have an ability to showcase closers without plus stuff. Two years ago, it was Cory Burns, who (after being a part of the Aaron Cunningham trade) is currently helping the Texas bullpen. Last year it was Preston Guilmet, who is currently helping the Cleveland bullpen.
This year it is Jose Flores, whose 2.14 FIP in 41.2 innings as the Aeros' go-to-guy out of the bullpen shows his dominance. Flores does not have overpowering stuff, but like his Aeros closer brethren, has a deceptive delivery and the ability to just get batters out.
With the volatility of relievers, having a homegrown bullpen with plenty of arms is the best way to go. With hidden gems like Flores continuing to come up through the system, Cleveland should find that it has plenty of options, especially some that do more than just light up the radar gun.
Odds & Ends
Center fielder Tyler Holt looked good over the past week, posting a .367/.457/.433 line in 35 plate appearances. With a .276/.355/.384 line in 383 plate appearances and superb defense this year, the 24-year-old should see some time in Columbus after the All-Star break.
Outfielder Quincy Latimore (.250/.357/.500 in 28 plate appearances), second baseman Matt Lawson (.304/.448/.478 in 31 plate appearances), utility man Justin Toole (.412/.444/.471 in 18 plate appearances), and catcher Chris Wallace (.429/.467/.786 in 15 plate appearances) also helped the Aeros on their way to a winning week.
There was no action on the Aeros' disabled list over the past week, as outfielder Cedric Hunter (left calf strain), infielder/outfielder Adam Abraham (left hamstring strain), right-handers Rob Bryson (right hip strain) and Bryce Stowell (right shoulder strain) and left-hander Mike Rayl (left forearm strain) all remained out.
Shortstop/second baseman Ronny Rodriguez was pulled from Sunday's game in the fifth inning for an unannounced reason. After he battled hamstring soreness recently, hopefully the hot-hitting Rodriguez (.357/.377/.539 since May 14) is not out for a prolonged period of time.
Moves (Like Orbit)
July 1 - RHP Paolo Espino received from Triple-A Columbus
July 5 - RHP Paolo Espino promoted to Triple-A Columbus
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I have to think Jose Ramirez or Ronny Rodriguez's (maybe both) days are numbered with the Indians organization. Two of my favorite players, I'd prefer to see them keep RRod, but the Tribe has a few more on the way so they are expendable.
Jordan Cooper seems like another RHRP long term. Jose Flores is a bit of a sleeper, IMO. Will Roberts has 'some' talent, maybe a 4/5th SP. Packer should be in AAA.
I think Jake Lowery could develop into a Kelly Shoppach type C.
Carlos Moncrief should be in AAA. He's really come on this yr. He might be a nice trade chip as the deadline approaches.