Launching off with the Aeros: 8/13/13 – 8/19/13
Naquin's debut, Aguilar's record highlight the week in Akron
The Akron Aeros were above .500 in a week for the first time since mid-July, winning four of their seven games as they moved their record to 60-67. The winning still leaves Akron seven games out of first place and the wild card, though with a young team, the growth shown by the Aeros throughout the season is a win on its own.
Akron will look to continue that growth with two more games in Erie before coming home to Canal Park. The Aeros will start an eight-game homestand on Thursday, the last home games of the season. This has been a fun team to watch all year and I would recommend catching them before the season ends.
Matt Lawson, 2B/3B
.412/.600/.588 line, .524 wOBA, 7-for-17, 7 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5:8 SO:BB, 0 SB in 25 PA
This year has not been kind to Lawson, but whenever he is given a chance to play, he tends to do well. An injury to Francisco Lindor and an experiment with Jose Ramirez opened the door for Lawson and he took it, posting a 1.188 OPS with eight walks as he lead the Akron offense.
Of course, this is just one hot streak -- Lawson entered the week with a .188/.281/.248 line in 38 games -- but it is great to see the hard-working infielder find some success. Lawson is the kind of player that you cannot help but root for, as he is not gifted with great tools, but he finds a way to make it work.
The best case scenario for Lawson is likely that he will continue to serve as depth in the upper minors for another year or two before he pursues coaching again. That is what Lawson did in 2011 when he temporarily retired and he should find success there as he did while playing.
Tyler Naquin, CF
.375/.423/.458 line, .428 wOBA, 9-for-24, 4 R, 2 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6:2 SO:BB, 1 SB, 2 CS in 26 PA
After finally getting the callup to Double-A, Naquin did not waste any time making his presence felt. The 2012 first round pick took over the center field job, is getting on base at a strong rate, and even hitting for a little power.
The strikeouts that plagued Naquin in Carolina followed him up to Akron, though that is likely just part of the adjustment for the outfielder. Despite being a polished college bat, this is still his first full professional season. That still involves an adjustment period, one that Naquin will hopefully work through heading into 2014.
Naquin's hit tool is considered above-average, so it is quite possible he will cut down on the strikeouts as time passes. Either way, while Naquin may not be an elite prospect, having him finish strong at Double-A would be a great step for his development.
Josh Tomlin, RHP
1 GS, 0-0 W-L, 2.25 ERA, 1.70 FIP, 6.75 SO/9, 0.00 BB/9, 0.50 WHIP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3:0 SO:BB in 4.0 IP
The latest stop on the Josh Tomlin Comeback Tour went quite well as the right-hander got through four successful innings with one run on two hits, no walks, and three strikeouts.
In the big picture, this successful outing -- and the start planned for Tomlin on Thursday -- are lining him up quite well to help the team in September. The rotation seems to be falling apart with injuries, ineffectiveness, and innings limits, though there is no way to know if Tomlin can survive being thrown right into a playoff race.
If the organization decides to bring Tomlin along slower he could be an option out of the bullpen. The bullpen could use another arm and Tomlin pitched in the majors before. Either way, it looks like Tomlin's recent success could have him playing a role for this team down the stretch.
(Honorable Mentions: Jesus Aguilar, Cody Anderson, Kyle Crockett, Cedric Hunter, Jeff Johnson, Carlos Moncrief, Toru Murata, Enosil Tejeda)
(Previous Winners: Austin Adams (5/14, 7/23, 8/13), Jesus Aguilar (6/18, 8/6, 8/13), Shawn Armstrong (7/23, 8/13), Rob Bryson (5/21, 7/23), Chun-Hsiu Chen (4/16, 4/30, 5/14), Cole Cook (5/21), Jordan Cooper (7/9, 7/23), Kyle Crockett (8/13), Jose Flores (5/14, 5/21, 7/23, 7/30), Trey Haley (5/14, 7/23, 8/13), Tyler Holt (4/23, 5/21, 7/16), T.J. House (4/9, 4/23), Cedric Hunter (5/28, 7/2), Jeff Johnson (7/23, 8/13), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Francisco Lindor (7/23), Jake Lowery (7/9, 7/30, 8/13), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7, 6/11, 6/18, 7/2, 7/16, 7/23), Alex Monsalve (8/13), Toru Murata (4/9, 8/6), Brett Myers (5/21), Matt Packer (5/28, 7/2, 7/9), Roberto Perez (6/4), Bryan Price (5/14, 5/21), Jose Ramirez (4/9, 4/30, 6/4, 7/9), Will Roberts (6/11, 7/9, 7/16, 7/30), Ronny Rodriguez (5/28, 6/4, 6/18), Danny Salazar (4/23, 4/30, 5/7), Bryce Stowell (5/14, 8/13), Enosil Tejeda (7/23, 8/13), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7, 6/11, 8/6), Blake Wood (5/21))
Austin Adams, Shawn Armstrong, & Trey Haley, RHPs
9 G, 2-2 W-L, 2 SV, 11.42 ERA, 8.51 FIP, 11.42 SO/9, 14.54 BB/9, 2.31 WHIP, 6 H, 11 ER, 11:14 SO:BB, 2 HR in 8.2 IP
Adams, Armstrong, and Haley are all similar pitchers in that they have big fastballs and struggle with control. All three of the right-handers have combined to walk 15.8 percent of batters in 2013, a problem that was exploited over the past week.
Now, all three of Adams, Armstrong, and Haley have potential major league futures thanks to their great raw stuff and strikeout ability (26.3 percent strikeout rate in 2013), but weeks like this show that there is still work to do. When a pitcher like Cody Allen flies through the system, it is because he is showing elite control of the strike zone in addition to mowing down batters (128:23 SO:BB in 98.0 minor league innings).
There is hope for Adams, Armstrong, and Haley, but before they can dream of pitching out of the Cleveland bullpen, they will need to rein in their walks.
Tyler Holt, OF
.154/.241/.308 line, .276 wOBA, 4-for-26, 2 R, 2 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4:3 SO:BB, 1 SB in 29 PA
Holt has found himself in a deep slump lately, one that likely feels a little worse now that he is playing left field instead of center. This is a position the plus defender will play at an elite level going forward, but the relative demotion could be weighing on his mind at the plate.
I still like Holt's prospects as a fourth outfielder as soon as next year in Cleveland, though this latest slump takes some of the shine off of his 2013 season. His OPS dropped to .696, which, if it stands, would leave Holt with a sub-.700 OPS in all three of his full professional seasons.
Holt has a low-upside, but as long as his bat develops a little more over the final weeks of the season, the offseason, and presumably Triple-A next year, his defense should carry him a little bit.
Ronny Rodriguez, 2B/SS
.222/.250/.333 line, .238 wOBA, 4-for-18, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 5:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 21 PA
Rodriguez was given more time at shortstop over the past week, though the results did not follow. With too many strikeouts, too few walks, and not enough power, this was an utterly forgettable week for Rodriguez.
I still reside firmly on the Ronny Rodriguez bandwagon, though his 2013 campaign is certainly a little unsatisfying. The jump in pitching ability from High-A to Double-A is huge and is currently exploiting Rodriguez's aggressive style.
With an OPS of .669 and walk rate of 2.7 percent, Rodriguez will likely need to repeat in Akron in 2014. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as Rodriguez is still quite young. If he uses the offseason to fix what went wrong in 2013 there is no reason the 21-year-old cannot hit the ground running next year and put this season in the past.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Jose Ramirez)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (6/4), Austin Adams (4/23, 5/28), Jesus Aguilar (5/7, 5/14), Shawn Armstrong (4/23, 7/1, 8/6), Brett Brach (4/23, 5/28, 7/2, 7/9, 7/30, 8/6), Rob Bryson (5/28, 6/18, 7/2, 8/6), Cole Cook (4/23, 5/14, 5/28, 7/2, 7/9), Jordan Cooper (5/21, 5/28), Paolo Espino (4/16, 5/28, 7/23), Jose Flores (5/28, 7/2, 7/16), Trey Haley (5/21, 6/18), Tyler Holt (4/9, 6/11, 7/30, 8/13), T.J. House (4/16), Jeff Johnson (8/6), Kyle Landis (4/23, 7/2), Quincy Latimore (4/23, 5/21, 5/28, 7/2), Matt Lawson (7/23), Chen-Chang Lee (7/2), Jake Lowery (7/23), Fabio Martinez (4/16), Carlos Moncrief (4/9, 4/30, 8/13), Toru Murata (4/16, 5/28, 7/9, 7/16), Brett Myers (5/28), Rob Nixon (5/28), Matt Packer (4/9, 4/16, 4/30, 8/13), Edward Paredes (4/16, 4/23), Chris Perez (7/2), Bryan Price (5/28), Jose Ramirez (4/16, 5/7, 6/11, 6/18, 8/6), J.D. Reichenbach (7/2, 7/9, 7/16), Will Roberts (7/2), Ronny Rodriguez (4/9, 4/23, 5/7, 5/14, 7/16, 7/30), Danny Salazar (4/16), Nate Spears (6/4), Enosil Tejeda (7/2), Justin Toole (6/11), Giovanny Urshela (4/9, 4/30, 7/9), Robert Whitenack (4/23, 6/4), Blake Wood (7/2))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
After a thrilling steal of home plate Sunday, Jose Ramirez now has 37 steals on the year and a solid .274/.328/.352 line in 481 plate appearances.
That is not the interesting part about Ramirez's week, however. The interesting thing is that in the 121st game of the season, Ramirez logged time at third base for the first time. With Lindor's arrival to Akron, the common thought process was that Ronny Rodriguez would make his way to third base. So much for that.
Long-term it makes sense to get Ramirez some experience at third base as he may fit best as a utility infielder at the major league level (and may fit in there sooner than you would think). At best, Ramirez hits enough to start for a contender, but there is value in playing Ramirez at third base now so he can have it in his skillset going forward.
Monday night saw first baseman Jesus Aguilar knock in his 98th RBI, an Akron Aeros record. Which is all well and good, but RBI do not yield a view of a prospect's future.
What is more important for Aguilar and the organization is that the first baseman owns a .275/.356/.435 line on the season and a .296/.380/.482 line since his swing adjustment around the beginning of June. The solid overall season and the improvements Aguilar made give hope that he will be manning first base for the big league club at some point in 2014.
Aguilar setting an Akron record in a context-dependent stat is an interesting tidbit. His overall performance, however, is the much more important for his future.
Though it was only one start, right-hander Cody Anderson's 3.00 FIP in his five-inning Double-A debut is a strong start to his Akron career. Anderson flashed why he is one of the best pitching prospects in the system with his five strikeouts, though the three walks also show the work there is to be done.
Over the last few weeks of 2013, Anderson, like Naquin, will get a chance to acclimate himself to Double-A and get a chance to start strong in 2014. Anderson has great size and great stuff and he will shoot up prospect rankings in the offseason. He turns 23 years old in September, so while he is not extremely young, he still has plenty of time before he hits his prime. Anderson is a legitimate starting pitching prospect and he will be a joy to watch for the rest of 2013 and on into next year.
Odds & Ends
Left-hander Kyle Crockett continued his ascent through the system over the past week, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings with four hits, no walks, and three strikeouts. Crockett did not overpower opponents, but he got results.
Fellow left-hander Matt Packer did not get much work, throwing two innings in relief of Tomlin while allowing one run on two hits. Packer did get three strikeouts, however, and should get a look at Columbus at some point this year or next.
Outfielder Cedric Hunter is seeing more time at designated hitter after Naquin's promotion, though he did not let that stop him. Hunter owned a .909 OPS and continued to be one of the best hitters for Akron during the stretch run.
Catchers Jake Lowery (.273/.333.364 line in 12 plate appearances) and Alex Monsalve (.267/.267/.400 line in 15 plate appearances) had decent weeks, sustaining their great performances over the season. Both have done great things for their prospect stock this year, with Lowery's big year putting him back on the map and Monsalve showing he is healthy making up for lost time earlier in the season.
The huge injury news of the week in Akron was shortstop Francisco Lindor officially being placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain. The injury kept him out for most of the week before and after giving it a try on Tuesday, Lindor was pulled when the injury flared up again.
Long-term this injury probably means nothing. Injuries happen all the time in baseball and the fact that he played at all -- and was not immediately shut down -- likely means that this is precautionary. Hopefully he gets healthy and comes back stronger from it.
In other injury news, infielder/outfielder Adam Abraham went on the disabled list with a right calf strain but came off it after the required seven days. This year has been injury-plagued again for Abraham, though hopefully he will finally stay healthy this time.
Moves (Like Orbit)
August 12 - INF/OF Adam Abraham placed on 7-day DL (right calf strain)
August 14 - RHP Cody Anderson received from High-A Carolina
August 14 - CF Tyler Naquin received from High-A Carolina
August 15 - SS Francisco Lindor placed on 7-day DL (lower back strain)
August 16 - RHP Josh Tomlin received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment (single game)
August 19 - INF/OF Adam Abraham activated from DL
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