Launching off with the Aeros: 8/20/13 – 8/26/13
Bullpen buoys Aeros as Packer, Moncrief regain early-season form
The Akron Aeros had a decent week -- winning four of their seven games -- though it was not enough to get them back into the playoff picture. With a 64-70 record, the Aeros are seven games out of the wild card with seven games to go. As in, one more loss (or an Erie SeaWolves win) eliminates the reigning Eastern League champions.
Despite this bad news, the Aeros got some good news Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that outfielder Tyler Naquin and catcher Jake Lowery were selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League. Many top prospects make it out to the AFL and these two will be challenged (and hopefully will learn and grow from it) this October and November.
The Aeros finish out their season with three more games at home Tuesday through Thursday against the Erie SeaWolves. Akron then heads out on the road for a four-game set with the Altoona Curve.
Austin Adams, Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Blair, Jose Flores, Trey Haley, Jeff Johnson, Bryce Stowell, & Enosil Tejeda, RHPs & Kyle Crockett, LHP
2-1 W-L, 0.35 ERA, 2.26 FIP, 9.47 SO/9, 3.51 BB/9, 0.82 WHIP, 11 H, 3 R (1 ER), 27:10 SO:BB in 25.2 IP
Leaving Brett Myers (who is on a major league rehab assignment) and Will Roberts (who is really a starter) out of here, the Aeros' bullpen really showed off over the past week, only allowing one earned run (from Stowell) and really shutting down opposing lineups.
The depth of relief options in Akron (and Columbus) bodes well for the future of the organization. A quick look at Vinnie Pestano's demise this year illustrates how quickly relievers can lose it. With this kind of depth, Cleveland has plenty of arms to call upon in the years to come.
Matt Packer, LHP
1-1 W-L, 2.19 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 6.57 SO/9, 2.92 BB/9, 1.22 WHIP, 11 H, 4 R (3 ER), 9:4 SO:BB, 1 HBP in 12.1 IP
Packer stumbled a bit recently but he was back on point last week. The strong showing lowered the left-hander's ERA to 3.41 and his FIP to 3.19 in 148.0 innings.
That inning count is huge for Packer, as this is the left-hander's first full season back after shoulder surgery. While things looked bleak early in the season, Packer quickly turned things around, got his velocity back to pre-surgery levels, and started getting results. He is not someone who wows you, but Packer has value going forward as a left-hander who knows how to throw strikes.
Carlos Moncrief, RF
.313/.353/.563 line, .389 wOBA, 5-for-16, 5 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1:1 SO:BB, 1 SB, 1 CS in 17 PA
Like Packer, Moncrief cooled down lately before finding his early-season success again over the past week. While his numbers have dipped, Moncrief's .281/.356/.475 line in 524 plate appearances is a roaring success for the 24-year-old in his first year at the Double-A level.
Moncrief is currently out with a jammed finger, though the injury is not yet serious enough to warrant a DL stint. His lack of experience as a hitter likely leaves him out of consideration for a September callup, though there is nothing wrong with that. Moncrief took a huge step forward in 2013 and is primed to make a run at the major league team in 2014.
(Honorable Mentions: Brett Brach, Tyler Holt, Cedric Hunter, Matt Lawson, Jake Lowery, Toru Murata, Jose Ramirez)
(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), Matt Lawson (8/20), 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), Tyler Naquin (8/20), 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), Josh Tomlin (8/20), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7, 6/11, 8/6), Blake Wood (5/21))
Cody Anderson, RHP
0-0 W-L, 7.04 ERA, 7.63 FIP, 5.87 SO/9, 7.04 BB/9, 2.35 WHIP, 12 H, 6 ER, 5:6 SO:BB, 2 HR in 7.2 IP
What do you get when you combine walks with home runs? Bad outings for pitchers. Anderson could not keep runners off of the basepaths or baseballs in the park over the past week, leading to some unsightly results.
Of course, the right-hander is only three starts into his Double-A career and has plenty of time to improve these results next season. This late-season callup was all about getting Anderson's feet wet and preparing him for a run in 2014. When Anderson starts next year with the Aeros -- maybe even starting on Opening Day -- he will know that he has already been here and belongs.
Tyler Naquin, CF
.091/.167/.273 line, .231 wOBA, 2-for-22, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 8:2 SO:BB, 0 SB in 24 PA
Anderson's fellow late-season callup from Carolina, Naquin also struggled in his second week with the Aeros. Naquin did hit his first Double-A home run, but the center fielder's continued issues with strikeouts drove down his overall line.
After striking out 22.5 percent of the time in Carolina, Naquin saw his strikeout rate jump to 28.0 percent in his limited time in Akron. This is Naquin's first full professional season and he should improve with time -- his hit tool is considered better than his power -- but the strikeouts are still a concern. Our best indicator on Naquin going forward will likely be those strikeouts and whether or not the center fielder finds a way to improve his hitting.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B
.222/.241/.222 line, .211 wOBA, 6-for-27, 2 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 29 PA
Well, even the best hitters have their down weeks. Aguilar managed his 100th RBI over the past week, though the lack of an extra-base hit or more than one walk left his stats lacking.
In the bigger picture, Aguilar is under consideration for a September callup despite his lower overall numbers compared to 2012 (.833 OPS in 2012 between High-A and Double-A; .773 OPS in 2013). Since June 4, however, around when Aguilar made a swing adjustment, the first baseman owns a .289/.368/.458 line with a .826 OPS.
While that is still not elite and might not be enough to help the big league club in 2013, it does show that Aguilar is on the right track heading into 2014.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Will Roberts, Chris Wallace)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (6/4), Austin Adams (4/23, 5/28, 8/20), Jesus Aguilar (5/7, 5/14), Shawn Armstrong (4/23, 7/1, 8/6, 8/20), 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, 8/20), Tyler Holt (4/9, 6/11, 7/30, 8/13, 8/20), 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, 8/20), 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.
The BABIP regression monster continued to eat away at catcher Jake Lowery's numbers (.273 BABIP over the past week, .359 BABIP on the season), though he used a 27.8 percent walk rate to counteract it. Lowery's .444 on-base percentage helped the Aeros even though the catcher was not hitting very well (.231 batting average).
While he only has 252 plate appearances with the Aeros in 2013, Lowery's 12.3 percent walk rate to go with his .277/.365/.459 line point to good things in the future. It is still a smaller sample size than would be ideal -- plus Lowery owns a 24.6 percent strikeout rate -- but the regression might not hurt as bad as long as Lowery keeps walking and improving his approach in the future.
Infielder Jose Ramirez does not strikeout much; this we take for granted. Thus, his 15.6 percent strikeout rate over the past week really took me aback. Yet, Ramirez still found plenty of success at the plate (.323/.344/.419 line).
Striking out was always the end of the world for me, but sometimes a few strikeouts can be healthy. You have to be aggressive in swinging at good pitches and taking too many can leave you making weak contact. While this is likely reading way too much into a small sample size, part of Ramirez's success could have come from going aggressively after pitches -- at the cost of a few strikeouts. For me at least, I will take a 15.6 percent strikeout rate from Ramirez if he was guaranteed a .323/.344/.419 line. Those offensive numbers for someone with his defensive ability are fairly elite.
Rehabbing right-hander Brett Myers did not allow any walks in his 1.1 innings of work last week, meaning that his 2.25 WHIP all came from hits. Generally hits are considered something that balance out and stabilize, but after watching Myers' outing Saturday, he just may be hittable.
While the Binghamton Mets were not hitting home runs off of Myers it felt like their contact was solid as they got three quick hits against the right-hander. The B-Mets did not seem to have any problems squaring Myers up, which is pretty bad considering he was only facing Double-A competition.
Of course, Myers went three-up, three-down with two strikeouts Monday night, so maybe none of this matters. All I know is I am not encouraged by the idea of Myers pitching at all in Cleveland in September, even in mop-up duty.
Odds & Ends
Third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.348/.348/.391 in 24 plate appearances), outfielder Tyler Holt (.333/.393/.458 in 29 plate appearances), second baseman/shortstop Ronny Rodriguez (.273/.360/.318 line in 25 plate appearances), and infielder/outfielder Matt Lawson (.375/.500.438 in 20 plate appearances) buoyed the Aeros over the past week. Offensively the team had a down week, but these four solidified the offense and kept things from getting even worse.
Right-hander Will Roberts got hit around Saturday night, as his 14.54 ERA in 4.1 innings shows. His FIP was a low 2.51, however, as Roberts struck out six batters in those 4.1 innings. Roberts is typically a pitch-to-contact type, though if he could combine the strikeouts with better results, he raises his prospect stock even more.
Right-handers Brett Brach (3.68 ERA, 3.20 FIP in 7.1 innings) and Toru Murata (3.38 ERA, 2.26 FIP) were their normal selves over the past week, getting results and eating innings in wins for the Aeros.
It seemed likely last week that shortstop Francisco Lindor would not play again this year and the organization confirmed that over the past week. Lindor ends the year with an impressive .303/.380/.407 line between High-A and Double-A, though he will need to spend the offseason recovering from his back injury and likely continuing to get stronger so he can make it through all of 2014 without any setbacks.
On the non-Lindor front, outfielder Cedric Hunter had a great week until stomach irritation sent him to the disabled list. As of now there is no timetable for his return and it would not surprise me if this ended Hunter's 2013 campaign.
Right-hander Kyle Blair got the call to Akron from Lake County early in the week, though his first outing ended terribly. Blair left Friday night's game with an apparent elbow injury and landed on the disabled list with the dreaded "right forearm strain." The right-hander has injury issues in his past and this looks like another bad break for Blair.
On a positive note, catcher/designated hitter Chris Wallace was activated from the disabled list after missing almost three weeks with a left knee strain. Though the results did not immediately follow for Wallace (.364 OPS in 11 plate appearances), it is good to see the veteran back on the field.
Moves (Like Orbit)
August 21 - INF/OF Adam Abraham promoted to Triple-A Columbus
August 21 - RHP Kyle Blair received from Low-A Lake County
August 23 - OF Cedric Hunter placed on the 7-day DL (stomach irritation)
August 23 - INF/OF Adam Abraham received from Triple-A Columbus
August 24 - RHP Kyle Blair placed on 7-day DL (right forearm strain)
August 24 - C Chris Wallace activated from DL
August 24 - RHP Brett Myers received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.
As for the Feller Award, my thinking is Danny Salazar gets it. The Boudreau Award could go to Lindor. Aguilar might get it, but he's actually performed a little worse than last season.