Launching off with the Aeros: 8/6/13 – 8/12/13
Losing week hurts Aeros' playoff chances
Needing a winning streak to get back into the Eastern League playoff race, the Akron Aeros went the other way over the past week, losing four of six games and falling to 56-64. That mark leaves the Aeros 8.5 games behind the Harrisburg Senators for first place in the Western Division and 7.5 games behind the Erie SeaWolves for the wild card spot with 21 games to go.
Seeing Akron go from winning the Eastern League in 2012 to eight games below .500 in 2013 is not all that surprising considering the youth of this year's team. Manager Edwin Rodriguez remarked on that after his team was shutout Thursday night.
"When you have a young team, you really don't know who's going to show up," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes they look like big leaguers… then the next day, you wonder if they know how to play baseball. But that happens when you have a young team, so that's why you have to be patient."
Despite the bleak playoff outlook, the Aeros will look to get back to winning this week with three games in Richmond before starting a three-game homestand against the Reading Fightin Phils Friday.
Austin Adams, Shawn Armstrong, Trey Haley, Jeff Johnson, Bryce Stowell, & Enosil Tejeda, RHPs & Kyle Crockett, LHP
16 G, 0-1 W-L, 0.00 ERA, 1.98 FIP, 8.24 SO/9, 1.83 BB/9, 0.76 WHIP, 11 H, 1 R (0 ER), 18:4 SO:BB, 2 HBP in 19.2 IP
This was not every member of the Akron bullpen over the past week (Brett Brach, Rob Bryson, and Jose Flores combined for a 9.00 ERA and 6.34 FIP in seven innings), but Adams, Armstrong, Crockett, Haley, Johnson, Stowell, and Tejeda combined to pitch 19.2 innings without allowing an earned run.
Instead of talking about the organization's great right-handed relief help, let's use this opportunity to check in with Crockett, Cleveland's 2013 fourth round pick and, most notably, a left-hander.
"They didn't say anything to me, actually," Crockett said of being called up. "I was scheduled to pitch yesterday [Wednesday] at Lake County and I didn't throw, so I didn't know what was going on. I was in the locker room and they called me in the coach's office and told me I was going to Akron… It's been a big surprise, but it's been awesome. I'm enjoying it."
Crockett throws a four-pitch mix of fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider, though he has focused on using the fastball and slider the most, especially against lefties. He is someone who is moving fast through the organization and should see Cleveland before too long.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B/DH
.417/.481/.583 line, .465 wOBA, 10-for-24, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4:3 SO:BB, 0 SB in 27 PA
Aguilar continued his season turnaround over the past week, making good contact, reaching base, and hitting with a little pop. Now with a .275/.356/.436 line and .367 wOBA in 112 games, Aguilar looks primed to jump to the next level either for the rest of 2013 or starting in 2014.
Despite seemingly conquering Double-A statistically, one thing that Aguilar still has to master is controlling his emotions. The first baseman was thrown out of Wednesday's game for arguing balls and strikes -- his fourth ejection of the season according to Rodriguez -- and his manager was not happy with Aguilar losing his cool once again.
In the end, Aguilar looks ready to move on to bigger and brighter things. It will be important for him to channel his anger away from umpires, though, as the Aeros could have used him at the end of the game Wednesday as they tried (and failed) to come back for the win.
Jake Lowery & Alex Monsalve, Cs
.391/.462/.696 line, .488 wOBA, 9-for-23, 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4:3 SO:BB, 0 SB in 26 PA
Considering that the three catchers Cleveland used in recent seasons were all acquired via trade (Carlos Santana from the Dodgers, Yan Gomes from the Blue Jays, Lou Marson from the Phillies), the success of Monsalve and Lowery is encouraging for the organization's future.
Lowery has seen his BABIP fall back toward normal levels in recent weeks (.363 on the season), but he still owns a strong .281/.360/.474 line and .194 ISO in 222 plate appearances. After a disastrous first full professional season, Lowery rededicated himself and has regained much of what made him an interesting prospect heading into 2012.
Monsalve has only played in 10 games so far this year and will need to play in offseason ball to make up for the reps he lost after suffering an elbow injury in Spring Training, but the early results are encouraging (.904 OPS in 36 plate appearances). After only playing in 34 games at High-A last year, seeing Monsalve handling his first taste of Double-A is heartening.
The next few seasons should be interesting as these two mature and push toward the majors.
(Honorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Cedric Hunter, Toru Murata, Jose Ramirez, Will Roberts, Josh Tomlin)
(Previous Winners: Austin Adams (5/14, 7/23), Jesus Aguilar (6/18, 8/6), Shawn Armstrong (7/23), 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), Jose Flores (5/14, 5/21, 7/23, 7/30), Trey Haley (5/14, 7/23), 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), Quincy Latimore (4/16), Francisco Lindor (7/23), Jake Lowery (7/9, 7/30), Carlos Moncrief (4/16, 5/7, 6/11, 6/18, 7/2, 7/16, 7/23), 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), Enosil Tejeda (7/23), Justin Toole (5/14), Giovanny Urshela (5/7, 6/11, 8/6), Blake Wood (5/21))
Carlos Moncrief, RF
.091/.125/.091 line, .105 wOBA, 2-for-22, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5:1 SO:BB, 0 SB in 24 PA
Moncrief has not appeared in the Temporarily Grounded section since April, but last week just did not go his way. The outfielder still owns a .289/.357/.475 line and .367 wOBA on the season, so it is not like Moncrief suddenly is not a prospect.
More interestingly, while it is not as bad as last week, Moncrief's production over the last three weeks is down (.188/.205/.275 line, .208 wOBA in 73 plate appearances). Some of this is probably just the ebbs and flows of a long season, but part of me wonders if Moncrief is looking for a bigger challenge.
Sometimes players' stats regress because they are bored and need better competition to raise their game. There is no way to know if that is the case with Moncrief, but I could see it happening. I have been calling for the outfielder to be called up for weeks and I still want to see how he would fare in Columbus.
Matt Packer, LHP
2 GS, 0-2 W-L, 18.41 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 7.36 SO/9, 2.45 BB/9, 2.73 WHIP, 18 H, 15 ER, 6:2 SO:BB, 1 HR, 1 HBP in 7.1 IP
Opponents will not sustain a .548 BABIP against Packer for the rest of the season, so there is no way that things will stay this bad for the left-hander. Packer still limited walks and got some strikeouts over the past week, so going forward, I expect him to be fine.
Going into last week, Packer owned a 2.64 ERA and a 3.22 FIP -- numbers that inflated to 3.50 and 3.27 respectively after the left-hander's two starts. Regression was always coming and unfortunately for Packer, it came quite quickly.
For the rest of the season I will be interested to watch how opposing teams hit off of Packer. With 153 hits in 133.2 innings, Packer's stuff may not be good enough to keep opponents from squaring it up. If he can limit those hits, though, Packer's 2:73 SO:BB would look good in Columbus.
Tyler Holt, CF
.158/.200/.158 line, .217 wOBA, 3-for-19, 3 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 6:1 SO:BB, 1 SB in 25 PA
Holt continues to be a decent tablesetter for the Aeros but there are questions about his future. The outfielder spent enough time in Akron that he should be hitting better, yet Holt is only sporting a .271/.343/.362 line through 499 plate appearances.
That is just not enough on-base percentage to adequately hit at the top of the order in Triple-A or the majors. Plus Holt does not have enough power to make up for any on-base deficiencies.
Holt's future at the major league level has always looked like a fourth outfielder and he can certainly handle the position. The bat, however, just is not quite there yet. Holt is hitting better than he has in the past, but as he will be 25 years old next season, I was hoping to see a little more out of him in 2013.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Brett Brach, Rob Bryson, Cole Cook, Jesus Flores, Matt Lawson, Ronny Rodriguez, Giovanny Urshela)
(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), 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), 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), 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.
I was asked on Twitter last week what I thought of right-hander Will Roberts and the answer was that he is an innings eater like fellow right-hander Toru Murata. This comparison shows up in the pair's walk rate, which is a combined 4.4 percent so far in 2013.
Roberts has a little more in terms of raw stuff than Murata, though Murata's age and experience allowed him to outpitch Roberts this year (Murata: 3.70 ERA, 3.69 FIP in 109.1 innings; Roberts: 4.06 ERA, 4.01 FIP in 113.0 innings).
At worst, the soon-to-be 23-year-old Roberts should have a decent career filling various roles in the upper minors like Murata has over the past few years. Roberts was a fifth round pick in 2011, though, so if he can develop, he could turn himself into more.
Even if the raw results of second baseman/shortstop Jose Ramirez's season could be better (.276/.331/.357 line in 449 plate appearances), Ramirez has shown an elite ability to control the strike zone at this level. The middle infielder's 32:35 SO:BB is simply amazing and gives faith that he will be able to continue up the minor league ladder. The slightly diminished results are not that surprising after Ramirez skipped High-A, but the 20-year-old's approach staying solid probably indicates success in his future. I expect Ramirez to start next season in Akron, but his experiences in 2013 should allow him to jump off from there.
Last year, utility man Matt Lawson posted a .327 batting average in 60 games while he helped lead the Aeros to the Eastern League championship. That performance left some wondering if the future was brighter for Lawson than it initially appeared, but that success has faded in 2013. He owns a .188 batting average in 38 games this year (to go with a .529 OPS) and has been relegated to backup duty. Lawson is a hard worker, but the harsh truth is that he does not have the raw ability to start at this level. I like watching Lawson play because he leaves everything he has out on the field, but in the end, he is not someone to expect at the major league level.
Odds & Ends
Second baseman Ronny Rodriguez played a bit better over the past week (.296/.321/.370 line in 29 plate appearances), though he is still trying to find his swing again after missing time with a hamstring injury in late June. He is not still hurt, but the injuries did do a number on his timing and effectiveness.
Rehabbing right-hander Josh Tomlin looked good in his two innings Wednesday, allowing one hit, hitting one batter, but walking no one and striking out one. His velocity and command held up well and he is continuing his climb back to the major leagues.
Right-hander Cole Cook rejoined the Aeros from High-A Carolina after right-hander Paolo Espino was called up to Columbus to fill Carlos Carrasco's spot in the rotation. Cook was shaky, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, four walks, and three strikeouts in five innings. The outing raised Cook's season ERA with the Aeros to 7.17 and his FIP to 5.05.
Outfielder Cedric Hunter (.836 OPS, .400 wOBA in 25 plate appearances) and first baseman/designated hitter Adam Abraham (.866 OPS, .393 wOBA in 16 plate appearances) were strong over the past week. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela struggled (.408 OPS, .254 wOBA in 25 plate appearances), though that was his first really bad week in over a month.
Shortstop and top prospect Francisco Lindor only played in one game over the past week as he was dealing with a sore back. The injury is not considered serious, however, and Lindor is expected to return tonight or Wednesday.
Right-hander Bryce Stowell (right shoulder strain) returned to the team after missing almost two months. Right-hander Rob Bryson replaced him, however, going on the disabled list with a right hip strain.
Moves (Like Orbit)
August 5 - C Chris Wallace placed on 7-day DL (left knee strain)
August 7 - RHP Josh Tomlin received from Cleveland on MLB rehab assignment (single game)
August 7 - LHP Kyle Crockett received from Low-A Lake County
August 8 - RHP Paolo Espino promoted to Triple-A Columbus
August 8 - RHP Cole Cook received from High-A Carolina
August 11 - RHP Bryce Stowell activated from DL
August 11 - RHP Rob Bryson placed on 7-day DL (right hip strain)
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.