RubberDucks Notebook: A first-half season review
The RubberDucks stand at 56-41 and are currently one game behind the first-place Richmond Flying Squirrels in the Eastern League Western division race. Akron has had an interesting season thus far, from rehab assignment stints to hitting streaks to the injury bug, but the team has kept its focus well.
Looking Ahead: A talk with manager David Wallace
I had a short conversation with skipper David Wallace where I asked him what he thought of the first-half of the season.
“It’s not our goal to win every game necessarily, or even a championship. That’s not our main thought. But we’re going to pay attention to it and try to get in the playoffs and win one. It’s nice to be playing for something at this point in the season.”
Something Akron’s skipper believes the team has done well is approaching every game in a professional manner, “We prepare ourselves well and we play the game hard. It obviously doesn’t always go our way but we play all 27 outs.” Wallace went on to say that if this continues, he believes that the talent he has on his team would do some great things in the second half of the year, “We’re going to put ourselves in good position to be in the playoffs in the end.”
I also inquired about how the team’s mindset can stay consistent when injuries and call-ups happen.
“Most of the guys have been doing it long enough to know,” Wally said. “There’s nothing you can do. You handle what you can control, and if it’s out of your control, you don’t worry about it.”
When I asked him what the key to success would be to getting to the playoffs, Wallace answered immediately.
“Pitching. Always is. Our pitchers have been great this year and up near the top of the league. They are really the backbone of every team, you only go as far as your pitching goes.”
We will see how far the pitching staff and the team itself will go moving forward in the second half of the year. It starts on Thursday at home against the SeaWolves.
Named to the EL All-Star Team
Francisco Lindor, SS
82 G, .294 BA, .361 OBP, .400 SLG, .761 OPS, 91 H, 46 RBI, 50 R, 6 HR, 4 3B, 11 2B, 24 SB
Joseph Colon, RHP
18 GS, 8 W, 4 L, 105.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, 32 R, 30 ER, 96 H, 4 HR, 38 BB, 73 SO
Shawn Armstrong, RHP**
33 G, 4 W, 1 L, 11 SV, 38.2 IP, 2.09 ERA, 9 R, 9 ER, 29 H, 3 HR, 14 BB, 48 SO
BATTING LEADER: Giovanny Urshela, 3B
23 G, 86 AB, .302 BA, .344 OBP, .570 SLG, .914 OPS, 26 H, 19 RBI, 5 HR, 8 2B, 15 R, 5 BB, 15 K
The third baseman started off his 2014 campaign with Akron after spending a full season with the club last year. In April, Urshela was easily the team’s best player at the plate. He had eight multiple hit games, including two three-hit games. He was named the Indians Minor League Player of the Week on April 22nd. His performance was rewarded with a promotion to Columbus on May 4th.
PITCHING LEADER: Kyle Crockett, LHP
9 G, 2 SV, 9.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.429 WHIP, 0 ER, 0 R, .094 OPP BA, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 SO
What more can you say about Kyle Crockett? The lefty reliever out of Virginia was drafted just one season ago and began this year with the RubberDucks. The 22-year-old’s opening month was the closest thing to perfect that one could think of, throwing 9.1 innings of scoreless relief and striking out nine. The Tribe’s front office took notice of this immediately and he was eventually promoted to the Indians on May 16th.
MOMENT OF THE MONTH: Francisco Lindor hits a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 13th inning to lift the RubberDucks over Bowie, 2-1.
BATTING LEADER: Bryan LaHair, 1B
25 G, 93 AB, .312 BA, .413 OBP, .430 SLG, .843 OPS, 29 H, 22 RBI, 1 HR, 1 3B, 2 2B, 13 R, 16 BB, 18 K
The former 2012 all-star started out his season with the Columbus Clippers, but struggled. This resulted in his demotion to the RubberDucks in late April. As soon as he arrived in Akron, LaHair made his mark. He had found his swing and was a huge part of the RubberDucks offensive explosion in May.
STARTING PITCHING LEADER: Joseph Colon, RHP
5 GS, 3 W, 2 ND, 30 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 5 ER, 5 R, .184 OPP BA, 19 H, 1 HR, 9 BB, 19 SO
The 24-year-old was very good for his team. The most standout performance that he had came on May 26th, when he pitched his first career complete-game shutout three-hitter. Seven days later, he was named the Indians Minor League Player of the Week.
RELIEF PITCHING LEADER: Tyler Sturdevant, RHP
10 G, 3 SV, 16 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.563 WHIP, 0 ER, 0 R, .118 OPP BA, 6 H, 3 BB, 15 SO
Wallace continued to get big late-inning performances from his bullpen even with the departure of Kyle Crockett. One of the two guys that was stellar was a right-hander that I spotlighted a couple of months ago, Tyler Sturdevant. The right-hander followed Crockett’s April with an almost identical performance in May. Sturdevant’s efforts did not go unnoticed as he was promoted to Columbus on June 18th.
MOMENT OF THE MONTH: Joe Colon throws a complete game shutout in a 9-0 win over the Fightin Phils.
BATTING LEADER: Tyler Naquin, CF
24 G, 96 AB, .333 BA, .394 OBP, .448 SLG, .842 OPS, 32 H, 10 RBI, 2 HR, 1 3B, 3 2B, 17 R, 3 SB, 10 BB, 20 K
I don’t know if anybody could have stopped Tyler Naquin in June. This 2012 first rounder out of Texas A&M was unstoppable at the plate, as he hit in 17 straight games dating back to May 29th. His hitting streak came to a halt on June 17th. During the tear, Naquin hit .431 with 31 hits and eight RBI. Unfortunately in late June, he broke his right hand and will be sidelined for the forseeable future.
PITCHING LEADER: Will Roberts, RHP
6 GS, 4 W, 2 L, 39.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 12 ER, 15 R, .224 OPP BA, 32 H, 2 HR, 5 BB, 31 SO
Will Roberts may very well be the most consistent pitcher that the RubberDucks have in their rotation. The right-hander has ten quality starts this season total, and June was easily his best month yet. In my conversation with him last month, Roberts said that he believed you “constantly evolve” as a pitcher.
MOMENT OF THE MONTH: Jordan Smith hits a game-winning RBI triple on the road to lead Akron to a 2-1 victory over the Senators.
BATTING LEADER: Anthony Gallas, LF
14 G, 53 AB, .321 BA, .393 OBP, .623 SLG, 1.016 OPS, 17 H, 12 RBI, 3 HR, 1 3B, 5 2B, 11 R, 7 BB, 17 K
Ever since his promotion to the RubberDucks on June 11th, the Strongsville native has made a huge impact on the team. He has truly enjoyed playing close to home, and he was named the Indians Minor League Player of the Week on July 8th.
PITCHING LEADER: Cody Anderson, RHP
3 GS, 2 W, 1 L, 16 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.438 WHIP, 5 ER, 5 R, .292 OPP BA, 19 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 11 SO
The 23-year-old has had an up-and-down season to say the least. From being named Minor League Player of the Week on May 27th to losing five straight decisions, he hasn’t exactly showed consistency on the mound. However, if there’s something that Akron should be excited about the next half of the season, it should be Anderson’s development. In his past two starts combined, he’s won both decisions and has only allowed one earned run.
MOMENTS OF THE MONTH (SO FAR): Ollie Linton makes an amazing diving catch on the road at Erie in a 6-1 loss.
Francisco Lindor and Ronny Rodriguez turn a sensational double play in a 7-2 win over Bowie.
CF Michael Bourn (4-10 to 4-13)
DH Jason Giambi (4-11 to 4-16)
1B Nick Swisher (6-10 to 6-11)
Minor League Players of the Week:
3B Giovanny Urshela (4-14 to 4-20)
RHP Shawn Armstrong (4-28 to 5-4)
RHP Cody Anderson (5-19 to 5-25)
RHP Joe Colon (5-26 to 6-1)
LF Anthony Gallas (6-30 to 7-6)
3B Justin Toole (placed on 7-day DL on 4-3, left calf)
C Chris Wallace (placed on 7-day DL on 4-3)
C Jake Lowery (placed on 7-day DL on 4-21, fractured right orbital bone)
LHP Giovanni Soto (placed on 7-day DL on 4-29, strained left shoulder)
C Charlie Valerio (placed on 7-day DL on 6-5, sprained right ankle)
OF Bryson Myles (placed on 7-day DL on 6-9, torn right meniscus. Surgery June 11th)
LHP Matt Packer (placed on 7-day DL on 6-11)
2B Joe Wendle (placed on 7-day DL on 6-28, fractured right hamate. Surgery July 3rd, time of recovery TBD)
CF Tyler Naquin (placed on 7-day DL on 6-28, fractured right hand. Surgery July 3rd, time of recovery TBD)
OF Ollie Linton (placed on 7-day DL on 7-8, appendicitis)
RHP Francisco Valera (5-16)
LHP Matt Packer (6-20)