RubberDucks Notebook: Sturdevant is showing comfort
The Akron RubberDucks won two series last week, taking two out of three from Baysox on the road and two out of three from the Harrisburg Senators at Canal Park. The highlight of the week was May 29th and 30th, when the RubberDucks scored 26 total runs on 30 hits in just two days. Akron sits atop the Eastern League West at 35-21, and has an Eastern League best team ERA of 3.11.
Player Spotlight: Tyler Sturdevant
Impressive is an understatement to describe the kind of season Tyler Sturdevant has had for the RubberDucks. The right-handed reliever has a season ERA of 1.14 and has really made his mark in Akron’s bullpen.
“I’m going through every day as if it’s a new day. As of late I’ve just felt good, my mechanics have just really come around these last few outings, I’m just feeling real comfortable out on the mound.” Sturdevant said.
Sturdevant, who missed the entire 2013 season because of shoulder surgery, has really bounced back strongly.
When I asked about how he got past the injury, he said it‘s been about hard work and perseverance, “Obviously when you find out you’re going to have surgery, it’s not much fun, so I had some good days and I had some bad days. The training staff and Goodyear were really good about keeping me mentally checked-in and really pushing through the tough times.”
And Sturdevant has done just that, as he has a 12-game scoreless outing streak that dates back to April 29th. He attributes his success this year to getting ahead of batters in the count, “In a pitching aspect it’s very important. Obviously percentages go down when you throw strike one, they go down a lot for a hitter when you throw strike two, but that’s nothing new to the game so it’s pretty important.”
Tyler says that the last time he was truly healthy was 2011. He’s been fighting to get himself back to where he was before the injury.
“My velocity has kind of dropped a little bit since surgery, but I’ve kind of been working on a changeup that I developed in spring training and that’s been working for me a lot,” Sturdevant said. He added that he messed around with different grips on the ball and that it’s worked, “It’s been one of the better pitches I’ve had this season.”
When asked if there’s been any difference between before and after the surgery, Sturdevant said he didn’t think a lot has changed at all.
“Feeling on the mound and getting mechanics in line have been the biggest hill that I’ve been trying to get over, feeling comfortable and really working to get on top of the baseball is really where my hard work has gone to.”
However he did say that he has altered some pitches, “I’ve been throwing a little bit of a two seam, wouldn’t even call it a two seam but it’s just been kind of running a little bit with a little less velocity which is fantastic.”
The right-handed reliever’s season totals are dynamite. He’s allowed just three earned runs and fourteen hits in 23 & 2/3 innings pitched. He has struck out 23 and has only walked five batters this year.
Manager David Wallace praised Tyler’s work this year, “He looks like he’s added some depth to his slider. He’s got a good little cutter and then he can make it a little bit bigger for an out pitch. It’s coming out of his hand well and I’m very encouraged about what he’s done so far.”
Whatever Sturdevant is doing is working, and if he keeps this up, he will be in great shape.
Ronny Rodriguez, INF
6 G, 23 AB, .435 BA, .609 SLG, 1.089 OPS, 10 H, 4 2B, 6 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB
So last week, Ronny Rodriguez was batting .187 and was clearly struggling at the plate. In less than one week, the utility infielder raised his batting average by a stunning 35 points to .222.
It’s obvious that he’s been Akron’s streakiest hitter this year, and when I asked him about his ups and downs this season, he said he’s going to try to keep everything consistent from here on out, “I’m going to try to be consistent and do the same routine, and try to not be too aggressive at the plate, just stay down and make good contact, and it will work out on its own.”
Rodriguez also said that he doesn’t think too much about his batting average, and that his main goals are to stay healthy and to make himself a better player to ready himself for the big leagues.
Tyler Naquin, CF
6 G, 26 AB, .423 BA, .483 OBP, .538 SLG, 1.021 OPS, 11 H, 6 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB
The 15th overall selection in the 2012 June Amateur Draft has really found his swing lately, as he’s increased his average to .307 this season. His best recent performance came on May 29th at Bowie where he went 4-for-6, with all four hits being singles, one in which drove in a run. He’s hit safely in four straight games.
Bryson Myles, OF
5 G, 17 AB, .412 BA, .500 OBP, .706 SLG, 1.206 OPS, 7 H, 2 2B, 5 R, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SB
What a week it was for Bryson Myles. The outfielder drove in seven runs and had seven hits in 17 at-bats. On May 29th at Bowie, he homered and batted in four runs for Akron. He is now riding a four-game hit streak (5-14, .357).
Shawn Armstrong, RHP
2 G, 1.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 SO
You’re probably looking at this asking yourself why this earns a spot of the “Who’s Not” list. Well it’s because Armstrong has been so dominant this year and he’s going through a bit of a rough patch.
Before May 16th at Erie, the right-handed reliever had a 12-game scoreless inning streak where he allowed just six hits and struck out 19. His opponents were hitting .133 against him during this stretch.
His last five games have been just the opposite. He’s allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 6.2 IP with his opponents batting .333. This string of games also includes a loss at home vs. Reading on May 23rd where he gave up two runs in the ninth inning in a tie game. Let’s hope this is just a rough patch for Armstrong.
Giovanni Soto, LHP
2 G, 2.1 IP, 7.71 ERA, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 SO
It’s apparent that Giovanni Soto is having a tough time at getting back to where he was before being sidelined April 25th with a shoulder injury.
Skipper Dave Wallace is confident that this will happen, “He’s got to be patient enough for his stuff to come back because it was so sharp early, but it’s just a matter of time before it comes back.”
Jordan Smith, OF
5 G, 19 AB, .158 BA, .273 OBP, .263 SLG, .536 OPS, 3 H, 2 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K
Other than Sunday’s RBI double, Jordan Smith has had issues at the plate. The only good news you can take out of these numbers is that of the three hits he had, two of them were doubles and he drove in four runs.
Toru Murata, RHP
1 G, 7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 SO
In his second stint with the Clippers on May 31st, Murata impressed holding the Louisville Bats to one unearned run and getting a no-decision in the effort. This is encouraging news as Murata’s ERA with the team previously was 9.00. Unfortunately for Toru, it was a spot start and he was demoted back to Akron one day later.
Shawn Morimando, LHP
1 G, 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 SO
Morimando had a spot start for the RubberDucks, and boy did he make an impact. The 21 year-old southpaw won in his first start on May 30th, blanking the Senators on just five hits.
Morimando was sent back down to Carolina on June 1st.
J.C. Ramirez, RHP
1 G, 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 SO
Relief pitcher J.C. Ramirez was promoted to Columbus on June 1st. In his fist appearance with the Clippers, Ramirez entered the game in the seventh and gave up a solo home run, walked two and struck out one.
Louis Head, RHP
The relief pitcher was promoted from Carolina on June 1st. In 17 games with the Mudcats, Head had an ERA of 2.21. He allowed five earned runs on ten hits in 20.1 innings pitched. The most encouraging part of this promotion, however, is his 34 total strikeouts versus his seven total walks.
Bryan Price, RHP
1 G, 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 SO
In his first action in minor league play this year, the right-hander tossed a scoreless seventh inning at home against the Senators.
The RubberDucks (35-21) are slated for a six-game road trip where they will travel to New Britain to take on the Rock Cats (25-29), followed by a series in Harrisburg against the Senators (19-36).
Spencer Davies is a student at the University of Akron studying Sports Management with a minor concentrating in Mass Communication. He has interned for the Cleveland Indians minor league affiliate Akron RubberDucks, IMG College, and has shadowed Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico. He is currently an on-air sports personality at WZIP-FM and works for the Akron Beacon Journal. Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpinDavies.
Hopefully the next time Morimando get the call to Akron it would for good instead of a spot start.