Burning Tread with the RubberDucks: 4/3/14 – 4/7/13
Strong performances from top prospects Lindor, Anderson, Wendle, lead way in RubberDucks' first week
The Akron RubberDucks made it through their rain soaked first week at .500, splitting a four-game series with the Binghamton Mets. For fans of early season standings, this leaves the RubberDucks two games behind the undefeated Bowie Baysox. Though, with almost 140 games to go, there is plenty of time for Akron to surge forward after a solid opening week.
The RubberDucks will play a two-game set in Altoona against the Curve (the first game was rained out Monday night and will be made up May 3) Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Akron for the home opener Thursday night. Thursday's game against the Baysox starts at 6:35 p.m.
Ducks in a Row
Joe Wendle, 2B
4 G, .308/.471/.538 line, 1.009 OPS, 1 HR, 4:4 SO:BB, 0 SB, 0 CS, .375 BABIP, .443 wOBA in 17 PA
There is not much to do with four games worth of statistics, but what players can do is make good or bad first impressions. In Wendle's case, he made a good impression, coming out of the gate doing the thing he is best at: hitting. There may have been a little more swing-and-miss in Wendle's game than would be ideal (four strikeouts in 17 plate appearances), but the second baseman still got on base and showed a little bit of pop, hitting his first Double-A home run. Wendle will need to sustain this throughout the season and show a little more power (only one extra base hit so far), but it is so far, so good for the second baseman.
Cody Anderson, RHP
1 GS, 1.50 ERA, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3:1 SO:BB 0.83 WHIP, .235 BABIP, 2.70 FIP in 6.0 IP
Cleveland's top prospects in Akron got off to some good starts, including Anderson's opening night outing. The right-hander did not overpower anyone -- only striking out three -- but Anderson limited the walks, got a ton of groundballs, and made it through six innings only allowing one run. Anderson's first foray into Double-A was less than stellar -- allowing eight runs in 12.2 innings -- but the right-hander already looks much better just one start into the season.
Francisco Lindor, SS
4 G, .353/.389/.529 line, .918 OPS, 1 HR, 4:0 SO:BB, 1 SB, 0 CS, .417 BABIP, .400 wOBA in 18 PA
Lindor showed some aggressiveness to start the season, not drawing a walk in the first four games. The shortstop got the hits to fall -- thus the .417 BABIP -- and as the balls in play stop going for as many hits, Lindor's normally strong walk rate (10.4 percent in his career) will sustain his effectiveness on offense. Add in Lindor's defensive prowess (his error early in the week withstanding) and you have a great player making a strong full season debut in Double-A.
(Honorable Mentions: Kyle Crockett, Tyler Holt, Jake Lowery, Toru Murata, Bryson Myles, Will Roberts, Giovanni Soto, Giovanny Urshela, Tony Wolters)
(Previous Ducks in a Row: None)
Duck and Cover
Joseph Colon, RHP
1 GS, 9.64 ERA, 5 H, 5 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 5:3 SO:BB, 1.71 WHIP, .357 BABIP, 2.99 FIP in 4.2 IP
As with everyone in the Ducks in a Row section, each player in the Duck and Cover comes with the caveat that the season is only four games old. Or in Colon's case, one start. As you can see by Colon's 2.99 FIP, this outing was characterized by some bad BABIP luck (.357), though the right-hander was also hurt by leaving the ball up too much and not getting enough groundballs. Colon's 3.13 ERA and 2.98 FIP in 83.1 High-A innings last year mean much more than one start, but the right-hander will need to show some improvement going forward with his control and groundballs.
Jordan Smith, RF
3 G, .167/.167/.167 line, .333 OPS, 0 HR, 4:0 SO:BB, 0 SB, 0 CS, .250 BABIP, .150 wOBA in 12 PA
Smith's big calling card is his hitting, though the outfielder is still looking to find his stroke three games into his Double-A career. With no walks or extra base hits to buoy his line, Smith was left without much to hang his hat on after week one. Given the way Smith always hits -- it is the power that has been lacking so far in his career -- the bat is all but certain to come around before too long. The jump to Double-A is a big one, but Smith's past has given us no indication he will stop hitting now.
Ronny Rodriguez, 1B/2B/3B/DH
4 G, .133/.235/.200 line, .435 OPS, 1 2B, 0 HR, 4:2 SO:BB, 0 SB, 1 CS, .182 BABIP, .211 wOBA in 17 PA
Like Smith, Rodriguez just is not hitting yet on the young season. But while Smith could be adjusting to a new level, Rodriguez is a returning member of the RubberDucks' roster. What could be tripping Rodriguez up so far is the way he has played four different positions in four games. The unfortunate nature of the beast in minor league baseball is that higher profile prospects push aside other well-regarded, but lower rated prospects, like Lindor and Wendle have done to Rodriguez. The newly-minted utility man will get his playing time -- Rodriguez has not missed a game yet, after all -- but he will need to hit and make a good impression in the time given to re-establish his prospect standing.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Jordan Cooper, Tyler Naquin, Tyler Sturdevant)
(Previous Duck and Covers: None)
See full weekly and yearly RubberDucks stats here.
Sure, catcher Tony Wolters is only three games into his Double-A career, but there is something heartening about seeing him get on-base half of the time so far on the young season. Of course, a .500 BABIP will help with that. Wolters is still looking for his first extra base hit, though the catcher made do by controlling the strike zone (1:1 SO:BB in 12 plate appearances) and showing an ability to get hits. He is not flashy at the plate, but as a catcher, just being a solid hitter like Wolters will do.
After adding two more scoreless innings to his tally, left-hander Kyle Crockett is now up to 12.1 career Double-A innings without allowing a run. It is rarely sexy -- Crockett only struck out one of the six batters he faced last week -- but the left-handed just gets outs. With some more three-up, three-down innings like this, Crockett will quickly find his way in Triple-A and Cleveland. He was drafted as a fast riser through the system, and so far, Crockett has done nothing to disprove that.
It was only two innings and six batters, but left-hander Giovanni Soto did his best to remind us what made him so special after missing most of last year with a back injury. Soto's cutter was on full display, getting four groundouts, a heavy factor in the left-hander not allowing any hits. Crockett is the current hot name in Cleveland left-handed relief prospects, yet Soto is only seven months older. Assuming Soto is healthy, both should factor into Cleveland's long-term plans.
Odds & Ends
Catcher/first baseman Jake Lowery hit well (1.083 OPS, .496 wOBA in 12 plate appearances), like he always does. He also saw the most time of any Rubberduck at first base, a position switch that had been long rumored and seems to be coming to fruition here.
Other fast starters include outfielders Tyler Holt (.621 OPS, .392 wOBA in 12 plate appearances), Bryson Myles (1.000 OPS, .410 wOBA in six plate appearances), right-handers Toru Murata (0.00 ERA, 2.20 FIP in 5.0 innings), Will Roberts (3.18 ERA, 3.02 FIP in 5.2 innings), Enosil Tejeda (0.00 ERA, -2.80 FIP in 1.0 inning), and third baseman Giovanny Urshela (.872 OPS, .369 wOBA in 15 plate appearances).
Following a rough stretch in his first exposure to Double-A last year, outfielder Tyler Naquin started slow in 2014 (.528 OPS, .249). Other slow starters include right-handers Jordan Cooper (13.50 ERA, 1.70 FIP in 1.1 innings) and Tyler Sturdevant (27.00 ERA, 3.20 FIP in 0.2 innings)
Utility man Justin Toole was placed on the disabled list before the season started with a left calf strain.
Moves (Like Orbit)
April 3 - INF Justin Toole placed on 7-day DL (left calf strain)
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