Burning Tread with the RubberDucks: 4/8/14 – 4/14/14
Myles' power-speed combination highlights the week for the RubberDucks
The Akron RubberDucks made their first appearance at Canal Park over the past week, debuting their new mascot and the rebranded franchise (for pictures from the event, see the article IBI had on Saturday). Unfortunately for the RubberDucks, the team dropped four of seven over the past week, falling to 5-6 on the season.
With 41 runs allowed and 41 runs scored on the young season, the RubberDucks have maintained a solidly average pace for the season. With the number of young players on the roster (including late callups last season like Lindor, Anderson, Naquin, etc.), that in itself is an accomplishment.
The RubberDucks will play two more games at home versus the Trenton Thunder before heading out on a seven-game road trip to Bowie and Trenton. They return to Canal Park to host the Altoona Curve Friday, April 25.
Ducks in a Row
Bryson Myles, LF/DH
6 G, .450/.500/.850 line, 1.350 OPS, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3:1 SO:BB, 2 SB, 1 CS, .500 BABIP, .559 wOBA in 22 PA
The well-roundedness of Myles' game was out in full force Saturday afternoon. In the third inning, Myles launched a home run off of the scoreboard ribbon in left field. During his next plate appearance, Myles bunted for a single, beating the throw from the pitcher. Power + speed = Myles; a little Akron RubberDucks algebra.
So far in his brief time at Double-A, Myles has simply lit up opposing hitters, posting a .423/.464/.808 line. With six extra base hits through eight games, the 24-year-old Myles is showing the elite ceiling that makes him a special talent. Myles' start to baseball was delayed by splitting time with football, so though he is a little old to just be making his Double-A debut, it is possible this is just how long it took for Myles to put it all together.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
6 G, .320/.308/.560 line, .868 OPS, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2:0 SO:BB, 0 SB, 0 CS, .304 BABIP, .357 wOBA in 26 PA
Speaking of power, Urshela put on a show over the past week, hitting three doubles and a home run en route to a .320/.308/.560 line. The third baseman's power was developing each year until 2013, but after a falloff last year, Urshela is back flashing some pop again in 2014.
Of course, the long-standing issue with Urshela is still there. You will notice his batting average for the week is higher than his on-base percentage; the byproduct of hitting a sacrifice fly while not walking. Urshela only struck out twice over the past week, and despite the lack of walks, it works perfectly well while the third baseman is making powerful contact.
Now, when the power naturally regresses, walking more will help. But as long as Urshela adjusts when the hits stop falling, a week like this past one is perfect, even without the walks.
Duke von Schamann, RHP & Kyle Crockett & Giovanni Soto, LHPs
von Schamann: 2 G, 2.25 0.00 ERA, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 7:1 SO:BB, 0.63 WHIP, .167 BABIP, 3.45 FIP in 8.0 IP
Crockett: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 4:1 SO:BB, 0.86 WHIP, .250 BABIP, 1.06 FIP in 2.1 IP
Soto: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3:0 SO:BB, 0.21 WHIP, .100 BABIP, 1.91 FIP in 4.2 IP
One of the newest members of the organization, von Schamann topped off a pretty impressive week with five no-hit innings during a cold, rainy Monday night at Canal Park. The right-hander now owns a 1.20 ERA and 3.07 FIP 15.0 innings into the season, much better than 4.68 ERA and 4.19 FIP he posted in 131.0 innings in 2013.
As for the left-handers, Crockett and Soto now own a combined 0.00 ERA and 1.83 FIP on the season. Once a few bullpen spots open up in Triple-A, both Crockett and Soto will be top candidates to move up a level.
Duck and Cover
Cody Anderson, RHP
1 GS, 6.00 ERA, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 4:2 SO:BB, 1.17 WHIP .176 BABIP, 7.20 FIP in 6.0 IP
Anderson gave up a home run on the first pitch of Akron's home opener on Thursday, a rough way to start the first homestand of the season. The right-hander regrouped to save the bullpen and make it through six innings, though he did surrender another home run to Bowie Baysox leadoff hitter Buck Britton.
The right-hander acknowledged needing to establish his secondary pitches earlier -- something he did not do Thursday -- in order to avoid outings like that. Anderson also said that pitching in the Eastern League is a big step up, like facing the #3 hitter in the Carolina League every time. We all know Anderson has the ability to be a big league pitcher, but with only 24.2 innings at Double-A, the right-hander still needs plenty of innings in Akron to grow as a pitcher.
Tyler Naquin, CF/RF/DH
6 G, .217/.250/.304 line, .554 OPS, 2 2B, 0 HR, 9:1 SO:BB, 1 SB, 0 CS, .357 BABIP, .236 wOBA in 25 PA
Now with a .205/.262/.282 line and 34.9 percent strikeout rate in the first 10 games of 2014 (and a .225/.271/.300 line and 25.9 percent strikeout rate in 18 Double-A games in 2013), we are starting to reach the panic point for Naquin. The outfielder has not looked good at the plate so far and the stats back it up.
Naturally, we cannot write off the soon-to-be 23-year-old outfielder based on 28 Double-A games, but the early returns have not been good to this point. Naquin has the talent to hit in the upper levels of the majors, but the outfielder needs to make some adjustments to do it. What he has going right now is not working to date.
Ronny Rodriguez, 1B/2B/SS/3B/DH
5 G, .167/.238/.167 line, .405 OPS, 0 HR, 6:2 SO:BB, 0 SB, 0 CS, .231 BABIP, .197 wOBA in 21 PA
Rodriguez played in five games over the past week. In those five games, he played a different position in each. It may just be making excuses for Rodriguez, but I seriously doubt this is helping the soon-to-be 22-year-old.
The infielder still has plenty of potential and is a prospect, but he has found himself surrounded by even higher priority prospects like Francisco Lindor and others, squeezing him for playing time. For the time being, with Rodriguez having no consistency in playing time/playing locations, I am willing to write off his poor performance to date. Though he does need to start hitting soon.
(Previous Duck and Covers: Joseph Colon (4/8), Ronny Rodriguez (4/8), Jordan Smith (4/8))
See full weekly and yearly RubberDucks stats here.
I know everyone was looking for rehabbing major leaguers Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi to strike out a combined eight times in 22 plate appearances. As has been written on IBI earlier in the week, Bourn and Giambi's performances do not matter as much as just getting back into game shape, but it is a little disconcerting. It is probably nothing, but until Bourn and Giambi hit at the major league level, it will be something in the back of everyone's minds.
Now that catcher/second baseman Tony Wolters is not in the process of a position change, in theory, his offense should start to bounce back after being down in 2013 (.722 OPS in 340 plate appearances). Wolters owns a .823 OPS nine games into the season, though a .440 BABIP is certainly inflating that mark. With only two extra base hits so far, Wolters' offensive success so far in 2014 is completely BABIP-based and the catcher will need to find a little more pop to survive the regression that will come on those balls in play.
Outfielder Jordan Smith is a good hitter, but his adjustment to Double-A is still in progress. Smith currently has a 36.4 percent strikeout rate, a mark well above the 12.3 percent mark he posted in 2013. Of course, Smith only has 33 plate appearances in 2014 and will see that rate come down in time, but it is something to watch. Smith's ability to limit strikeouts and put the ball in play is his best trait on offense; if he struggles making the adjustment to Double-A and keeps striking out, Smith will be in trouble.
Odds & Ends
The RubberDucks got solid starting pitching from right-handers Gabriel Arias (2.00 ERA, 2.76 FIP in 9.0 innings), Joe Colon (1.50 ERA, 2.37 FIP in 6.0 innings), Kyle Davies (1.50 ERA, 5.70 FIP in 12.0 innings), and Will Roberts (5.06 ERA, 2.45 FIP in 5.1 innings).
Shortstop Francisco Lindor showed some nice power over the past week (.231 ISO), but a .276 on-base percentage in 29 plate appearances limited his overall effectiveness. The same goes for second baseman Joe Wendle, but without the power (.276 on-base percentage, .545 OPS in 29 plate appearances).
The only injured RubberDuck heading into the week, infielder Justin Toole, was activated from the DL and promoted to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. The RubberDucks currently have no one on the DL.
Moves (Like Orbit)
April 9 - RHP Duke von Schamann added to roster
April 9 - RHP Toru Murata promoted to Triple-A Columbus
April 10 - OF Michael Bourn added to roster on MLB rehab
April 10 - INF Justin Toole activated from DL and promoted to Columbus
April 11 - DH Jason Giambi added to roster on MLB rehab
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