Launching Off With The Aeros: 4/24/12 - 4/30/12
By Jim Piascik
May 1, 2012
After going 6-0 over the past week, there is no doubt that the Akron Aeros are on a roll. The Aeros took the final two games of their set in Bowie Tuesday and Wednesday before sweeping the Altoona Curve at home over the weekend. That sweep included taking both games of a doubleheader on Sunday in walk-off fashion (including a walk-off wild pitch – not something you see every day). The Aeros then began their 4-game set against the Binghamton Mets with another dramatic, late innings victory.
The Aeros are now 15-6 on the season, easily in 1st place in the Western Division and percentage points ahead of the Reading Phillies for best record in the Eastern League. Akron continues to win games with their superb pitching (2.26 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 2.91 SO:BB). The offense continues to drag on the year, however (.688 OPS, .325 wOBA) and could eventually spell trouble for the Aeros.
Akron will continue their 4-game set hosting Binghamton through Thursday this week before headed out to Bowie to play the Baysox Friday the 4th through Sunday the 6th. The Aeros then will return home for a 7-game homestand.
1B Adam Abraham is the kind of guy you want to root for. This is a player without great physical gifts who works hard every day to make the most of the opportunity he’s been given. Abraham made full use of that this past week, going off with a .357/.571/.500 slash line and a .487 wOBA. Even more impressive, Abraham walked in 7 of his 21 plate appearances on the week and did not strike out once. On the year, Abraham has been one of the few bright spots for the team (.262/.407/.429 slash line, .408 wOBA, 4:11 SO:BB) and has likely forced his way into the everyday lineup. Abraham may not have come into the year with great fanfare, but if he continues to play like this, he will quickly make himself into a real prospect and force to be reckoned with.
SP Giovanni Soto finally came through this past week, putting his good peripherals together with a good outing. Soto pitched a strong 5.7 IP this week, missing out on the win but only allowing one earned run while striking out four and walking none. On the year, Soto has arguably been the Aeros’ 2nd best pitcher (his 1.55 FIP is only behind Bryce Stowell’s insane -1.09 mark), but it has yet to translate to his ERA (his 4.05 is only ahead of Eric Berger and Preston Guilmet). Some of Soto’s troubles seem to stem from his discomfort when pitching with runners on base, but I have little doubt that his elite peripherals (9.45 SO/9, 1.35 BB/9, 7.00 SO:BB) will soon translate to better results. Personally, Soto is the starter I will try to make sure I see when I head out to Canal Park.
The past week did not go perfectly for OF Thomas Neal, but it certainly was a step in the right direction. Neal was buoyed by an inflated .500 BABIP, but that’s no reason to penalize his .364/.417/.455 slash line and .374 wOBA for the week. I still have some concerns about Neal’s plate discipline (6:1 SO:BB on the week, but a decent 9:5 SO:BB on the year) and his lack of power (.056 ISO on the year), but with any luck, Neal will re-establish himself as a 40-man roster candidate by the end of the year. Neal’s definitely not there yet, but this week was a good start.
(Honorable Mentions: Jared Goedert, Kyle Landis, Roberto Perez)
This past week was a microcosm of my doubts about SS Juan Diaz. Diaz turned in another horrendous week at the plate (.125/.222/.125 slash line, .172 wOBA) and had another one of his mental lapses which led to an error on Sunday. After showing very good range to his right on a groundball with two on and two out, Diaz proceeded to throw the ball into right field. Diaz has the range of a Major League shortstop right now, but until he gets his bat together and significantly more consistent, he will not make it to AAA, let alone the Majors.
Personally, 3B Kyle Bellows is one of the Aeros I root for. I think that he could be a very good player and is definitely better than he has shown. Thus, it pains me to put Bellows on the Grounded portion of this notebook again this week. Bellows did nothing to help his own cause, though, posting a .133/.278/.133 slash line and .220 wOBA. At some point, the Aeros will move on from Bellows if his bat stays this bad, despite his elite defense. In order to stay relevant, Bellows will need to start hitting very soon; his time may be running out.
Deep down, I wonder if we are seeing the end of OF Nick Weglarz’s career. Weglarz’s offense over the past week (.133/.278/.133 slash line, .271 wOBA) ruined any good feeling from last week and has continued his atrocious season. On the year, Weglarz owns a pathetic .189/.317/.283 slash line, .314 wOBA, and 31.7 K%, but that’s not even the worst of it. Weglarz is a below-average defender known for his power, but that seems gone now too. Weglarz’s .094 ISO is average at best right now (the team as a whole owns a .095 ISO), not the elite power bat that Weglarz is supposed to own. It’s still fairly early, but considering how the past few years have gone, it really feels like this is the beginning of the end for Nick Weglarz.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Chun Chen, Ben Copeland, Ryan Rohlinger, Davis Stoneburner)
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Over the past week, C Roberto Perez answered my calls for him to walk more, posting a strong 30.8 BB%. Granted, Perez did this in only 13 plate appearances, but he is making progress. The month of April was rough for Perez (.216/.310/.333 slash line, .304 wOBA), but here’s hoping this past week was the start of something special.
1B Chun Chen, on the other hand, went the opposite direction as Roberto Perez, striking out 10 times over the past week. I figured I had this stat wrong, but upon double checking, it is in fact correct. Personally, Chen’s strikeout problems (23 on the year, 25.8 K%), extreme luck (.429 BABIP), and lack of power (.076 ISO) sully any positives you can take from his early season “success” (.304 batting average). If Chen continues his current approach at the plate, his offense will soon come crashing down around him.
13.50 is RP Bryan Price’s current SO/9. I don’t know how the Indians have accumulated such bullpen depth throughout their entire system, but they have. Price is far from the most heralded prospect the Indians have, but his 2012 season (1.42 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 0.79 WHIP, 2.84 BB/9, 4.75 SO:BB) will get him noticed. At some point, I’d assume the Indians will try to cash in this relief depth in a trade, but at the very least, Price is back on the right track and getting closer to a promotion to AAA.
SP Paolo Espino remains the only member of the Aeros on the DL with a strained oblique and there is still no timetable for his return.
RP Bryce Stowell did not pitch over the past week after feeling some discomfort in his arm. He is being evaluated and his return is unknown at this time.
Moves (Like Orbit)
April 24 RP Kyle Landis demoted from AAA Columbus
April 28 RP Cody Allen promoted to AAA Columbus
April 29 SP T.J. House promoted from High-A Carolina
April 29 RP Mason Radeke promoted from A Lake County
If you want to follow Jim, he’s @DarkestDiamond
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at email@example.com