Launching Off With The Aeros: 6/5/12 - 6/11/12
By Jim Piascik
June 12, 2012
Another six games, another six wins for the 1st place Akron Aeros. The Aeros put together an all-around attack at Canal Park against the New Britain Rock Cats and the Altoona Curve that brought them to success over the past week.
On the offensive side, manager Chris Tremie said that “We’ve been very good as an offensive team in our approach and not going out of the zone a whole lot and being able to drive the ball.” Going on, he said “There’s not an easy out in that lineup and they take a good approach to it and that wears on a pitcher.” The Aeros have been wearing on pitchers all year to the tune of a 39-20 record, good for 7.5 games over the Harrisburg Senators in the Western Division and 5 games over the Trenton Thunder in all of the Eastern League.
Once again, the Aeros will not be at home for the upcoming week, headed out to New Britain for a 3-game set and Reading for a 4-game set. The Aeros will return to the Canal Park on June 19th to resume their suspended game against the Binghamton Mets and begin a new 3-game set.
Simply reciting SP Steven Wright’s stat line from his start on Thursday – a 7 inning, 1 run, 2 hit domination – doesn’t tell the whole story. Wright took a no-hitter through 6.1 innings before allowing a double to New Britain’s Matt Rizzotti. After being 8 outs from Aeros immortality, Wright talked about his night that was:
“When you’ve got a knuckleball that’s working, that’s a tough pitch to hit because you don’t know where it’s going to go … Tonight it felt good. I felt like I was throwing it for strikes, which was a good thing. I did have 4 or 5 walks, which sucked, but they were swinging and it helped that it was moving pretty good so I was able to get them to hit it on the ground a lot.”
“Once you start thinking about it [the no-hitter] you start forgetting about what you’re doing. It’s always in the back of your mind, especially when you get that deep into a game, but it’s just one of those things. If it had been the 8th or the 9th inning, then I think I would have thought about it a little bit more, but I didn’t want to think about it because I think it would’ve changed the way I attacked hitters. I did everything I wanted to; even with the Rizzotti double, I wouldn’t have gone back and thrown a different pitch. It stayed up and he put a good swing on it.”
Since it worked last week with OF Tim Fedroff, I’m going to try this again this week: I don’t want to write about Wright anymore here. As much as I love watching him pitch and make that knuckleball dance, it’s time for him to be in Columbus. Let’s see if Wright can make AAA hitters look as silly as he’s made most of the Eastern League look all year.
Looks who has finally started to hit this year. After having almost everything possible go wrong for him, OF Nick Weglarz is finally coming on in 2012. This past week saw him post an elite .438/.571/1.000 slash line, .620 wOBA, and 2 home runs. Manager Chris Tremie said on Sunday that “early on this year, he just had a little bit of a slow start, but I think he’s worked hard and put himself in a position right now, both health-wise and his approach, and he’s starting to see results that are showing the kind of hitter he is.” Weglarz still needs to strikeout less (33.3 K% over the past week), but his walks are up (23.8 BB%), offsetting that to an extent. As long as the power and plate discipline is truly back for Weglarz, he will quickly put himself back in the good graces of the fans and the organization, despite the strikeouts.
After a slow start to the season, C Roberto Perez seems to be finding his stride lately. Over the past week, he posted a .357/.500/.500 slash line and .448 wOBA to go with his usual outstanding defense. “I’m just trying to put the ball in play and I’ve been having success” Perez said on Sunday. This being his first year at the AA level, it seems Perez has made some adjustments to improve. When asked about what’s different on this level, he said that “Pitchers throw more strikes, any pitch in any count, the strike zone’s a little smaller. But I think baseball is baseball.” After posting a 2:4 SO:BB in 18 plate appearances over the past week and owning a 19.1 K% and 14.0 BB% on the year, Perez is owning the plate both when he’s behind the dish and when he’s at the bat.
(Honorable Mentions: Kyle Bellows, Chun Chen, Trevor Crowe, Jose De La Torre, Juan Diaz, T.J. House, Kyle Landis, Ryan Rohlinger, Loek van Mil)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8), Kyle Bellows (5/22, 5/29), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22), Paolo Espino (5/29), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29, 6/5), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), Kyle Landis (6/5), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15), Ryan Rohlinger (6/5), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8), Bryce Stowell (4/24, 6/5), Loek van Mil (6/5), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8))
As much as I love OF Thomas Neal (or @TdaddyNeal as he’s known on Twitter), he is still working on finding his stride after his DL trip. Neal returned to a rough .182/.250/.182 slash line, .210 wOBA and 25.0 K% over the past week, one of the few poor performances the Aeros had over the past week. Considering that Neal is fresh off of the DL, hopefully this is just case of knocking off the rust. He looked serviceable in center field when I saw him on Sunday, and while his season stat line of a .284/.355/.351 slash line and .324 wOBA still leaves something to be desired, adding that to his defensive profile could help him get to Cleveland – if only as a 4th outfielder. Now if his power can kick back in…
Despite an ugly .136/.269/.227 slash line and .242 wOBA over the past week, 1B/DH Adam Abraham can hang his head on two things: One, his 2:3 SO:BB in 26 PA over the past week says that he is still controlling the plate well. Two, Abraham literally controlled the plate for a while on Saturday night, drawing a big box around home plate to demonstrate how big the strike zone must have been for a ball that far outside to be called a strike. Abraham may have gotten ejected, but the Aeros won the game in the next inning. I guess he just noticed the Aeros needed to get fired up.
The Aeros found a way to win SP Brett Brach’s start on Wednesday despite his underwhelming performance. Brach only made it through 4.1 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 walks, 1 home run and 3 earned runs, getting knocked out early. The outing certainly didn’t help Brach’s 4.44 ERA in Akron on the year, but his 3.28 FIP and 2.29 SO:BB suggest he’s actually doing a pretty good job overall. Brach’s average stuff led to his 85th ranking in IPI’s preseason rankings, but if he can find some success on the AA-level as the year goes on, he could take the Josh Tomlin route to the big leagues.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Toru Murata, Giovanni Soto, Davis Stoneburner)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22, 5/29, 6/5), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8, 6/5), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22, 5/29), Ben Copeland (5/29), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1), Tim Fedroff (5/22), Preston Guilmet (5/22), Kyle Landis (5/22), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22, 5/29), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15), Giovanni Soto (5/15, 6/5), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8), Steven Wright (5/15))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
On his second trip through AA, 3B Kyle Bellows seems to be truly figuring out the Eastern League. His .333/.455/.500 slash line and .423 wOBA over the past week was very impressive, but I was even more impressed by his 4.5 K%. Combined with his 18.2 BB%, Bellows really had a strong showing this past week and has been improving as the year has gone on. Since May 15th, Bellows has posted a .303/.380/.483 slash line, .405 wOBA, 15.0 K%, and 11.0 BB%. If he were to keep that pace up for the rest of the year, Bellows would be on the fast track to Columbus and possibly even Cleveland eventually.
This past week finally saw RP Bryce Stowell FIP join the mortal realms, moving out of the negatives and to 0.74. Stowell’s 50.0 K%, 2.1 BB%, and 24:1 SO:BB are absolutely crazy and would normally warrant some sort of immediate callup. Stowell is still being worked back into throwing shape after a DL stint for forearm soreness, but as long as he stays healthy, he’ll have some very good stuff to add to the Tribe’s organization going forward.
So which SS Juan Diaz is the real one? The one that hit very well, going 8-for-24 and jacked a home run since coming back down to Akron, or the one that didn’t draw a single walk last week and struck out in 6 of 25 plate appearances? Well, the combination of those two posts a .344 wOBA, which is good but not great. Diaz will likely end up back in Cleveland because of his defense, but until he can hit and control the plate, he will likely be an afterthought in the Tribe’s long-term plans.
Odds & Ends
This notebook has run long thanks to the quotes, so I’ll talk briefly about a slightly struggling starter then wrap things up quickly.
SP Giovanni Soto started twice this week, only going 9.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, 3 runs, 6 walks, 2 home runs, and getting 7 strikeouts. “He threw some good pitches throughout the course of the game and I think it’s an outing he’s going to learn from,” manager Chris Tremie said after Soto’s start on Sunday. “[He’s] commanding his pitches a little bit better, staying ahead in the count a little more often and trusting his stuff, and I think that’s something he’s working on and I think it’s progressing nicely and I think he’ll do much better as the year goes on.”
As a quick parting shot, I’m very glad to see OF Tim Fedroff finally get a well-earned promotion to Columbus. He will hopefully end his season at Akron with an impressive .310/.401/.450 slash line and .379 wOBA. With any luck, Fedroff will use this promotion as a launch-off to a Major League career and will help the Indians in the near future.
The Aeros got OF Thomas Neal back from his right hamstring strain this past week, but C Dwight Childs took his place on the DL after straining his left calf. Losing Childs can’t be considered much of a blow for the Aeros, however, since he had not appeared in a game after being called up to Akron a few days earlier.
Moves (Like Orbit)
June 4 RP Tyler Sturdevant demoted to High-A Carolina
June 5 C Dwight Childs placed on DL (strained left calf)
June 5 SS Juan Diaz demoted from Cleveland
June 7 OF Tim Fedroff promoted to AAA Columbus
June 7 C Michel Hernandez demoted from AAA Columbus
June 7 INF Matt Lawson demoted to Low-A Mahoning Valley
June 7 OF Thomas Neal activated from DL
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