Launching Off With The Aeros: 7/31/12 - 8/6/12
By Jim Piascik
August 7, 2012
The Akron Aeros didn’t quite fall to the level of futility their parent club currently inhabits, but they did drop three of their five games over the past week. That hardly puts a dent in the Aeros’ impressive 67-46 record, but it’s still not pretty.
Luckily for the Aeros, they will get the opportunity to avenge their losses this week at Canal Park. The Aeros will play host to the same Portland Sea Dogs and New Hampshire Fisher Cats they battled over the past week.
Akron is doing just fine in the Western Division as they are 8.5 games better than the second place Bowie Baysox and 11.0 games above the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but they will need to get some victories if they want to catch the Trenton Thunder. The Thunder finally caught the Aeros above the Eastern League standings and are currently 1.5 games better than the Aeros.
If there’s one thing the Indians do well, it’s produce fringy starting pitchers. SP Paolo Espino doesn’t project as someone who will make it as a Major League pitcher, but he sure can impress here in AA. Espino dominated his start Wednesday, striking out 11 batters in six innings while relinquishing only four hits, two walks, and two runs. On the season, Espino has posted a very strong 3.13 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, and 76:27 SO:BB in 86.1 innings in Akron and has served to be a reliable starter for the Aeros. Again, he doesn’t really have big league stuff, but he’s a great guy to have around here in Akron as the Aeros chase an Eastern League championship.
While SP T.J. House did not outdo Espino’s outstanding outing from the previous night, his start this past week was almost as good. House made it through seven innings Thursday night while striking out nine batters and limiting Portland to five hits, two walks, and two runs (one earned). Unlike Espino, House still has some Major League upside in his future that he has made good on this year. House’s 3.49 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, and 72:32 SO:BB in 100.1 innings may not be overpowering numbers, but for his first time through the AA-level, they’re pretty good. If House is able to keep pitching well and keeps honing his stuff the rest of the way, he has a shot at showing the organization that he is ready to be challenged in Columbus at the start of next season.
Watching OF Thomas Neal in person, you see a player that is overqualified for AA. The stats (10-for-20, 1 2B, 0 SO over the past week; .321/.397/.473 slash line, .398 wOBA, 9 HR, 21 2B, 57:31 SO:BB in 378 plate appearances on the season) back that up. Yet the Indians are obviously low on Neal’s potential since he continues to be blocked by the likes of Rottino, LaPorta, and Anderson. It’s very possible the organization knows something that I don’t, but from where I am, they are letting a valuable player with Major League potential go to waste right now.
(Honorable Mentions: Chun Chen, Toru Murata, Giovanni Soto, Nick Weglarz)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8, 6/26, 7/24), Kyle Bellows (5/22, 5/29), Rob Bryson (6/19, 7/3, 7/31), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22, 6/26, 7/10), Jose De La Torre (6/19), Juan Diaz (7/10, 7/31), Paolo Espino (5/29), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29, 6/5), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), Preston Guilmet (6/19), T.J. House (7/17), Kyle Landis (6/5, 6/19), Matt Lawson (7/10), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15, 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, 7/24), Matt Packer (7/24), Roberto Perez (6/12, 7/31), Bryan Price (6/19), Ryan Rohlinger (6/5), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8, 7/17), Bryce Stowell (4/24, 6/5, 6/19), Jeremie Tice (7/3), Loek van Mil (6/5, 6/19), Nick Weglarz (6/12, 6/19), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8, 6/12, 7/17))
Here’s the dark side to RP Rob Bryson’s performance this season. After being in the In Orbit section last week, Bryson’s control issues find him Temporarily Grounded this week. Walks are still the problem for Bryson, as he walked 23.5 percent of the batters he faced on his way to allowing two runs and eight baserunners in 3.1 innings this past week. Sure, Bryson is typically able to cover himself with strikeouts (he had five over the past week), but he will never get promoted with his 5.96 BB/9. If Bryson wants to make it to the Major Leagues, he needs to hand out fewer free passes; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
I don’t want to dump on any one player in this notebook, but sustained poor performance makes it hard. OF Tyler Holt came into this season looking to establish himself as a name to watch but has instead raised serious questions about his future. Holt posted a weak .222/.222/.222 slash line, .200 wOBA, and 6:0 SO:BB in 18 plate appearances over the past week, dragging his season stats down to a .229/.309/.266 slash line and .275 wOBA in 124 plate appearances in Akron. There is no questioning Holt’s fire and desire, but right now, Holt needs to find a way to be successful against AA pitching.
There is no denying C Roberto Perez’s defensive chops, but his bat was just awful last week. Perez limped to a 1-for-11 showing over the past week with only one walk and two strikeouts. Nobody wants Perez to start hitting like Johnny Bench or Mike Piazza, but something better than his .208/.342/.296 slash line and .306 wOBA on the season would be nice. It is clear that Perez understands the strike zone (his 14.8 BB% is tops on the team), but he still strikes out too often and has shown little to no power (21.1K%, .088 ISO). I like Perez’s potential because of his defense, but I’d like to see Perez be a little less passive and try to drive the ball a little more as we reach the final part of the season.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Ryan Rohlinger, Danny Salazar, Davis Stoneburner, Justin Toole)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22, 5/29, 6/5, 6/12, 7/17), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8, 6/5), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15, 6/12, 6/26, 7/10, 7/17), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22, 5/29, 7/24), Ben Copeland (5/29, 6/19), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15, 6/26), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1, 6/19, 7/3), Tim Fedroff (5/22), Preston Guilmet (5/22, 7/24), Jordan Henry (6/26, 7/17), Michel Hernandez (7/31), Tyler Holt (7/24), T.J. House (6/19), Francisco Jimenez (6/26), Kyle Landis (5/22, 6/26, 7/24), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22, 5/29, 7/24), Thomas Neal (6/12), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15, 7/31), Giovanni Soto (5/15, 6/5, 6/26, 7/31), Davis Stoneburner (7/3, 7/24), Bryce Stowell (6/26), Tyler Sturdevant (6/26), Jeremie Tice (7/10), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8), Steven Wright (5/15, 7/3, 7/10))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
When you’re making your AA debut, preferably, you’d like to give up no runs to make a good impression. Unfortunately for SP Danny Salazar, he struggled in his first outing, allowing four runs in his first 4.2 innings with the Akron Aeros. Salazar wasn’t the dominating guy who averaged almost a strikeout per inning in Carolina, only fanning one batter, but Salazar only allowed one walk and five hits in his debut. Salazar has a bright future and is a member of the 40-man roster, so it’s a safe bet that he’ll start allowing fewer runs in his outings going forward.
With the trade of Steven Wright to the Red Sox, your new leading strikeout artist for the Akron Aeros is SP Giovanni Soto, who has rung up 97 batters in 117.1 innings this year. That mark is good for eighth in the Eastern League this season and is a big part of why Soto has emerged as a Major League option for the Indians in the semi-near future. Soto’s destiny may be in the bullpen (where his cutter and strikeouts would likely play up), but for now, I’m hoping that he can keep developing his offspeed stuff and stick as a starter. There’s a non-zero chance that Soto can be a middle of the rotation guy, something the Indians are sorely lacking both on the big league club and in Columbus.
After missing 24 straight days (yet never going on the 7-Day DL for some strange reason), the Aeros finally got 1B Chun Chen back from a strained thumb ligament. Chen responded by hitting well in his first 13 plate appearances back, going 5-for-12 with two strikeouts and one walk. He also got right back where he was in the power department by hitting his 27th double of the season. The doubles remain nice, yet the lack of home runs (only four on the season) continues to limit Chen’s ceiling as a first baseman. Hopefully Chen is fully healed from his thumb injury and will jack some long shots with what time is left in the season.
Odds & Ends
OF Nick Weglarz (.308/.438/.462 slash line, .403 wOBA) and 1B/3B Adam Abraham (.316/.316/.421 slash line, .320 wOBA) both had pretty good weeks for the Aeros, but their issues with strikeouts (37.5 and 31.6 K% respectively) weren’t so nice.
Another subpar week from SS Juan Diaz (.222/.263/.389 slash line, .283 wOBA, 4:1 SO:BB in 19 plate appearances) that will be masked by the grand slam he hit Friday night. Once again, Diaz has some moments, but more often than not, he’s doesn’t do much of anything.
OF Jordan Henry continues to control the strike zone (2:3 SO:BB in 21 plate appearances over the past week) but struggle to get hits (4-for-18, 0 XBH). I remain a sucker for Henry’s defense/plate discipline combo, however, and hopefully his hitting will get better next year when he’s even farther removed from microfracture surgery.
C Michel Hernandez, C/1B Patric Tolentino, and INFs Ryan Rohlinger, Davis Stoneburner, and Justin Toole did little of note over the past week, so we’ll just roll their statistics into one here: .200/.222/.200 slash line, .185 wOBA, 7:1 SO:BB in 38 plate appearances.
RP Toru Murata did a great job with a spot start Friday night, striking out four in 4.1 innings while allowing no walks, four hits, and two runs. Murata is similar to Espino in that he can start on occasion if that’s what the Aeros need, but Murata has even less upside than Espino.
A byproduct of the short week was limited use for the bullpen. Combined, the bullpen posted a 4.91 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 2.00 WHIP, and 12:6 SO:BB in 11.0 innings, with Rob Bryson’s contributions causing most of the problem. The others – Shawn Armstrong (4.50 ERA, 5.20 FIP in 2.0 innings), Jose Flores (9.00 ERA, -0.80 FIP in 1.0 inning), Preston Guilmet (9.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP in 1.0 inning), Kyle Landis (0.00 ERA, 1.70 FIP in 1.1 innings), and Loek van Mil (3.86 ERA, 1.49 FIP in 2.1 innings) – all pitched so little that it’s hard to draw any conclusions from how they fared.
It was great seeing Chun Chen back in action this past week, but the Aeros still have a good amount of injured players on their roster. 3B Kyle Bellows, RP Bryce Stowell, OF Jeremie Tice, and 2B Matt Lawson all remain out of action, with C/1B Patric Tolentino joining them (granted, Tolentino’s looks more like a roster space move than anything else). With the exception of Tice – who is in all likelihood out for the year – hopefully these players can get back soon to gain some positive momentum headed into the offseason.
Moves (Like Orbit)
July 31 SP Steven Wright traded to the Boston Red Sox
July 31 C/1B Patric Tolentino placed on DL (Left Calf Strain)
July 31 INF Justin Toole promoted from High-A Carolina
August 2 SP Matt Packer promoted to AAA Columbus
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