Launching Off With The Aeros: 8/28/12 – 9/3/12
By Jim Piascik
September 4, 2012
If the Aeros did not have an 82-59 record – the best in the Eastern League – then this would be the last Launching Off With The Aeros of the season.
But the Aeros do have an 82-59 record and are headed to the playoffs! You’re stuck with me for at least one more week!
The Aeros finished strong over the past week, winning four of their six games. With their playoff spot clinched and the division all-but clinched headed into the week, the Aeros just needed to prepare for playoff baseball with their games. They seem to have done a great job with it and will open a best of five series in Bowie Wednesday night. The first game in Akron will be Friday night, so everybody should come on down to Canal Park and get ready to cheer on your Aeros.
Sure, 1B Jesus Aguilar is still adapting to Eastern League pitching (25.0 K% over the past week, 27.6 K% in 87 plate appearances in Akron), but when Aguilar makes contact, it is special. After a .478/.571/.652 slash line and .532 wOBA over the past week, including a home run Monday, it is clear that Aguilar is a top talent in the Indians organization. We’ve seen that Aguilar is able to draw walks (17.9 BB% over the past week, 14.9 BB% in Akron), which indicates that he does have decent plate discipline despite the high strikeout total. Plus, Aguilar is doing this well in his first, late-season exposure to the AA-level; imagine how well Aguilar could do in 2013 with a whole offseason to prepare.
13.0 innings, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts, and no runs; who stole SP Brett Brach and replaced him with Justin Verlander? In all seriousness, Brach has been absolutely dominant lately, only allowing 17 hits, three runs, six walks, and 13 strikeouts in his last 26.1 innings (four starts). Brach doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but if he is able to somehow catch this lightning in a bottle and sustain it, then the Indians have managed to find themselves a decent back-of-the-rotation starter going forward. Now, I doubt that Brach will be this good long-term. Brach’s season line of a 3.65 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, and 49:35 SO:BB in 93.2 innings is much more indicative of his true talent level, but you never know.
It must have been Marginal Starter Week with the Aeros last week as both Brett Brach and SP Toru Murata were downright unstoppable. Murata went six shutout innings Friday, allowing four hits and no walks. Even more impressively, Murata struck out eight batters. Murata has next to no projection in him as a 27-year-old making his first appearance at AA, but he’s been lights out since he moved into the rotation on August 3. In that time, Murata has only allowed 21 hits, four walks, four runs, and struck out 26 batters in 30.2 innings. I have no clue what to expect from Murata going forward, but he does own a 2.50 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, and 117:29 SO:BB in 115.1 innings over the past two seasons; that has to count for something.
(Honorable Mentions: Paolo Espino, Michel Hernandez, Matt Lawson, Ryan Rohlinger, Danny Salazar, Bryce Stowell)
(Previous Winners: Jesus Aguilar (8/28), 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, 8/7), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29, 6/5), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), Preston Guilmet (6/19), Tyler Holt (8/14), T.J. House (7/17, 8/7), Kyle Landis (6/5, 6/19), Matt Lawson (7/10, 8/21), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Toru Murata (8/14), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15, 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, 7/24, 8/7, 8/28), Matt Packer (7/24), Roberto Perez (6/12, 7/31), Bryan Price (6/19), Ryan Rohlinger (6/5, 8/28), Danny Salazar (8/21), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8, 7/17), Davis Stoneburner (8/21), 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, 8/14), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8, 6/12, 7/17))
1B/DH Chun Chen has had one of the best seasons for an Aeros player this year (.308/.394/.426 slash line, .373 wOBA), but he went ice cold over the past week. Chen struggled to a .136/.174/.182 slash line and .163 wOBA, not at all what the Aeros will need from one of their big boppers headed into the playoffs. Plus, Chen struck out in seven of his 23 plate appearances while only walking once. I do believe that this is a one week cold spell and Chen will bounce back for the playoffs; unless he’s playing through an injury, Chen’s been too good this year to simply forget how to hit.
In his start on Thursday, SP T.J. House turned in one of his worst outings of the season, only going four innings, allowing four hits, three walks, and five runs. House did manage to strike four batters out, but he has been fading lately. Over his last five starts, House has a 6.08 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.61 WHIP, and 18:12 SO:BB in 23.2 innings, not the way House was hoping to end the season. This has still been a great bounce back season for House, who rebuilt the prospect stock that had cratered headed into the season. House might start the season in Akron next year, but he is poised to make a move to Columbus at some point in 2013 and could be a September callup if things go right.
Preston Guilmet & Kyle Landis:
Luckily for the Aeros, most of their players performed at a decent level. As for RPs Preston Guilmet and Kyle Landis, the week could have gone better. Guilmet allowed three hits, three walks, two runs, and four strikeouts in three innings this past week and Landis allowed three hits, no walks, one run, and no strikeouts in one inning. The season overall for those two have been great, though (Guilmet: 2.39 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.03 WHIP in 52.2 innings; Landis: 3.55 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 1.21 WHIP in 60.1 innings), so this past week is simply a blip on the radar.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Thomas Neal, Roberto Perez, Carlos Rojas, Patric Tolentino, Nick Weglarz)
(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, 8/7), 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, 8/7), T.J. House (6/19), Francisco Jimenez (6/26), Kyle Landis (5/22, 6/26, 7/24), Matt Lawson (8/28), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22, 5/29, 7/24), Thomas Neal (6/12), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24, 8/7), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15, 7/31, 8/14, 8/21), Giovanni Soto (5/15, 6/5, 6/26, 7/31, 8/14), Davis Stoneburner (7/3, 7/24), Bryce Stowell (6/26, 8/21, 8/28), Tyler Sturdevant (6/26), Jeremie Tice (7/10), Justin Toole (8/14), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8, 8/21, 8/28), Steven Wright (5/15, 7/3, 7/10))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
I’m not a big believer in small sample sizes, but in INF Ryan Rohlinger’s case, I’m making an exception. Over the past two weeks (12 games), Rohlinger’s .395/.457/.658 slash line, .463 wOBA, and 1.114 OPS has been downright amazing. On the season, Rohlinger has shown some great plate discipline (13.9 K%, 12.0 BB%) but has seen his overall line dragged down by a poor BABIP (.235/.336/.334 slash line, .259 BABIP). Now, it’s wrong to assume that his hot streak is simply his luck on balls in play correcting, but it’s possible. Rohlinger has played in big games before and should be the sort of veteran that will help the Aeros in the playoffs.
At one point in the middle of the season it looked like OF/DH Nick Weglarz was about to make good on all the promise he had. Unfortunately, Weglarz has cooled off and has ended the season with the second most strikeouts in the Eastern League (140, only trailing Erie’s Jordan Lennerton). If it weren’t for Thomas Neal’s callup to Cleveland, it was completely possible that he would have been out of the Aeros’ playoff lineup. Now he should have some playing time, but it is not certain he will return to the Cleveland organization next year.
Continuing with the pattern Brett Brach and Toru Murata set, SP Paolo Espino had a good start Saturday (7.1 innings, one run, five hits, one walk, six strikeouts). That shouldn’t be a surprise considering how well Espino has been all year for the Aeros. In 116.1 innings, Espino owns a 3.09 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, and 106:34 SO:BB. Espino has been strong and steady wherever he’s pitched and in whatever role he’s been put in, making him a very valuable minor league player. His stuff likely won’t translate all the way to the Major League level, but at this point, who knows? He has succeeded on every other level.
Odds & Ends
SP Danny Salazar continued his impressive debut at the AA-level Saturday with a six innings of shutout ball. Salazar’s 1.85 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 0.97 WHIP and 23:8 SO:BB in 34.0 innings has set the stage wonderfully for the 40-man roster member headed into 2013.
We have a new position to put in front of 3B/LF Adam Abraham’s name as he made his season debut at left field over the past week. I’m not sure how many more times he’ll play there, but his hitting didn’t suffer too much (.286/.400/.286 slash line, .368 wOBA in 25 plate appearances).
OF Jordan Henry (.385/.385/.423 slash line, .346 wOBA in 27 plate appearances), C Michel Hernandez (.400/.471/.533 slash line, .552 wOBA in 17 plate appearances), OF Tyler Holt (.308/.379/.308 slash line, .343 wOBA in 30 plate appearances), and INF Davis Stoneburner (.278/.350/.333 slash line, .316 wOBA in 20 plate appearances) all did well for the Aeros this week and were a big part of the Aeros’ 4-2 week.
2B Matt Lawson (.294/.455/.471 slash line, .517 wOBA in 23 plate appearances) had a very good week that would normally get him lumped in with the names above, but since IPI nation loves him so much, I’ll give him his own write-up. I love Lawson and what he’s done this year (.327/.408/.459 slash line, .397 wOBA in 232 plate appearances), but he’s a 26-year old who has never played above AA. He’s also been lucky on balls in play this year, though he may be able to sustain a higher BABIP than average (.375 BABIP on the season, .347 BABIP career). Lawson has been great this year, but he’s probably closer to organizational depth than upper level prospect; you can’t scout a box score.
With the exception of Preston Guilmet and Kyle Landis, the Aeros’ bullpen was very good over the past week. RPs Shawn Armstrong (0.00 ERA, 0.20 FIP in 2.0 innings), Rob Bryson (0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP in 2.0 innings), Jose Flores (0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP in 1.0 innings), Trey Haley (3.00 ERA, 3.20 FIP in 3.0 innings), Hector Rondon (2.25 ERA, 2.45 FIP in 4.0 innings), and Bryce Stowell (0.00 ERA, 1.53 FIP in 3.0 innings) did their job and shut the door for the great starting pitching the Aeros received this past week.
It wasn’t a great week for C Roberto Perez (.143/.250/.143 slash line, .203 wOBA in eight plate appearances) and C Patric Tolentino (.125/.125/.125 slash line, .113 wOBA in eight plate appearances), but at least it was only 16 plate appearances.
In better news, OF Thomas Neal finally got called up to Cleveland! It may be a few months late for me, but better late than never. I don’t know if he’ll be anything more than a fourth outfielder long-term, but at least we’ll get a chance to find out.
The Aeros placed utility infielder Carlos Rojas on the DL this past week with a strained right hamstring. Hopefully Rojas recovers quickly, but he wasn’t hitting or playing much before that, so it won’t have much effect on the Aeros playoff chances. He’d still be a great player to have around for late inning defensive replacements.
Moves (Like Orbit)
August 28 RP Hector Rondon activated from DL
August 28 SP Mike Rayl demoted to High-A Carolina
September 1 OF Thomas Neal promoted to Cleveland
September 1 INF Carlos Rojas placed on DL
September 1 C Roberto Perez activated from DL
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