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RubberDucks Notebook: Wendle is settling in at Akron

RubberDucks Notebook: Wendle is settling in at Akron
May 27, 2014
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The RubberDucks finally cooled down a bit after their hot start, splitting a series with Altoona on the road, and losing three out of four at home against the Reading Fightin Phils. Akron’s record sits at 31-19 overall, still sitting atop the Eastern League West and second in the league overall behind the Portland Sea Dogs.

Player Spotlight: Joey Wendle

Joe Wendle was the Indians’ sixth-round draft pick out of the West Chester University of Pennsylvania in the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft and the 24-year old began his career at short-season A Mahoning Valley.

Wendle started out well at the plate in Mahoning Valley, hitting .327 in the 2012 season; however, there was some concern about his defense as he committed eight errors in his first 21 games for the Scrappers. He settled in and finished the year (32 games) with just four errors and 54 putouts.

Since then Wendle’s glove has looked great and he’s steadily gotten better. After a one-year stint at High-A Carolina (where he won the 2013 Lou Bodreau Award and was the Mudcats MiLB POY), the infielder joined Akron this season as the everyday second basemen.

He has been superb in the field so far, ranking first in the Eastern League in putouts (95), assists (159), double plays (59), and fielding percentage (.996).

Of course with the improvements on defense, Wendle has been a little on the cool side at the plate this year. He is hitting just .231 thus far, but I found some splits that I thought were intriguing:

Here’s the first split:

HOME: 22 G, 83 AB, 25 H, 10 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 5 BB, 11 K, .301 BA, .352 OBP, .482 SLG, .834 OPS
AWAY: 26 G, 103 AB, 18 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 9 BB, 21 K, .175 BA, .248 OBP, .311 SLG, .558 OPS

As you can see, Joe Wendle seemingly prefers to hit his best at Canal Park. The second baseman has a better batting average and seven more hits at home than he does on the road, and he has had 20 less at-bats to do so. He also has 10 out of his 13 doubles at home as well. Almost two-thirds of his strikeouts have come on the road.

Here’s the second split:

APRIL: 25 G, 88 AB, 17 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10 BB, 19 K, .193 BA, .297 OBP, .318 SLG, .615 OPS
MAY: 23 G, 98 AB, 26 H, 10 2B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, .265 BA, .291 OBP, .449 SLG, .740 OPS

Wendle did not start the season well at the plate, uncharacteristically having a sub-.200 batting average and striking out almost every other game. He has picked it up in May however, as he had a 10-game hitting streak from 5/4 to 5/14, where he went 17-for-40 with a batting average of .425.

Clearly this is just a process of Wendle’s adjustment to a higher minor league level. He is slowly starting to settle in. In his last five games, he is batting .280 with two doubles and six RBI in 25 at-bats.

If he can focus better on the road and keep continuing to work on his swing, there is no reason why Wendle can’t get his average up to .270 by the season’s end.

Who's Hot

Tyler Naquin, CF
6 G, 23 AB, .348 BA, .400 OBP, .478 SLG, .878 OPS, 5 RBI, 8 H, 5 R

The Texas A&M product has really turned it on lately. His best recent performance came on 5/21 on the road against the Curve where he drove in four runs and hit a big 3-run insurance homer in the top of the ninth to give Akron a comfortable lead.

Adam Miller, RHP
1 G, 2.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 0 BB

“The Finger” has really impressed since joining the RubberDucks from extended spring training on 5/9.  Miller currently has an ERA of 0.96 on the season. The former first-round pick has improved with each outing, yielding just one hit and not allowing a run in his last three appearances (6.1 IP). He has struck out four and has issued no walks during this stretch.

Joseph Colon, RHP
2 G, 2 W, 14 IP, 0.64 ERA, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 11 SO, 2 BB

Joe Colon has been lights out for Akron as of late. He’s won his last two games, pitched 14 innings and has allowed only one run. On 5/26, Colon pitched his first career complete-game shutout in a 9-0 victory in front of a Memorial Day crowd of 4,205 people at Canal Park. The right-hander allowed just three hits and struck out four Fightin Phils in the game.

Who's Not

Jordan Smith, OF
5 G, 22 AB, .136 BA, .136 OBP, .136 SLG, .273 OPS, 1 RBI, 3 H, 1 R

Jordan Smith had a week to forget about. In 22 plate appearances, Smith only managed to get three hits. He went 3-for-18 during the team’s homestand and his batting average is now down to .210.

Ronny Rodriguez, SS
6 G, 22 AB, .182 BA, .250 OBP, .227 SLG, .477 OPS, 0 RBI, 4 H, 4 R

Man oh man is Ronny Rodriguez struggling this season. The utility infielder has now dipped his batting average to a team-low .187 and is clearly having issues at the plate.

Jordan Cooper, RHP
2 G, 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 0 HR, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB

Despite his 4-1 record, Cooper hasn’t been the most reliable reliever that the RubberDucks have had. He owns the team’s highest ERA at 5.06 and has allowed 12 runs in 21.1 IP in total.

Promoted/Demoted

Tyler Holt, OF
1 G, 4 AB, .250 BA, .250 OBP, .500 SLG, .750 OPS, 1 RBI, 1 H, 1 R

The longtime RubberDuck finally played his way into Columbus and delivered for the Clippers right away. With his team down 3-2 with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Holt doubled to left and drove in the game-tying run, extending the game to extra innings.

New arrivals

 Ollie Linton, OF
1 G, 1 AB, .000 BA, .000 OBP, .000 SLG, .000 OPS, 0 RBI, 0 H, 0 R

With the departure of Holt, Akron received a new outfielder, Ollie Linton, from High-A Carolina. In 21 games with the Mudcats, Linton had a batting average of .299 with 20 hits and seven RBI. Linton made his first appearance in a RubberDuck uniform on 5/26 in the top of the sixth inning when he replaced Tyler Naquin in center field. He had one plate appearance and grounded out to first.

Who's next?

Starting Tuesday night the Akron RubberDucks (31-19) will go on a short three-game road trip to face the West’s second place Bowie Baysox (28-22) before returning home Friday to begin another 3-game series with the Harrisburg Senators (17-32).

Spencer Davies is a student at the University of Akron studying Sports Management with a minor concentrating in Mass Communication. He has interned for the Cleveland Indians minor league affiliate Akron RubberDucks, IMG College, and has shadowed Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico. He is currently an on-air sports personality at WZIP-FM and works for the Akron Beacon Journal. Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpinDavies.

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