After last night’s 3-0 loss to the Bowie Baysox, Akron now stands at 41-49. After finishing the first half of the season at 34-35 and in third place in the division, Akron needs a strong second half to contend for a playoff spot. Unfortunately Akron has started the second half very slowly. Currently they are 7-14 and stuck in fifth place, nine and one half games behind first place Bowie. With post season possibilities looking pretty remote at this point, Akron is completely in player development mode.
In looking at the roster, the amount of change that has occurred has been quite remarkable. The current starting outfield is Conner Marabell, Mitch Longo, and Alex Call with Trenton Brooks as the fourth outfielder. Three players are missing from opening day outfield. Daniel Johnson was called up to Columbus after a fast start to the season. Andrew Calica surprisingly retired from baseball after just eight games and 25 at bats. Calica was very well thought of by Indians management and he had been very productive during his minor league career. It was quite shocking when he announced his retirement. Finally Kai Tom was promoted last week to Columbus. Tom started the season slowly, but over the past six to eight weeks, Tom has been the hottest hitter in the Indians minor league system, not named Bobby Bradley or Tyler Freeman. Tom’s season slash line is .291/.388/.510 with an OPS of .898. in addition Tom has 12 doubles, six triples, and 14 home runs. Tom is having his best season as a pro and has passed a number of other outfielders in the pecking order because of it. Since being called up to Columbus he has continued to hit, going 5-11 so far.
In the infield things have been much more stable. The biggest problem the infiled has had has been injuries. Wilson Garcia has been solid at first base slashing .268/.310/.475 with an OPS of .785. However Garcia is currently on the disabled list. Andrew Monasterio started the season very hot at the dish. However he spent over a month on the disabled list and is just now starting to round back into form. The highly regarded Ernie Clement is the starting shortstop. Clement has been solid. He is batting .293 with an OBP of .346. His walk to strikeout rate is 15:22. He is still extremely difficult to strikeout. His biggest problem so far this season has also been injuries. He has missed a number of games due to injury. Finally, at third base is recently promoted Nolan Jones. Jones is Cleveland’s number one rated position player in their farm system. His first game in double-A was last night against Bowie. He went 0-4. Jones has hit and been an OBP machine at every level he has played at with the Indians. I would anticipate that continuing now that he is in Double-A.
The catching has been a model of stability. Li-Jen Chu and Logan Ice have split catching duties all season. Neither player has been exceptional but they have been reliable.
This brings us to the pitching staff. Zac Pleasac, Aaron Civale, James Karinchak and Nick Sandlin have all been promoted due to some outstanding pitching. Pleasac is a part of the starting rotation with the Indians. Civale made a spot start for Cleveland and is currently pitching well for Columbus. Karinchak and Sandlin are both on disabled list in Columbus and have pitched exceptionally well. Sandlin is out for the rest of the season with a foreahñ
rm strain. Karinchak is expected back soon and could be in Cleveland before the year is over. Kyle Nelson and Robert Broom have taken over in the bullpen for Sandlin and Karinchak. Nelson is arguably the best reliever in the Indians system. Broom for the season has an ERA of 0.70 and a WHIP of 0.85. In 38 and 2/3 innings he has struck out 51 and walked just 13. He, like Nelson, Sandlin and Karinchak, seems to be on the fast track to Cleveland.
The starting pitching staff is being anchored by Eli Morgan, who started the year in Lynchburg. Morgan is 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA. He just pitched a scoreless inning in the Eastern League All Star game. Morgan continues to impress wherever and whenever he pitches. Adam Scott was recently promoted from Lynchburg. He is 3-0 in four starts. His ERA is 2.22 and his WHIP is 0.99 since being promoted. Sam Hentges has had a very disappointing season so far. He is 1-8 with a 4.83 ERA and an astronomical WHIP of 1.66. Hopefully Hentges can pull it together soon and rally before the season is over. Danny Salazar is don a rehab assignment and is currently one of the starters as well. Hopefully Salazar stays healthy. We will see what happens from there.
Akron has a number of prized prospects in the lineup right now. Regardless of their record they are a team that all Indians fans should be keeping track of for the remainder of the season. Some of these guys are going to be major contributors for the major league team very soon. Others will be traded to reinforce the major league roster. No matter though they are definitely worth your attention going forward. If they get some consistent starting pitching they could even make a run at a playoff spot.
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