This is my second installment of my weekly look at the Aeros, who pounded their opponents early on en route to a 22-5 record. With Monday’s victory against Erie they now stand at 31-11, and they are playing at a much more mediocre pace over the past two weeks compared to their hot start. Nonetheless, it has been a very exciting start to the year overall at Canal Park, and one that should end up in post-season baseball for yet another year in a row.
This Week: 4-3 (.500); Win 3-1 Tuesday at Trenton, Lose 1-5 Wednesday at Trenton, Win 3-0 Thursday at Trenton, Lose 0-1 Friday vs. Erie, Win 7-6 Saturday vs. Erie, Lose 1-8 Sunday vs. Erie, Win 8-1 Monday vs. Erie
Current Record: 31-11 (.732); first place in Southern Division 6.5 games ahead of the Erie Seawolves, and also 2.0 games ahead of the Brevard County Manatees (Class A Brewers) and Birmingham Barons (Class AA White Sox) for the best record in professional baseball.
Boot Up: Jeanmar Gomez - Tuesday night’s starter is one of the hottest pitchers in professional baseball these days, as he delivered a perfect game in his last outing Thursday in Trenton. He was ranked as the #25 prospect in the organization coming into 2009 but has exceeded everyone’s expectations thus far. He currently ranks second in all of Minor League Baseball with a .147 batting average against, as well as ranking first in the Indians organization in wins (6), second in strikeouts (41) and second in ERA (1.36). In his last 42 innings between Class A Kinston and the Aeros he has allowed only two runs (one earned) along with just 15 hits while striking out 35 (0.21 ERA). The Venezuela native is still only 21 years old, but is starting to shoot up the prospNect charts with his stellar pitching. UPDATE: GOMEZ HAS WON PITCHER OF THE WEEK FROM THE EASTERN LEAGUE.
Boot Up: Carlos Santana - Rated as the #1 prospect in the organization prior to the season, Santana came into the year with oodles of expectations for his first full season at the Double-A level. He is finally starting to produce as was expected as well as his current numbers a .306/7/28. In addition, he is batting 25-66 over his past 21 outings, including ten of his eleven multi-hit games on the season. He currently leads the Aeros in home runs, runs scored (29), doubles (9) and is second in RBI (28). In addition, the 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic now leads the Eastern League with a .435 on-base percentage, as well as ranking in the top twelve in slugging (.554), home runs, runs scored and RBI. Scouts are very impressed with his hitting ability and he is turning into quite a nice catcher as well.
Boot Down: Middle Infielders - Josh Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since April 30th with a strained hamstring, and in his place the Aeros have had a revolving door at second base next to starting shortstop Carlos Rivero. Niuman Romero has a .078 (4-51) batting average in 15 starts at second, Jerad Head is batting .364 (8-22) in his six games, while recently arrived Cristo Arnal is at .364 (4-11) as well through four games. Combined, these three players are hitting only .191 in place of the former second-round pick out of Rice University, while 20-year-old Carlos Rivero has been inconsistent at the plate. Ranked as the #11 prospect in the organization prior to the year, Rivero has been hovering between .216 and .188 since the first week of the season, and currently is batting only .205 and leads the team with 8 GIDP’s.
Boot Down: Offensive Production – The Aeros are hitting only .251 as a team, and have hit only 20 home runs through 42 games this season. It is impressive how the Aeros have turned 20 home runs into 180 RBI, but the fact of the matter is that the offense is not the reason why Akron is off to the best start in professional baseball. Only three regulars (Santana, Head and Jose Constanza) are hitting above .250 and the team is 3-8 when scoring less than three runs. Of course they are an outstanding 28-3 when they do score three runs or more, but that is more of a testament to the ridiculously impressive pitching (2.88 ERA, 16 saves and 19 quality starts) than anything else. With the Indians struggling to find consistent pitching in the Majors that is definitely a good thing, but it is rough to see the team down here struggle at the plate like they are with all the talent that they have.