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Indians Indians Archive Around the Farm: Akron Aeros
Written by Al Ciammiachella

Al Ciammiachella

Carrasco 2 525x800Around the Farm was on a weeklong vacation-related hiatus, as I was home in Ohio playing in the fantastic TCF golf outing (we were -11 in case you were wondering), then making a long-overdue trip to Cedar Point and the Great Geauga County Fair on a fun week away from the Washington D.C. area. As of today, the minor league regular season is over, but that’s not going to stop us from enjoying another ATF here in 2012. The Akron Aeros had the best record in AA baseball, and last night was the first game of the Eastern League playoffs when the Aeros took on uber-prospect Dylan Bundy and the Bowie Baysox in Bowie, MD. Fortunately for me, Bowie is only about an hour drive, so I got to see them drop their series opener 4-2 to the Baysox. Much like a couple of weeks ago when we did a Mudcats-centric Around the Farm, we’re going to give the Aeros the same treatment here after their playoff loss.

A rehabbing Carlos Carrasco started for the Aeros, and if this outing was any indication of what we’re going to see out of the former top prospect, look out. Carrasco retired the side in order on 11 pitches (7 strikes), inducing a bunt groundout, striking out a batter and getting a deep flyout to CF for the final out of the inning. Carrasco sat consistently between 95-97 MPH with his fastball, touching 98 and 99 once each. His curveball wasn’t too sharp, but it was effective enough against the AA competition, especially considering the speed differential between the 87 MPH offering and his high-90’s heat. In case you’re wondering, I asked the Baysox staff in the pressbox if the radar gun here is juiced, and they all said that it is a pretty accurate gun. If I had to describe Carrasco’s outing in one word, that word would be ‘electric’. It’s just one inning, but in a season when Indians fans need to take any good news they can get, it was a darn good inning. Carrasco will likely play winterball this offseason and then return to the Indians rotation out of the gate next year.

Chisenhall 800x648In addition to Carrasco, a rehabbing Lonnie Chisenhall started at the hot corner for the Aeros. In his first at bat, Chiz struck out against Dylan Bundy, chasing a nasty 88 MPH slider in the dirt after being greeted by 97 MPH heat in his first appearance in a batter’s box since June. His 2nd AB was much better, as after falling down 0-2 Chiz fouled off several pitches on his way to battling back to a 3-2 count, finally singling up the middle on the 10th pitch of the at bat. He walked on a 3-2 pitch in his third plate appearance, then in his final AB he flied out to the warning track in RF on the first pitch he saw. Chisenhall handled both of his plays in the field with no issue, and looked pretty comfortable all things considered. I’d expect Chisenhall to be activated to the Indians roster no later than this coming weekend.

In CF Tyler Holt’s 1st at bat, he jumped on a 96 MPH fastball from Bundy to double off the left-centerfield wall for the Aeros first hit. Holt finished the game 1-4 with a couple of nice defensive plays in CF.

Big 1B Jesus Aguilar went 2-3 off of Bundy, and 2-4 overall as the only Aeros batter with more than one hit. He lined a single into CF in his 2nd AB off of the righthanded starter, then smoked a double off of the base of the wall in CF in his 2nd AB. I asked Aguilar if he’d provided a scouting report to his teammates on Bundy, as he’d singled off of him in the Futures Game as well. Aguilar said yes, and that Bundy “likes to throw his fastball.” When I replied that it sure seems like Aguilar likes to hit fastballs, he just smiled and nodded. Clearly, Aguilar can turn around high-90’s heat.  

I finally got a chance to see Chun Chen this season for the first time since spring training. I didn’t notice anything mechanically different with his swing, so I’m going to put the power decrease down to a combination of bad luck this year and good luck last year. He’s strictly a 1B/DH now, so while his overall .820 OPS this season is good, the power numbers have to pick up if he’s going to be an option for the major league club down the road. Five HR in 108 games is awfully Kotchmanian, and Chen doesn’t have anywhere near the glove of the Indians current 1B.

Paolo Espino relieved Carrasco and pitched the 2nd through 6 1/3 innings. In stark contrast to Bundy and Carrasco, Espino topped out at 90 MPH, sitting mostly between 86-89. He did a nice job locating his fastball and keeping hitters off balance with his secondary offerings, getting some really ugly swing and misses with his 70 MPH curveball. Espino did a solid job changing the eye level on hitters, an underrated part of his game, and ended up going 4 1/3 IP, allowing 4 ER on 3 HR on a night the ball was really carrying out of the ballpark. He’s 25 years old, so he’s a little old for AA, but he could have a future as a back of the rotation arm or even a swingman out of the bullpen.

Corner infielder/corner outfielder Adam Abraham struck out twice against Dylan Bundy, but when the Baysox bullpen took over in the 7th, he opened the frame with a deep opposite-field HR over the right-centerfield fence. Abraham had 13 HR and a .783 OPS in 108 regular season games with the Aeros this season.

Baysox leadoff hitter and CF Antoan Richardson stole 26 bases in 31 attempts in the Eastern League during the regular season, but was no match for the cannon arm of Roberto Perez. Perez gunned down Richardson trying to steal 2nd in the bottom of the 7th yesterday, the only Baysox runner foolish enough to test Perez behind the dish. He's not much of a hitter, but Perez is one of the best defensive catchers in all of minor league baseball right now.

Dylan Bundy is the real deal. The Orioles 1st round pick in the 2011 draft sat between 94 and 96 all night with his fastball, touching 98, and was downright overpowering at times. The Orioles took away Bundy’s best pitch this year, his cutter, to try and get him to improve his other secondary offerings. When he gets that pitch back in game action, he’s a front of the rotation starter no doubt. He’s the most impressive pitching prospect I’ve ever seen live, and the only pitcher I’ve seen in person with better stuff is Steven Strasburg. He threw 6 innings, giving up one earned run on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 7. In addition to the plus-plus velocity, he commanded his fastball extremely well, giving up no more than 3 or 4 hard-hit balls in his 6 innings of work. He threw 93 pitches, 63 of which were strikes, and the Aeros just couldn’t get anything together with him on the mound.

The Aeros and Baysox are back at it tonight, with lefty T.J. House getting the call for the Aeros as they try to even the series at 1 game apiece before heading back to Akron for game 3.

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