Pitching Spotlight #1: Aaron Nola 8 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K
We all know how good Aaron Nola is (and I will have a more complete report on him later in the week). Right now Nola has a 2.04 ERA over 39.2 IP, but that is a bit deceptive because of his first start which was delayed twice due to snow and was on something close to 10 days of rest. So if we take away that first start here are Nola’s numbers so far: 35 IP 24 H (6.2/9) 5 ER (1.29 ERA) 3 BB (0.8/9) 27 K (6.9/9). It is safe to say that AA is no longer a challenge for Aaron stuff wise. In terms of working deep into games, Nola has now gone 7 or more innings in his last 4 starts and Sunday was the first time he finished 8 innings and crossed the 100 pitch mark. Nola is (and has been) major league ready, it is just a matter of time before he makes a brief cameo in AAA before joining the major league club.
Pitching Spotlight #2: Edubray Ramos 1.0 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Once again cheating a bit here on the spotlight as Ramos only pitched one inning this weekend as Clearwater was off on Sunday. The small right hander is making the jump from Williamsport to Clearwater after flashing dominant stuff. So far this year Ramos has not been quite as dominant (2.41 ERA as opposed to 0.81 last year), but he has shown the same things that made him very good a year ago. His control has been very good again, with 3 walks in 18.2 innings this year, giving him 5 total in 40 innings between Williamsport and Clearwater. To match the control he has shown a fastball at 92-94 touching 96 to go with a bat missing curveball, while also mixing in a slider. Ramos has also shown the ability to throw up to 3 innings in an outing, which makes a bit more versatile as he climbs levels. He will need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft so a promotion to Reading will probably occur at some point this year.
Hitting Spotlight: Art Charles 9-13 2 2B 3 HR 5 RBI 2 IBB 1 K
I am going to start by saying that Charles is a prospect in the loosest definition of the word. He does some interesting things on a baseball field, namely hit baseballs very hard and far. He has only had 10 PAs against LHPs this year and has crushed them, but up to now he has been fairly useless against them. His approach isn’t elite and half his walks this year are intentional (3 of 6). He is also a poor defender at first base, which you shrug at until you see him unable to field balls near the bag and useless at scooping low throws. However, there is a ton of power and right now he is seeing the ball really well. The ceiling is probably platoon first baseman (but being a lefty he is on the correct side of that platoon), and it is unlikely he even gets there, but its fun to think that the Phillies got him for Michael Schwimer.
Stat of the Week:
We touched on the Lakewood rotation last week with a brief note about the bullpen, but they were just as dominant this week. Alexis Rivero and Jason Zgardowski has struggled at time, but Zgardowski especially has started to turn it around of late. However, the real surprise is the Austin Davis, Jesen Therrien, Joey DeNato, and Matt Hockenberry group. They all bring very different things to the table (Therrien probably has the loudest stuff), but all have been dominant so far this year. Their combined line is:
60.2 IP 37 H (5.5/9) 8 ER (11.9 ERA) 19 BB (2.8/9) 51 K (7.6/9)
This has solidified up the back of the bullpen for the BlueClaws and has helped lead to the 3rd best ERA in the South Atlantic League while the team has pitched more innings than any other team.
Matchup of the Week:
Tuesday: Reading @ Harrisburg – Zach Eflin v Joe Ross
This matchup was the subject of the first Weekend Preview, and Zach Eflin got thrown out in the second inning. Ross is still dominant, and Eflin struggled last time out, but the things said before are still relevant.
Reading Rotation Watch:
It was not a good week for the Reading rotation if your name was not Aaron Nola, the rotation as a whole now stands at:
147.1 IP 135 H (8.2/9) 57 ER (3.48 ERA) 10 HR (0.6/9) 42 BB (2.6/9) 113 K (6.9/9)
Overall ERA is up by .81 runs, hits are up by one per 9 while the walks and strikeouts have stay fairly constant. Some of the fault lies in some regression by pitchers overperforming to start the year, but some of the problem has come from a large number of inherited runners being allowed to score this week by a struggling bullpen.