Photo credit: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks

It was a jam-packed week for the RubberDucks. Bo Naylor got called up to Triple-A Columbus, leaving the lineup devoid of a consistent threat to reach base. Victor Nova and Jonathan Engelmann were each given pink slips. One of those roster spots came to be filled by the highly anticipated bat of Jhonkensy Noel. The big power hitter did not disappoint, doubling in his first at-bat with the squad, and finishing 3-6 with a pair of walks. However, the turbulence in the roster might have caught up with Akron late in the week. 

They entered Saturday with a chance to lock up a playoff spot by winning the first half division title. Leading 3-0 in the ninth, newly promoted Cade Smith couldn’t find his control on the mound, and Kyle Marman’s relief effort didn’t go as planned when the runners he inherited scored via a grand slam. The RubberDucks fell 7-3, but still had a chance to clinch a playoff spot by winning on Sunday. However, whatever yips plagued Smith the night before were passed on to Sunday’s starter Gavin Williams, as he failed to make it out of the first inning in his home debut. The RubberDucks fell 8-5, and that result combined with Richmond’s win meant Akron would finish second in the division and miss out on the playoff spot.

6/21/22: Akron 9, Harrisburg 5; W: Marman, L: Schaller, 
6/22/22: Akron 17, Harrisburg 2; W: Cantilo, L: Reyes
6/23/22: Akron 8, Harrisburg 2; W: Allen, L: Peguero
6/24/22: Akron 3, Harrisburg 1; W: Curry, L: Fuentes, S: J Ramirez
6/25/22: Harrisburg 7, Akron 3; W: Schaller, L: Smith
6/26/22: Harrisburg 8, Akron 5; W: Troop, L: Williams, 

Player of the Week

Micah Pries: 9-22, 7 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI

Pries had already shown himself to be a power threat this season, but this week he demonstrated improved balance in his game. He still smashed a pair of homers, but coupled those with a hit in every game of the series. In the second half of the season, expect him to keep blooming. He already stays back on the ball better than nearly all of his teammates. Most of his hits, long or short, go to center field. For his efforts, he was named the Eastern League Player of the Week.

Who’s Hot

George Valera:  10-25, 8 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI

Is there really anything to say about Valera that hasn’t already been said? He hit the cover off the ball, flashed a bat flip, and reached base from the three spot, where he could be knocked in by the bats of Pries or Noel. He had a 28% strikeout rate this week, and for someone with his powerful capabilities, that number is not shocking. If that number continues to decline for Valera, he will be headed south to Columbus in no time.

Joey Cantillo: 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 K, 1 H, 4 BB

While not racking up the strikeouts like his mates in the rotation, Cantillo quietly got the job done, allowing just one hit in five innings of work. He was given 17 runs of support, but did not get complacent at all. His four walks may be troubling to some. He was definitely happy to work around the Harrisburg lineup, with only 54% of his pitches being called for strikes. The results, one hit and no runs allowed, indicate that it was less an issue in execution than a strategy concocted by Cantillo and pitching coach Owen Dew.

Who’s Not

Jose Tena: 4-21, 10 K

In a week where lineup shifts forced Akron to depend on their mainstays, Tena failed to come through. It was a very uncharacteristic week for the shortstop. Not only did he fail to hit like the single machine he has been, he also struck out way too often. He racked up ten on the week, including a platinum sombrero on Friday night. He was visibly frustrated with himself as he repeatedly chased breaking balls in the dirt. However, the 21 year-old is still hovering around .260 despite his recent slump.

Gavin Williams:  0.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB

Obviously, throwing a 22-year-old in his third Double-A on the bump in a do or die game puts some pressure on the youngster, but you’d hope a first rounder like Williams wouldn’t crack as badly as he did. However, the ECU product was yanked before finishing an inning of work, forcing Rouglas Odor to turn to his bullpen much earlier than he’d have liked. He threw 19 balls to just 20 strikes, perhaps a failed attempt at Cantillo’s strategy to dodge around Harrisburg’s solid contact. Expected to spend the rest of the season with Akron, one would hope that as he settles in, Williams will be a much more consistent force on the mound.

Transaction

06/26/22 Akron RubberDucks released INF Victor Nova

06/26/22 LHP Randy Labaut assigned to Akron RubberDucks from Lake County Captains. 06/24/22 3B Jhonkensy Noel assigned to Akron RubberDucks from Lake County Captains. 06/22/22 C Angel Lopez Alvarez assigned to Akron RubberDucks 

06/22/22 Akron RubberDucks released OF Jonathan Engelmann

06/22/22 Akron RubberDucks released RHP Jared Janczak

06/21/22 RHP Cade Smith assigned to Akron RubberDucks from Lake County Captains. 06/21/22 C Bo Naylor assigned to Columbus Clippers from Akron RubberDucks

06/21/22 LHP Jaime Arias assigned to Lake County Captains from Akron RubberDucks

06/21/22 C Seth Caddell assigned to Akron RubberDucks from Columbus Clippers

Coming Up

6/28: @Erie, 6:05 pm             

6/29: @Erie, 6:05 pm          

6/30: @Erie, 6:05 pm              

7/1: @Erie, 6:35 pm            

7/2: @Erie, 6:35 pm             

7/3: @Erie, 6:05 pm 

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