Photo credit: Joe Coblitz/GBI The RubberDucks entered the week two games back of a playoff spot but a 3-3 home series against Bowie wouldn’t be enough to make up that […]
Photo credit: Joe Coblitz/GBI
The RubberDucks entered the week two games back of a playoff spot but a 3-3 home series against Bowie wouldn’t be enough to make up that ground as their season came to an end on Sunday. Akron won the first game in a shutout but dropped the next three due to poor pitching which would eliminate them from postseason contention. Over the weekend, they ended their season with a pair of wins.
9/13/22: Akron 3, Bowie 0; W: Pinto; L: Povich; S: Hickman
9/14/22: Bowie 7, Akron 3; W: Lucas; L: Ponticelli; S: Loeprich
9/15/22: Bowie 10, Akron 1; W: McLarty; L: Nikhazy
9/16/22: Bowie 10, Akron 3; W: Stallings; L: Burns
9/17/22: Akron 4, Bowie 3; W: Broom; L: Lucas
9/18/22: Akron 8, Bowie 5; W: Labaut; L: Povich; S: Marman
Player of the Week
IF Jose Tena: .280/.308/.680, 2B, 3 HR
Tena’s slugging was a concern heading into the season and during the early parts of it. After a three homer series against Bowie, he finished with 13 to go along with 25 doubles and six triples on the year. In Sunday’s win, he ended his year getting on base four times with a solo shot.
IF/OF Jhonkensy Noel: .332/.463/.524, 4 2B, 6 RBI
Noel had an up and down year between Lake County and Akron, struggling with strikeouts but also getting on rolls where tore the cover off the baseball. In his final series of the season, he had an OPS of .968 without hitting a single home run. He also struck out only four times.
IF Angel Martinez: 3-20, 2 BB, 10 K
Martinez was scorching hot in Akron until their home series at Bowie last week. The 20 year old struggled amassing just three total bases.
Standouts from a Winning Season
Although the ‘Ducks didn’t make the postseason by failing to win the Eastern League Southwest division in either the first or second half, they compiled a nice 79-59 record on the year. Many exciting prospects came through the Rubber City over the last five months but there are a couple of standouts from a very talented group.
Position Player of the Year
OF George Valera: .264/.367/.470, 17 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI
To the benefit of the RubberDucks, Valera stayed in Double-A much longer than most people would have thought. His .264 average wasn’t eye popping, but he took his walks from cautious Eastern League pitchers and had his fair share of tape measure homers in 90 games for Akron. Defensively, he played at least ten games at each outfield spot and stood his own while showing off a strong arm. Since getting an August callup to Columbus, Valera has hit eight more round trippers for the Clippers and if he stays on track, could be looking at a 2023 Major League debut.
Pitcher of the Year
RHP Tanner Bibee: 1.83 ERA, 0.882 WHIP, 73.2 IP, 81 K, 14 BB
When Bibee arrived in Akron in early July, it felt like he would be just another addition to a strong rotation that included Gavin Williams, Joey Cantillo, Hunter Gaddis and Tanner Burns. After just a few starts, Bibee started to separate himself as the most dominant pitcher to put on a RubberDuck uniform this season. His pinpoint control with his mid to high 90s fastball and ability to command his offspeed stuff kept hitters off the basepaths all during the second half. He lasted six innings in 10 of his 13 Double-A starts and never gave up more than three earned runs in any start. With Daniel Espino missing most of the year with knee tendonitis and shoulder soreness, the Cal State Fullerton product took the role of ace within the Guardians farm system in his first year of professional ball.
While early season stars like C Bo Naylor, OF Will Brennan and LHP Logan Allen ended up spending most of their 2022 seasons in Columbus, there were still some more standouts that spent most of the year in Akron. RHP Gavin Williams would have been a great candidate for pitcher of the year if it weren’t for Bibee’s brilliance. The big righty had a 2.70 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 70 innings for Akron. IF Brayan Rocchio started off slow but exploded over the summer and earned an August call up to Triple-A after getting on base at a .394 clip with nine home runs over his final 41 Double-A games. Division II product IF/OF Micah Pries burst onto the scene in 2022 putting together an .815 OPS while playing the entire season for the ‘Ducks. Power hitting IF/OF Jhonkensy Noel showed major slugging ability collecting 31 extra base hits in 67 games for Akron. LHP Joey Cantillo dealt with injuries for much of the second half but was a tough customer for Eastern League hitters early in the season, allowing just 13 earned runs in 60.2 innings for the ‘Ducks.