Unlike Columbus, Akron is not steamrolling their opponents. After consistently being one of the organization's winningest teams for over a decade, Akron is trodding along at .500 (43-43), with the season characterized largely by erratic and disappointing performances. Kinston (47-35) has fared better on the strength of excellent pitching, but outside of Drew Pomeranz, there has been less to get excited about than what it looked like in March. There are a lot of names here, but most of these guys were marginal prospects at best entering the season, so "holding steady" is not really a step in the right direction.
Drew Pomeranz (22.6, LHP): Pomeranz is "rising" only in the sense that he is doing an excellent job of making a strong first impression. Highly regarded coming into his debut season, Pomeranz has not disappointed while regularly outmatching Carolina league opponents (77 IP, 56 H, 2 HR, 32 BB, 95 K). The only marginal criticism would be occasional control problems and low pitch efficiency leading, together with close club management, to short outings. The next test, which should be soon, will come in Akron.
Nick Weglarz (23.5, OF): Yet another injury, and Weglarz is still in Akron. He is putting up a typically bizarre, but uninspring line of .195/.404/.351. Beginning to think Weglarz is never going to work...
Matt Packer (23.9, LHP): Packer was a surprise sensation last season, but has crashed hard in Akron. He is still showing excellent control, but is otherwise getting rocked.
Joe Gardner (23.2, RHP): Gardner was one of my favorite prospects coming into the season after eviscerating the Midwest League last year with his power sinker. The pitch has lost some of its bit this year in Akron, with a drop in both Ks and GBs. Like Packer, he basically skipped Kinston altogether, suggesting they both may be dealing with significant adjustment to higher levels of competition.
Juan Diaz (22.5, 2B/SS): The most recent Latin American infielder acquired from Seattle, Juan Diaz still has impressive size and is reasonably young, but...76 Ks in 83 games and poor power don't suggest positive things for his future.
Kyle Bellows (22.9, 3B): Another guy I had high hopes for, Bellows is rated as an excellent defensive third baseman. His bat, however, has been miserable in Akron; .209/.287/.300.
Bo Greenwell (22.7, OF): Looked like he was starting to do some things well in Lake County the first half of last season, but since his promotion to Kinston a year ago it has been steadily downhill. This season, even his characteristically excellent plate discipline has deteriorated.
Abner Abreu (21.8, OF): After putting up impressive power for a 19-year old at Lake County two years ago, Abreu's career has been derailed by a shoulder injury and poor plate discipline. Now in Kinston, Abreu is looking more like a speedy/weak power corner outfielder (still with horrendous plate approach problems) than the raw power athlete he did two seasons ago.
TJ House (21.9, LHP): In his second stint with Kinston, House's numbers are getting worse, not better (second straight year of rising walks, decreasing strikeouts).
Austin Adams (24.9, RHP): Adams is not young, but as a converted pitcher he is still learning the craft. He has had some bad luck with balls in play and issued far too many free passes (11.8 BB%), but he has also shown flashes of potential. His strong K-rate (23.3%) is a nice positive indicator.
Kelvin De La Cruz (23.5, LHP): While he isn't pitching well, Kelvin is throwing up big enough strikeout numbers (23.9%) to be interesting given his age and size. He has significant mechanical issues to still be sorted out, indicated by his horrendous control problems (15.1 BB%).
TJ McFarland (22.0, LHP): McFarland has not been much more than a steady innings eater, but he is young and left-handed.
Brett Brach (23.2, RHP): Brach continues to generate success by keeping opposing hitters off-balance and inducing weak contact. His three-year batting-average-against numbers; .215, .268, .205. Not a lot of excitement, otherwise.
Giovanny Soto (20.1, LHP): If Soto had not gotten himself injured and ended up on the DL in June, I probably would have had him join Pomeranz as a riser. Excellent numbers all around, but needs to be healthy.
Clayton Cook (20.9, RHP): Young, tall, above average numbers across the board. But nothing, and he never has put up anything, well above average. In need of some kind of a breakout to get any attention.
Chun-Hsiu Chen (22.7, C): Holding steady for Chen is actually a good thing, as it suggests his breakout last season is for real. Still has excellent hitting tools (.272/.313/.464), though he has had a worrying drop in plate discipline this season.
Jordan Henry (23.0, CF): Ezequiel Carrera's replacement is still in place (.264/.370/.296).
Tyler Cannon (23.9, U): Cannon has played at three levels already this season (LC, Kinston, Akron) and has played every position on the infield, LF and DH....all of which is to say it is a little hard to evaluate his body of work. He hit the ball extremely well in LC, but needs to show he can do it at higher levels now.
Cory Burns (23.7, RHP): Given the freakish strikeout numbers he was putting up early in the season, it might be surprising that I have not listed Burns as a riser. A close look at this numbers reveal, however, that while he has still been very effective (he hasn't allowed a run since May), the deception from his strange delivery seems to be losings its effectiveness against Eastern League batters. In April and May he struck out 32 batters in just 20 innings. Since that time, he has dropped below a K/IP. His status has certainly gone up, but I'm worried he is a bubble stock.
Bryan Price (24.7, RHP), Preston Guilmet (23.9, RHP), Marty Popham (23.9, RHP): Consider this trio as a stand-in for the swath of relievers scattered across Kinston and Akron who continue to put up some solid numbers. Others would include Tyler Sturdevant, Jose Flores, Eric Berger, Toru Murato, Francisco Jimenez, Matt Langwell....