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The Confines of Canal Park can not Contain Carlos Moncrief

The Confines of Canal Park can not Contain Carlos Moncrief

| On 21, May 2013

The Akron Aeros have gone through some growing pains in 2013. A young team with a lot of new faces has thus far meant inconsistency for Akron. There have been ups and there have been downs but one point of positive production for the club has been right fielder Carlos Moncrief.

Playing in his first season in Double-A, the 24-year old Moncrief is quietly having a very solid year. His .250 batting average on the season would be the highest of his minor league career. He displays good patience at the plate with an 11% walk rate and he is striking out less than ever. Last season at Carolina he struck out in 31% of his plate appearances, an awful number; this season he has nearly cut that in half to 19%. His defense has also come on strong, and he has a cannon of an arm in right field. Moncrief has cut down three runners already on the bases; at Lake County in 2011 he racked up 18 outfield assists. For all the good things Moncrief has done for the Aeros in the first 40 games of the season, he has done a few things of special note. On May 5 Moncrief accomplished a feat that only one other player in the 17 year history of Canal Park has been able to do. On that Sunday afternoon, he hit a home run that sailed over the batter’s eye in center field. The batter’s eye at Canal Park is the big green wall that towers over the home run fence in center field. There is a yellow line marking a home run 12 feet above the ground, the batters eye stands 48 feet above that totaling 60 feet. Launching a ball over a 60 foot wall is daunting enough, but to make the task even more difficult, the batters eye in center field where Moncrief hit his home run is 400 feet from home plate.

This is only the second time in Canal Park history that a player has hit a ball over the batter’s eye. The first time was in the parks opening season in 1997. That shot was hit by former Indians top prospect David Miller. Miller was a first round draft pick in 1995. He started his minor league career in Kinston, and moved up to the Aeros in 1997, the opening season of Canal Park. He hit only four home runs that season, but one was belted over the batters eye in center field, the first and last such shot until May 5, 2013. Moncrief not only matched the accomplishment, he did it one better. On Sunday May 19, he belted a Patrick Cooper fastball deep into center field. The ball sailed over the batter’s eye once again, proving that the first time was no fluke.

The first of the two long balls came against Baltimore Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman. Moncrief respects Gausman’s skills, but showed no fear against him.

“Coming into the game I wanted to remain confident and try not to give [Gausman] too much credit,” Moncrief said “Even though he’s a really good pitcher, I’m learning I need to make pitchers give me credit.”

Aeros’ Manager Edwin Rodriguez, Moncrief’s Manager in Carolina, has seen this show before.

“He did the same thing last year,” Rodriguez said, “He had three or four home runs that were pretty much the same, straight away to center field. [In Carolina] we had a pretty big wall there.”

Moncrief was a 2008 14th round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians. He was originally drafted as a pitcher, beginning his minor league career with two seasons as a reliever in rookie ball. After posting a 7.75 ERA in 28 games, the decision was made to convert him to the outfield. He showed off his strong arm even then as a pitcher with 43 strikeouts in 32 innings, but he is far more valuable playing every day slugging those big home runs and cutting down runners on the base paths.

Even with Moncrief’s help, the Akron Aeros have struggled as of late. They have dropped six of their last seven games including being swept in a three game set by the Binghamton Mets. The Aeros have fallen to fourth place in the Eastern League Western Division with an overall record of 20-24.

At 24 years old, Moncrief is far from a young prospect. His conversion from the mound to the outfield cut into his development. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Moncrief in a Tribe uniform any time soon, but watching the future of the Cleveland Indians is not the only reason to head out to Canal Park. Moncrief is an exciting player to watch, one that has a lot of ability and some amazing talent, he’s got a cannon for an arm and he can crush home runs out of the park, he is definitely a reason to come out to the ball park and enjoy some fun baseball.

Photo: Jesse Piecuch/DTTWLN photographer

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