Alex Monsalve, Another Young Akron Backstop
Ronnie Tellalian | On 30, Jul 2013
On July 21, the Aeros got a boost from their new 21-year old catcher as he smacked out two hits including a double, two runs and two runs batted in. Two starts later, he got two singles to help lead the Aeros to a victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Alex Monsalve has played only five games with the Akron Aeros, but he has already made a good impression on his new team. Playing the position of catcher, Monsalve is batting .250 in his short Double-A stint and is showing some skills for his young age.
Monsalve signed with the Cleveland Indians out of Venezuela in 2008 at the age of 16. At 17, he began his professional baseball career in the Dominican Summer League. He started in the rookie leagues the next season at age 18. He moved up to the Lake County Captains the next season and performed well. He played in 117 games, hit five home runs, and batted .264. He split last season between Lake County and the Carolina Mudcats. He hit seven home runs and was batting .265 before getting the call-up to Carolina towards the end of the season. This season began rough as he missed the first half of the year with injury, but he is now catching with the Akron Aeros, making the Double A level at the young age of 21.
Monsalve plays primarily catcher, although he has spent some time at third base and first base. He has a decent arm, throwing out 26% of base runners over his short Minor League career. He struggled early on with past balls, allowing 44 in three seasons from 2009-2011. In 2012, he dropped that number to 10, the fewest he’s allowed in any season where he’s played at least 30 games.
He is spending his Akron days playing the backup role to Aeros starting catcher Jake Lowery. Monsalve has hit exceptionally well against left-handed pitchers, on the season he is batting .364 when facing southpaws. He also hits well at home with a .333 average and a clutch .333 average with runners in scoring position.
The Aeros have gone 3-4 over their last seven games. They dropped two out of three to the Bowie Baysox before heading into a four game series at home against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. In game one, Cleveland Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor showed why he is considered one of the top ten prospects in all of baseball. He went 3 for 5 with a home run, a double, two runs scored, and three runs batted in to lead the Aeros to a 5-1 victory. Matt Packer pitched well, going 6.1 innings, giving up just one run on six hits and striking out six. Cedric Hunter added two hits, and the Akron bullpen gave up only one base runner in 2.2 innings pitched to take game one of the series.
In game two, the Aeros fell victim to a Squirrels offensive surge. Carlos Moncrief, Jesus Aguilar, and Monsalve each had two hits on the day. Moncrief, Aguilar, and Hunter each hit home runs. It wasn’t enough to overcome the nine runs scored by the Flying Squirrels and the Aeros lost game two 4-9.
The third game brought the momentum back the Aeros way. Every single hitter in the Akron lineup got at least one hit on the game. The Aeros scored all their runs in two innings, in the second, they put up a four spot on the strength of a two run single off the bat of Jake Lowery. They scored three more in the fourth after Lowery led off the inning with a triple. Will Roberts went 7.1 innings giving up two runs on five hits as the Aeros won the game 7-4.
After all that offense, game four was a pitchers1 duel. Aeros starter Paulo Espino pitched seven strong innings giving up two runs on six hits and five strikeouts, but it wasn’t enough to earn the win. Richmond starter Edwin Escobar was just a bit better, throwing 7.1 shutout innings on three hits and nine strikeouts.
The Aeros have fallen to 53-55 on the season but remain 5.5 games behind the division leading Harrisburg Senators. They are only 4.5 behind the wild card, so they are not completely out of it yet. Akron heads out on a six game road trip to start out to what amount to their last month of the season. They begin their trip at the New Britain Rock Cats before traveling to Altoona to face off against the Curve. They return home to host New Britain on August 6.
Photo: Lake County Captains