The Aeros are off to a 2-1 start after completing their first series this season - a three-game homestand against the rival Altoona Curve. I like what I've seen out of the young team so far, but there is one little thing worrying me.
Although I've only got three games in which to disect, I'm a little concerned about outfield prospect Trevor Crowe.
Of course, as I write those words, I'm hearing a voice from the past whispering a phrase I heard a lot my first year as a baseball writer in Columbus covering the New York Yankee's Triple-A team. Whenever I would suggest concern about a player or aspect of the team, one of my favorite former managers - the Columbus Clippers' Trey Hillman - would calmly say, "Stephanie, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient.''
Anyone who knows me understands the word patience has only recently been added to my vocabulary courtesy of learning on the go as I raise my 6-year-old son.
None the less, and against my better judgement, I'm going to say it again - I'm concerned about Crowe. In the three games against Altoona, he was 1-for-13. Worse, Crowe walked just twice. He struck out five times. And all this as the Aeros leadoff man.
Perhaps Crowe's just going through a slow start. Maybe the cold weather has thrown him off a bit. He could be battling the flu for all I know. Still, he just hasn't looked like himself at the plate.
Understand, when Crowe's going right, he's a pesky line-drive hitter with a little pop who has a knack for getting on base. Once on, he'll make the opposing pitcher's life miserable. The kind of energy he brings to the game instantly rubs off on his teammates.
That's the way Crowe played when he first joined the Aeros mid-way through last season from high Class-A Kinston where he was leading the K-Tribe in runs, hits and on-base percentage. And that's the way he played in the Eastern League playoffs, hitting .349 as he helped Akron push the Portland SeaDogs to a deciding Game 5 in the Championship Series last year.
That is not the way Crowe has played through the first three games of the season.
Aeros second-year manager Tim Bogar has noticed it too, and admitted he pulled Crowe aside for a quick chat Tuesday. Granted, not because Bogar was worried about the Indians No. 3 prospect (according to Baseball America), but because he wanted to remind the Tribe's first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2005 draft to simply stay within himself.
"Trevor's the kind of kid who expects so much out of himself," Bogar said."When he struggles like this, he's just trying a little bit too hard. We just got to get him to relax and have a little fun. He's too good of a hitter to be doing what he's doing right now.''
When the team returns from Bowie Monday, perhaps I'll remind Crowe that it's a marathon, not a sprint.