EL notes: Akron's Civale comes back strong

No. 9 Indians prospect returning to form following shoulder injury

Aaron Civale is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA over four Double-A starts since his June 8 return from shoulder soreness. (David Monseur/MiLB.com)

By Craig Forde / Special to MiLB.com | June 27, 2018 10:00 AM

After being sidelined for a month, Akron's Aaron Civale has been able to remain consistent in his return, thanks in large part to his faith in the team behind him and his ability to keep the opposition from earning free passes.

"That's something I take pride in every time I go out there," said the Indians No. 9 prospect. "If I'm walking guys, guys on defense are back on their heels, not ready to make the plays that they necessarily could if they were involved in every play. So, I try to do my best to make sure that every chance I throw a pitch, they have a chance to get the ball."

Civale started his third professional season on a nice pace, going 2-1 in his first six starts with a 2.51 ERA and allowing only four walks over 32 1/3 innings.

The soreness in the right-hander's pitching shoulder landed him on the disabled list one start into May and had him there until the beginning of June. When he returned, it was as if he hadn't missed a month at all, coming out of the gate with four scoreless innings at Portland in which he allowed only two hits.

With the injury came the chance to learn more about what he needed to adjust in his daily routine to remain healthy, which he has proved to be over his first four starts back, going 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA and four walks in his four starts since returning to the Akron rotation.

"Coming back, I had to figure out what worked and what doesn't," Civale said. "I've adjusted some things in the training room, and in the weight room I adjusted as well -- even overall throwing programs. It's a good learning experience; it just stinks I had to go on the DL. But I'm glad it was nothing too serious, and now I'm at a point where I've learned a couple of things of what I need for my arm and how to take care of it moving forward."

Video: Akron's Civale finishes seven scoreless innings

Another area in which Civale has been finding additional comfort in his game is his changeup, a "work in progress" that he continues to fine-tune in order to play up an arsenal that includes a fastball, cutter, slurve and curve.

Though he is staunchly against serving up a free base to a hitter, his stance on walks isn't entirely hostile, though he has yielded just eight this season and 30 over his first 254 1/3 innings in pro ball.

"A guy on base is one step closer to home plate. That's the goal at the end of the day -- limit the runs that cross the plate," explained Civale. "There's obviously opportunities and instances where you have to throw some balls and sometimes a walk isn't the worst thing if the situation dictates. For the most part, I'm just trying to attack with what I have and let that play."

In brief

Polishing things up: In a roller-coaster season, Richmond's Jordan Johnson has found some level ground over his last three starts. The Giants' No. 24 prospect went 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA while holding the opposition to just a .203 batting average. The right-hander struck out 19 over 16 innings and saw his ERA on the season dip from 4.32 to 3.63 in the process. Johnson has pitched exceptionally well in his home ballpark, The Diamond, where he is 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA in eight starts.

Off and running: Daz Cameron seems to have adjusted to Double-A ball pretty well since his callup to Erie a little over a week ago. The speedy outfielder, Detroit's No. 10 prospect, hit safely in his first six games with the SeaWolves, including three multi-hit efforts and back-to-back three-hit games. He has also hit two home runs since arriving -- including a grand slam versus Altoona -- which is just one shy of his total in 58 games with Class A Advanced Lakeland this season. Cameron, who stole 32 bases last year, is also a clean 2-for-2 on steal attempts for the SeaWolves.

Law of averages: In mid-May, Bowie starter Keegan Akin had back-to-back starts in which he allowed four and three earned runs, respectively. Since then, he has gone 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA, including two starts of no runs and two allowing just one. The right-hander struck out 34 over 31 innings in that stretch and held opponents to a .170 average. In June he has held opponents to a .190 at the plate. The Orioles No. 6 prospect is also keeping opposing batters to a .194 average on the road this season.

Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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