By David Saltzer - Angelswin.com Columnist
Hot Prospects September 8, 2009
By and large the regular season for the Minor League came to an end on Monday, September 7th (only the Orem Owlz will continue regular play through Friday 9/11/09). The following are the records for our affiliates: Single-A (short season) AZL-Angels 38-18 (.679) lost a 1-game playoff; Single-A (short season) Orem Owlz 48-24 (.667) qualified for the playoffs beginning this weekend; Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels 78-60 (.565) qualified for the playoffs beginning Wednesday; Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 61-79 (.436) qualified for the playoffs beginning Wednesday; Double-A Arkansas Travelers 61-79 (.436) eliminated from the playoffs; Triple-A Salt Lake Bees 72-71 .(503) eliminated from the playoffs.
1. Alexi Amarista, 2B, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 15/38 (.395), 6 Doubles, 0 Triples, 0 HRs, 6 Runs, 1 RBI, 4 SBs
Overall: .319/.390/.468 with 4 HRs and 38 SBs
What’s Up: In our “Organizational Best Baseball Tools Feature” published earlier this season, one player who appeared in two categories was Alexi Amarista. We tabbed him with our “Best Strike Zone Judgment” and “Best Defensive 2B”. We now have a new title to give to him: 2009 Batting Champion for the Midwest League. With a strong finish at the end of the season, Alexi beat out the competition. He also finished amongst the league leaders in OB%, SLG, OPS, Doubles and SBs. He’s an exciting 20 year old who plays solid defense. His emergence, along with Jean Segura’s may have made trading Sean Rodriguez a bit easier for the organization to swallow. Congratulations Alexi on winning your first batting title!
2. Chris Scholl, RHP, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 0-0, 0 Saves, 1.31 ERA, 20.2 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 31 K, 0.68 WHIP
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 84.1 IP, 64 H, 37 BB, 90 K, 1.51 WHIP, .213 BAA
What’s Up: When making the Hot Prospect List, it’s not always easy to include relievers. They tend to play in more games than starters but post fewer innings. A slight setback in a game, such as giving up 1 run, has a bigger effect on their numbers. This week’s list features 2 relievers, and for them we’ve posted their numbers over 10 games to show how dominant they’ve both been. Chris Scholl hasn’t given up a run in almost a month, and has only allowed 5 hits in his last 10 games! He’s been on fire since the All-Star Break cutting his ERA nearly in half for the second half while striking out 63 batters in 42.0 IP. Next year could be a bit of a challenge for Scholl as he is a fly-ball pitcher who will be moving up to the California League—a league not too forgiving to fly-ball pitchers.
3. Michael Kohn, RHP, High A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Past 10 Games: 1-0, 2 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 12.2 IP, 5 H, 8 BB, 20 K, 1.03 WHIP
Overall: 6-1, 9 Saves, 1.64 ERA, 65.2 IP, 33 H, 26 BB, 103 K, 0.90 WHIP, .153 BAA
What’s Up: Our other top reliever this week, Kohn has been posting some sick numbers. Normally, pitchers see their stats rise in the California League. After all, there are several small ball parks and several ball parks at altitude. Kohn, however, saw his numbers drop during his stint in the California League and didn’t give up any HRs while logging 28.2 innings in the league. Kohn brings upper 90s heat with great control that has held hitters at bay for his entire time in the Angels’ organization. At 23, he could easily sail through to the majors next year and could get a crack at the pen by the end of the year.
4. Hank Conger, C, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 11/36 (.306), 1 Double, 0 Triples, 2 HRs, 7 Runs, 4 RBIs, 1 SB
Overall: .295/.369/.424 with 11 HRs and 4 SBs
What’s Up: Hank finished up strong in the Texas League. Like his teammate Mark Trumbo, Conger finished the season with a much improved bat. That bodes well for next year. But, unlike Trumbo, the big question with Conger this year was how he would play defensively behind the plate. With a full season catching, we now know the answer: Conger plays well behind the plate. He threw out 33 of 110 runners (30%) and posted range factor between Napoli and Mathis. He’s still at least a year away, but, definitely in line for a major league job as a catcher.
5. Carlos Ramirez, C, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 10 Games: 12/36 (.333), 4 Doubles, 0 Triples, 3 HRs, 7 Runs, 7 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .369/.486/.624 with 7 HRs and 0 SBs
What’s Up: In our last Hot Prospect List, we said that Ramirez was posting some Mauer-like numbers. Well, Mauer hasn’t let up and neither has Ramirez. Ramirez is still showing the power and the plate discipline that make him a rare commodity—a hitting catcher. In his last 10 games, Ramirez has more BBs than Ks (9:6). Additionally, he’s been very solid behind the plate. This year, Ramirez threw out 12 of 38 runners (32%) and has a .992 Fld%. He’s definitely one to watch next year.
6. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 3 Games: 0-0, 0 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.75 WHIP
Overall: 0-0, 0 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.75 WHIP, .172 BAA
What’s Up: One of our last draftees to sign this year, Skaggs is showing that he was worth the wait. After pitching 6.0 innings for the AZL-Angels, Skaggs was promoted to Orem where he has held his own. Considering the last batters he faced were in high school, that’s quite an achievement! Skaggs features a plus fastball and curve. Definitely keep an eye on him next year!
7. Mark Trumbo, 1B/RF, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 14/40 (.350), 3 Doubles, 0 Triples, 1 HR, 9 Runs, 3 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .291/.333/.452 with 15 HRs and 6 SBs
What’s Up: With the emergence of Kendry Morales, Trumbo needs to find a new place on the field in order to make it to the majors. That new home may be Right Field. Over the past few weeks, Trumbo has made 10 starts in RF and an occasional start at 1B. In our “Organizational Best Baseball Tools Feature” we listed Trumbo as our “Best Power Prospect”. With continued improvement in plate discipline, Trumbo could become a powerful replacement for Rivera or Abreu in 1-2 years. With his strong finish, Trumbo should move up to Salt Lake next year. But, he may spend a little more time at Arkansas at the start of the season to work on the transition to RF.
8. Tommy Mendoza, RHP, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Past 3 Games: 2-0, 0 Saves, 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 10 BB, 7 K, 1.25 WHIP
Overall: 9-8, 0 Saves, 3.29 ERA, 150.1 IP, 148 H, 42 BB, 96 K, 1.26 WHIP, .256 BAA
What’s Up: Sometimes when we make this list, we’re struck by the similarity of numbers between two players such as Mendoza and Chatwood. How do you rank one over the other? At just 22, Tommy Mendoza got his first taste of Triple-A. After 2 rough, Mendoza has bounced back and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 2 starts. Mendoza is a control specialist who doesn’t blow hitters away with his heat. But, he should start next year at Salt Lake where he’ll become part of a very talented staff with Bell, O’Sullivan, and Reckling and will wait for his shot at the majors.
9. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Class Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 3 Games: 3-0, 0 Saves, 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 15 K, 1.25 WHIP
Overall: 8-7, 0 Saves, 4.02 ERA, 116.1 IP, 99 H, 66 BB, 106 K, 1.48 WHIP, .237 BAA
What’s Up: One of the things we look for when evaluating prospects is how they are developing from year-to-year. With Chatwood, there is progression. He’s won his last 5 starts. While he’s still given up too many walks, the rate at which he’s giving them up is decreasing. Last year, as an 18 year old rookie, he gave up 8.5 BBs/9 IP. This year, as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League, he only gave up 5.1 BBs/9 IP. While there is still room for improvement, it’s worth noting how much he has improved this season, especially considering how much older his opponents are. Chatwood’s future is still bright, and, as he refines his control, his stuff will definitely keep him rising throughout the organization.
10. Darwin Perez, SS, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 16/39 (.410), 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 6 Runs, 6 RBIs, 1 SB
Overall: .261/.352/.693 with 2 HRs and 11 SBs
What’s Up: Amarista’s double-play partner, and fellow Venezuelan, Darwin is another player who had a tale of two seasons. Prior to the All-Star Break, he posted a paltry .196/.307/.239 line. After the All-Star Break, he posted a 317/392/429 line. The good news is that like Amarista, he’s got good plate discipline. He posted an 84:49 K:BB ratio. At just 20 years old, he and Amarista should move together up to Rancho next year where they will continue to form a MIF tandem.
Gabriel Jacobo, 1B, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 14/39 (.359), 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 10 Runs, 4 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .257/.317/.427 with 10 HRs and 6 SBs
What’s Up: Like many of the Angels’ prospects, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” applies to Jacobo. Before the All-Star Break, Jacobo was posting a measly .222/.302/.351. Since the All-Star Break, he’s been slugging away to the tune of .285/.330/.488 line. As a former 3rd baseman, we tabbed Jacobo with our “Best Defensive 1B” label earlier this season. He finished the season with just 5 errors and a .995 Fld% in 1035 chances. He’s very adept at digging balls out of the dirt and has a strong arm. How far he will rise will depend on how his plate discipline and power develop.