By Adrian Noche, AngelsWin.com Staff Reporter -
1. Drew Rucinski, Starting Pitcher, Arkansas Travelers
Last two starts: 2-0 14.0 IP 0.64 ERA 9 H 1 BB 11 SO 0.71 WHIP .238 BAA
Overall: 7-4 2.31 ERA 89.2 IP 74 H 27 BB 80 SO 1.12 WHIP .230 BAA
Drew Rucinski was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and was released after just one season. Rucinski eventually found himself as one of the best pitchers in Indy-Ball, posting a 3.13 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 103.2 innings with the Rockford Aviators in 2012. After another successful season in 2013, Rucinski signed a minor league contract to join the 66ers in the latter half of their season. Rucinski immediately established himself as a key component of the Inland Empire 66ers strong season and postseason run, posting a 1.86 ERA in 5 starts for the Angels’ High-A affiliate. This year, Rucinski has continued to post great numbers in the Texas League. With Rucinski’s last start, a start which saw him go 7.0 innings while only giving up 1 run on 6 strikeouts and no walks, Drew finds himself 4th among league leaders in ERA, one spot ahead of teammate Michael Roth. Rucinski is also among the league leaders in WHIP (6th), wins (2nd) and innings pitched (89.2). Drew was unable to pitch in the Texas League All-Star game despite being named a representative, due to a 7.0 inning scoreless performance where he only gave up 2 hits and 1 walk the Sunday before.
2. Eric Aguilera, 1st Baseman, Burlington Bees
Past 10 games: .351 AVG 13 H 4 Doubles 1 Triple 1 HR 3 SB
Eric Aguilera continued his all-star season this week as he, like Rosa, recorded a hit in every game for the Bees this week. His .400 average this week has brought his season average up to .312. Aguilera has also maintained his power as he slugged 3 doubles, 1 triple and a home run this week, bringing his season slugging percentage up to .516. Aguilera also chipped in 2 stolen bases to add his season total up to 10 while only being caught once. Despite missing time due to playing 11 games in High-A Inland Empire, the left-handed hitting first baseman finds himself among the league leaders in home runs (8th), total bases (7th) and RBI’s (6th).
3. Michael Roth, Starting Pitcher, Arkansas Travelers
Last two starts: 2-0 13.0 IP 1.38 ERA 10 H 6 BB 9 SO 1.23 WHIP .217 BAA
Overall: 7-4 2.40 ERA 90.0 IP 80 H 32 BB 46 SO 1.21 WHIP .244 BAA
Roth’s brilliance in the minors this year was rewarded as he received the honor of starting the game for the Texas League North All-Stars. What he did was more of the same of what he has done all season long: get outs. Roth pitched 2.0 innings of perfect baseball and either got the batter to groundout or strikeout. Roth’s rates have been stellar as he gets hitters to hit the ball on the ground at a 52% rate while preventing the batter from getting solid contact with a line drive rate of 13.89%. Many assumed Roth might've been on the move after being removed from a start despite being completely healthy, but those rumors were put to rest as they were just doing so in anticipation of a possible double-header in Kansas City. Despite Roth not getting the call after all, it’s clear that the southpaw has opened many eyes in the organization with his performance thus far to warrant a call-up in the near future. Roth is among the league leaders in many pitching categories this season; ERA (5th), innings pitched (5th) and wins (2nd).
4. Angel Rosa, Shortstop, Burlington Bees
Past 10 games: .342 AVG 13 H 4 Doubles 0 Triples 2 HR 1 SB
Angel Rosa was taken in the 13th round of the 2013 First Year Player Draft out of Alcorn State. Scouting reports said that Rosa was a strong armed shortstop with nice defensive tools and some speed to burn. However, after faring well against the competition in Burlington last year, Rosa has struggled mightily so far this year. The shortstop’s 22 errors lead the Bees and his aggressive approach at the plate has bested him thus far as his k-rate stands at 22% and before this week, his batting average was a lowly .228. Things have suddenly clicked for Rosa this week, as he recorded a hit in every game this week with an average of .416, bringing his average up to .244. Rosa also smacked 3 doubles and 2 home runs to go along with a strikeout to walk ratio of 4:2.
5. Andrew Daniel, 3rd Baseman, Orem Owlz
Past 10 games: .368 AVG 14 H 3 Doubles 0 Triples 1 HR 2 SB
Andrew Daniel was the Angels’ 11th round draft pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of San Diego. Daniel’s bread and butter is his above-average bat, which he flashed with a slash line of .369/.421/.554 in his final year at San Diego. Scouting reports mention Daniel as a line drive hitter thanks to his quick hands and knack for squaring up the ball. Although he is listed as a third baseman, Daniel has started at 2nd base every game for the Owlz this year. Either way, Daniel has got off to a hot start in the Pioneer League. He is batting a line of .357/.451/.500 so far this year and has also struck out only 4 times while walking 6 times.
Minor League Affiliate Report
Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
The Bees went 3-3 this week and have an overall record of 34-50 (14.5 GB). Outfielder Zach Borenstein has been squaring up the ball more frequently but has continued to strike out at a high rate. Zach has a slash line of .257/.28-/.345 in the PCL with 33 strikeouts to just 3 walks. Justin Thomas pitched a good game on Saturday, striking out 8 in 7.0 innings pitched with 5 hits and only 1 walk allowed. Kyler Newby continued to pitch well out of the pen this week, striking out 4 in 2.0 shutout innings.
Double-A Arkansas Travelers
The Texas League All-Star game was on Tuesday and saw appearances by many Travelers. Alex Yarbrough went 0-3 in the game while Brian Hernandez went 1-3 with a double. Michael Roth, Carmine Giardina and Cam Bedrosian allowed no hits, walks or runs in a combined 3.1 innings pitched for the North All-Stars. The Travelers went 4-1 this and sit in first place with an overall record of 7-4. The offense continues to be led by Alex Yarbrough and Brian Hernandez, who have a combined 16 hits in 4 games this week. Kaleb Cowart has been showing signs of life as of late, batting .333 this week along with 2 doubles. R.J. Alvarez made his much anticipated return from the DL this week, pitching 2.0 innings without allowing an earned run and striking out 3 across two appearances. Jairo Diaz also made his Double-A debut this week, the hard-throwing right hander made three appearances and struck out 5 in 4.0 innings pitched while allowing 1 walk and 2 hits.
High-A Inland Empire 66ers
The 66ers have have gone off to a slow start in the second half of the season, going 1-10 and are now 9 games back of 1st place. Futures game participant, Jose Rondon, returned to action this week. Despite the low average (.217), Rondon has knocked 3 doubles and walked 4 times since his return. Bee’s outfielder Chad Hinshaw was promoted to the 66ers on June 21st and has fared well against the higher level of competition. Hinshaw was held hitless in only 2 of his 9 games played with the 66ers, hitting .265 with a .342 OBP and .382 SLG. Newly acquired starting pitcher, Raymond Hanson, pitched 5.0 innings of shutout baseball and only allowed 2 hits, 2 walks and struck out 3. Like Hinshaw, Joey Krehbiel was also recently promoted from the Bees. In 3 appearances, Krehbiel has not allowed a single hit while walking 1 and striking out 5.
Low-A Burlington Bees
The Burlington Bees had a strong week, losing only once in 6 games played. After starting the second half of the season 0-4 the Bees have bounced back to bring their record to .500 (5-5). Outfielder, Mike Fish, is currently riding a 4-game hitting streak where he is hitting .352. His overall slash line currently stands at .277/.326/.473. In a two-start week, Harrison Cooney went 2-0, giving up 4 earned runs in a combined 11.2 innings. Daniel Hurtado pitched 5 shutout innings on the 25th, striking out 6 while giving up no walks and 5 hits. Ben Carlson notched 3 saves for the Bees this week.
Class-A Short Season Orem Owlz
The Orem Owlz went 6-1 this week and are in the midst of a 6-game winning streak. The Owlz have started off hot with an overall record of 10-4, best in the Pioneer League. Many players have been contributing to Orem’s hot-hitting offense; Outfielder Trevor Gretzky is batting a sky-high .471 average while 2014 draftee, Zachary Houchins, is hitting .288 along with 4 doubles and 2 home runs. Outfielders Natanael Delgado and Miguel Hermosillo, who were both born in 1995, have been faring extremely well despite the level of competition with averages both over .300 (Delgado - .333 Hermosillo - .314) and a combined 11 extra base-hits. In the pen, Greg Mahle (15th round of 2014 draft) has been sharp as nails, striking out 9 over 6.0 scoreless innings.
The AZL Angels went 2-4 this week and now boast an overall record of 4-4. Fran Whitten, chosen in the 37th round of the 2014 draft, has been off to a scorching hot start. The 1st baseman has been hitting .438 with a 2 doubles and 2 triples. 6th round draft pick Alex Abbott is batting .300 with a double and a stolen base in 3 games to start the early season. Jake Jewell, who was the Angels’ 5th round draft pick, pitched 2 shutout innings and allowed no hits and 2 walks on Wednesday.