Saturday, February 23, 2008

By Kevin Mark Salt Lake Scout & Columnist

Spring training is now in full swing and the realization the baseball season has finally arrived brightens the cold, snowy, dreary Utah winter. This will be the first entry of the season about my favorite team, the Salt Lake Bees. I am a passionate fan of Major League baseball and I root for both the Angels and the Royals. But the team I am most interested in is the Salt Lake Bees. I attend 60+ Bees home games each season and I listen to the radio broadcasts of the road games. The Bees open the season on April 3 in Las Vegas and the home opener is Friday, April 11 against the Portland Beavers.

According to a report on, top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart will begin the season here in Salt Lake. Adenhart is regarded as a top prospect and a key part of the Angels future plans. Over the past winter, Adenhart's name was mentioned in several trade rumors. According to Angels owner Arte Moreno, Adenhart was part of an offer the Angels made for Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera. I was in favor of including Adenhart in the package to obtain Cabrera but the Marlins chose an offer from the Tigers and Adenhart remains part of the Angels organization.

When discussing Adehnart, it is important to keep in mind that he will only be 21 on opening day this year and will not turn 22 until August. Young pitchers working their way from the low minor leagues to the majors will struggle from time to time. The good news is the Angels organization has demonstrated the ability to develop young arms into quality Major League pitchers.

In three minor league seasons, Adenhart has pitched 361 innings with an ERA of 3.12. He has struck out almost 8 hitters per nine innings pitched while walking a little more than 3 batters per nine innings. His career K/BB ratio of 2.44 is solid and Adenhart hasn't given up a lot of homeruns.

Adenhart's 2007 numbers were solid but not overly impressive. He pitched 153 innings for the AA Arkansas Travelers posting a 3.65 ERA. He strikeout rate declined while at the same time he walked more hitters. His 2007 K/BB of 1.78 is not good at all. When it comes to pitchers, I put more weight on the opinion of scouts than statistics. Pitching in the minor leagues is refining process and changes that are made in a young pitcher's approach to hitters or mechanics and cause a decline in his stats. Hopefully, Adenhart's declining numbers in his 2007 AA season were a bump in the road and he will put it all together in 2008.

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