Sunday, April 6, 2008

Jose Arredondo recorded his 3rd save in 4 games for the Salt Lake Bees

By David Saltzer - Columnist

After a close look at all of the Angels minor league affiliates, this week we'll focus on the Triple-A club as I pose these 5 burning questions with regards to the prospects playing for the Salt Lake Bees, to start the 2008 season.

Question #1: Where does Wood play?
Possibly one of the best ways that we have to gain insight into the future direction of the club is to see where Brandon Wood is playing. Scioscia has said that he can play defensively as either an ML SS or ML 3B, so, just where he plays will say a lot about where the ML club is going. Granted, everything could change overnight with an injury (let's hope not), but, for right now, as Chuck pointed out, Wood is playing SS. If the decision has been made for him to stay at SS, that means Figgy hopefully will be with us for a long time leading off and other decisions will be made about players like GA and Morales.

As for Wood's hitting, from what I saw of him in ST, his pitch recognition was much improved, but, at the same time, he was swinging late on most pitches. When I saw him 2 years ago in Rancho, he chased a lot of breaking balls out of the zone. This year, he was laying off more of the breaking stuff and swinging at the fastballs. I'm sure his bat will come around as he improves his timing. And, when it does, I for one would be very happy with numbers like 250/340/520 out of our SS.

Question #2: What about Morales?
Let's face it, Kendry is a bat in search of a position. According to Eddie Bane, he foresees big things out of Kendry's bat, so, the big question is how do we get it into the lineup. Well, if Wood takes over SS, and Figgy stays at 3B, then Kendry has a shot of becoming our regular DH in 2009 if the Angels don't pick up GA's option. There could be many reasons why the Angels won't pickup GA's option besides the obvious ones. So far, Kendry hasn't said that he doesn't like to DH. From all I can tell, he just wants to play in the majors. So, going with him as the primary DH instead of GA could solve some internal problems for the ML team AND could free up some money for us to resign some of our pitching and Vlad.

Question #3: Nick or Nick?
It's 3 AM. A telephone is ringing. A manager is on the line with a crisis: There's been another injury in Anaheim. Who do you want sent up?

As much as none of us want to see that happen, it could happen. So, which Nick would we want to send up to Anaheim for a spot start or 2?

We all know that Adenhart will be a future starter for us, but, let's not overlook what Nick Green has shown. Last year, Nick Green posted remarkably similar numbers to Adenhart in the same league (although Adenhart was younger at the time).

The bigger issue is, do we rush Adenhart up for some spot starts, only to disrupt his development, start the clock running on him, and have him lose his rookie eligibility or do we go with Nick Green who is older and has been vetted at each level so far? More importantly, Green is already on the 40-man roster whereas Adenhart is not. So, that makes it a lot easier to bring him up in a pinch than it would be to bring up Nick Adenhart. Nick Green should be our primary pitching depth at AAA this year and may be able to force the issue about earning a starting role or long relief role this year.

Question #4: Where's Arredondo's head?
We all know about the potential of losing K-Rod, so, we need to find a potential replacement for him to hedge our position. Arredondo has shown that he has the stuff (high heat, a slider), but last year he earned a demotion for maturity issues.

However, in Spring Training, it seemed that the old Arredondo returned and he logged some quality work, earning a promotion to AAA and the closing role there. So, the big issue for Arredondo is: where is his head? Will he continue his development and earn the top shot at replacing K-Rod or does he revert back to the problems that cost him most of last year? My bet is that he has worked out the issues and could be poised for a very nice year as a closer.

So far so good, as Arredondo hasn't given up a run in 3 appearances, while recording 3 saves out of 3 chances.

Question #5: Where does Sean Rodriguez play?
Lost amongst many other prospects, Sean Rodriguez has steadily shown a combination of power and speed at a young age. At just 22 (he turns 23 later this month--and only a month older than Brandon Wood) Sean is another player who has a bat in search of a home. Defensively, he's not as gifted as many of our other options. However, offensively, he could easily post 20/20 numbers--if only he had a place to play. Sean is on the 40-man roster, and, most likely is part of our organizational depth that most of the ML envies.

So far in Salt Lake, Sean has seen time at both 2B and LF and is hitting .462 with 1 HR early on.

Sleepers to Keep an Eye On

Bobby Wilson: Wilson gives the Angels another catcher that would be perfect in a backup role to Mike Napoli. The top-30 prospect is also off to a hot start with the bat in Salt Lake, hitting .429. Wilson like current backup catcher Jeff Mathis also provides good game calling abilities and is an above average defender behind the dish. Should an injury occur to either Napoli or Mathis, Wilson could fill the void quite nicely.

Alex Serrano (RP): another potential member of our bullpen who got a long look in Spring Training. He nearly made the team (getting cut right at the end) and may get a shot if an injury opens up a slot. Most likely Serrano will be battling Thompson and all season long to see who will be the #1 guy to go up in the event that we need to replace a reliever.

Matt Brown (3B): Quietly overlooked, Matt Brown has posted steady numbers with some power throughout his ascent in our system. He may be the first call if anything happens to Figgy or Quinlan and could develop into another backup CIF player for us.

Freddy Sandoval (3B): Another potential backup CIF, he had a good Spring. He has a bit less power than Brown, but better plate discipline. So, he, like Brown could become a backup CIFer and could be on a shuttle if anything happens to the ML club.

Brad Coon (OF): A jackrabbit on the basepaths, Coon is a lefty who steals at just about every chance he gets. Unfortunately, he needs to be a bit more disciplined (last year he stole 56 bases and was caught 21 times), but could become part of our OF depth.

Rafael Rodriguez (RP): At 23, he's steadily risen through the organization. This will be his first trip to AAA, and, if he can keep the ball down, and induces more ground outs, he could do well here in a middle relief, Chris Bootcheck type role.
Love to hear what you think!


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