Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sean Rodriguez tops this week's Prospect Hotlist

Hot Prospects August 26, 2009

With the minor league season coming to a close, our organizational franchises are still pushing hard to make the post season. Many players are stepping up their game and are making clear cases for moving up the organization’s depth chart. The Single-A Orem Owlz have gone 19-2 for the second half, including a franchise record setting streak of 15 wins in a row. They currently lead their league by 6 games for the second half and feature a lineup of nearly all-300+ hitters. The AZL Angels won a wild game in which they were no hit but still managed to score 2 unearned runs on walks and errors. They presently sit 1 game out of first place for the second half. At 32-26, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are 3.5 games out of first place for the second half.

By David Saltzer Columnist

1. Sean Rodriguez, INF/OF, Class AAA Salt Lake Bees
Past 10 Games: 16/33 (.485), 3 Doubles, 0 Triples, 3 HRs, 11 Runs, 8 RBIs, 2 SBs
Overall: .299/.398/.605 with 26 HRs and 9 SBs

What’s Up: Everyone wants to be an armchair GM. Sure, it sounds fun, and sure, it seems like an easy job. But, the reality is, sometimes events and players make things very difficult for a GM. Rodriguez is the kind of player that makes for difficult decisions by the GM. He’s the ideal player for Scioscia—he can play SS, 2B, and is even playing the OF. He has the arm to play RF and roamed centerfield in high school. Rodriguez is 24 and is 2nd in the league in HRs, 3rd in SLG, 6th in OBP. He’s been posting all of these numbers while on the shuttle between Salt Lake and Anaheim. He really has nothing left to prove in the minors, but trying to find a way to get his bat, along with Brandon Wood and Chris Pettit in the lineup will be a major challenge for Tony Reagins this off-season.

2. Dillon Baird, 1B, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 10 Games: 16/40 (400), 2 Doubles, 0 Triples, 2 HRs, 10 Runs, 11 RBIs, 3 SBs
Overall: .383/.447/.563 with 4 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: If you want to find a batting leader for the Pioneer League, just look for Dillon Baird—he’s most likely going to be amongst the leaders. Dillon is leading the league in BA, and in the top-5 in most every other category. It’s as if he hasn’t missed a beat from the Pac-10, where he led the league in hitting. Playing in the heart of the Owlz order, Baird has been driving in runs in bunches which helped him earn offensive Player of the Week honors for the Pioneer League on August 24.

3. Alex Torres, LHP, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 3 Games: 2-0, 0 Saves, 0.53 ERA, 17.0 IP, 12 H, 9 BB, 18 K, 1.24 WHIP
Overall: 13-4, 0 Saves, 2.75 ERA, 147.1 IP, 116 H, 80 BB, 149 K, 1.33 WHIP, .222 BAA

What’s Up: When you think of top Angels’ minor league lefties, usually Trevor Reckling comes to mind. But, Alex Torres is another lefty in the system who has been having an incredibly good season. After tearing up the hitter-friendly California League (posting a 2.74 ERA and going 10-3), Torres was promoted to Double A and hasn’t slowed down. Overall, he’s posted a 2.77 ERA in the Texas League, with almost all of that coming in one game. The walks are a bit of a concern, but the talent is definitely there. Torres definitely has the stuff to be a major league pitcher, and he will be one—especially when he gains a bit better command. He may start next year off again with Arkansas, but, he should be in Salt Lake by the end of next year.

4. Carlos Ramirez, C, Class A Orem Owlz
Past 10 Games: 16/38 (.421), 5 Doubles, 0 Triples, 3 HRs, 12 Runs, 11 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .381/.489/.600 with 4 HRs and 0 SBs

What’s Up: If Napoli and Conger think that they’re the only offensively minded catchers in our organization, then they need to check out Carlos Ramirez. Drafted in the 8th round this year, Ramirez has been putting up Mauer-like numbers. He has more BBs than Ks (22:17) and is putting up some formidable power numbers. With only half the games played as some of the league leaders, Ramirez’s power numbers would be on par or exceed the league’s best if he had the same number of ABs.

5. Pil Joon Jang, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Past 3 Games: 1-1, 0 Saves, 2.12 ERA, 17.0 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 22 K, 0.94 WHIP
Overall: 6-3, 0 Saves, 3.49 ERA, 77.1 IP, 68 H, 9 BB, 65 K, 1.00 WHIP, .232 BAA

What’s Up: If Martinez Mesa is all about the power, then Jang is all about the control. He’s about as stingy as they get in the Pioneer League. As a starter, Jang ranks down with the relievers in terms of the least amount of walks given up while at the same time ranks 5th in the league for the most Ks. He’s been delivering everything that was promised when we signed him last December out of Korea. He should only continue to get better, having an assortment of quality pitches.

6. Fabio Martinez Mesa, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Past 3 Games: 0-1, 0 Saves, 2.35 ERA, 15.1 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 22 K, 1.30 WHIP
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 2.51 ERA, 57.1 IP, 38 H, 34 BB, 85 K, 1.26 WHIP, .181 BAA

What’s Up: With the way that Fabio is pitching, the sky could be the limits for him. Punching out nearly 13.5 batters per 9 innings, he is an ace in the making. As he matures, he should cut down on the number of walks that he’s giving up and should refine his secondary pitches. But, when he does, the opposition better watch out, because Fabio throws hard (95-98 mph), and has a big upside.

7. Hank Conger, C, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 12/37 (.325), 3 Doubles, 0 Triples, 1 HR, 5 Runs, 7 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .299/.366/.425 with 9 HRs and 3 SBs

What’s Up: Playing in a cavernous stadium, we expected some of Conger’s power numbers to drop. And, playing with an injured hand/wrist in the first half, they did. But, since the All-Star Break, Conger’s been putting up numbers closer to what we’re used to seeing from him (.317/.407/.470). His OPS is 140 points higher than it was during the first half of the season and he’s now ranked 8th in the league for BA. Next year, he should move up to the hitter-friendly fields of the Pacific Coast League, and then we should see more of his doubles turn into dingers.

8. Roberto Lopez, 1B/DH, Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 10 Games: 17/42 (405), 5 Doubles, 0 Triples, 2 HRs, 6 Runs, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs
Overall: .324/.356/.541 with 11 HRs and 5 SBs

What’s Up: After being a regular on our column last year when he posted a .400 BA for the season, we had great expectations for Roberto Lopez. Unfortunately, he got off to a slow start. But, since the All-Star Break, Lopez has been getting back to form, posting a .303/.363/.470 line. With 11 HRs, he leads the club in that category while only playing in 85 games (the regulars on the team have played about 115. We think that next year Lopez should get back on track and should find the hitter-friendly parks of the California League much more to his liking.

9. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Class Cedar Rapids Kernels
Past 3 Games: 3-0, 0 Saves, 1.50 ERA, 17.2 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 18 K, 0.85 WHIP
Overall: 6-7, 0 Saves, 4.10 ERA, 105.1 IP, 90 H, 59 BB, 97 K, 1.41 WHIP, .238 BAA

What’s Up: Walks have been Chatwood’s Achilles’ heel all year this year. Ironically, though, in the past three games, Chatwood has only given up 3 runs—all of them in the one game where he only issued 1 walk! Still, Chatwood has the stuff to be a major league starter. He has a good fastball and a plus curve, and should continue to cut down on the walks as he matures. After all, he’s still only 19 and he’s doing more than holding his own in the league.

10. Garrett Richards, RHP, Class A AZL Angels
Past 3 Games: 2-0, 0 Saves, 1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 17 H, 0 BB, 15 K, 0.98 WHIP
Overall: 2-1, 0 Saves, 1.91 ERA, 28.1 IP, 29 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 1.16 WHIP, .269 BAA

What’s Up: One of our 1st round supplemental picks (#48 overall), Richards is off to a hot start. Along with Dillon Baird, he won Player of the Week honors August 24 for his two wins and stellar pitching. After being slowly eased into the rotation, it’s good to see Richards getting stretched out to 6+ innings while still maintaining great control. Next year, he should get the chance to show off his stuff at Cedar Rapids.

Honorable Mention

1. Mike Trout, CF, Class A AZL Angels
Past 10 Games: 16/44 (.364), 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HRs, 7 Runs, 6 RBIs, 3 SBs
Overall: .371/.433/.517 with 1 HR and 13 SBs

What’s Up: Recently moved into the leadoff spot, Trout (aka “Kidfish”) has been taking advantage of three of his many tools: speed, hitting ability and plate discipline. In the past 10 games he has more BBs than Ks (6:5). But, don’t forget about his power. He’s 10th in the league in SLG, which combined with his high OB% makes him 4th for OPS. And, this past week he made his first of hopefully many appearances in Baseball America’s Hot Prospect List on when he cracked the list on August 21.

2. Randal Grichuk, OF, Class A AZL Angels
Past 10 Games: 13/40 (325), 0 Doubles, 2 Triples, 4 HRs, 9 Runs, 11 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .324/.356/.541 with 6 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: We wanted power in this draft, and we got it. At just age 18, Grichuk is 4th in the league for SLG, tied for 6th in HRs, and leading the league in triples! You can also find Grichuk leading the league in hits, 2nd for RBIs, 4th for runs scored, and tied for 9th in doubles. Not too bad for our first pick of the 2009 draft. With a little bit more plate discipline, he could be a monster at the plate in a few years.

3. Mark Trumbo, 1B, Class AA Arkansas Travelers
Past 10 Games: 15/42 (.357), 3 Doubles, 0 Triples, 0 HRs, 5 Runs, 5 RBIs, 0 SBs
Overall: .289/.329/.444 with 13 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: Trumbo’s season is a tale of two halves: During the first half, Trumbo posted a .263/.308/.405 line. Since the All-Star Break, he’s posted a .325/.359/.498 line. Most likely Trumbo’s slow start resulted from his difficulty making the adjustments to the league and his opponents being able to pitch around him while the rest of the Travelers’ lineup struggled with injuries and slow performances. But, as his post All-Star numbers show, Trumbo is more than capable of hitting and should hit some monster shots next year in the Pacific Coast League.
Love to hear what you think!


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