Sunday, June 27, 2010
Mark Trumbo has blossomed into the slugger the Angels hoped

Interview conducted by David Saltzer, Senior Columnist
June 27, 2010

With most of the Minor Leagues reaching the midpoint to their seasons, had the opportunity to sit down with Abe Flores, the Director for Player Development for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to get an update on the players throughout the organization. Abe Flores is a wealth of information, able to give scouting reports on all the players throughout the organization with ease. He gives insight into how the Angels develop and prepare players for a Major League career and what the Angels expect the players to develop and work on as the mature through the system.

Recent Draft Picks Let’s start off with the class of 2010. Who really stood out?

Abe Flores: I’m here in Tempe. So, I’m getting an early look at Bolden and Lindsey and they are just a couple of interesting kids. In Bolden, a very toolsy player. Little green, but very toolsy. Very quick twitch guy. And with Lindsey we’ve got a bat—an offensive player. Any pitchers standing out?

Abe Flores: We haven’t gotten our high picks yet. I’m going to Orem next, so I won’t see most guys until I go there. The guys that we’ve got are guys that we’ve drafted low at the end of the draft. There are some interesting guys and some non-drafted free agent guys that are pretty interesting. So, I’m just starting to get a feel for those guys—not really a big impression on those guys yet. How did Lindsey look defensively? Baseball America said that he might not make it as a Major League shortstop.

Abe Flores: Yes. We’ve already moved him to second, so he’s playing second and he’s starting to get a feel for that, the nuances to playing that position. We’ll probably give him time at third. His hands work, his feet are okay, he’s got arm strength. He just needs patience, needs reps, time and technique, like any new position. What about Bolden, will he stick in centerfield?
I think he is more of a corner outfielder, though he could play center. I think he’s more of a corner outfielder.

Rookie AZL Angels and Orem

Hitters The last time we spoke, you said that James Mallard has a potent stick but needs to work on finding a defensive position.

Abe Flores: Yeah. We’re pumped. We finally put him out there on defense last night. He’s just adequate. He needs a lot of work. He’s aware of that. But, there’s a lot of potential with that bat. He’s got some kind of special hands and bat speed strength. He sometimes tries to do too much at the plate or even do too much in BP. So, he needs to simplify his approach a little bit and hone in his selective process of what pitches he wants to get on. Would the Angels ever consider developing a pure DH?

Abe Flores: No. That’s not our philosophy. You’ve got to be an all-around player. It’s tough to carry just a DH.

Have you had a chance to see either of the Korean players pitch—Jang or Jung?

Abe Flores: Well I’ve seen them over the years.

Abe Flores: With PJ (Jang), strike thrower. Breaking ball needs some work. Fastball touch is average. Uncanny knack for getting out quickly. Very poised.

Abe Flores: With Young-Il, it’s been a while. He’s got a little bit crisper fastball on a shorter roll. I just want to keep him healthy and keep him on the field.

Single-A Cedar Rapids

Hitters The big question for the fans is “What does Mike Trout have to do to move onto the next level?”

Abe Flores: Right now, we’re not even concerned about the next level. It’s about Trout’s development and where he’s at. That’s where his focus is at. He’s jumped and done everything we’ve asked of him. In time, when that time comes, he’ll be ready. And he is ready. He’s done a great job. Very focused guy—hard worker, team guy. There isn’t enough intangibles. On his personality and his makeup, he’s a better person than he is a player and that’s saying a lot. What about Jean Segura? The last time we spoke you described him as a five-tool player.

Abe Flores: Yes, another guy that we’re going to be patient with. He’s missed chunks of two years, so he’s doing just fine. He’s doing a really good job. He needs to continue to understand our different nuances of what we expect out of him defensively and on a daily basis. He’s going to get it. He’s a nice player. He’s really turned on the speed lately.

Abe Flores: Speed meaning how? He’s stealing a lot more bases and has only been caught three times.

Abe Flores: So he’s utilizing the speed in a base stealing context. The guy has always been able to run. He’s a plus-plus runner. He’s deceptive with his build because he’s almost built like a Raul Mondesi, a small, stockier, thicker guy. And you look at him, and you expect this different kind of gate. He really is deceptively fast. His primaries and secondaries have to improve. His jumps have to improve because when he gets that bag he has to get it. What about Grichuk? What’s the update on him?

Abe Flores: He’s coming along. Probably looking at August when we’ll finally roll him out and put him in games even here in Tempe. I want him to have success. We want him to have success. We want to start him out slow. It’s been a long time since he’s been on the field. He’s a guy that we just got last year in the draft. He’s been off the field for a month and a half—two months—so we want to be patient with him. Carlos Ramirez: defensively he’s been throwing quite a bit of base runners (nearly 46%), but he hasn’t been hitting. Any thoughts about what is going on with him?

Abe Flores: Yes. Pitch selection. Pitch selection with Carlos. The defense has been okay. His arm strength has been wavering at times. But, overall, he’s been doing a nice job. I think it has been a little bit frustrating. I think there have been stretches where he has been pressing at the plate, trying to do too much also. When you get a player who is pressing at the plate, how do you coach him? How do the Angels slow him down and get him to be taking it more one-step-at-a-time? How do the coaches do it?

Abe Flores: Well you almost answered your own question right there because you are just simplifying his plan. Sometimes you can get a lot of clutter going on as you get to the plate. As you get in the plate there’s a lot of people at home plate with you. You need to quiet that down a little bit, simplify your game plan. Take it to the middle of the field, not try to do too much. Focus on hitting just the fastball and hitting it hard—making hard contact. Sometimes the numbers, sometimes stats can get in your head. Don’t worry about that. It’s about squaring up as many balls as possible on a nightly basis.

Pitchers Let’s talk for a bit about the awesome pitching staff that has been playing for Cedar Rapids. It seems like an incredible rotation that the Angels had there, especially at the start of the season. Fabio Martinez-Mesa, he’s just striking out tons of players.

Abe Flores: Yes he is. Power arm. All the stuff is there, but he needs to continue to make improvement on his control. By controlling the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters and finishing them off. So there is some work to be done there. Ton of ability, lot of talent, but there are some definite things in his game that he needs to work on. How about Garrett Richards: How did the Angels take him from being so inconsistent to college to making him into an amazing prospect?

Abe Flores: All the credit goes to our coaches on that one. What did you work on?

Abe Flores: Basically, number one, you want to put players in a position where you are going to hone their confidence. There are some tweaks in his development so far as his routine and his delivery. And, just letting him know that every fifth day that he is going to get that ball also gives him a little bit of a boost in his confidence and his all-around game. What’s the plan for the development with Tyler Skaggs? You have had him on a tight pitch count or innings count. Are you going to be stretching him out a bit more over the season or are you going to keep him tight this year and then stretching him out over the next year or two.

Abe Flores:
Nope. Keep tight reins on him. He’s got a pretty fair chance to be a special guy. So keeping tight reins on him. Just a lot of easy projections for him. That’s what they are supposed to look like, but we want to make sure his innings don’t get too high in his first full season. What kind of reports are you getting on him?

Abe Flores: Good strike thrower. Average fastball. Good tempo. Nice breaking ball. Really good changeup. Good three pitch mix. Another potential reliever at Cedar Rapids is the “big guy” John Hellweg. He’s quite a hard thrower.

Abe Flores: Yep. Tall guy, very steep angle. Big, big fastball. Sharp slider. Actually working on a changeup. Just another pitch, another weapon to add to his arsenal. A guy with a big upside—a guy who has come a long way.

Single-A Rancho Cucamonga

Hitters Going up to Rancho, Luis Jimenez is back at third base after missing all of last year with a shoulder injury. What are you hearing about him and how is he doing?

Abe Flores: Very well. He can hit. Defense is continuing to improve. He was just named to the Futures Game for the World Team. He’s just a good player with a bright future because he can hit. He likes to play—a competitive guy. Defensively, one scout that I spoke to said that in some ways he reminded him overall of an Adrian Beltre. Would you back that comparison up?

Abe Flores: Yeah. I think he could be in that same strain. Yeah. I think a Melvin Mora even. I don’t think he runs like him, but he reminds me of a Melvin Mora. How is Alexi Amarista doing?

Abe Flores: He’s doing fine. He’s started to cool down a little bit, I’ve noticed, but that’s because he’s been on such a big tear for so long that I was wondering when he was going to cool off. He’s been doing great. He is a wonderful player. He can do so many things. He can beat you so many ways—with his legs, with his arm. He just plays with such an attitude on the field, and by attitude I mean good. I mean competitive. He brings energy to a team. He can just do so many things. Absolutely fearless. You really enjoy watching him play after a few days. What’s the update on Dillon Baird? When do you expect him back?

Abe Flores: Probably Dillon is going to start a rehab assignment starting today here in Arizona. So, probably looking at about a week before he starts rolling back to Rancho.
When he does go back, will he go back to third base?

Abe Flores: Yes. He’ll go back to third base and we’ll kind of rotate Jimenez and Baird. Also Baird does play first, so we’ll roll it and rotate with Jacobo so that there are plenty of at-bats and opportunities to develop all three of those guys on a regular basis. How do you see Baird developing? Has his power increased? That was one of the big concerns about him.

Abe Flores:
Yeah. It’s just that he’s been out for so long, so, it’s kind of a difficult question to answer because yes, he has been gone. He played for a little part of the season, but he’s been gone for so long. For me it’s about getting him back, comfortable, and on the field. What about Tyson Auer? He’s leading the organization in stolen bases and quite a speedster.

Abe Flores: Yes. Plus runner, chance to be a plus defender. A little bit of an older guy, but we just promoted him to Double-A. Good player, good athlete. Line drive stroke. Sometimes pitch selection gets him, but he’s doing fine.
Does he have a legitimate shot to be a fourth outfielder?

Abe Flores: Absolutely. Yes he does.

Pitching Looking at the pitching here, how is Orangel Arenas doing since the promotion.

Abe Flores:
Fine. He needs to continue to work on that breaking ball, though. It’s a little bit of a tweener right now. It’s in there, but he needs to come on and locate in the strike zone.
Chaffee when he first came back was unable to locate his pitches it seems, but now has been starting to get into a better groove. What’s going on with him?

Abe Flores: Just not letting the game speed up on him. Keeping his poise and staying under control. I don’t know how many adjectives I can throw at you regarding Chaffee—it’s not a lack of ability, it’s not a lack of stuff, it’s not a lack of athleticism. It’s just slowing the game down and staying within himself—not trying to do too much out there at times. How much of that is a function of him, how much of it is a function of the relationship between pitcher and catcher, and of course the coaches?

Abe Flores: It really starts with him getting himself under control. Obviously the catcher can help with that process, the staff can help with that process, but it starts with him. How pleased have you been with Patrick Corbin? He’s 10-1.

Abe Flores: Fine. You know the thing about Patrick is he has really improved his ability to fix himself on the fly. That was kind of an issue when we first signed him and when I saw him last year. Things would get away from him so far as mechanically and obviously would affect his command. And then innings and pitch counts would get really high and would get out of control. But he’s really made strides on that. He’s having a nice run. As a reliever, could you tell us about Jose Perez?

Abe Flores: Two pitch guy. I would say two average pitches, fastball, slider. Physical guy, who can show a plus fastball at times. It’s just good to get him back on the field.

Double-A Arkansas

Hitters Looking at Arkansas, what’s been going on with the offense, or lack of offense. It’s been like a team-wide collapse.

Abe Flores: It’s not so much a collapse. It’s a team-wide transition of a bunch of guys from Rancho going to Double-A and figuring it out and trying to figure it out and struggling with the higher level, which can happen anywhere along the line. Guys pressing at the plate, guys trying to do too much, guys being a little passive, guys struggling a little bit mentally. It’s a combination there from player to player to that group and some of them are starting to slowly come out if it, but it just takes time. The last time we spoke about Jeremy Moore, you described him as having some really raw but good tools. How would you describe him this year?

Abe Flores: A good player who is continuing to understand the game, understand himself, understand counts—especially the batter’s box, hopefully. I know that he can do a better job of not getting himself out. He can be his own worst enemy at the plate. Still very gifted. He’s really come on so far as the understanding of his game and executing and taking it onto the field. He’s come a long way—he really has. And to his credit. And the coaches’ credit, but to his credit too. He’s really busted his rear on making himself a good player. Can you tell us a little bit more about Andrew Romine and Ryan Mount? Both were named to the All-Star Game for Double-A.

Abe Flores: Mount has shown stretches where he has been very good offensively and then gone into funks. Just becoming more consistent at the plate, becoming more consistent on defense.

Abe Flores: So far as Andrew Romine, he’s been good, he’s been solid. There have been stretches where he has been really hot and good with the bat. He’s been really consistent. I thought he was really consistent with what his bat brings every day to a club. He’s just a good player. Defensively Eddie Bane described him as a plus defender.

Abe Flores: Yes he is. He can make every play. The one thing that you might debate is that this guy is not the rangiest guy, but he does make every play that you need to make at shortstop. What about Roberto Lopez—how is he doing since moving up?

Abe Flores: He’s scuffled. I think he definitely falls into that classic case that I mentioned about several guys trying to do too much at the plate, pressing. It snowballed. He’s trying to fight his way out of it. His at-bats are starting to improve. He’s starting to make more consistent hard contact. It’s just that learning curve of adjusting to a higher level with more efficient strike throwers.

Pitching What about Tyler Chatwood? Another one who had a tremendous start to the season in Single-A, but then struggled when he came up to Double-A.

Abe Flores: Well, he’s only had a couple of starts, so, that’s yet to be finally determined. The story is yet to be told, I think. Another guy who is trying to learn a new level. A gifted guy, a power arm. He will figure it out. He’s very competitive, very intelligent guy. I have no worries with him. Do you still see him as a front of the rotation type of pitcher?

Abe Flores: Yes, I do. I really do. How about Walden?

Abe Flores: Power arm, power stuff. Special stuff at times, especially when he challenges in the strike zone. He can overpower hitters very easily. It’s just a matter of keeping him healthy and keeping him on the field and getting those innings and experiences, as with any pitcher. He’s doing just fine. Is he likely to get a promotion this season?

Abe Flores: Yes, I think at some point. What about Daniel Cabrera? It made a little bit of buzz when the Angels signed him and assigned him to Double-A. Why did you assign him to Arkansas rather than Salt Lake?

Abe Flores: He hadn’t pitched in a while, so I wanted to break him in slowly. I didn’t just want to drop him in a higher competitive environment even though this guy is a little bit of a Major League veteran. Mark Russo deserves all the credit for signing him. He saw him pitch in the Dominican. He’s our International Supervisor. Liked him, saw the stuff, and he said that at some point he could possibly, possibly, help our Major League club, so let’s give him a chance. And so we’re starting him slowly in the bullpen. We’ll put him in as a starter, but we’ll probably see him more as a reliever for us, but we’ll probably roll him up at some point also. What about Robert Fish?

Abe Flores: Another power arm doing fine. Good stuff. Control can be an issue, but doing just fine. He’s making strides.

Triple-A Salt Lake

Hitters Going up to Salt Lake, what can you tell us about Mark Trumbo? Is he still an internal option? How legitimate is that at first base or in the outfield.

Abe Flores: He’s on the 40-man roster for a reason because he is an internal option. Whether the timing is right on that is yet to be determined. But he’s having a hell of a year. I’m really proud of that guy. He just keeps working and keeps improving and becoming a little bit more of a complete player. It’s all in front of Mark. He’s doing great. Will he go back to playing more right field soon?

Abe Flores: The plan for him was to play both positions when it allowed. And so, yes, we will continue to give him outfield reps. What’s the report on him in right field?

Abe Flores: He’s doing fine. No problems. What about Peter Bourjos?

Abe Flores: There were stretches where he was starting out slow, but Pete’s been doing fine. I think he’s picked up the last week and a half or so. So, he’s doing great. One scout who saw him said that “the hardest base to steal is first base” meaning that he wasn’t getting on enough as he needs to. Is there some plan or some way to improve in that?

Abe Flores: Well he understands it. It’s about his strike zone discipline and not chasing out of the strike zone with two strikes. He knows it, he’s aware of it. He’s working on it. It’s just a matter of executing it. What are the reports on Conger? How is he doing defensively?

Abe Flores: Good. Solid. No problems. Offensive-type catcher, having a good year. Is there anything that he really needs to work on or improve?

Abe Flores: Just some nuances on defense, being calm. Just being comfortable back there. Continuing to hone our pitcher/catcher relationship. Other things that I’m sure that Mike Scioscia has talked to him about or Tom Gregorio our rover has talked to him about. He’s moving along. He’s at a nice pace. He should be ready pretty soon here. What happens with someone like Paul McAnulty who was signed to be some offensive support and stabilization at Double-A and then got promoted to Triple-A? Would a player like that have a shot at more than cup of coffee in the Majors?

Abe Flores: Well you know, nobody ever knows how long somebody is going to be up there for. But yeah, if he continues to do, he might. He might push his way onto that roster. And really, when we sign these free agents, that’s what their responsibility is—to push their way onto that roster. Paul has done very, very well. We’ve asked some of things of Paul and he has never let us down. He’s done a great job. I’m really proud of him. When Brandon Wood went down to the Minors, can you tell us some of the things that he worked on?

Abe Flores: I think it was just a matter of getting him comfortable in the batter’s box. Getting him away from Anaheim, back in an environment where the light isn’t as bright. And so, I think it helped him. Obviously, he’s going to have his ups and downs. Right now he’s struggling at a lot of facets of his game. But he just still needs patience. He’s only had like 150 at bats this year or more. But still, patience. This guy has been doing it for a long with us. Sometimes everybody wants it on a quicker timeline than it can be. I still expect some things out of him. Darwin Perez was jumped up to Triple-A. Is anything special going on there?

Abe Flores: No. It’s just that we’ve had a rash of injuries, so he just went up there to give us some coverage. Nice player. He’s done great at Rancho. He’s really come. We’re just really short on players. Defensively: plus, solid?

Abe Flores: Plus defensive player. Very good hands, strong accurate arm. Quick exchanges. Line-drive swing, gap power.

Pitching What’s happened with Trevor Reckling? We’ve heard mechanics. We’ve heard that he’s been unable to repeat pitches and unable to put hitters away. Can you give us more insight into what happened with his season?

Abe Flores:
Well everything that you just said is true. It’s basically harnessing and honing and polishing his delivery. Getting back to where he was. Getting him down to a little bit of a lower level where he can work on those things and it would translate into some success on the field. But, he should be fine. He’s 20 years old. Another guy we need to be patient with him. At the same time, Will Smith is another young lefty who jumped from Single-A to Triple-A. We’ve heard that he’s picked up his velocity and has been doing better recently at Triple-A.

Abe Flores: We just sent him down to Double-A. He was only there [Triple-A] to fill in because of an emergency for a hurt player, but we have him back down to a level to where he should be for his development. He has picked up his velocity. He can pitch. Another guy who is 20 years old. It’s all in front of him.
What are the reports that you are getting on his velocity?

Abe Flores:
I think that when I saw him it was 89/90 to 92. Could be a shade below at 93. Nice breaking ball, good curve ball. Good changeup. Competitor. Smart. Could have a very good aptitude. A very, very good worker. Throws easy. What about Michael Kohn? He looks like he’s forcing his way up through the organization as a reliever.

Abe Flores: He’s had success at every level and so his time will come. He’s done very well. Is there anything additional that he should be working on, or keeping it up at the same level?

Abe Flores: He knows what he needs to work on. It’s continuing to improve his breaking ball—the action and the shape of it. Otherwise, he’s been a very good strike thrower. He’s been very poised in that role—the end of the game type role. He’s come a long way quite quickly. Overall, how would you assess the state of the farm?

Abe Flores: Solid. The thing with anybody or with any system, when you get a rash of injuries that you have enough players to cover for those clubs, but getting them right back as quick as you can at a level where they can continue to develop. But we’re very happy and very satisfied with the development. Really, the credit goes to our rovers and coaches who are with these players daily. And so, we’re very pleased with our players. If you were to spotlight any players who really stood out this season so far, who would it be?

Abe Flores: It would be Trumbo, Trout, Amarista, Corbin . . . There’s a bunch of them. I could keep going on and on. Chatwood, Kohn . . . Well, I don’t want to put you on the spot with this as an exhaustive list . . . At, we really appreciate your time on going over this with us. Our fans, and Angels fans everywhere want to know how the organization is doing and want to see how the players are developing. So, on behalf of and Angels fans everywhere, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Abe Flores: My pleasure. You are welcome.
Love to hear what you think!

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