Monday, April 25, 2011

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

As the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours. While Boston rained on the Angels’ weekend in Anaheim, many of the Minor League franchises battled inclement weather forcing many double-headers and postponed games. In spite of it all, most of the Minor League franchises did really well. The Triple-A Bees went 6-1 on the week. The Double-A Travelers went 2-2 and had three games postponed due to rain. The Single-A 66ers went 2-4 for the week, including losing 3 games in a row in which they allowed more than 10 runs. Finally, the Single-A Kernels went 5-1 on the week, a week in which they played 2 double headers, and 3 double-headers in 8 days (going back to April 17th). All-in-all, it was a tough week without too many standout performances. These are the Top-10 that caught our eye.

1. Alexi Amarista, 2B, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .455/.483/.673 with 2 HRs and 3 SBs

What’s Up: If you like what Izturis brings to the top of the Angels’ lineup, but don’t like his propensity for injuries, you might want to check out Alexi Amarista. Similar in stature, they both act as catalysts at the top of the lineup. For the week, Amarista went 14/32 (.438) with 4 doubles and 2 SBs. He also had 4 walks and only 6 Ks to sport an even .500 OB%. If Izturis is going to be out for a prolonged period, one option for the Angels could be to move Kendrick to 1B, play Amarista at 2B, and work Trumbo into the DH rotation to help generate more offense from the top of the lineup. Amarista, after all, has hit at every level he’s played, with a career BA of .325 in the Minors.

2. Jeff Baisely, 3B, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .439/.473/.742 with 4 HRs and 0 SBs

What’s Up: It’s hard to believe that a 10/25 week (.400) could lower a player’s average on the season, but that’s exactly what happened to Baisely. With 2 doubles and a triple (.560), his SLG also decreased. Baisely’s best game of the week came on April 18th, when he went 5 for 6 with a double and a triple, falling just 1 HR short of hitting for the cycle. Baisely’s .439 BA is second in the PCL to his teammate Alexi Amarista. So, it’s fitting that they should lead off our Hot Prospect list. Now that Brandon Wood is no longer in the picture, the Angels may need to call upon Baisely at some point this season to provide depth at 3B.

3. Trevor Reckling, LHP, Class Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 0-2, 0 Saves, 2.30 ERA, 15.2 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 11 K, 1.09 WHIP, .250 BAA

What’s Up: It’s been a long time since Trevor Reckling was a regular feature on the weekly Hot Prospect List. That may be changing as he’s starting off the season with back-to-back appearances on it. Don’t pay attention to the record (Reckling got the loss in a shortened game). Look at the peripherals. The walks are way down from last year. The hits are way down from last year. As a result, the ERA is way down from last year. More importantly, he’s being consistent from start to start. He’s keeping the ball down low in the zone, generating more groundouts. All of that will lead to continued success for him. As the top lefthander in the organization, there is a path open for him if he can continue to maintain his mechanics and deliver comparable performances.

4. Carlos Ramirez, C, Class Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Overall: .265/.458/.471 with 2 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: Catchers don’t get as many ABs in a week as other players. Add in some rainouts, and it adds up to a 3/9 week at the plate with 1 HR. What doesn’t get noticed is that he had 4 walks, giving him a .538 OB%. For his Minor League career, Ramirez has a .280/.405/.475 line, which includes last year, where he struggled mightily at the plate. Defensively, Ramirez has thrown out 37% of opposing base runners in his career. A future combination of Conger and Ramirez would be a mighty improvement to the lineup from the catching position.

5. Garrett Richards, RHP, Class Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 1-0, 0 Saves, 4.24 ERA, 17.0 IP, 17 H, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.41 WHIP, .274 BAA

What’s Up: With few games to play on the week due to the weather, Richards delivered a quality start in his one game on the week. He went 8.0 IP allowing just 2 ERs on 10 hits, striking out 4 and walking no one. At just 22 years old, he is right on track for his development. With the success that Chatwood has shown, and with the likely return of Pineiro, there is no need to accelerate his development. With potentially 4 plus-quality pitches, Richards needs to continue to control the zone, keep the ball down, and generate ground outs. If he continues to do so, he could earn a late season promotion to Triple-A where he will try to force his way into the Major League rotation.

6. Jeremy Moore, OF, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .338/.352/.544 with 1 HR and 2 SBs

What’s Up: Another fine week for Jeremy Moore. He went 9/28 (.322) with a double, a triple and 6 RBIs. Right now, plate discipline is a bit of a concern for him. He only has 2 BBs in 16 games, whereas he’s struck out 19 times. While walks have never been a major part of Moore’s game, we expect that as Moore adjusts more to the advanced league, he’ll do much better. Over the course of the 2010 season, Moore adjusted throughout the year, and we expect him to continue to do so in Triple-A.

7. Daniel Tillman, RHP, Class Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Overall: 2-0, 0 Saves, 2.92 ERA, 12.1 IP, 7 H, 9 BB, 12 K, 1.30 WHIP, .167 BAA

What’s Up: It appears that the Angels are going to give Tillman a shot at becoming a starter. It will take time for them to stretch out his arm to take the regularity of pitching 6+ innings every 5 days. A standout reliever in Orem last year, Tillman ranked as #16 on the 2011 Top Prospects for the organization. As a starter, he could make a strong case to move up into the upper rankings as he harnesses a mid-90s fastball and sharp slider. In his one start on the week, Tillman pitched 5 innings, struck out 5, allowed only 2 hits and walked 3. As he adjusts to life in the rotation, we expect that the amount of walks that he allows will decrease and he’ll continue to dominate the competition.

8. Brian Diemer, RHP, Class Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels
Overall: 1-1, 0 Saves, 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 9 BB, 5 K, 1.63 WHIP, .233 BAA

What’s Up: Diemer won his only start of the week (thanks to the rainouts) pitching 6.0 innings, allowing only 5 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 3. Drafted in the 6th round last year, Diemer showed that he can limit the opposition when he controls the strike zone. In 2010, Diemer allowed less than 1 H/IP (40/44.1) and struck out more than 1 batter per IP (45/44.1). However, he also allowed 30 BBs in 44.1 IP, which resulted in a 5.48 ERA. When Diemer limits the amount of free passes that he allows, he is effective. How often he can do that will determine his ceiling.

9. Tyson Auer, OF, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .286/.342/.357 with 0 HRs and 5 SBs

What’s Up: Auer has a good shot to make it onto the Angels bench in the future as a replacement OFer and pinch runner. He has the speed to be a legitimate threat, having stolen 54 bags in 2010. But, he also needs to pick his spots better, as he was caught 20 times (73% success rate). If he can become effective at bunting, he has the defensive skills to play in the Major Leagues. Primarily a CF, he has experience in the corners. If Willits continues to struggle, particularly on running the bases, Auer could be next in line for the job.

10. Amalio Diaz, RHP, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: 3-0, 0 Saves, 0.57 ERA, 15.2 IP, 10 H, 5 BB, 12 K, 0.96 WHIP, .200 BAA

What’s Up: With the way things go for the Angels with their bullpen, it won’t surprise if Diaz earns a cup of coffee at some point in the season. For the week he went 2-0 throwing 6.2 IP, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk and striking out 5. Signed by the Angels as a non-drafted free agent in 2003, Diaz has been making the climb to the Majors as a starter. Converted into a reliever in the middle of 2009, he’s continuing to advance as a reliever who can go multiple innings. More weeks like this will help him earn that shot at the Majors.
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