Monday, May 16, 2011

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

Ugggh!!!! Another brutal week for the organization. Combined, the Angels’ Minor League affiliates went a combined 9-19. Last week’s gem, the Cedar Rapids Kernels went 0-6. One of last week’s underperformers, the Salt Lake Bees turned in the best record for the organization with a 4-4 record. The Double-A Travelers came in second best with a 3-4 record. And the Single-A 66ers continued to limp along at a 2-4 clip. Still, there were plenty of standout performances. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Andrew Romine, SS,  AAA Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .291/.336/.342 with 1 HR and 9 SBs

What’s Up: If the Angels weren’t loaded with MIFers playing around the diamond, Romine would be already up on the parent club as a backup player. Defensively, he is ready for prime time and can play both 2B and SS capably. Scouts rave about his defense. On the week, he split time between both positions, often alternating the positions on back-to-back games. While he’s not noted for his bat, this week he was on a tear, going 13/27 with 6 SBs! If anything should happen to Izturis or Trumbo (forcing Kendrick to 1B full-time), expect to see Romine up in the Majors. He’s earned a shot for a job in the big leagues.

2. Garrett Richards, RHP, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 3-1, 0 Saves, 4.09 ERA, 44.0 IP, 34 H, 17 BB, 35 K, 1.16 WHIP, .219 BAA

What’s Up: Richards had been struggling for a few starts, which is why he hasn’t appeared on here for a few weeks. But, yesterday (Sunday) he pitched a gem to remind us why he is an elite prospect. On the game, he pitched 8.0 shutout innings, holding the opposition to just 2 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 9 to earn the win. At 22, there’s no need to rush him. He needs to work the kinks out still in Double-A. That way, his stay in Triple-A won’t be nearly as long, and his stay in the Majors will be very long.

3. Mike Trout, CF, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .303/.386/.549 with 1 HR and 9 SBs

What’s Up: Ho hum, another typical week from Trout. For the week he went 9/30 with 3 doubles, 1 HR, and 1 SB. That translates to a .300/.344 /.467 line. It seems that Trout is consciously trying to increase his power at the expense of some OB%. For the season he has 15 BBs to 25 Ks. That’s a bit of an increase over last year, in which he posted a 73:85 BB:K ratio. But, his SLG has jumped from .490 last year to .549 this year. Sacrificing a bit of OB% for a bigger jump in SLG will be worth it in the long run since he will continue to mature as a hitter and add to both stats as he develops. It’s going to be very hard getting used to ho-hum weeks like this from Trout in a year or two in the Majors.

4. Darwin Perez, SS, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .302/.419/.453 with 1 HR and 6 SBs

What’s Up: You have got to love that high OB% for a MIFer! For the week, Perez went 6/18 (.333). He also had 5 walks (and only 3 Ks), giving him an OB% for the week of .478%! the jury is still out on Perez. He’s going to have to fight hard to overtake Amarista and Segura as the premier MIF talent as well as fight to take a spot away from Aybar and Kendrick. As a young 21-year old, he has time to continue and develop as a prospect. With more weeks like this, he place himself on the depth chart.

5. Chris Scholl, RHP, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 0-0, 0 Saves, 1.74 ERA, 20.2 IP, 10 H, 7 BB, 17 K, 0.82 WHIP, .143 BAA

What’s Up: With the Angels’ Major League bullpen costing the team many wins, it’s good to keep an eye on all relievers on the farm. However, looking at them week to week creates a problem as one bad inning really hurts their numbers. So, just look at how good Scholl is doing over the season and realize that he’s been pitching like this for several years now. He throws a low 90s fastball with excellent control and has improved his secondary offerings. If the guys at the Major League level continue to struggle, look for the Angels to start shaking things up and moving up those relievers like Scholl with demonstrated track records of getting the job done.

6. Eddie McKiernan, RHP, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 1-3, 0 Saves, 5.19 ERA, 26.0 IP, 26 H, 4 BB, 18 K, 1.15 WHIP, .252 BAA

What’s Up: Like with any workout program, the process for converting from a reliever to a starter is not an easy or path. It won’t always be a linear progression. But, this week, McKiernan took a big step on the road pitching his best game of the season as a starter. He pitched 7 strong innings, allowing only 3 hits, one earned run, and no walks. In the process, he struck out 7. While his numbers for the season aren’t spectacular, he is making progress (he hasn’t allowed a walk since April 22nd) on something that will hopefully make him a much more valuable prospect.

7. Max Russell, LHP, Low-A CR Kernels
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 2.60 ERA, 45.0 IP, 39 H, 15 BB, 36 K, 1.20 WHIP, .227 BAA

What’s Up: Apparently the curse of Friday the 13th didn’t strike Russell, as he pitched another great game on the day. While he didn’t get the win, he threw 7.0 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, and 3 walks. He struck out 9 in the game. At 22, Russell is a little bit advanced for his league. And, with the way he’s dominating, he could be a candidate for an early season promotion to the IE 66ers. As a college draftee, he could be moved a little more quickly through the system as he demonstrates his skills.

8. Luis Jimenez, 3B, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .284/.344/.414 with 2 HRs and 6 SBs

What’s Up: The Angels have been playing without a traditional third baseman for years now. But, that could change as Jimenez continues to develop. Jimenez has the power to hit 20 HRs in a season, along with 40 doubles. He has the defense to handle the position and last year played for the World Team in the Futures game. One reason why the Angels may not have been as aggressive in bidding for Adrian Beltre this offseason is because of the emergence of Jimenez as a prospect. For the week, he went 8/24 (.333) with 4 doubles (.500 SLG%) and 1 SB.

9. Mike Piazza, RHP, Class A IE 66ers
Overall: 0-1, 0 Saves, 1.54 ERA, 23.1 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 27 K, 0.86 WHIP, .150 BAA

What’s Up: When the Angels decide to make some moves with the Major League bullpen, it will set off a wave of corresponding moves throughout the organization. One player who is on the cusp of a promotion is Mike Piazza. He is dominating in a hitter’s league. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 26th. Signed as an undrafted free agent, he fits the mold of other non-drafted free agents such as Geltz and Berg, all of whom are having plenty of success.

10. Travis Witherspoon, CF, Low-A CR Kernels
Overall: .246/.308/.373 with 3 HRs and 20 SBs

What’s Up: Witherspoon has gone cold for a while. That’s mostly due to his lack of plate discipline. He’s struck out 34 times so far on the season and only walked 8 times. For the week, he went 7/23 (.304) with 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 stolen bases. When he gets on, he makes the most of his time on base. His speed can be a game changer. But, he needs to refine his plate discipline in order to continue to evolve as a prospect.
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