Monday, May 23, 2011
(Arkansas Travelers OF, Mike Trout)

Hot Prospects May 23rd, 2011
By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

Better. After two brutal weeks in the Minor Leagues (and for that matter, the Major Leagues) things are starting to turn around. The Triple-A Salt Lake Bees turned in their second week of .500 baseball going 3-3 for the week. The Double-A Travelers flipped their record from last week and went 4-3 to get into the winning ways. The Single-A 66ers won their first back-to-back wins in the month and went 3-4 on the week. And the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels limped along at 1-5. Still, there were plenty of standout performances. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Mike Trout, CF, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .308/.415/.538 with 6 HR and 9 SBs

What’s Up: On the surface, it appears to be a good, but not great week for Trout. That’s because he went 7/21 with a double, a triple, and 3 SBs. But, for those who like walks, consider this: Trout had 9 walks to go along with his 7 hits, giving him a .533 OB%! At 19 years old, he’s 4th in the Texas League in OB%. His 9 SBs ties him for 8th in the league and his.538 SLG% is 13th in the league. Overall, he’s 9th in the league in OPS. There’s not much more that needs to be said about Trout. He’s just that good.

2. Kyle Hurst, RHP, Single-A Inland Empire 66ers
Overall: 5-1, 0 Saves, 2.97 ERA, 39.1 IP, 41 H, 11 BB, 25 K, 1.32 WHIP, .263 BAA

What’s Up: Kyle Hurst has been off to a hot start this year. Originally at Double-A Arkansas, Hurst was sent down to Single-A as part of the injury bug reshuffling that the Angels organization underwent. For the week, Hurst accounted for 2/3rds of the 66ers’ wins. He went 2-0 in 13.0 scoreless innings, striking out 10 and only walking 4. Hurst lowered his ERA by two runs with his performance this week. Considering how much the 66ers have been struggling so far, Hursts’ performance this week was something special. Hurst will try and extend his win streak this Friday at home.

3. Ryan Mount, 2B/OF, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .308/.415/.538 with 6 HR and 9 SBs

What’s Up: Pairing up with Trout for the week was Ryan Mount. He’s returned to form as a 2B capable of putting up big numbers. For the week he went 8/23 (.348) with 2 doubles and a homerun. Mount has been batting throughout the heart of the Travelers’ order. His 23 RBIs are second on the club (behind Jimenez who has 25) and his 21 runs are also second on the club (behind Trout who has 28). It’s good to see that a Mount is healthy and putting together his best season since 2008.

4. Orangel Arenas, RHP, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 5-1, 0 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 42.2 IP, 39 H, 15 BB, 16 K, 1.27 WHIP, .244 BAA

What’s Up: For the past few years, Arenas is flying well below the radar. But, that might not last for much longer, especially if he has more weeks like this. On the week, Arenas went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, winning his one start of the week. Arenas is a ground ball specialist who is getting the job done. He’s generating a 2.24 GO/AO ratio with his fastball, slider, and changeup. While he isn’t striking out that many batters (3.38/9.0 IP), as Pineiro has shown, a pitcher can have success by controlling the zone and generating lots of ground balls. To that end, Arenas is doing exactly that. At just 22, Arenas is well in line for moving up as a prospect.

5. Trevor Reckling, LHP, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 1-6, 0 Saves, 3.69 ERA, 46.1 IP, 45 H, 15 BB, 32 K, 1.29 WHIP, .260 BAA

What’s Up: If there is one area where sabermetrics has made a big improvement to the understanding of the game, it’s in understanding how little a starter’s win/loss record reflects his performance or value to the team. By old-school measures, Reckling’s performance would be seen as continuation of his poor start in Triple-A last year. But, by modern measures, he’s made a dramatic improvement. The hits are down. The walks are down. The homeruns are down. In other words, he’s back on track. On the week, Reckling had his worst start of the year early in the week and then bounced right back to earn his first win on the season. Last year, the struggles seemed to pile up on Reckling as he fell into a tailspin at Triple-A. This year, he’s showing much more resiliency on the mound—something that will serve him well if he plays for Scioscia.

6. Carlos Ramirez, C, Single-A Inland Empire 66ers
Overall: .283/.397/.398 with 3 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: As if fans didn’t have enough reasons to go out and see the IE 66ers play, last week, they gained another one. That’s because Carlos Ramirez was promoted to the club from Cedar Rapids. Fans will want to see how he develops both offensively and defensively. Ramirez can crush the ball and is very patient at the plate. Defensively, he can throw runners out, having caught 35% of all opposing runners in his Minor League career. So far, Ramirez has been treating the fans in both areas. In two games, he’s gone 4/5 (.800) with 3 walks (.875 OB%) and thrown 2 out of 3 opposing base runners out. If you haven’t booked a trip out to Arrowhead Credit Union Park, you better plan one soon.

7. Jean Segura, SS, Single-A Inland Empire 66ers
Overall: .291/.357/.440 with 3 HRs and 16 SBs

What’s Up: Segura came back off of the Disabled List and immediately made an impact back on his club. He slugged a homerun in his first game back! So far this season, Segura has been posting some numbers that are sure to appeal to Scioscia. With runners on, he’s hitting .371 in 70 ABs. With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .417 and 14 RBIs. What the Angels would give for that in their lineup. For the week, he went 5/17 with 1 homerun, 2 doubles, and 1 stolen base. Having Segura back in their lineup should be a big boost to the overall team’s performance.

8. Max Russell, LHP, Low-A CR Kernels
Overall: 4-2, 0 Saves, 2.39 ERA, 52.2 IP, 42 H, 19 BB, 39 K, 1.16 WHIP, .213 BAA

What’s Up: This week the Kernels received several good pitching performances. But, for the week, Russell’s efforts were a little bit better. He went 1-0 in two starts, pitching 14.2 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 4 hits and 7 walks. He struck out 11 along the way and generated a bunch of ground balls. While the walks are a bit of a concern on the year, his overall numbers are well worth being pleased about. In 9 starts this season, he’s made 7 quality appearances, going at least 6.0 IP and holding the opposition to 3 or fewer earned runs. He’s definitely working his way up the depth chart.

9. Gabe Jacobo, 1B, AA Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .467/.467/.513 with 0 HRs and 0 SBs

What’s Up: Gabe’s season didn’t begin until this past week. But, he’s making up for lost time, going 4/15 with a double in his first four games. The former Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for the Angels is picking up right where last year left off. This year, Jacobo has to answer two big questions. First, can he develop enough plate discipline to a productive Major League first baseman? Second, is his power legitimate? Although he hit 22 homeruns last year, he played in the hitter friendly Cal League, so, Arkansas may present an entirely different challenge for him. Defensively, Jacobo can play the position at a Major League level. The question now is can he play it offensively at the same level? 

10. The Veterans at Salt Lake

Jeff Baisley, 3B, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .356/.403/.620 with 10 HRs and 1 SB

Ronald Bay, RHP, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: 2-2, 0 Saves, 4.30 ERA, 46.0 IP, 61 H, 10 BB, 25 K, 1.87 WHIP, .326 BAA

Eric Junge, RHP, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: 2-2, 0 Saves, 3.67 ERA, 54.0 IP, 49 H, 16 BB, 33 K, 1.20 WHIP, .253 BAA

Gil Velazquez, SS, Class Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .370/.437/.529 with 2 HRs and 5 SBs

What’s Up: With so many of the younger players from Triple-A already up on the Major League roster, it’s been up to a collection of journeymen to hold the team together. Luckily for the Bees veterans such as Baisley, Bay, Junge, and Velazquez have been there to pick up the slack. All of these guys are a bit long in the tooth to be considered Top Prospects, but all of these guys are clearly playing some of the best baseball of their careers. For the week, Baisely went 7/19 (.368), Bay went 1-0 with 10 Ks in 13.0 IP, Junge went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA, and Velazquez went 8/19 (.421). Without these guys stepping up, things would be much worse for Salt Lake. You have to respect these guys playing for love of the game.
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