Monday, May 9, 2011

Hot Prospects May 9th, 2011
By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

Talk about a rough week for the minor league teams! While the parent club went 4-3 against Boston and Cleveland, the Minor League clubs combined to go just 10-16. Two clubs, the Triple-A Bees and the Single-A IE 66ers both went 1-6 for the week. The Double-A Travelers went 3-3 and had a game postponed due to rain (yes, the rain still continues to be a factor in the Midwest). Finally, the Single-A Kernels provided the only bright spot on the farm by going 5-2 on the week. All-in-all, it was another tough week for the system.

1. Mike Trout, CF, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .304/.398/.565 with 5 HRs and 5 SBs

What’s Up: It’s hard to believe that this is the first time that Mike Trout has topped our Hot Prospect list this season. For the week he went 9/21 (.429) with a triple, a homerun and 2 SBs. Throw in 5 walks versus 2 strikeouts, and his OB% for the week was .538! Three things really stick out for Trout: his OB%, his SLG, and his apparent lack of stolen bases. In terms of his OB%, what sticks out is just how high it is. He’s 15th in the league in OB% playing against quality prospects 3-4 years older than him. As with his OB%, the thing that sticks out with his SLG again is how high it is. Trout ranks 14th in the Texas League for that stat while playing half of his games in a cavernous park. Finally, some fans might be a bit concerned about his apparent lack of stolen bases. The reason why it appears that Trout hasn’t stolen many bases is because of all the rainouts that have plagued Arkansas. With 5 stolen bases, Trout is tied for 11th in the league. Projecting his numbers out for a full season, and Trout is on pace for 25-30 SBs. Seeing how that also puts him on pace for 25-30 HRs, and it’s easy to see why he is considered to be a very special player.

2. Justin La Tempa, RHP, Low A CR Kernels
Overall: 1-0, 0 Saves, 2.55 ERA, 24.2 IP, 22 H, 7 BB, 29 K, 1.18 WHIP, .239 BAA

What’s Up: Last week we told you about the tandem of La Tempa and Tillman and let them share the spot together. This week, La Tempa earned his own spot on the Hot Prospect List. Tillman was on fire this week, pitching 9 IP combined in two games (1 start, 1 relief appearance). He held the opponents scoreless on just 2 hits and 1 walk. And, in the process, he struck out 15! Between La Tempa and Tillman, they struck out 29 batters in 18 IP, including 16 of the batters they faced on Sunday. Right now it appears that La Tempa does a better job when he comes in as a starter and Tillman does a better job when he comes in as a reliever. But that could just be a function of small sample sizes. It will be interesting to note if this trend continues for a prolonged period.

3. Darwin Perez, SS, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .295/.410/.455 with 1 HR and 6 SBs

What’s Up: In 2005, the Angels saw something in Darwin Perez when they signed him as a 16 year old out of Maracay, Venezuela. In Spring Training this year, they saw that again when they gave him several appearances in games and then moved him up to Double-A. As a 21 year-old, Perez is off to a great start. He’s showing more patience at the plate and improved defense. A switch hitter, Perez is torching righties to the tune of (.339/.443/.508). For the week he went 9/24 (.375)with 1 HR. With pressure building from below with Segura, and the slick fielding Andrew Romine providing depth above, it will be interesting to see how the Angels handle Perez. Most likely a tandem move will be made with Segura and Perez later this summer, with Romine splitting time at SS and 2B to improve his value as a backup MIFer.

4. Brian Diemer, RHP, Low A CR Kernels
Overall: 4-1, 0 Saves, 2.12 ERA, 29.2 IP, 28 H, 12 BB, 17 K, 1.31 WHIP, .246 BAA

What’s Up: A couple of weeks ago, we said that “when Diemer limits the amount of free passes that he allows, he is effective. How often he can do that will determine his ceiling.” Well, Diemer took that lesson to heart this week, allowing only 1 free pass in 13.0 IP. In the process he won 2 games on the week, striking out 8, and only allowing 2 ER on 11 hits. On the season, Diemer has made 5 starts and has won 4 of them. His only loss came in a game where he gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5.0 IP. With a strong rotation that includes Diemer, La Tempa, Russell, Tillman and others, it’s easy to see why the Kernels are off to a 22-10 record.

5. Alberto Rosario, C, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: .333/.425/.394 with 0 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: With Hank Conger showing daily why he should be the starting catcher for the parent club, the one question that may have prevented the Angels from trading Jeff Mathis is the concern that the organization doesn’t have many quality catchers at the upper levels. That may be changing as Alberto Rosario is showing the he can hit and play good defense. For the week, Rosario went 4/12 (.333). He also walked 5 times, for a .529 OB%! On the season, Rosario is throwing out 33% of opposing base runners. That’s a bit down from his career mark (set over 5 seasons with the Angels) of 45%. With Weaver’s apparent preference for Jeff Mathis as a catcher, the Angels won’t be too likely to trade him. But, with Conger’s vastly superior offense, he should be starting. When Rosario is ready for the challenge of Triple-A, the Angels may be willing to trade Wilson while keeping Mathis around to tutor and develop Conger as the frontline catcher.

6. Max Russell, LHP, Low A CR Kernels
Overall: 3-2, 0 Saves, 3.08 ERA, 38.0 IP, 38 H, 12 BB, 27 K, 1.32 WHIP, .248 BAA

What’s Up: If there’s one area where the Angels’ organization is a bit thin, it’s in quality left-handed starters. Thanks to some trades last summer, that went from being a source of strength to a source of weakness. Ranked by as the 3rd highest left-hander in the organization (34th overall) going into the 2011 season, Russell could move up on the depth chart. For the week, he went 2-0. In 14.0 IP, he only allowed 1 ER on a homerun. He limited the opposition to just 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 10. Like most lefties, Russell doesn’t overpower the hitters (he throws in the low 90s), and instead relies on his secondary pitches and location fool the batters.

7. Jeff Baisley, 3B, Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Overall: .404/.441/.746 with 9 HRs and 1 SB

What’s Up: The journeyman continued his torrid hitting on the season, going 10/25 (.400) with a double and 2 HRs. That places him second in the league for BA. He’s also tied for second in the PCL for SLG% and his combined OPS is third best in the league. With the bees struggling (going 2-11 for the past 2 weeks), Baisely has been one of the few bright spots for the team. At times, he’s seemed to be the main source of offense. Considering that he has driven in 29 of the team’s 157 RBIs and scored 31 of the teams 168 runs, that’s not a hard conclusion to make.

8. Robert Fish, LHP, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Overall: 0-0, 0 Saves, 1.86 ERA, 9.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.03 WHIP, .194 BAA

What’s Up: The ever moving saga of Robert Fish takes another step: unto our Hot Prospect List. Drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 draft out of Miller High School in San Bernadino, CA, Fish had been making steady progress up the Angels ladder. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, Fish was selected by the Yankees in the 2010 Rule V draft. During Spring Training in 2011, he was claimed off of waivers by the Kansas City Royals. And, by the end of Spring Training, he was returned to the Angels, who promptly assigned him to the Double-A team. With his hard heat, Fish can put batters away. But, in the past, his fastball did not have much movement and often was left up in the zone, resulting in it getting hit hard, and he struggled to command his offspeed pitches. Originally considered a starter, Fish has made the transition to the bullpen, where it appears he is off to a good start this year. With more continued success and development, Fish could get a shot as one of the better left-handed relieving prospects in the organization.

9. Rian Kiniry, OF, Single-A Inland Empire 66ers
Overall: .329/.382/.512 with 2 HRs and 4 SBs

What’s Up: It was hard to keep track of Kiniry on this season. That’s because in 23 games, he’s played at 3 different levels. He started at Double-A for 3 games, moved up to Triple-A for the next 8, and is now down at Single-A. It appears that he has found a home with the IE 66ers, as he went 11/28 (.393) with 2 triples and a homerun. He also stole 3 bases on the week. Kiniry has been with the Angels since 2006, when he was drafted in the 39th round. He’s shown a bit of speed (he stole 26 bases last year), but has struggled to get on base enough to take advantage of his speed (he has a career line of .251/.311/.328). Kiniry will most likely continue to move around the organization this year, filling the needs for a variety of clubs.

10. Dakota Robinson, LHP, Low A CR Kernels
Overall: 1-0, 0 Saves, 1.59 ERA, 17.0 IP, 11 H, 0 BB, 18 K, 0.65 WHIP, .177 BAA

What’s Up: With left-handers a bit in short supply in the Angels’ organization, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the few that remain. Drafted in the 26th round of the 2010 draft as a college senior, Dakota has been using exceptional control to put batters away. In 55.0 IP over his Minor League career, he has only allowed 12 walks while striking out 46. For a good article to learn more about Dakota Robinson and what his draft day was like, click here.
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