Saturday, May 12, 2012

By Scott Stedman - Minor League Reporter
Salt Lake Bees - The Salt Lake Bees have have struggled since the losses of Mike Trout, Alexi Amarista and Jorge Cantu.  Overall, they are 18-19 on the season, good for 3rd place in the Pacific Coast League.  Offensively, the Bees have been led by Andrew Romine, Kole Calhoun and the veteran Ryan Langerhans.  Andrew Romine, the versatile 26-year-old infielder is hitting .333 in 132 at bats with 11 stolen bases.  In the field, Romine has helped manager Keith Johnson by making appearances at second and third base, as well as a number of starts at short stop.  Outfielder Ryan Langerhans, who signed a minor league deal with the Angels in the off season, has been perhaps the Bees most valuable player.  He is hitting .283 with an incredible .442 OBP!  Couple that with his 12 extra-base-hits, and you get a .920 OPS for Langerhans.  Another outfielder for the Bees who has been nothing but great is 24 year old Kole Calhoun.  The Angels got a good look at him in Spring Training, and liked what they saw, so they made Kole skip Double-A.  Calhoun, an 8th round pick out of ASU in 2010, has exceeded expectations at every level in which he has played.  This year, he is once again hitting over .300, with a .867 OPS and terrific outfield defense.  On the flip side of the ball, the pitchers have let down Salt Lake.  Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards have struggled mightily, each posting a WHIP in the 1.6 range.  Perhaps the only positive for the Bees' pitching staff is 24-year-old closer, Ryan Brasier.  Brasier has posted a 1.32 ERA and has struck out 19 in his 13 2/3 innings of work this year. 

Arkansas Travelers - The Travs' have struggled mightily in 2012 so far, posting a 14-21 record.  The pitching for Arkansas has kept them in most of the games, but the offense has had a hard time producing runs.  A.J. Schugel has anchored the rotation with a 3.20 ERA and a .222 batting average against (BAA).   The 22-year-old Schugel relies on the ground ball and pitching to contact.  Also, although his ERA may not show it (4.46) Ariel Pena has improved leaps and bounds from his last campaign.  Pena, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday next week, has his WHIP down to 1.21 from last year's 1.58.  Earlier in spring, Mike Scioscia raved about Pena's mound presence, so it would not surprise me to see him in September this year.  In the bullpen, Steve Geltz and Eddie McKiernan have shined.  Geltz, a 23-year-old power righty, has a 0.00 ERA and 23 Ks in 16 IP, and McKiernan has a 0.45 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP.  Offensively, the lone bright spot seems to be Jean Segura.  Segura, the Angels 3rd best prospect according to Angelswin, has turned it on for the Travs' as of late.  In May, he is hitting .347 to raise his overall average to .289.  The speedy shortstop has stolen 14 bags this year in his age 22 season.  With Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick locked up long-term, Segura looks to be trade bait unless he can outperform one of the two aforementioned veterans in the coming years.

Inland Empire 66ers - Inland Empire is full of exciting young prospects, and has compiled a .500 record thus far.  Nick Maronde was dominating hitters before he went on the DL with a lat injury.  The former Florida closer has a 2.83 ERA and 35 Ks compared to just 9 BBs.  At any rate, Maronde could rise to be on national top prospect lists if he keeps this kind of performance up.  Closer Ryan Chaffee has been a man among boys this year, as evidenced by his 1.76 ERA and .180 BAA.  Last year was historically bad for Chaffee, so hopefully something has clicked for the tall right-hander this year.  Travis Witherspoon, an outfielder who turned 23 in April, has scouts drooling over his tools.  His power/speed combo is something rarely seen in prospects.  'Spoon is hitting .291 with a .776 OPS and 13 stolen bases after 36 games of play.  Second baseman Taylor Lindsey, 2011's Pioneer League MVP, is hitting .286 with 9 walks.  Last year, he drew just 13 walks in the whole season, so hopefully this is a sign of improved plate discipline.  A former supplemental 1st round pick, Lindsey is still just 20 years of age.

Cedar Rapids Kernels - Cedar Rapids has had a hard time putting runs on the board, starting the 2012 season 15-21.  The only exciting offensive player for the Kernels has been third-baseman Kaleb Cowart.  Cowart, the Angels first round selection from the 2010 draft, has blasted 7 home runs already this year, which leads the whole Angels organization.  The 19-year-old Cowart has an OPS just below .800 in the Midwest League, a league notoriously difficult for power hitters.  If he continues to progress, it looks like Cowart may be an exciting player for the Angels.  Pitching wise, the Kernels have consistently gotten good performances from Austin Wood and Michael Clevinger.  Wood, a 6th round pick in last year's June draft has K'd 38 batters in 32 innings and put up a 3.66 ERA in his 7 starts.  A very physical pitcher, the 21-year-old Wood challenges hitters with a mid-90s fastball and sharp breaking pitch.  Clevinger, another 21-year-old righty, has posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP.  A 4th round pick in 2011 out of Seminole CC, Clevinger can pump his fastball in the upper 90s.  Wood and Clevinger look like very promising power pitchers, and could move up the ladder rather quickly in the Angels system.

Updates on top 10 prospect according to

1. Mike Trout (CF) - Angels leadoff man.  He's okay.
2. Garrett Richards (RHP) (AAA) - 4.66 ERA, 1.58 WHIP.
3. Jean Segura (SS) (AA) - Hitting .289, 14 stolen bases.
4. John Hellweg (RHP) (AA) - 4.84 ERA, having control problems again.
5. C. J. Cron (1B) (A+) - Hitting .254, limited power.
6. Taylor Lindsey (2B) (A+) - Hitting .286, improved discipline, but worrisome defense.
7. Matt Shoemaker (RHP) (AAA) - 6.86 ERA.
8. Luis Jimenez (3B) (AAA) - .277 average with .792 OPS.
9. Kole Calhoun (OF) (AAA) - Hitting .305 with 69 total bases, and outstanding defense.
10. Kaleb Cowart (3B) (A) - Hitting .265 with 7 HRs.
Love to hear what you think!

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