Saturday, May 19, 2012

By Scott Stedman - Minor League Reporter

Salt Lake Bees - The Bees went 3-2 over their last 5 games, an improvement over what the Bees had been doing.  The positives: Garrett Richards had somewhat of a bounce back performance on Monday.  He went 7 IP allowing just 2 ER and 4 hits.  However he did walk 5 batters and only struck out 2.  His ERA for the season stands at 4.33.  Also, Anaheim native Kevin Jepsen has looked sharp lately.  He has tossed 3 scoreless appearances in a row, with his fastball reaching the upper 90's.  Offensively, Luis Jimenez has jumped his average to .283 and his OPS to .800.  However if Jimenez yearns to be a starting third-baseman in the big leagues, he needs to improve his plate discipline.  He has only walked 4 times this season.  Unfortunately,  left-handed starter Brad Mills has cooled off significantly after a blazing start.  On Thursday, Mills gave up 5 ER and 8 hits in just 6 innings of work.  His ERA has ballooned to 3.76 and opposing batters are hitting .268 against him.

Arkansas Travelers - The Travs' went a disappointed 2-4 this week, dropping to last place in the Texas League standings.  Even during this tough stretch, there have been some bright spots.  Catcher Carlos Ramirez has turned it on, after a very rough start to the season.  In May, the 24-year-old Ramirez is hitting .325 with an .814 OPS.  Defensively, Ramirez is as smooth as they come, and has a cannon for an arm.  In his minor league career, Ramirez has thrown out 33% of would-be basestealers.  On Wednesday, Dominican starter Ariel Pena was absolutely dominant.  He struck out 8 Springfield batters in 6 innings, surrendering just 1 run and 3 hits.  Pena, who turns 23-years-old on Sunday, has struck out 46 batters in 46 innings, and walked just 17.  The Angels signed Pena out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.  Out of the bullpen, 2 pitchers have come up big for the Travs.  Steve Geltz has pitched to the tune of a 0.47 ERA, and lefty Drew Taylor has had 5 scoreless appearances in a row, lowering his ERA to 3.94.  The 25-year-old Taylor has only walked 4 batters this year, and has shown devastating stuff as the set up man.

Inland Empire 66ers - The 66ers had a very rough week, winning just 1 of their 5 contests.  Offensively, the beast has awoken.  After a poor April, the Angels 2011 1st round draft pick C.J. Cron has hit .349 with a .914 OPS in the month of May.  With Cron's power potential, it could be extremely fun to watch him rake in the Cal League, which is a notorious hitters league.  On Tuesday, Max Russell tossed a gem against the Lake Elsinore Storm.  He went shutout 9 innings, striking out 5, and allowing just 5 hits.  Unfortunately he got the no decision, as the game went into extra frames.  Russell could be described as a soft tossing lefty, but he can be very successful if he keeps the ball down in the zone, yielding a ton of ground balls.  The 66ers closer Ryan Chaffee has been nothing short of great.  His ERA has plummeted to 1.56 to go along with his 24 strike outs in 17 innings of work.  The 6'2" righty closer out of Marianna, FL celebrated his 24th birthday today.

Cedar Rapids Kernels -  The Kernels have turned it around this week, going 3-2.  Starter Austin Wood has continued to baffle hitters, putting up ridiculous strikeout numbers.  Through 37 innings,  Wood has struck out 45 batters!  While his command has sometimes been off (23 walks), he can dial his fastball up to 98 MPH, and has a devastating slider.  If he can keep this kind of dominance up, look for Wood to soar to the top of nearly every Angels prospect list.  Ty Kelley, an undrafted free agent signing in 2010, has thrived in the Kernels bullpen.  Kelley, a 6'4 220 physical pitcher, hasn't allowed a run in his last 15 innings, and has only walked 4 batters all season.  Overall, he has a 1.31 ERA with 24 Ks in 21 innings.  On the offensive side of the ball, not much to report.

Prospect of the week:  SP Austin Wood
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