Friday, June 8, 2012

By Scott Stedman - Minor League Reporter

Salt Lake Bees - The Bees have won 4 out of their last 6 and their pitching has led the way.  AngelsWin's #7 prospect, Matt Shoemaker has really found a groove after a rough start.  In his last 4 starts, the 25-year-old out of Shoemaker has a 1.97 ERA with 17 Ks and just 3 BBs.  He has now lowered his WHIP to 1.42.  Elsewhere in the rotation, veteran Greg Smith has been more that solid since joining the Bees.  You may recall Smith, who had a good rookie year for the A's in 2008 with a 4.16 ERA and 111 Ks.  Now, the 28-year-old southpaw is posting a 3.19 ERA with the Bees with 29 K's and just 10 BBs.  Reliever Steve Geltz recently moved from AA Arkansas to Salt Lake, and has put up 2 scoreless outings thus far, striking out 2.  Last night (Thursday), Geltz was clocked at 101 MPH on the radar gun.  Sometimes the gun up in Salt Lake is a little wacky, but it definitely gives you an idea of how filthy Geltz is.  Third-baseman Luis Jimenez from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is hitting .316 in his last 10 games, tallying most of the offense.

Arkansas Travelers -
The Travelers have been really scuffling lately, winning just 2 games in the last week.  Starting pitchers AJ Schugel and Ariel Pena, as well as catcher Carlos Ramirez have done their best to keep the team afloat.  Ramirez, who started brutally slow, hit .324 in May, and .324 in his last 10 games.  His bat, coupled with his great arm behind the plate could make for a bright future for Ramirez.  AJ Schugel has lowered his ERA to 3.13 after 2 great starts in a row.  The 22-year-old, who stands 6'1" 190, has struck out 52 batters but also walked 31.  To become a highly regarded prospect, Schugel needs to improve his control.  Finally, Ariel Pena has been absolutely lights out for the Travs' lately.  I can't say enough about Pena's potential with the Angels.  He sits in the mid 90s with his fastball, controls the best slider in the organization, and a hard change up in the 85-89 range which has been getting a lot of strike outs this season.  After Friday's start, he has 71 Ks in 69 innings.  I expect to see Pena in Anaheim sometime this season. 

Inland Empire 66ers - Although Inland Empire is just 3-4 in their last 7, the offense has been on fire.  2011 first-rounder C.J. Cron has left me at a loss for adjectives over how great he has been in the last month and a half, so I'll just use numbers.  After hitting .202 in April, Cron hit .351 in May with a .942 OPS, and is hitting .394 in June with a 1.170 OPS.  You would like to see Cron walk more though, as he has totaled just 9 free passes this year.  Outfielders Travis Witherspoon and Randal Grichuk have also been swinging hot bats.  Witherspoon, a former 12th round pick, is a player who flashes all 5 tools at times.  This year he is hitting .320 with 6 HRs and 3 triples to go along with 23 stolen bases.  Angels fans could see him in Anaheim sometime in 2013.  Grichuk, the 20-year-old former first round selection, is hitting .385 in his last 10 games, and continues to show a very strong arm in right field.  Not much to report from the pitching side.  Nick Maronde and Fabio Martinez are still on the DL.

Cedar Rapids Kernels - The Kernels are really hitting a rough patch here in June.  They have dropped 5 of their last 6.  For this update, I'm going to focus on the bullpen.  Ty Kelley and Stephen Tromblee have locked down the back end of the game for Cedar Rapids.   Tromblee, a 23-year-old southpaw out of Bernardo, TX, has a 1.65 ERA this year, and opponents are hitting just .213 against him.  Ty Kelley, the closer, has a 1.24 ERA with 27 Ks and 7 BBs.  Hopefully the Kernels will turn it around, and start getting some W's!

DSL Notes:
The DSL kicked off this week.  Here are some names to watch for, and their current numbers:

- RHSP Arjenis Fernandez (18): 10 IP 1 ER 7 Ks.  Look for him to move quickly in the system as the organization is very high on him.

- LHSP Ivan Melo (17):  4 IP 0 ER 2 Ks.  Biggest asset is his huge curveball.
- C Gabriel Santana (16!!):  Hitting .538, defense a work in progress.
- OF Ranyelmy Mendoza (18):  Hitting .316/.409 OBP
Love to hear what you think!

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