Saturday, June 16, 2012

By Scott Stedman - Minor League Reporter

Salt Lake Bees - After winning 5 in a row, the Bees have now dropped 4 straight.  In the rotation, the veteran Greg Smith has led the way after a promotion from Double-A Arkansas on May 13th.  On Tuesday, the 28-year-old southpaw tossed 7 beautiful innings, surrendering just 1 earned run while striking out 5.  In 43.2 innings since joining the Bees, Smith has a 2.89 ERA with spectacular WHIP of 1.17 which is quite remarkable for being in the Pacific Coast League.  In the bullpen, Steve Geltz has been lights out since being called up from Arkansas.  The 24-year-old Geltz has pitched 6 innings with Salt Lake, giving up 1 hit, 0 runs, and striking out 7.  There is no doubt that Geltz will be the next name that the Angels call on if a bullpen arm is needed.  Outfielder Kole Calhoun is hitting .400 since being sent back down from the Halos.  Calhoun, who joined the Angels' system in 2010, will turn 25-years-old in October.           

Arkansas Travelers - The Travs' have hit a bit of a skid lately, losing 4 out of their last 6 and 8 out of 10.  However, co-aces AJ Schugel and Ariel Pena have continued to absolutely dazzle.  When you think about it, they couldn't be much more different.  Schugel was born in Highlands Ranch, CO, Pena in Los Jovillos, Dominican Republic.  Schugel has been consistent in getting quietly getting outs.  Pena has been the pitcher with crazy stuff, but not the performance to match it.  However this year, they have teamed up at the top of the Travs' rotation.  After his 7 inning, 1 run performance on Monday, Schugel lowered his ERA to 2.96 and BAA to .219.  The last step for Schugel to take before becoming a big time prospect is to lower his walk rate.  In 76 innings this year, he has walked 34.  Ariel Pena has absolutely turned a corner in his career.  Not only does he have a 3.01 ERA with 74 strikeouts, his BB/9 rate of 3.2 is by far the lowest of his career.  On Wednesday, Pena tossed a complete game 1 run performance.  It was his 3rd complete game since coming to the United States in 2009.  Lead-off man Jean Segura has picked it up of late, hitting .324 in his last 9 games.  However, he has already committed 12 errors at shortstop.

Inland Empire 66ers -
The 66ers have also been struggling, with just 2 wins in their last 7 contests.  But, California League All-Star center fielder Travis Witherspoon has remained crazy hot.  The 23-year-old speedster it hitting .333 in his last 10 games, and .319 overall with 25 stolen bases.  Witherspoon, a 5-tool talent, has amassed 33 walks this season bringing his OBP to .399.  First baseman/DH C.J. Cron has been blazing hot after his poor April.  In June, Cron is hitting a stunning .359 with a .972 OPS, and in his last 10, Cron has been even better hitting .400 with a 1.032 OPS.  Some believed that Cron was the best bat in the 2011 draft, when the Angels selected him 17th overall.  Outfielder Randal Grichuk, who is still just 20-years-old, has been raking lately.  In his last 15 games, Grichuk is hitting .306 with an OPS of .871.  The last part of Grichuk's game that may need some work is his patience at the plate.  His OBP is still sub .300 and he has only walked 10 times this year.  If he figures it out in that respect, look for Grichuk to fly up the Angels top prospect list.  Not much to report from the pitching side of the 66ers.  Nick Maronde and Fabio Martinez are on the DL, and their timetables' are unknown.   

Cedar Rapids Kernels - Cedar Rapids has been playing .500 ball lately, but third baseman Kaleb Cowart has kept them afloat.  The 2010 first round selection by the Halos is starting to show why he was selected that high.  In 64 games this year, Cowart is hitting .297 with 9 HRs and 51 RBI in a very pitcher friendly league.  The 20-year-old switch hitter has also been consistent from both sides of the plate - hitting .280 from the right side, and .305 from the left side.  For 2013, Kaleb Cowart may be the Angels #1 prospect.  Another 2010 first round pick, Cam Bedrosian, has thrown 2 great outings in a row totaling 11 innings, and striking out 11.  The 20-year-old righty out of Georgia is recovering from Tommy John Surgery, which caused him to miss all of the 2011 season.  In the bullpen, closer Ty Kelley has continued his awesome season.  He has recorded 10 saves with a 1.09 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 33 innings.  The 23-year-old was signed as a non-drafted free agent after the 2010 draft out of Auburn.  Quite a story.  Also, the Angels top selection in the 2012 draft, third rounder R.J. Alvarez has tossed 2 perfect innings for the Kernels, striking out 3.

Dominican Summer League - The Angels DSL team is trying to win back-to-back championships in the 2012 season.  This team, like last years, is built on a strong rotation.  Arjenis Fernandez, an 18-year-old, 6'4" righty is leading the way.  He was signed for a 6 figure bonus last year and may see the States pretty soon.  He features a low to mid 90s fastball, which is nearly unheard of for a teenager.  Perhaps even more exciting is 17-year-old Ivan Melo who has only given up 1 run in 11 innings of work this year.  Scouts have fallen in love with his huge curve ball that shows a lot of depth. 

Orem Owlz - The Owlz' roster has been released for the 2012 season.  Their first game is on Monday. Check it out here:
AZL Angels - The Angels Summer League team starts their season on Wednesday, but the roster has not yet been released.
Prospect of the week:  Ariel Pena SP
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