Monday, June 2, 2014

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By Adrian Noche, Staff Reporter - 

1. Harrison Cooney, Starting Pitcher, Burlington Bees
Last two starts: 2-0  16.0 IP  1.13 ERA  9 H  0 BB  12 SO  0.56 WHIP  .160 BAA
Overall: 4-3  2.05 ERA  52.2 IP  39 H  18 BB  37 SO  1.08 WHIP  .197 BAA

After starting the year piggy-backing on other starters and with short outings, Cooney pitched more than 6 innings for the first time on Sunday. Cooney only allowed 3 hits and 2 earned runs, and was awarded the win over Quad City. However, this week Cooney bested every performance before as he pitched a complete game shutout. In the shutout, Cooney allowed 6 hits, no walks and struck out a season-high 8 batters. This season, batters are only hitting .197 against Cooney and are grounding out at a rate of 51%. This is due to a fastball that sits in the low-90s with natural run, which Ric Wilson ranks as one of the best among the 2013 draftees. Along with the fastball, Cooney flashes an above-average slider and a developing change up. A repertoire which consists of an above-average fastball, slider and developing change-up has the looks of a legit starting pitching prospect, which is exactly what Cooney appears to be.

2. Michael Roth, Starting Pitcher, Arkansas Travelers
Last two starts: 2-0  17.0 IP  1.06 ERA  11 H  2 BB  9 SO  0.76 WHIP  .189 BAA
Overall: 4-3  2.64 ERA  58.0 IP  49 H  21 BB  28 SO  1.20 WHIP  .234 BAA

Since being removed from the 40-man roster, Michael Roth has been one of the most dominant starters in all of minor league baseball. In five starts since being outrighted, Roth is 4-0 with an 0.98 ERA along with a 1.01 WHIP and .219 average against. Roth was an out away from completing a complete game shutout, but was taken out of the game and ended up with 0 earned runs in 8.2 innings pitched, with just 2 walks and 5 hits allowed. His last start marked the second straight time Roth has gone at least 8.0 innings. Roth was once again an inning away from a shutout but gave up a home run 2 outs away from the feat, ending with a line of 2 earned runs in 8.1 innings pitched. Roth’s M.O. has never been the strikeout, but instead his command and his ability to keep hitters off-balance with his off-speed pitches. He has done so successfully this year, posting a BB-rate of 8.9% and ground ball-rate of 52%. 

3. Mike Fish, Outfielder, Burlington Bees
Past 10 games: .256 AVG  11 H  2 Doubles  2 Triples  3 HR  0 SB
Overall: .270/.314/.494

Mike Fish had quite the power surge this week. The outfielder collected 9 hits since Monday (.290 AVG), with 7 of those hits being for extra bases. Fish started off the week with a bang, clobbering 2 home runs in a 3-hit performance on Monday. The second home run was a walk-off to give Burlington the 7-5 victory over Quad Cities. Since then, Fish has hit one more home run, 2 doubles and two triples. The 24 total bases were good for a slugging percentage of .774. Fish is showing that the power display in 2013 was no mirage as he is slugging .494 (.224 ISO) with Burlington this year. He is also providing an above-average defense with no errors yet this year. The Angels selected Mike Fish in the 32nd round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. So far, Fish has been looking like quite the steal.

4. Wade Hinkle, 1st Baseman, Inland Empire 66ers
Past 10 games: .355 AVG  11 H  2 Doubles  0 Triple  1 HR  1 SB
Overall: .328/.438/.537

Since being picked in the 27th round of the 2012 Amateur Draft, Hinkle has provided a steady bat while steadily climbing up the affiliation ladder. Upon being drafted, Hinkle hit for a slash line of .338/.443/.586 for the Rookie League Orem Owlz. Moving on up to Burlington in 2013, Hinkle hit .270/.359/.435 for Low-A Burlington. This year, Hinkle continues to do more of the same. Hinkle is providing a solid average, above-average eye and power. The left-handed hitting 1st baseman is hitting for an average of .328 (second on the team) while slugging .537 with an on-base percentage of .438, which leads the Cal League. Wade continues to show an exceptional understanding of the strike zone with a BB-rate of 13.5% and has never posted a BB-rate lower than 10%. Expect Hinkle to continue his steady climb up the ranks on his way to Anaheim.

5. Elliot Morris, Starting Pitcher, Inland Empire 66ers
Last two starts: 1-0  12.0 IP  2.25 ERA  9 H  5 BB  9 SO  1.16 WHIP  .204 BAA
Overall: 3-1  2.25 ERA  52.0 IP  38 H  18 BB  53 SO  1.07 WHIP  .201 BAA

Elliot Morris struggled some in his High-A debut last week but was still able to muster out a quality start, going 5.0 innings while allowing 3 earned runs. His second go-around, however, was much more successful. Morris cruised through 7 shutout innings and only allowed 3 hits, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. Despite not advancing as quickly as Smith and McGowin, one could argue that Morris has seen the most success among the 2013 draftees. Morris has posted an ERA of 2.25 and a WHIP of 1.07. Arguments aside, it is refreshing to see the pitcher-heavy draft class of 2013 see this kind of success so far.

6. Jose Rondon, Shortstop, Inland Empire 66ers
Past 10 games: .341 AVG  15 H  4 Doubles  1 Triple  0 HR  1 SB
Overall: .333/.358/.423

The kid just keeps on hitting. Jose Rondon raised his average from last week up to .333 and posted 4-straight games in which he has collected at least 2 base hits. Despite being just 20 years old, Rondon is 5th in the California League in batting average. As expected, Rondon is slowly getting acclimated to the level of High-A as he lowered his K-rate down to 15.1%, thanks to the sterling K-rate of 8.9% he posted in the month of May. With the lowered K-rate, hopefully Rondon will start taking more walks because his BB-rate for the season is just 3.8%.

7. Yency Almonte, Starting Pitcher, Burlington Bees
Last two starts: 1-0  10.0 IP  1.80 ERA  9 H  1 BB  8 SO  1.00 WHIP  .243 BAA
Overall: 1-0  1.80 ERA  10.0 IP  9 H  1 BB  8 SO  1.00 WHIP  .243 BAA

Yency Almonte was assigned to Low-A Burlington from extended Spring Training to replace Elliot Morris in the starting rotation. Even with Morris graduating to High-A, his rotation spot hasn’t missed a beat. Since being assigned to Low-A, Almonte has pitched consecutive quality starts, pitching a combined 10 innings with a WHIP of 1.00 and also striking out 8. Almonte is reported to sit in the low-90s but at 6’3 and 185 pounds, it is safe to assume he has room to pick up the velocity. Almonte is still just 19 years old and fairly young for Low-A ball. It will be important to track his progression throughout the season and if he keeps up a steady level of performance, Yency will definitely shoot up the prospect ladder.

8. Eric Aguilera, 1st Baseman, Burlington Bees
Past 10 games: .275 AVG  11 H  0 Doubles  0 Triple  3 HR  1 SB
Overall: .299/.348/.436

Mike Fish’s memorable walk-off home run on Monday would not have been possible if it were not for Eric Aguilera. Trailing 5-3 in the 8th inning, Aguilera hit a solo home run and the Bees would eventually tie the game, setting up Mike’s heroics in the 10th. With the month of May coming to a close, it is important to note how hot Aguilera has been. This month, Aguilera torched the league to a tune of a .319 average and a .521 slugging percentage. In comparison, Eric barely slugged .326 in April. All 5 of Eric’s home runs came in the month of May with 3 coming in the last 10 days, a proper way to close the book on a memorable month.

9. Sherman Johnson, 2nd Baseman, Inland Empire 66ers
Past 10 games: .282 AVG  10 H  4 Doubles  0 Triple  0 HR  2 SB
Overall: .286/.380/.429

The Shermanator has been an on-base machine this year. Johnson has reached base safely (via base hit or walk) for the 66ers every game this week, hitting for an average of .333 and an on-base percentage of .428. As a matter of fact, Sherm has reached base safely in 17 straight games. Johnson leads the 66ers in multiple offensive categories; runs, triples, RBIs, total bases, walks and games played. Along with the bat, Johnson continues to bring it with the glove as well, posting a fielding percentage of .993 at second base this year. 

10. Alfonso Alcantara, Starting Pitcher, Burlington Bees
Last two starts: 1-1  12.0 IP  3.75 ERA  10 H  3 BB  8 SO  1.08 WHIP  .238 BAA
Overall: 2-3  3.10 ERA  44.0 IP  28 H  25 BB  40 SO  1.20 WHIP  .184 BAA

Alfonso Alcantara has followed a similar track to Harrison Cooney this season, pitching out of the pen and also piggy-backing off of the starters. Like Cooney, Alcantara was able to pitch 7 innings for the first time this season and for the first time since arriving stateside. Alcantara was able to strike out 7 batters while allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits. The most important thing to note from his start is the fact that he just walked 1 batter, as Alfonso has struggled with command so far in his career, posting at least a BB/9 of 5.0 every year since signing. One thing is for certain, Alcantara will be dominant if he ever figures out his command issues. Hitters are only hitting .184 against the 21 year old this season.

Minor League Affiliate Report

Triple-A Salt Lake Bees

The Bees finally had a winning week and posted a record of 4-3, but they are still sitting last in the division with an overall record of 21-37. Along with a rare winning record for the week, the Bees also won their first series this entire season against Tacoma Rainiers. Matt Long continued to gradually build his batting average, raising it to .262 on the season. Recently called up Zach Borenstein was 0 for his last 12 at-bats, but since then has collected 6 hits in 17 at-bats. Hector Santiago was more successful in his second start with the Bees, allowing 1 earned run in 5.1 innings pitched with 4 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts. Reliever Ryan Chaffee has strung together 7.1 straight scoreless innings in the pen, striking out 12 during that span.

Double-A Arkansas Travelers

The Travelers won 3 of their 7 games this week and are now 3 games behind first place in their division. Recently signed Indy-leaguer Maikol Gonzalez (Shortstop) has provided a spark for the Travelers offense while Brian Hernandez and Alex Yarbrough both continued to hit the ball well. Nate Smith struggled in his second Double-A start, allowing 4 earned runs on 7 hits in 5 innings pitched. The Travelers bullpen have been strong this year, anchored by Cam Bedrosian, who pitched two perfect innings this week with 3 strikeouts.

High-A Inland Empire 66ers

The 66ers duplicated the Traveler’s record for the week, with a record of 3-4. With an overall record of 21-37, the 66ers were numerically eliminated from becoming the First-Half Champions. Cal Towey had a strong week, hitting .391 with 2 doubles and a homerun. Tyler DeLoach pitched 7.0 innings of shutout baseball and only allowed 2 hits and struck out 9. Mark Sappington had a bounce back start, only walking 3 batters in 6 innings pitched (2 earned runs). Right-handed reliever Kurt Spomer extended his scoreless streak to 7.1 innings this week, lowering his ERA to 0.34.

Low-A Burlington Bees

The Low-A Bees shared the same fate as the Travs and 66ers this week, winning 3 of 7 games. The Bees fell further behind first place (8 games), with a record of 27-28. Outfielder Brandon Bayardi hit the ball well this week (.368 average), but has yet to show the power his 6’2, 235 pound frame suggests. Ryan Etsell struck out 10 batters in 7.0 innings of 2-run ball. In the pen, Alan Busenitz pitched 4.2 scoreless innings while only allowing 1 walk and 1 hit.
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