By Adrian Noche, AngelsWin.com Minor League Reporter -
1.) Taylor Ward, Catcher, Orem Owlz
Taylor Ward was the Angels top draft pick in 2015, having been chosen 26th overall in what the vast majority has called a reach for the catcher. Ward is known for his defense, being given a plus-plus rating for his glove and arm by numerous scouting reports. His bat is what will make or break the Angels justification in their first round selection. In Ward’s final year with Fresno State, the catcher had 7 homeuns 14 doubles and 42 RBIs to go along with a batting average of .304. Ward also walked (35) more times than he struck out (34) in 59 games played. After a slow 0-8 start with Orem, Ward has been scorching hot. In his last 5 games, Ward is 13-for-21 (.619) with a double, triple and a home run. Ward has also walked 4 times with only 1 strikeout. Ward has also thrown out 5-of-13 base stealers and has stolen 2 bases himself. So far in the Owlz game against Ogden, Ward has reached base 4 times (3 walks and 1 hit).
2.) Kyle Survance Jr., Outfielder, Orem Owlz
Kyle Survance Jr. was taken by the Angels in the 8th round of the 2015 draft. In three seasons with The University of Houston, Survance stole 82 bases to go along with a .302/.389/.382 slash line in 176 collegiate games. Survance has been arguable the best hitter thus far among the entire 2015 draft class. Survance is currently batting .457 to go along with 5 doubles, 1 triple and 2 home runs (.739 SLG). Survance has a SO:BB ratio of 4:3 and 9 stolen bases in 12 attempts.
3.) David Fletcher, Shortstop, Orem Owlz
David Fletcher was drafted in the 6th round out of Loyola Marymount. Fletcher is seen as a glove first shortstop but managed to swing the bat well during his two years at Loyola. In 111 collegiate games, Fletcher hit for a slash line of .318/.374/.395 with 31 stolen bases in 38 attempts. In those 111 games, Fletcher struck out just 40 times and walked 36. Fletcher has been on fire since being drafted by the Angels. So far in Orem, Fletcher is .353 with 4 stolen bases. You can expect that average to climb as he is currently 4-for-6 with two doubles in Orem’z 20-2 romping over Ogden.
Minor League Affiliate Report
Triple-A Salt-Lake Bees
The Salt Lake Bees went 3-3 since our last prospect hotlist and own an overall record of 32-46 (13.5 GB). Drew Rucinski threw his 5th straight quality start on Friday, giving up 2 earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched with 8 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. Alex Yarbrough logged 3rd multi-hit game in games, going 2-for-4 with a double on Monday. Yarbrough is batting .366 in his last 8 games. Kaleb Cowart has refused to cool off since his call-up to Salt Lake. Despite Kubitza’s return to the Bees, Cowart remained on the roster and got the start at designated hitter on Monday. Cowart went 2-for-4 and 2 RBIs in the Bees 7-2 win for Albuquerque. Cowart is now has a slash line of .321/.409/.554 in 18 games with Salt Lake.
Double-A Arkansas Travelers
The Travelers went 4-3 in their last 7 games and have a 3-3 record for the second half of the season (1.0 GB). Nate Smith continued to dominate the opposition with 7.0 shutout innings thrown on Thursday. Smith only allowed 3 hits and 2 walks to go along with 5 strikeouts. Smith’s season ERA now sits at 2.74 with a WHIP of 1.11 in 88.2 innings pitched. Wade Hinkle has 3 home runs in his last 10 games and leads the team with 6 on the season. Outfielder, Mike Fish, was called up to the Travelers on Saturday and is 1-for-2 with a run scored in his first 2 games in Double-A.
High-A Inland Empire 66ers
The 66ers are currently 1-3 in the second half of the season and 2.0 GB first place. Victor Alcantara struck out 8 batters in a start where he gave up just 2-earned runs in 5.0 innings pitched (4 H 1 BB). Alcantara now has 72 SO’s in 69.1 innings pitched this season (32 BB). Sean Newcomb pitched 5.0 innings on Sunday, striking out 6 batters while giving up just 1 earned runs, 5 hits and 2 walks. Newcomb has now eclipsed the 100 strikeout mark for the season with 101 in 77.1 innings pitched. Outfielder, Caleb Adams was called up to Inland Empire on Saturday. Adams is 2-for-6 with a triple in 2 games so far in High-A. Second baseman, Andrew Daniel, was called up to the 66ers on Monday.
Low-A Burlington Bees
The Bees of Burlington are currently 3-2 in the second half of their season and sit 1.0 GB first place. Austin Robichauz has been rolling as of late. In his start on Friday, the starter went 6.0 complete without giving up an earned run with 4 hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Austin’s season ERA is now at 3.31 and has a record of 7-2 in 73.1 innings pitched this season. Jeremy Rhoades lowered his ERA to 2.80 on the season after tossing 6.0 shutout innings on Monday (4 H 1 BB 3 SO). For the second consecutive time, Jake Jewell pitched 5.0 shutout innings, only allowing 1 hit and 2 walks with 3 strikeouts. Jewell currently has 61 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 51.0 innings pitched.
Class-A Short Season Orem Owlz
The Orem Owlz are currently tied for first place with a record of 8-4 this season. The Angels’ 2nd round pick in 2014, Joe Gatto, pitched 5.0 solid innings on Sunday. Gatto only allowed 1 earned run, 2 hits and 1 walk with 2 strikeout against Ogden. The Angels 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, Grayson Long, has yet to allow a hit in 3 innings pitched so far this season (1 BB 2 SO). 3rd baseman, Michael Pierson (Round 21 2015), is hitting .381 with 3 doubles and a home run in 10 games with the Owlz this season. Outfielder, Ranyelmy Mendoza, has 4 home runs in 10 games for the Owlz.
The AZL Angels are currently in first place with a record of 5-3. Top prep high-schooler Dalton Blumenfeld (Round 12 2015) made his professional debut on Monday. The catcher went 1-for-4 with a triple and RBI. Crusito Mieses pitched well on Monday, with 5.0 scoreless innings while only giving up 3 hits, 2 walks with 2 strikeouts. 2nd rounder, Jahmai Jones, has cooled off after a 4-for-8 start to the season. The outfielder is now just 1 for his last 20 at-bats.