Thursday, May 19, 2016

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

I’m not going to sugar coat it; Most of the Angels organizational affiliates have losing records. As of today, the Burlington Bees are 15-23 (7.0 GB), the Inland Empire 66ers are 11-29 (17.0 GB), the Arkansas Travelers are 15-24 (7.0 GB), and the Salt Lake Bees are 22-15 (1st place). 

But that doesn’t mean that on every team there aren’t some guys really standing out at the moment. Not only are they the future of the organization, with the rash of injuries that the Major League club has sustained, they may be necessary in the present.

With that in mind, it’s time for another update of’s Top Angels Prospects.

Hutton Moyer, 2B, Burlington Bees (Low-A)
.316/.376/.509 with 3 HRs and 1 SB

Hutton led off our first Top Prospects list, and has done nothing to knock himself out of that position. He’s been very steady at the plate, and shown more power than he has in the past. He leads the Burlington Bees in most offensive categories and is in the top 10 for the league in most as well. With the rate he’s going, he could easily force some tough decisions for the Angels at Inland Empire during this season.

Jared Ruxer, SP, Burlington Bees (Low-A)
2-1, 0.81 ERA, 22.1 IP, 21 H, 6 BBs, 25 Ks, 1.21 WHIP with 0 Saves

Drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 draft, Jared may turn out to be a hidden gem in the organization. His draft stock fell due to having Tommy John surgery right before the Angels drafted him. And, as such, he’s been a bit delayed, although he got back to pitching in 2015, beating the typical timeline for recovery. Most likely the Angels will continue to be cautious with him as he regains his skills. They have him on a short leash so far this season, but, as he progresses, could hopefully revert to his dominant ways. 

Zach Welz, OF, Inland Empire 66ers (High-A)
.295/.404/.364 with 1 HR and 2 SBs

Zach took the long road to Angels, signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Overlooked by scouts during the draft (even though he had won the 2015 SWAC Tournament MVP award), the Angels spotted him at a private workout held by Alex Citron. In between the draft and the showing, Zach worked out extensively and dropped his time in the 60-yard dash by 0.14 (down to 6.40 seconds). Zach got off to a hot start in Burlington (.344/.414/.393 with 3 SBs), to earn a fast promotion to the 66ers.

Jordan Piche, RP, Inland Empire 66ers (High-A)
2-1, 2.66 ERA, 20.1 IP, 15 H, 7 BBs, 20 Ks, 1.08 WHIP with 1 Save

If you attended the 2015 Spring Training Fanfest, you had a chance to meet Jordan Piche, a relief pitcher the Angels drafted in the 28th round of the 2014 draft. Now, to see him, you have to travel out to the Inland Empire to see him pitching in the pen for the club. always appreciates those prospects who come out to meet our fans, and we really love seeing them doing well. The only thing we like more than that is seeing them play in Anaheim.

Cal Towey, OF, Arkansas Travelers (AA)
.273/.361/.461 with 3 HRs and 4 SBs

If you like left-handed OFers players with power and on-base skills, then Towey’s your guy. We haven’t seen much of him on the Top Prospect lists in a while, but he’s still been at it, generating high levels of walks and power. With 17 walks so far this season, he’s in the Top-10 for the league in that stat. Finding a position for him has been a bit of a challenge. In the past, he’s had some time at catcher, but now he’s mostly sticking to the OF, with some occasional time at the corner infield positions as well.

Jordan Kipper, SP, Arkansas Travelers (AA)
3-2, 3.78 ERA, 50.0 IP, 45 H, 12 BBs, 29 Ks, 1.14 WHIP with 0 Saves

Pitch a no-no, get noticed! In his last start, Kipper (pictured above) walked the first batter, induced a double play, and retired the remaining batters in order to pitch a complete game no-hitter. Kipper is a pitch to contact pitcher who doesn’t blow hitters away. Instead, he generates mostly weak groundouts (1.95 GB/FB ratio this year, 1.77 for his career). In his no-hitter, he generated 12 groundouts, 6 flyouts and 8 Ks. At just 23, he’s another sleeper in the Angels system.

Todd Cunningham, OF, Salt Lake Bees (AAA)
.325/.450/.425 with 2 HRs and 6 SBs

With all the injuries that the Angels have suffered this season, there’s a good chance that fans in Anaheim will see Todd Cunningham play. He’s been on a tear for the Salt Lake Bees, generating more walks (25) than strikeouts (19). He’s a switch hitter who can do a bit of everything. Drafted by the Braves in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, he’s seen some time in the Majors, and is patiently awaiting his chance to get back to the show.

Al Alburquerque, RP, Salt Lake Bees (AAA)
1-0, 2.57 ERA, 14.0 IP, 12 H, 8 BBs, 15 Ks, 1.43 WHIP with 6 Saves

When the Angels signed Alburquerque as a free agent from Detroit (after they had non-tendered him) he came with a few question marks. The biggest was whether or not he still had the high heat that made him a potent swing-and-miss guy at the back end of a rotation. His K/9 had dropped down to 8.4/9 IP from a lifetime average of 11 K/ 9 IP. So far, Al has been answering most of those questions in Salt Lake, and with all the pitching injuries so far, the Angels may give him that shot again sooner than later. 

Love to hear what you think!

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