Minor League Report: Michael Kohn jumps to High A

Roberto Lopez at the plate for the Kernels on the 4th of July. Photo by yours truly.

I'm back.  The stats below pick up at June 21st, where I left off with the last report.  I'll put up a rookie ball update tomorrow that covers the same period. 

AAA Salt Lake Bees, 44 and 41

Trevor Bell, rhsp - (3 starts) 1 W, 20 IP, 1.80 ERA, 14/6 K/BB

Bell's season ERA is a stunning 1.94 and the opposition has hit a meager .194 off of him across AA and AAA. His AAA rate of 5 hits allowed per 9 innings is unsustainable, sure, but Bell is striking out two and a third batters for every one that he walks and is inducing 1.87 ground outs for every fly-out. Those peripherals indicate that much of his progress this year is for real.

Ben Johnson, c, of - (35 AB's) .400/.447/.657 with 4 Dbls, 1 Trpl, and 1 HR

After struggling in AA for two months, Johnson jumped to AAA and and found his stroke. Over the past two weeks, the 28-year-old organizational soldier out-hit his younger teammates, including Brandon Wood (.311/.333/.456 with 12 K's/2 BB's), and helped to stablize a lineup missing Sean Rodriguez, Chris Pettit, and Freddy Sandoval.

AA Arkansas, 3 and 8 (second half)

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (56 AB's) .411/.441/.571 with 7 Dbls and 1 Trpl

Trumbo halved his K-rate from an uncharacteristically high 29% in April to 14% across June and July. The increased contact fueled a jump in batting average to .314 in June and .389 so far in July, boosting Trumbo's season line to a decent .271/.316/.418. Is that .734 OPS what Trumbo or the Halos had in mind when the season opened? Of course not, but it's rising rapidly.

Peter Bourjos, cf - (40 AB's) .300/.440/.550 with 2 Trpls, 2 HRs, 3 SB's and 8 runs scored

Bourjos' wrist injury may have cost him a couple of weeks on the field, but it also looks like the time for reflection paid off by helping him recommit to a more patient approach: he has a stellar 7 K/10 BB ratio since his return. I was very wrong about him in my preseason prospect rankings, a topic I'll return to next week.

Trevor Reckling, lhsp - (3 starts) 1 W, 17 2/3rds IP, 1.53 ERA 12 K/11 BB

Despite the sterling ERA, Reckling has struggled to keep men off base through June and July, yielding both more walks and hits to AA batters. His current peripherals are lousy - he's walking almost as many hitters as he strikes out - but Reckling did this last year too, at about the same time, while still racking up wins and a fine ERA. The key to his success appears to be limiting the opposition's slugging against him. 

High A Rancho Cucamonga, 5 and 7 (second half) 

Jeremy Moore, of - (50 AB's) .300/.340/.520 with 2 Dbls, 3 Trpls, and 1 HR

Moore has done what few expected him to do this season: hit for average. This in spite of the fact that he's k'd 90 times, taken just 18 free passes, and hit only 5 round-trippers. You have to love the solid contact behind all of those doubles and triples, and he still has the power/speed tools necessary to put up a few Terry Evens type seasons in the upper minors. If the strike zone judgment improves, he could make it.

Michael Kohn, rhrp - (2 games) 2.1 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 4 K/1 BB

Last week Kohn made the first of what should be a few midseason jumps over the next couple of years. In 39 and a 3rd innings across both A and High A, he has a 2.06 ERA and 64 K's, while the opposition is hitting just .159. If his breaking ball continues to improve, he should be the Halos first '08 draft pick to reach the majors.

A Cedar Rapids, 9 and 2 (second half)

Ryan Chaffee, rhsp - (2 starts) 11.2 IP, 1.54 ERA, 11 K/4 BB

Chaffee has K'd 77, yielded only 4 homeruns, and put up a remarkable 3.23 GO/AO ratio over 72 innings in Cedar Rapids. He's still working on reducing the walks and going deeper into games, but the 21-year-old has clearly done what he needed to do in A ball.

Roberto Lopez, 1B, of, c - (37 AB's) .324/.432/.514 with 1 Dbl, 2 HR's and 11 RBI's

Lopez has shown power and patience, knocking 8 homeruns and walking 31 times in 202 AB's with the Kernels. He's only K'd 32 times, so it was just a matter of time before the average came around too. He's a talented hitter, so look for him to just keep improving from here.  

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