Angels Minor League Report: Skaggs Hurling Like A Vet

Tyler Skaggs throws long toss, staying loose for the Kernels' unconventional six man rotation.

A Cedar Rapids: 8 wins, 10 losses

Tyler Skaggs, lhsp - (1 start, 1 relief appearance) 8 IP, 6 hits, 0 ER, 10 K/2 BB

The gangly teenage southpaw spotted his fastball to both sides of the plate, confounded lefties and righties alike with his sharp, mid 70's slider, and toyed with everyone in the ballpark by dropping in the occasional 60 mph, big-bending curve.  The Halos are urging him to drop that last pitch in favor of his other offspeed stuff, but I didn't see evidence last Monday that they were winning the argument. What Skaggs did instead - and did quite effectively - was to add and subtract off of his fastball, bottoming out in the mid 80's but running the pitch up to 90 mph frequently.  The Halos are capping the number of innings Skaggs throws by going with a six-man rotation in Cedar Rapids, so he should continue his pattern of starts and relief appearances until a rotation mate is either promoted or goes down with an injury.

Luis Jimenez, 3B - (23 AB's) .348/.400/.522 with 2 dbls, 1 trpl, 12 RBI's,  4 SO/2 BB

Following his '08 season, Jimenez made several Angels top ten prospect lists (including ours), and naturally that success drew scrutiny to the areas in which he needed to improve. In a great write-up at FutureAngels.com, Stephen Smith highlighted Jimenez' stellar hand eye coordination and power, but also pointed out that in RBI situations he tended to get himself out by swinging at too many pitches outside the strike zone. He's reversed the trend in 2010, hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and racking up 16 RBI's, good for fourth in the Midwest league. Despite his production, the two-time homerun champ is still waiting for his first 2010 dinger. This is bizarre, and undoubtedly frustrating, since this week Jimenez launched a full 41% of his balls in play airborne into the outfield, but none left the park.  Jimenez isn't a huge guy - he's listed at 6'1", 205 Ilbs - and his frame doesn't offer a ton of projection, so it will be interesting to see how his power evolves.  

Jon Bachanov, rhrp - (2 appearances) 1 W, 1 S, 4.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 8 K/3 BB

He continues to rack up the strikeouts, though his command, so good last year in Arizona, has escaped him a couple of times this season. The radar gun wasn't working the night I saw him, but he was probably sitting in the low 90's with a mid 70's slider.  Comparing footage from my trip (coming soon) to his pre-draft scouting video (here), it's apparent that he's modified his delivery somewhat, smoothing out his arm action in back - that surgically repaired throwing elbow doesn't hook upwards as much before rotating into throwing position. He also now brings his hands up and over his head in a full windup.

Mike Trout, CF - (27 AB's) .333/.357/.370 with 1 dbl, 5 SB's, and 4 SO's/1 BB

Trout compensated for the cooling bat by gunning down a runner at home, his second assist of the year.  Stephen Smith pointed out the extreme number of infield hits Trout racked up over the season's first week and a half here, and Sam Miller over at the OC Register broke down his BABIP data up to last Monday here. Some additional numbers to chew on: Trout's hitting a crazy .548 on groundballs so far this season, a number that's likely to drop 200 points over a larger sample size, no matter how fast he is (and he's fast). He's also disproportionately hitting to the opposite field, knocking 57% of his balls in play to the right side last week, which is purportedly what the Halos have been teaching him to do. However, he's batting only .231 on those hits. On balls he's pulling (35%), he's hitting a far stronger .625.   What does this all mean?  If I could tell you, I'd have no need for a day job, but one thing is clear: it's going to be very interesting to see what kind of hitter Trout develops into.  

High A Rancho Cucamonga: 9 wins, 9 losses

Alexia Amarista, 2B - (25 AB's) .520/.538/.680 with 4 dbls, 6 runs scored, and 1 SB

70 AB's deep into the season, Amarista is hitting .400.  Over the winter, we took a look at how his approach changed in ‘09, shifting from an emphasis on hitting to the opposite field in the first half, to him becoming a primarily pull hitter by the end of the season. He's continued the trend in 2010, yanking a full 52% of his balls in play to the right side, with a .355 batting average on those hits.  The approach was evident in his batting practice last Tuesday, when he launched a lot of balls into the right field gap. While the Cal League will likely favor that approach, Amarista may need to return to his opposite field ways against better defenses in worse hitting environments.  

Dillon Baird, 3B - (21 AB's) .333/.417/.857 with 2 dbls, 3 HR's, and 3 K/3 BB

Wow. I was there for his two homerun game on Tuesday, and was really impressed.  He struck out too much in the first week of the season, but made contact enough this week for the K-rate to stabilize at a decent 21%.  If he can continue to bring that down, look out.  Listed at 6'3", 190 lbs (he's heavier), Baird's a big, strong guy. He's rapidly shedding the derogatory "aluminum bat swing" label, a misdiagnosis that likely kept him on the board until the 11th round of last year's draft.  While he looked a little stiff at third, he's working hard on his defense, taking a lot of extra grounders before the game the night I saw him, and he's only made two errors so far. It is VERY early in the season to declare this a breakout, but things look encouraging so far. His swing mechanics have likely changed some over the past year, so I'll break down the footage when it's ready.

Robert Fish, lhrp - (2 appearances) 1 W, 4 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 10 K/1 BB

On Friday night he struck out the side twice.  In the bullpen, he's running his fastball up to the mid 90's regularly, and I like the looks of his curve.  Stay tuned for video of a bullpen session and a look at his unique pitching motion.

Roberto Lopez, OF, 1B, C - (27 AB's) .407/.448/.704 with 3 dbls, 1 trpl, 1 HR , and 2 SB's

Lopez is sticking to a proven California League formula: hit lots of flyballs and don't strikeout much. It's working for him.  Not surprising giving his lack of experience, he's struggling as a catcher, allowing 9 stolen bases in just four games behind the dish, but will likely continue to see work there as the Halos build up his versatility. 

AA Arkansas: 6 wins, 10 losses

Paul McAnulty, DH, OF, 1B - (21 AB's) .381/.458/1.048 with 1 trpl, 4 HR's, and 6 RBI's

Last week, twenty-nine year old Paul McAnulty carried the Trav offense.  Like Michael Ryan and Corey Aldridge, he was signed by the Halos as a minor league FA in an effort to add veteran lefty pop to the organization's corner and DH slots. A twelfth round pick in 2002, he climbed through the Padres system and spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues.  He's put up some quality AAA seasons, but a difficult 2009 made it possible for the Halos to add him to their AA club.

Amalio Diaz, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 Sv, 8 IP, 4 hits, 1.13 ERA, 5 K's/0 BB

Ryan Aldridge, rhrp - (3 appearances) 3.1 IP, 1 hit, 2.70 ER, 5 K's/3 BB's

They out-threw both Kohn and Walden this week. 

Abel Nieves, 2B, U - (15 AB's) .533/.563/.667 with 2 dbls

Towards the end of last year, Nieves was the Quakes' most consistent on base threat, which is why it surprised me to see him receive so few at-bats in the Travs' early going.  He controls the strike zone well and lives off the groundball single, though he will occasionally sock one to the gaps.  The ceiling isn't huge, but some of the guys around him could learn a thing or two from his approach.

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 8 wins, 10 losses

Trevor Bell, rhsp - 1 W, 6.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 3 K/2 BB

Returning from a hamstring injury, Bell made his '10 Bees debut against none other than Mariners' ace Cliff Lee. The two combined for six scoreless innings before Lee's exit allowed the Bees to a crack the ice in their half of the seventh. Pay attention to Bell's numbers against southpaws, since those will shed some light on how his change-up is doing.  Back in spring training, he threw what looked like a slower, more slurvy version of his usual mid 80's slider; the Padres' Kyle Blanks crushed one a long ways, but some others were good for strikes, so perhaps he can turn the pitch into a swing and miss offering.

Terry Evans, OF -  (26 AB's) .462/.500/.538 with 2 dbls and 5 SB's

After spending a couple of weeks on the Angels' bench, Evans is running out his frustration on the PCL base paths.

Tommy Mendoza, rhsp - AAA - 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 5 K's/1 BB

Demoted after tossing a strong, one-run start in the PCL? Interesting, because he's not the guy I'd have guessed would head to Arkansas with the reemergence of Trevor Bell, but he should be able lend a hand to the AA club.  A sore bicep added insult to injury, landing him on the DL soon after he joined Travs (hat tip futureangels.com). When right, Mendoza unleashes squirrelly, high 80's mph fastballs that he alternately cuts and runs. Hopefully his breaking stuff takes a step forward this year.

Trevor Reckling, lhsp - AAA - 5.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 4 K's/4 BB's

Another week, another head-scratching start for Reckling. The laws of sabermetrics state he should be suffering far more than he is from all of those base runners. 

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