High A Rancho Cucamonga: 21 wins, 16 losses
The Quakes won six straight last week on the back of outstanding pitching performances and a solid lineup. This club is without a top ten Angels' prospect, yet most of the roster played for the '09 Kernels club that went 78 and 60. These guys know how to win.
Tyler Chatwood, rhsp - (2 starts) 2 W's, 11.2 IP, 8 hits, 0 ER, 13 K/5 BB
Chatwood has thrown 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings going back to April 29th. So far in May, he has fanned 11.9 batters per nine innings, walked just 3.22 per nine, and opponents are hitting .184 off of him, despite a normal .304 BABIP. He ranks third in the Cal League in ERA (though he's pitched 30% more innings than either of the guys ahead of him), he's second in strikeouts, and he's tied for second in wins. He's locked in, no doubt about it.
Alexia Amarista, 2b - (30 AB's) .367/.406/.667 with 2 dbls, 2 trpls, 1 HR, 7 RBI's, 3 SB's, 0 K/2 BB
Amarista began the month mired in a slump, but recovered to hit for average and power this week, going yard for the first time in 2010. He also stole 3 bags while only getting caught once, a step in the right direction for him. Best of all, he didn't strike out, bringing his season K-rate down to an even 10%. I'd like to see it stay there. Check out the footage below of him knocking a double and a single in late April. Prospect analyst Alex Eisenberg told us over the offseason that Amarista swings with a lot of "intent," but that doesn't begin to do justice to his cut.
VIDEO AFTER JUMP
Gabe Jacobo, 1B - (23 AB's) .348/.375/.609 with 4 dbls, and 1 trpl, with 2 K/1 BB
The big thing for Jacobo in 2010 is his excellent K rate of 9%, almost half of his '09 rate of 17%. He's also hitting more line drives, up to 15% from 10%. Check out the footage here to get a look at his simple, quick swing.
Ariel Pena, rhsp - (1 start) 5 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 4 K/3 BB
Pena put up good numbers in rookie ball and has a projectable pitchers' frame, but began the season stuck behind the young guns of Cedar Rapids. www.Futureangels.com has footage of him throwing a fastball and a slider from a low-ish three quarters arm slot, but I'm not sure about the rest of his arsenal. We'll get a more complete scouting report soon. He built on last week's Cal League debut with a short, inefficient, yet effectively wild outing last night (not counted in the line above). He turns 21 on Thursday, so happy birthday Ariel.
Nick Pugliese, rhrp - (1 appearance) 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 3 K/0 BB
Jose Perez, rhrp - (1 appearance) 3 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 0 K/0 B
Jeremy Haynes, rhrp - (2 appearances) 4 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 2 K/1 BB
Eddie McKiernan, rhrp - (3 appearances) 2 Sv, 3 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 1 K/1 BB
As with many streaking teams, an airtight bullpen has been crucial to the Quakes' recent success. Every arm above has sleeper potential, but Haynes currently intrigues me the most. The 24 year old was the Angels' 23rd best prospect entering 2008, according to Baseball America, due to his arm strength - his fastball hits 94 mph with plus sink - and a solid power curveball. K's and groundballs have never been a problem for him, but his career walk rate is nearly 6 BB per nine. That's down to 4.2 this year, and if he can continue to improve on that number, look out.
Roberto Lopez, OF, 1B, C - (24 PA's) .250/.250/.333 with 2 Dbls, 1 SB, 7 K/0 BB
Just want to give Lopez another shoutout for his 25 game hit streak, which finally came to an end Thursday.
A Cedar Rapids: 20 wins, 16 losses
The Kernels had won seven in a row, but lost the back end of Thursday's double header and then two more in the days that followed.
Orangel Arenas - (1 start) 1 W, 5 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 4 K/2 BB
Arenas is working on a 19 scoreless inning streak, right on the heels of Chatwood. He has posted a 1.99 ERA on the season, good for 8th in the Midwest League. The six foot, twenty-one year old righty is keeping his groundball rate at an outstanding 59%, and is especially hard on righties, who are hitting just .187 against him.
Mike Trout - (22 AB's) .455/.500/.727 with 3 dbls, 1 HR, 6 runs, 2 SB's, and 4 K/2 BB
Trout returned to his opposite field approach last week, but nonetheless kept hitting for power: all five of his extra base hits were to right field. It's still a little early to describe his power as foul pole to foul pole, but he's moving in that direction. In case you missed it, here's some footage of him running circles around the Kane County Cougars back in April. Also, here's a link to F. Piliere's recent scouting report of Trout, thanks to G Abbes.
Garrett Richards - (2 starts) 1 W, 15 IP, 2.40 ERA, 9 hits, 15 K/5 BB
Richards threw both a complete game and a quality start this week. His peripheral stats - 8.6 K's per nine, 3.2 BB's per nine, and a 58% groundball percentage, all amounting to a 3.26 FIP according to www.minorleaguesplits.com - look better than his season line of 2 wins, 2 losses, and 3.96 ERA. I'm not going to say that the discrepancy is due just to bad luck, however, because results have lagged behind the indicators throughout his amateur career. We're still looking for that pretty ERA over 100+ innings, proof that he's exorcized his demons.
Pat Corbin, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 8 IP, 3 hits 1 ER, 3 K/0 BB
Twenty year old Pat Corbin has been a strike-throwing machine for the Kernels, walking only 1.5 batters every nine innings while routinely going deep into games. He's completed the sixth inning in six of his seven 2010 starts. The 5.9 K's per nine innings aren't phenomenal, but he doesn't turn 20 until July, backs an improving fastball with impressive offspeed stuff, and has pitched with the kind of control and poise that his older rotation mates struggle to achieve. There's a lot to like here.
AA Arkansas: 14 wins, 20 losses
Mike Anton, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 7 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 4 K/2 BB
Twenty-five year old Anton has been Arkansas' most consistent starter in the early going this year, racking up three quality starts in his last four tries. He doesn't have a tremendous fastball, but throws a wicked changeup with screwball action, making him more effective against righties (7.09 K per 9, .263 batting average against) than fellow lefties (5.68 K per 9, .360 BAA).
Manuel Flores, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 6.2 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 3 K/0 BB
The almost-twenty-three year old has flown under the radar much of his career. He was Cedar Rapids' most consistent starter in 2009, anchoring a staff that included Tyler Chatwood, Will Smith, and Ryan Chaffee. He's holding his own in AA so far with a 4.18 ERA, three quality starts in four tries, and a 3 to 1 K/BB ratio.
Julio Perez, RF - (14 AB's) .357/.471/.429 with 1 dbl and 2 K/3 BB
He didn't put up huge power numbers, but the plate discipline is very positive development for the twenty-four year old hacker.
Efren Navarro, 1B - (27 AB's) .333/.357/.556 with 3 dbls, 1 HR, 6 RBI's and 2 K/1 BB
Navarro hit like a first baseman for the first time in 2010, providing some much needed offense for the Travs. His game has historically been contact and patience oriented at the plate with outstanding defense in the field. Hopefully the BA and OBP stick around even when the power fades.
Mike Kohn, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 W, 4 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 4 K/0 BB
Barrett Browning, lhrp - (3 appearances) 7 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 6 K/2 BB
I know I sound like a broken record week after week, but the Travs' bullpen is home to some tremendous arms worth seeing for their own sake. Kohn, by the way, has yielded just one run so far over 17.2 innings, posting a beastly 11.25 K per nine.
AAA Salt Lake Bees: 17 wins, 19 losses
Francisco Rodriguez, rhrp - (3 appearances) 4.1 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 4 K/1 BB
Rafael Rodriguez, rhrp - (2 appearances) 1 W, 3 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 1 K/1 BB
Jeremy Hill, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 W, 3 IP, 4 hits,0 ER, 3 K/3 BB
The Salt Lake bullpen is getting it done, even if the rotation, the lineup and the defense aren't firing on all cylinders. In fact, the guys above have watched their defense choke up three unearned runs behind them. Nevertheless, they picked up both of the Bees' wins last week. Rafael gets the most attention of the three, with his low 90's fastball and plus slider, but Francisco's peripherals are looking pretty good these days - his K's and groundballs are up from last year, and his walks are down, even if the 4.76 ERA on the season isn't too pretty.
Marco Albano, rhsp - (1 start) 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 4 K/3 BB
Albano's a former middle infielder who has pitched well since his 2007 conversion to the mound. Last year, he put up an eye-catching 8.9 K per nine in the Texas League with solid walk and hit totals. His best work came after he transitioned to starting in the second half. The stuff he showed in the Arizona Fall League wasn't tremendous - he sat in the high 80's with his fastball, peaking at 89 mph - but the curveball looks pretty good and he may have more offerings up his sleeve. I have it from a good source that his makeup is off the charts, so he's an easy guy to root for.