Mark Trumbo Discovers the Walk: Angels Upper Minors Report

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 64 wins, 59 losses

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (17 AB's) .412/.600/.647 with 1 dbl, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 K/8 BB

Holy crap -- has Trumbo found sabermetric religion? In 120 at-bats since the Allstar break, Trumbo has hit .367/.458/.633 with a solid 32 K/22 BB ratio.  I am really, really looking forward to seeing how he handles major league pitching come September. 

Nick Gorneault, Of - (23 AB's) .478/.520/1.043 with 4 dbl, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 K/2 BB

The minor league veteran earned Player Of The Week honors in the PCL for the second time in his career. He last received the distinction in September of 2005.  Gorneault has toiled in AAA through six seasons, four of them with the Bees, hitting a solid-but-not-promotable .268/.343/.476. He only had one shot at the bigs, a short stint with the Angels in 2007 when he walked once in 5 plate appearances without a hit, so he'd make a fitting September call-up. This is a guy who just has to get his MLB hit. 

Matt Palmer, rhrp - (1 start) 1 W, 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 4 K/2 BB

I hope Palmer keeps his place on the forty man roster this offseason. There's no reason why he shouldn't -- I believe the Halos have another option year with him, and they are very hard up for legitimate AAA pitching depth -- but given the Angels' season I don't want to make any assumptions about how the FO will reconstruct the roster.

Hank Conger, C - (23 AB's) .348/.444/.565 with 2 dbl, 1 HR, 4 K/4 BB

According to www.minorleaguesplits.com, Conger is hitting linedrives at a 27% rate in August, which partially explains his astronomical .404 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) this month. That said, his linedrive rate has hovered over 20% all season, yet his BABIP has sagged below .300 for much of the time. Ordinarily, that would suggest that his mediocre 2010 stats result from awful luck, but I think there's another reason why Conger isn't hitting the .300+ his linedrive rate suggests he should be: he hasn't hit flyballs with much authority, resulting in too many pop-ups. That's often a symptom of trying very hard to hit the ball the other way, since an "inside out" swing often taps weak flies to the opposite field. That's just my guess about what's going on; we'll have to wait until better batted ball data comes out in the offseason to know for sure. In the meantime, does anyone who's seen him play this year want to comment?

AA Arkansas: 47 wins, 73 losses

Tyler Chatwood, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 6 K/1 BB

Chatwood gave up only his second HR in almost 60 AA innings this week, but otherwise limited the damage by fanning a batter an inning, walking only one, and using only 77 pitches to plough through six innings. John Sickels and some other prospect watchers have expressed dismay over the drop in his K-rate since his promotion to Arkansas. However, the Riverside Press Enterprise published a good story back in June that should allay our fears: where Chatwood has made his biggest strides in 2010 is in his pitch efficiency, buying into the Angels "mantra" of retiring the opposition in "three pitches or less."  Why toy with hitters, going for the punchout, when they're likely not square a well-sequenced pitch in the zone? My hope is that Chatwood follows in John Lackey's footsteps, another prep righthander who never flashed plus strikeout numbers in the minors but learned to pitch efficiently early in his career.

Jeremy Berg, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 W, 5.1 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 8 K/0 BB

Berg, who was in rookie ball just a year ago, gets better with every promotion: his "FIP," a sabermetric ERA equivalent that (supposedly) neutralizes luck and the defense behind a pitcher, has improved from 2.36 with the Kernels, to 2.11 with the Quakes, to 0.91 with the Travs. His K and groundball rates just keep going up.  Is he a flash in the pan or another Mike Kohn? We won't have the answer until next year, but he's a guy to watch.

Jeremy Moore, Of - (19 AB's) .368/.478/.579 with 2 dbl, 1 trpl, 2 SB, 5 K/4 BB

Over the past sixteen months, Moore has hit .388 on balls in play, or about 50 points above average in the Angels' system.  I think it's safe to say that his ability to make solid, linedrive contact is a stable skill, despite the alarming k-rate. The big question with Moore is whether his homerun and stolen base totals will jump in the coming year. I think he's a left-handed version of Terry Evans, and my hope is that his power/speed tools kick in much as Evans' did around his 24th birthday. The Halos will have to add him to the forty man roster this year, or likely lose him. 

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