ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim makes a catch on a ball hit by Mike Napoli (not pictured) of the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Here are a some guys who've rocked over the first three weeks of minor league ball:
1) Mike Trout - .400/.463/.600, 4 triples and 6 SB
The Halos' FO dodged a spring bullet when the sick bug bit Trout in February and gave them a credible reason for stashing our potentially second best bat in Salt Lake. All the better to give AB's to the vets. Now that Trout's demolishing the best competition minor league baseball has to offer and the Angels are in an early season hole, how long can they afford to keep him out of sight? He took a pitch off the elbow a couple of nights ago and hasn't played since, so the Halos FO might catch another "break" here and be able to forestall inevitable decisions awhile longer. Hey, Bobby and Vernon need their AB's.
2) Garrett Richards - 1.67 ERA, 27 K/27 IP, 59% GB rate. 24 swinging strikes against 50 hitters
If merit was the determining factor in the Angels' position battles, then this guy would be our number five starter. There's no question that he showed the best combo of stuff and results in spring training, and that carried over to Salt Lake. He's doing a phenomenal job of racking up strikeouts and ground balls. Reintroducing his curveball and being able to consistently bury his swing-and-miss slider have really boosted Richard's K totals.
3) Brad Mills - 1.42 ERA over 3 starts
Again, if merit played any role in the Angels' decision making, then Mill might be pitching in the big leagues right now.
4) Donn Roach - 3 W, 1.33 ERA over 27IP, 17K/3BB, 79% GB rate
A good ground ball rate is anything above 50%. In the big leagues, touching 60% borders on elite. Flirting with 80%? Otherworldly. It's A-ball, sure, but the ground ball rate and sharp command are boosting Roach's stock fast. GB guys can cough up huge numbers of hits in bunches, so we should be cautiously optimistic, but he's really interesting.
5) Steven Geltz - 2 W, 9+ IP, 0 ER, 12 K, .107 BAA
Why do the Angels' continue to bury this guy? What did he do to piss them off? Aside from perhaps Carpenter, he's been their best, most consistent minor league reliever over the past couple of years, yet he continues to spin his wheels in Arkansas while less accomplished guys get promoted ahead of him. He has legit stuff to back up the numbers.
6) Hank Conger - .357/.390/.554, 2 HR
What happened when Hank finally got out from under the Mike Scioscia, spring-training-for-catchers pressure cooker? He hit like a beast while committing six errors behind the dish in rapid succession, that's what. There's definitely something going on between the ears here, and my sense is that the problem doesn't begin or end with Hank. I know it seems like he's been around forever, but he's still just barely 24 years old and could still have a great career ahead of him. It would break my heart if it comes with another organization. He hasn't played for two consecutive games, so may be a little banged up.
7) Jeremy Berg - 12 K in 8+ inning , 68% GB rate
Berg's a gimmicky, soft-tossing sidearmer, but he could absolutely have a Darren-O'Day-in-Texas run of MLB success ahead of him. He has superb command, and his breaking ball is sneaky good, even if the pitch touches 70 mph only now and then.
8) Travis Witherspoon - .324/.360/.493 with 2 HR and 3 SB
Tremendous start. Sadly, he plowed into a wall Sunday night and hasn't played since, so may be hurt. He's historically been streaky, so it would be a shame if his early season run gets cut short.
9) Jean Segura - .277/.329/.446 with 2 HR and 6 SB
He's entirely miscast batting third for Arkansas, but still, so far, so good for Segura. That club has really played well this past week and is now over .500 again, but how long that will last without any legit corner bats is anyone's guess.
10) Taylor Lindsey - .266/.342.438 with 2 HR and 11K / 6BB
He's adjusting, and the walk and power numbers look ok. He could really explode as he gets more comfortable. He had a similar start last year in the Pioneer League before going on to hit .360+.
11) Manny Correa - 0.93 ERA, 10 K/9.2 IP.
Correa was a trendy sleeper in the Angels' system a couple of years ago, but posted poor performances on the back of worse peripherals, so dropped under the radar again. Still just 23, he can touch the mid 90's at his best and scouts always liked the shape of his slider, even if it didn't get much in the way of whiffs. Maybe he's breaking out.
12) Kole Calhoun - .325/.360/.488, 1 HR, 5 SB and time in center
The only question I have is this: do we consider him a future fan favorite, or a present fan favorite? The numbers are undoubtedly inflated by Salt Lake, so he's not ready yet, but he's showing a really well rounded game.
13) Matt Long - .310/.403/.500 with 2 HR and 6 SB
Long had an outstanding weekend that boosted his numbers way up from where they were a week ago. He's the Trav's best hitter right now.
14) Dakota Robinson - 0 ER in 6.2 IP, 7 K
Here's a sleeper. Robinson doesn't have knock out stuff, but he's a lefty who throws strikes and knows how to stay out of trouble. He's already received one promotion, and could continue to move quickly.
15) Cedar Rapids -- Playing .500 ball.
They haven't pitched or hit particularly well, and no one player stands out, but they're the first box score I check after work. Austin Wood's pitched two dominant starts, and two forgettable starts. Kaleb Cowart started the season hitting .380 for a week, just like last year, but has cooled since. Sleepers Kevin Moesquite, Chevy Clarke, Mike Clevinger, Ryan Crowley, and Eswarlin Jimenez have all enjoyed their moments of brilliance, but no one's really hit their stride yet. Hopefully there will be more guys to write about next time.