AZL Angels, 20 wins and 8 losses (second half) ... Position Players finished first in the league in team OPS, team BA, and runs scored. Pitchers finished first in K's, team ERA, and team WHIP
Randal Grichuk, LF - (46 AB's) .391/.429/.935 with 2 Dbls, 4 Trpls, 5 HRs, and 10 RBI's
Grichuk just keeps looking better: in his first professional season, he led his league in hits and triples; he finished second in extra base hits and total bases to San Diego's Cody Decker, who is four and a half years Grichuk's senior; and he tied for third in homeruns, finishing with 7. The only other teenage prospects to approach those power numbers were the Padres' Rymer Liriano and Jonathan Galvez, and the Mariners' Julio Morban. He did finish third in the league in K's, but had at least 30 more at-bats than anyone else in the top 10; and, as Zu Long pointed out, his K's declined each month, from a frightening 37.5% of his PA's in June, to 24.8% in July, and finally to 22.6% in August. Lastly, Grichuk flashed a run-producer's killer instinct: with runners on base, his BA jumped by 58 points, from .299 to .357, with a 1.002 OPS. He was even better with runners in scoring position, mashing .363 with a .700 slugging % and a 1.089 OPS. Short season ball is a small sample size, but I love the trend. Obviously he could take more walks, but we're talking about a guy who just got his draft card.
Josh Blanco, lhsp - (3 starts) 15 IP, 12 hits, 0.60 ERA, 20 K/3 BB
Blanco was the hero of the ASL Halos' Saturday victory against the ASL Giants, helping to force a one-game playoff for the division crown. He entered the game in relief of Tyler Skaggs in the 4th inning, and pitched 6.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing only 4 hits and no walks while K'ing 8. Over the past two years, he's pitched 100.1 innings in the ASL and yielded a 2.96 ERA and 82 hits with 115 K's to 32 BB's. He was a key participant in the ASL Halos' August 14th no-hitter. Finally, he finished strong, giving up just 1 run across 22.1 August innings. Because of the older pitching ahead of him in Orem, as well as rotation mates Tyler Skaggs and Fabio Martinez Mesa, he's a long shot to make next year's Cedar Rapids rotation, but the fact that a guy like this is buried reflects very well on the Halos' pitching depth. Because of his relief experience, he may pick up some high-leverage innings for Orem as the Owlz make their playoff run.
Tyler Skaggs, rhsp - (3 short starts) 6 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 7 K/1 BB
Skaggs has been damn near perfect in his professional debut, though tight pitch counts limited his contributions. It's a small sample size, but that 0 ERA for the season is a thing of beauty. Look for Skaggs in September Orem Rapids' box scores.
Jon Bachanov, rhrp - (3 appearances) 8.1 IP, 6 hits, 1.08 ERA, 13 K/0 BB
Bachanov pitched in long relief for the ASL Angels, though his use was determined more by a workout schedule than by his role or game context: his last three outings were around 3 innings in length and took place consistently every 3rd or 4th day, regardless of the game situation. I assume that's part of strategy to build arm Bachanov's strength after his lost '07 season and prepare him for a run at the Halos' closer job down the road. Nevertheless, it was disappointing not to see him pitch in one of the many high-leverage situations that unfolded in the final games of the ASL Halos' playoff run. His 15 K's per 9 IP indicate back-of-the-bullpen caliber stuff.
Mike Trout, CF - (47 AB's) .340/.392/.426 with 2 Dbls, 1 Trpl and 3 SB's
Striking out to end the ASL Halos' season with two outs in the ninth and runners in scoring position must have absolutely sucked, but Trout had been the hero a week before with a game-saving catch and walk-off, 12th inning hit. You have to play the goat sometimes in this game. Trout's professional debut was terrific: he finished second in the batting title race to much older Jesus Brito, and 6th in OPS - but again, the five guys ahead of him were all much older. He kicked off the season with a stunning 14.8% walk rate in July, but that dropped to a meager 5.7% in August. It would have been nice to see just a touch more juice in his bat, but the Halos really pushed him to focus on going the other way with his swing instead of cutting loose. The power should come. He's reportedly on his way to the Kernels for a cameo in their postseason run.
Orem Owlz, 23 wins and 4 loss (2nd half) ... Leads league in ERA and WHIP. Leads league in Avg. and OBP, and NO LONGER last in homeruns.
Garrett Richards, rhsp - (3 starts) 3 W's, 20 IP, 19 hits, 0.45 ERA, 17 K/0 BB
There's almost 2 weeks left to the season, but as of now, Garrett Richards holds the Orem rotation's "stats that jump of the page" honors. He's put up a 1.53 ERA across 35.1 innings, allowed 37 hits, and has a 30 K/4 BB ratio. The .278 BAA is a touch high, but Richards is getting better with each start. The Halos' FO is impressed too: yesterday, they sent Richards to the Kernels for a start or two.
Carlos Ramirez, C - (55 AB's) .364/.470/.764 with 7 Dbls, 5 HR's, 13 RBI's and 7 K's/11 BB's
Take the line above, throw in reports that the man is a sound defensive catcher, and you have yourself a legitimate prospect. His numbers behind the dish are solid - he's cut down 29% of base stealers, allowed 2 passed balls, and made only a couple of errors - but what the scouting reports emphasize more are his rapport with pitchers, his leadership skills, and his tough confidence. We don't know how much of his BA will hold up in Cedar Rapids: his 12 % K rate looks great, and according to Orem score keepers he's got a 22% line drive rate, but that .396 BABIP has got to regress. On the other hand, I think it's likely that the power and patience will translate in the full season leagues. The obvious comp for him his Mike Napoli - the stout build, the patience/power combo, and the old-time catcher swagger - and I think that's fair, so long as no one expects all of Napoli's exceptional power numbers.
Tyler Kehrer, lhsp - (3 starts) 1 W, 17 IP, 12 hits, 1.06 ERA, 14 K/5 BB
On a good night, Kehrer is Orem's most unhittable starter: he leads the rotation in strikeouts per inning (51 K/48 IP), and his .262 BAA is second only to Orangel Arenas' .256 mark. His season stats are not as impressive as they could be due to an injury/mechanics funk that wrecked July, when he threw just 9.2 innings over 4 miserable starts while surrendering 15 runs (10 earned) on 18 hits and 6 walks. Give Kehrer a mulligan for the month, and his resulting 2.58 ERA and .215 BAA are some of the better numbers you will find in the Pioneer League.
Dillon Baird, 1B - (57 AB's) .404/.460/.632 with 4 Dbls, 3 HR's, and 15 RBI's
Last night's monster game, when Baird went 4 for 6 with an HR, propelled him back into the Pioneer League batting title lead with a .386 season BA after he had slipped to second place temporarily behind Ogden's Brian Ruggianno. He's been an RBI machine this month, hitting .416 with runners on base and subsequently knocking in 30 over 28 August games. It'll be interesting to see what he does with a full season of at-bats against better pitching. Also, pre-draft scouting reports praised his arm strength and his speed, so a move to the outfield, if only to increase his flexibility, remains a possibility down the line.
David Carpenter, rhrp - (6 appearances) 4 Svs, 6.2 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 8 K/2 BB
Orem's closer doesn't have the hardest fastball on the team - he tops out at 90-91, according to Baseball America - but it has the kind sink that's made Carpenter's GO/AO ratio of 3.33 tops among Orem pitchers. Throw in a K rate of 11.4 per 9 innings, and the 2009 9th rounder looks like a solid relief prospect who could move very quickly.
DSL Angels, End of Season Record: 27 wins and 34 losses