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Minor League Report: Matt Brown Posts Strong Finish

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AAA Salt Lake Bees, 72 and 71 (final)

Brett Salmon, rhsp - (2 starts) 2 W, 11.1 IP, 7 hits, 1.59 ERA, 15 K/6 BB

Brad Knox, rhsp - (2 starts) 2 W, 12.1 IP, 11 hits, 2.19 ERA, 11 K/6 BB

Tommy Mendoza, rhsp - (1 start) W, 6 IP, 4 hits, 0 ERA, 4 K/3 BB

Dan Denham, rhsp - (1 start, 1 relief appearance) 6 IP, 4 hits, 0 ERA, 6 K/2 BB

Led by their rotation, the Bees' made a run at the division title over the last week-and-half of the season. Ultimately, they were unable to overtake Colorado Springs, but that takes nothing away from the efforts of Salmon, Knox, Mendoza, and Denham, who kept the Bees competitive to the very end.

Matt Brown, 1B, 3B - (27 AB's) .290/.333/.613 with 4 Dbls, 2 HRs, and 10 RBIs

As the Bees' final game came to a close, veteran announcer Steve Klauke described some of the players' last on-field actions. Matt Brown made it a point to visit all of the groundskeepers, shaking hands and presumably saying thanks.

Bradley Coon, CF - (27 AB's) .367/.457/.400 with 1 Dbl, 6 Runs, 4 SB's

Coon made the final out of the Bees' final game. That's fitting, only because he was one of the few Bees to post a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) that was lower than expected, despite hitting in a great offensive park. His line drive rate was an average 18.9%, so the low BABIP was possibly/probably the result of plain bad luck. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see Coon hit .320 in the PCL next year while remaining basically the same solid player.

Robert Mosebach, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 Sv, 4.1 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 6 K/3 BB

Mosebach was a horse out of the bullpen, posting a 2.04 GO/AO while holding the opposition to just 1 HR and .223 BA in 40.1 innings of PCLwork. Between him, Thompson, and the guys a couple of years behind - Kohn, Herndon, Bachanov and others - the future of the Halos bullpen looks both bright and cheap.

AA Arkansas 61 and 79 (final)

Hank Conger, C - (33 AB's) .303/.439/.515 with 1 Dbl, 2 HR's, 1 SB, and 4 K's/8 BB's

I'm going to keep repeating what I've said for months: Hank is having his best all-around season by far, but too few people are noticing because he's hit only 11 homeruns. First, he's stayed healthy, catching 86 games for the Travs and DH'ing another 36. He's made tremendous strides with his defense, erasing an above-average 30% of base stealers and allowing only 3 passed balls (though he's committed a high-ish 14 errors). He's affirmed that he's a true switch-hitter, terrorizing left-handed pitching to the tune of an .875 OPS. And the patience! He's walked 59 times against 64 strikeouts, controlling the strike zone well against advanced pitching. Best of all, he's only 21 in AA, which is extremely rare for a catcher. To put that into context, more highly touted Indians catching prospect Carlos Santana is 23 in AA. Buster Posey began the year in High A as a 22-year-old. Hank's homerun power will return, and in the meantime he's made himself a much more complete player. Maybe the rest of the baseball world will catch on when Hank plays in the Arizona Fall League.

David Herndon, rhrp - (5 appearances) 1 W, 2 Sv's, 6.2 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER's, 4 K's/1 BB

Herndon's an extreme groundball guy, getting hitters to pound the ball into the dirt at the clip of 60% of balls in play. Despite posting a mediocre K-rate of 4.41, Herndon's been very good in high-leverage situations, holding batters to a .191 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Mike Anton, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 9 K/2 BB

Anton had a tremendous professional debut in the summer of '07 after the Halos took him in the 12th round of that draft, using a screw-ball like change-up to baffle rookie ball hitters. However, the plus junk hasn't been enough to compensate for his lack of fastball against better competition, and the southpaw consequently struggled this season in AA, posting a 2 and 8 record with a 5.07 ERA over 17 starts. On the plus side, Anton occasionally has nights where the junk is untouchable, which is what happened against Travs'-rival Northwest Arkansas last Thursday. Another season honing his craft in AA might be just the ticket for Anton.

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (37 AB's) .351/.429/.514 with 3 Dbls, 1 HR, 9 RBI's

Trumbo's hit a very good .320/.361/.502 since the allstar break, mashing 29 extra base hits. He's also got a nose for the RBI: with the bases empty this season, he hit only .249/.289/.398; but with runners on, his numbers jumped to .336/.379/.511. It's going to be a lot of fun to see what his power numbers do in the PCL.

High A Rancho Cucamonga, 61 and 79

Headed to the Cal League playoffs, beginning Wed evening

Jay Brossman, 3B - (29 AB's) .310/.355/.724 with 3 Dbls, 3 HR's, and 11 RBI's

24-year-old Brossman raked last week, doing his best to erase Matt Sweeney from Quakes fans' memories. His season line is .247/.311/.440, right in line with what he did in A-ball last year, but I think there's more potential there. The site www.Minorleaguesplits.com has tool that neutralizes "luck" on balls in play, and if you regress Brossman's BABIP's rates to league averages, his season line becomes a much more useful .284/.346/.493. Reality, of course, doesn't unfold on a spreadsheet - but his good 18% K-rate and very strong .193 ISO hint at the possibility of better numbers to come.

Carlos Colmenares, U - (27 AB's) .370/.370/.556 with 3 Dbls and 1 Trpl

For weeks at a time, Colmenares was the spark plug of a too-often punch-less Quake's lineup. He's a switch-hitter with little-to-no homerun pop, but works the gaps well and lets his legs do the rest, knocking 21 doubles and 6 triples on the season.

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

How do the Halos continue to conjure up good pitching that goes undrafted by other teams? Shoemaker is another shrewd post-'08-draft free agent signing out of Eastern Michigan University. In his first full season of pro-ball, the almost-23 year old made it all the way to High A, where he's tossed 3 starts, limited hitters to .212 BAA, and struck out 13 to only 1 walk.

A Cedar Rapids, 78 and 60

Headed to the Midwest League playoffs, beginning Wed evening

Chris Scholl - (3 Appearances) 9 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 18 K's/2 BB's

Scholl's numbers before the allstar break: 5.74 K's per 9 IP with a 4.25 ERA. After the allstar break: 13.5 K's per 9 IP with a 2.57 ERA. Something clicked.

Angel Castillo, RF - (23 AB's) .348/.375/.739 with 3 Dbls, 2 HRs, and 1 SB

At .242/.315/.389, Castillo's stat line in the Midwest League looks...well, not so good. But there are hints of future breakout potential: this year's 24.7% K-rate, while poor, is superior to last season's 28.8%, so he's addressing his greatest weakness; he's hit 11 HR's and swiped 16 bags, showing legitimate power/speed tools; and he's a dynamite right fielder who can even handle center in a pinch. The problem was his line drive rate, which nose-dived from 20% last year to just 12% this year. Those lost bullets became groundballs, shaving 64 points from his BABIP and 115 points from his ISO. While he may never hit for much average, his raw power could translate into enormous numbers if/when he regains some lift on the balls he bats into play. At 20, he still has a lot of upside left.

Gabe Jacobo - (30 AB's) .400/.419/.633 with 2 Dbls, 1 Trpl, 1 HR and 9 RBI's

Since the allstar break, Jacobo keeps getting better. He hit .262/.317/.439 in July, .275/.315/.471 in August, and .364/.391/.591 in September. That's certainly good enough for promotion to High A in the ‘10, where his contact rate and power skills could result in gaudier numbers.

Will Smith, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 8 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 5 K/1 BB

August was not kind to Smith - the opposition hit .324 against him, leading to a 7.56 ERA over 16.2 IP on the month - but he appears to have righted the ship in September. He pounds the strikezone with three decent-to-good offerings and issues few walks, but the K rate and groundball rate have both eroded in full season ball. We'll see how he copes with the California League next year.

Orem Owlz, 28 wins and 6 losses (2nd half)

Headed to the playoffs to take on rival Ogden. The action begins Saturday.

Fabio Martinez Mesa, rhsp - (1 start) 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER's, 7 K/2 BB

Tyler Skaggs - (1 appearance) 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 3 K/0 BB

Jon Bachanov - (1 appearance) 2 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 3 K/0 BB

Our top ASL arms reinforced the Owlz for the team's playoff run. 19-year-old Fabio showed why he was the ASL's strikeout king, fanning seven in his Pioneer League debut. On the year, he's held the opposition to a .196 BAA while striking out 13.6 per 9 IP. Skaggs, who just turned 18, relieved Fabio, and threw 2 more scoreless innings with 3 K's to maintain his 0 ERA on the year. Top Halos '07 draft pick Jon Bachanov picked up where the other two left off, fanning 3 the following night, though he also leaked in a run.

John Locke, lhsp - (2 starts) 2 W, 10.1 IP, 8 hits, 1 ER, 4 K/2 BB

Locke has tossed 5 straight quality starts, making him the most consistent Orem starter lately. He's 23 and in an organization with more young pitching than Cedar Rapids rotation slots, so it's unclear where he'll fit in next year.

Carlos Ramirez - (20 AB's) .350/.480/.600 with 2 Dbls, 1 HR, and 4 K/ 5 BB

I've written about him a lot recently. Patience, power, and it looks like he'll hit for average. Solid defense and even better make-up. Dude's a stud.

Terrell Alliman, RF - (23 AB's) .346/.452/.462 with 3 Dbls, 6 RBI's, and 1 SB

The toolsey Alliman was first in doubles and fifth in BA in the ASL last year. Though he hit only 1 HR in '08, Baseball America liked his power potential, reporting good bat speed and even warning that he'd have to cut down on his upper cut and his tendency to pull the ball. Alliman seems to have taken that to heart, because he's pounding balls into the ground like our own Willie Mays Hayes: 60% of his batted balls were grounders this season, about 20% more than your average player. He runs well enough to hit a higher-than-average .330 on those groundballs, but the proportionally fewer flyballs and line drives means that he's posted a tiny .091 ISO without an HR this year. If you don't hit for power in the Pioneer League as a 20 year-old, you're probably never going to hit for power, and that's just not going to work for a right fielder.

Mike Wing, 3B, SS - (32 AB's) .344/.417/.469 with 1 Dbl, 1 HR, 1 SB and 6 K/4 BB

Wing is another 20 year-old with an intriguing bat, and is athletic enough to profile as a utility player across the infield. His hands aren't great - he's posted an .887 Fielding % at shortstop and a .897 fielding percentage at 3B - but he has time to improve, and hits much better than your average rover. He could be a right-handed Mark Derosa type.