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Alexia Amarista Driving Balls Line to Line: Angels' A Ball Report

High A Rancho Cucamonga: 29 wins, 23 losses

Alexia Amarista, 2B - (22 AB's) .409/.458/.682 with 3 dbls, 1 HR, 2 SB's with 3 K/2 BB

Angels' Director of Player Development Abe Flores on Amarista:

"He's in that class of an Aybar, or Alexi Casilla, or Alberto Callaspo. He's in that class, so his size is not a deterrence at all. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. For a smaller guy, he's very physical, he's strong, he drives balls, he can hit balls from line to line... He can cover all four quadrants of the strikezone when he's really going good... When he's not pull happy, he's doing that, he's using the whole field. He can bunt. He can beat you in so many ways. He's just a good baseball player... He limits himself when he gets pull-conscious and opens himself up, gets exposed on the outer half of the plate. When he's [going the other way], he's a pretty tough guy to get out. He's going to get on base a bunch when he does that. When he starts driving a few balls, starts to want to just drive balls over the right fielder's head, it's fine, but he needs to pick his spots a little bit more."

Amarista limited himself to knocking just one ball over the right fielder's head this week, for a double. His HR went to the opposite field -- first ever opp field HR for him? He didn't send any that direction last year -- and he sent another double to center. Here's a clip of him pulling the ball hard, though in his defense he got two straight inside fastballs leading up to his big cut.

Matt Shoemaker, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 9 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 12 K/2 BB

Not bad for a 23-year old who went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan University. Shoemaker was very effective in his first full season of pro ball, making stops at both Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga last year and winning six games with a 3.38 ERA over 81 innings. He's been a solid number two starter for Rancho behind Tyler Chatwood, stymieing the opposition with an excellent 9.19 K per nine innings and a 12% pop-up rate.  He's currently second in the Cal League in strikeouts.

Darwin Perez, SS - (22 AB's) .409/.500/.545 with 1 dbl, 1 trpl, 8  runs, 2 SB's, 4 K/4 BB

I really liked Perez out of the Pioneer League in 2008 due to his patience/gap power combo, but his 20% K rate combined with dismal power output in Cedar Rapids caused him to drop off the radar a little bit. He's K'ing a full quarter of the time this year, but is also hitting more flyballs.  That approach appears to be working in the Cal League, but the K rate is going to have to come down as he moves up the latter.    

Pat Corbin, lhsp - (1 start) 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 4 K/2 BB

Abe Flores had this to say about Corbin:

"The thing that sticks out for me with Pat has not been so much his stuff - his stuff is about the same, maybe it's improved somewhat - but it has been his ability to fix himself on the rubber and make adjustments mechanically to allow himself to repeat and work down in the strikezone. Period.  Before, when he was pitching in Orem last year, he struggled, he struggled to repeat a delivery that would allow him to succeed. Now he's overcome that. He still has some issues with being a little flat in the strikezone, he does give up some runs, but he's winning, he's winning ballgames, so he's giving himself and the team he's pitching for a chance to win... He's leaving the ball up in the strikezone, and [Corbin's excellent 15% infiled pop-up rate] is the outcome of a flyball guy... The only thing that concerns you is that, hey, what location is it, and is it in a sweet spot for the hitter, where he can drive the ball.  Or is it in a location where he's misfiring with the barrel, and will give some flyballs."

Luis Jimenez, 3B - (27 AB's) .259/.333/.556 with 1 trpl, 2 HR, 6 RBI's, 1 SB, 2 K/3 BB

Jimenez' promotion means that he's reunited with a lot of the guys - Darwin Perez, Angel Castillo, Gabe Jacobo - whom he played with in Orem's dominant 2008 playoff run.  I think his return to that cohort, in addition to getting to hit in the Cal League, will do great things for him. Flores had this to say about him:

"Because of that shoulder injury, all the way through this first half we'll give him days [at DH] to get some rest. We're just being a little overly conservative, just to make sure he doesn't have to miss any games.... [His third base defense] has improved, but it's a work in progress.... You know, the guy hasn't played in awhile. He didn't play at all last year, so being in a competitive situation now, he's shaking the rust off. Obviously there's timing issues: seeing the ball, driving the ball. He was at that advanced level two years ago in the Pioneer League, then he didn't play last year...he's just looking to find his comfort zone."

See footage of Jimenez here.

A Cedar Rapids: 33 wins, 18 losses

Garrett Richards - (2 starts) 2 W, 12 IP, 6 hits, 0 ER, 14 K/2 BB

Richards notched a W in his third straight appearance, and hasn't given up an earned run since May 15th.  He got knocked around over a two week stretch in late April and early May, but has been dominant ever since. I'd like to see him continue the dominance for a few more weeks before the Halos push him to the next level. Here's some footage of him from April.

Fabio Martinez Mesa, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 6 IP, 2 hits 0 ER, 7 K/3 BB

Mesa rebounded from a poor showing last week to earn his first "W" since April 9th. Obviously the arm is special - the 12.8 K per nine and .200 batting average against attest to that - but he continues to battle command and consistency issues.  On the positive side, he seems to be doing a better job of holding baserunners, a significant hole in his game entering this year.

Tyler Skaggs, lhsp - (2 starts) 2 W, 10 IP, 9 hits, 3 ER, 9 K/2 BB

Abe Flores on Skaggs:

"He's doing fantastic. Way better than even the numbers [4 wins, 2.51 ERA] indicate.  This kid can flat out pitch, he has the projection. He's doing a tremendous job... [Skaggs' slow curveball] is doing fine. It's a good pitch, it's a weapon, it's an out pitch.  He can pitch it side to side and down.  He can command the fastball. I think he's got advanced feel and command for someone his age.... He's piggy-backing with Tyler Kehrer, who's another pitching prospect, to keep his innings in check, to make sure that he'll get up to a threshold of around 110 innings. That's plenty his first year."

Mike Trout - (24 AB's) .375/.444/.500 with 3 dbls, 5 runs, 2 SB's, and 3 K/3 BB

Abe Flores on the possibility of a promotion:

"Right now, we're going to leave Mike Trout alone. If the feeling is that there should be a promotion, then we'll look at it, but right now he is staying in Cedar Rapids. So far as there being an upside to [a promotion], sure there is. There's always upside to any player being challenged at another level. As long as he's capable of handling that, mentally and physically, which at some point we have no doubts Michael will be able to do."

Abe Flores on whether he projects a major league ETA for Trout:

"No. [laughs]. He's on his own timeline. I won't go there with anybody."