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Hank Conger, Korean god of walks: Angels Upper Minors Report

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 26 wins, 24 losses

Hank Conger, C - (16 AB's) .375/.565/.500 with 2 dbls, 4 RBI, and 2 K/7 BB

Here's what Abe Flores had to say about our own "Korean god of walks":

"First year of AAA. Young guy... He will be an offensive-type catcher, and that's not a knock on his defense. He's a good player.  He'll be a good major leaguer in time."

On how his defense projects at the MLB level:

"I think he'll be a tick above [average]... With Mike and our system, I wouldn't exclude a chance of him being better than that."

On his best defensive tool:

"His hands. His ability to receive."

On how far his bat is from being MLB ready:

"Not far... Not far at all."

On whether he makes the big league club in 2011:  

"That will be determined by how our club shapes up and who we have coming back next year, so it's a little early for that projection."

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (25 AB's) .310/.355/.690 with 1 trpl, 3 HR's, and 8 K/2 BB

It's June 1st and Trumbo has hit nearly as many homeruns (13) as he hit all of last year (15). That just about sums up the difference between hitting in Arkansas and hitting Salt Lake, though Trumbo is helping his own cause by hitting 8% more flyballs into the outfield this year than in 2009.  He's second in the PCL in homeruns, and fourth in total bases, which poses an interesting dilemma for the Angels: with the big league club's hole at first base, do you roll the dice on our AAA big man and his decent contact rate? Or do you wait for his uninspiring 41 K/11 BB ratio to improve, not to mention the ugly .320 OBP?  I know what my answer is, but there's certainly room for debate. 

Pete Bourjos, C - (29 AB's) .379/.438/.552 with 1 trpl, 1 HR, 3 SB's and 3 K/3 BB

Abe Flores on what Bourjos, who's hitting .272/.323/.402 so far in 2010, needs to do in order to become a legitimate leadoff candidate in the big leagues:

"Controlling the strikezone... Laying off pitches, especially when he gets behind in the count. Pitches that are balls and swinging at them. Basically, becoming a little bit more of a disciplined hitter.  They don't want to walk him, so they're pitching him pretty tough.  You walk him, it's a good chance it turns into a double."

On why Bourjos is stealing fewer bags this year (only 7 so far)

"He's working on understanding the situations, the spots, where he needs to steal a base. So there's a learning curve in understanding the situational part of stealing bases. Still the same guy, still a plus runner, he's doing fine."

On Bourjos' pop

"I don't think [pop] is his game...His game is getting on base, and being more of a table setter. He does have the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark, but I think that's going in the wrong direction for who he is and what he's going to be at the major league level. He's a table-setter. If he happens to do that, that's straight gravy. We're not expecting that, that's not what his skill set promises."

Paul McAnulty, DH, OF, 1B - (20 AB's) .300/.417/.600 with 2 HR's and 6 K/4 BB

McAnulty owned AA with a .331/.426/.649 line, and is off to a good start in the Pacific League.  We'll have to keep an eye on fluctuations in his K-rate (20% in Arkansas) and his BB rate (14% in Arkansas) to better predict how much of his fine work is going to carry over to the top levels. At the very least, it's good to see him rewarded with a bump up the system. 


AA Arkansas: 19 wins, 29 losses

Efren Navarro, 1B - (20 AB's) .350/.409/.750 with 2 dbls, 2 HR's, 1 SB and 1 K/2 BB
Underneath the surface of his .234/.289/.357 season line, there are signs that Navarro's the victim of some very bad luck. First, he's reduced his strikeout rate to a very good 12%. His BABIP is a well-below average .246, which should increase since he's hitting approximately the same distribution of line drives, fly balls, etc, that he's hit in the past. He can only go up from here, and this past week was a promising step in the right direction.

Roberto Lopez, U, C -  (25 AB's) .320/.414/.600 with 4 dbls, 1 HR, and 8 RBI's with 6 K/4 BB

Lopez responded to his AA promotion with a bang, slamming a solo shot in his Travs' debut. He's a fine hitter who is going to need all of the plate discipline and contact skills he can muster to come anywhere close to maintaining his pro career .330 BA in AA.  Defensively, he was making some improvements behind the dish, nabbing a decent 32% of base-stealers while allowing only a pair of passed balls, but I think those gains will be difficult to carry up to the next level. He has yet to catch a game in Arkansas, so keep an eye out for how they use him. 

Jordan Walden, rhrp - (3 appearances) 1 Sv, 3.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 5 K/2 BB

Abe Flores on how Walden is doing:

"Good. Just getting innings, getting his work. The velocity is there. Breaking ball is on the come. He just needs more outings, more patience. Power arm. He has the makings of a back-end of the bullpen kind of guy. The ingredients are all there, it just hasn't yet all fallen into place for him. It will just take some time."

Walden has put up six straight scoreless appearances and has a 1.29 ERA in May.

Robert Fish, lhrp - (2 appearances) 1 Sv, 2.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 3 K/0 BB

I'm becoming a big fan of twenty-two year old Fish. Since his promotion to AA, he's halved his walk rate while keeping his K-rate above 1 per inning. He's equally effective against righties and lefties, who have posted a .188 and .200 BAA respectively.  Plus, he's got local roots. 

Mike Anton, lhsp - (2 starts) 10.1 IP, 9 hits, 3.48 ERA, 7 K/5 BB

Tim Kiely, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 7 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 3 K/1 BB

Jeremy Thorne, rhsp - - (1 start) 1 W, 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 4 K/3 BB

I want to highlight the guys who propelled the Travs to their winning-est week in May. In our interview, Abe Flores gave a shout-out to Eddie Bane and his staff for locating and signing "really good organizational players that develop out prospects... through winning."  Anton, Kiely, and Thorne were signed out of college in the middle rounds of the 2007 and 2008 drafts, they advanced to the upper minors within a couple years of entering the system, and have given the guys around them a shot at winning as often as not.