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Will Smith, Future Big Leaguer: Angels Upper Minors Report

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 29 wins, 28 losses

Will Smith, lhsp - (1 starts) 1 W, 6.1 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 3 K/1 BB

Angels' Director of Player Development Abe Flores on Will Smith:

"Obviously we've had some injuries, some promotions, and he's just a logical guy to send up here to AAA. It's not permanent.  The initial plan is that it will not be permanent, but Will has the poise to compete at AAA.  He's just gotten better. His velocity has picked up, the sharpness on his curveball has picked up, his command is better... He's 88 to 94. He wasn't that before. He's always been an 86 to 90 guy who lives at 88-89. The breaking ball was a lot longer, with not as much bite. Now he's shortened it up, it has a tighter rotation... He came into camp in tremendous shape." 

HH: I saw him a few weeks ago, and he looked so much lighter than he had the year before.

ABE FLORES - "Yeah, what has he lost, 15, 20, 25 pounds? Real dedicated guy, a leader, has a lot of intangibles. Those add up. "

HH: I saw that Eddie Bane flat out said that Will Smith will be a major leaguer. He said that a few months ago. Would you agree with that assessment?

ABE FLORES - "Absolutely. [Laughs]. Yeah, he is going to be a big-leaguer. Because he's got a lot of weapons, and his velocity has picked up, and he's just better. It's not a reach. It's not like Eddie's reaching here. This guy is good. It's evident when you see him. Obviously he's at a level that's above where his normal progression should be, but he's getting great lessons from this league. I just talked to him yesterday, and he understands that this is a great opportunity to learn a lot of things while he is here."

Smith did get roughed up for four runs in 5.2 innings Tuesday night, after the weekly stats cut off (Monday to Monday for the upper minors).  Still, he hung in there well into the sixth inning without letting things get out of hand.  Check out the footage from an April start in the Cal League below.

Nate Sutton, 2B, U - (21 AB's) .381/.458/.714 with 1 dbl, 2 HR's, 1 SB and 1 K/3 BB

Sutton was in the spotlight a couple of weeks ago as a big league third base option before the Izturis/Franderson duo cemented their hold on the position.  He's played very well since, running the bases effectively and even flashing some power.  That said, he's not an especially toolsy or physical player, limiting his upside. He does have a great feel for the strikezone, evidenced by his 29 K/23 BB ratio in AAA, and some speed, but whether that's enough to get the 27 year old a big league look remains a question.

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (15 AB's) .316/.381/.684 with 1 dbl, 2 HR's, and 6 K/2 BB

I continue to learn a lot about player evaluation through this guy. What I see is plus power and a decent hit tool that's stunted by a lack of patience. That makes him a major league bench asset for me (no small accomplishment!).  John Sickels is in the same camp.  Guys closer to the industry - the guys that count - continue to see and tout a player who will hit homeruns in the major leagues, making him a rare commodity that shouldn't be button-holed so quickly.  They argue that with marginal improvements in his approach, he could still develop into a cheap, Juan Rivera-like source of power for the major league club. Trumbo will tell us who is right. 

Sean O'Sullivan, rhsp - (2 starts) 13 IP, 15 hits, 4.15 ERA, 8 K/6 BB

O'Sully ticked off three consecutive quality starts before running into a little trouble Monday night.  That's no mean feat in the PCL.  He's put up a 4.94 ERA over 71 innings this year, a slightly above-average performance from a guy who's still only 22. To put that in context, had he gone to college, he would be in just his second full year as a pro, or approximately where Ryan Chaffee is now. If his command sharpens up enough to avoid those thigh-high misses in the zone, he will be a big leaguer yet.

AA Arkansas: 21 wins, 34 losses


Jeremy Moore, OF - (16 AB's) .313/.450/.563 with 1 dbl, 1 HR, 2 SB's and 6 K/ 4 BB

Moore's walk rate is up to nearly 10% this year, which is great for a guy who's highest previous rate was 6.8% (in rookie ball). Unfortunately, his K's are up too at 28.6%. I really like Moore's athleticism, and it's clear that he's trying to work through his issues with strike zone judgment.  I keep hoping his skills catch up with his impressive tools to fuel a late career surge ala Terry Evans, a very similar player.

Tim Kiely, rhsp - (2 starts) 12 IP, 12 hits, 2.25 ERA, 4 K/1 BB

Kiely's a "finesse righty" who lives in the upper 80's and survives on good command and an instinct for mixing in his secondary pitches. Despite the lack of top-flight stuff, he's made Halos Heaven's top weekly performance list six times in the past year and a half, proving to be effective when he hits his spots.

Carlos Colmenares, U - (17 AB's) .412/.583/.412 with 6 runs, 2 SB's and 6 K/ 7 BB
Colmenares slid into the leadoff spot midway through last week and got on base in over half of his plate appearances.  The 24 year old switch hitter has played well for the Travs, putting up a .280/.384/.366 line through 107 AB's.

I ran a little behind this week with the reports due to both the draft and to my own "Gavin Eagles" playoff run that has us on the road to Boston's Middle School City Championship. Our semi-final victory last night came down to a collision at the plate, where my catcher held on to the ball for the final out, three innings after he'd taken his first collision of the season (and his career) and couldn't hold on. We're now gunning for the Irving Middle School, who has beaten us in every sport this year, once in the finals. We'll get them this time with pitching and defense. Go Eagles!