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Will Smith still hanging with the big kids: Angels Upper Minors Report

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 33 wins, 30 losses

Will Smith, lhsp - (2 starts) 1 W, 14.1 IP, 17 hits, 3.14 ERA, 9 K/1 BB

Abe Flores gave a heartening report on Smith's stuff last week, and the big lefty has done nothing but hammer the endorsement home since, coming within an out of throwing a complete game Monday night.  His hit and K rates aren't great, but by issuing so few walks Smith saves himself from having to be perfect. He's posted a 5.36 ERA and .320 BA against in his month with the Bees, but this week he sure looked like he belonged, and that's an achievement any 20 year old can be proud of.

Fernando Rodriguez, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 6 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 7 K/1 BB

Because he's pitched out of the pen for nearly two years, Friday's outing was Rodriguez' first quality start since 2008, and it was a gem.  Perhaps he'll meet more success in the rotation than he did as a reliever through April and May, when he yielded 21 hits, 8 walks, and 12 runs in just 14 innings, resulting in a bump from the 40 man roster.  The last significant sample we have of his work was is in his " AA relief pitcher of the year" '09 season, which was impressive. There's reason for optimism here. 

Mike Kohn, rhrp - (2 appearances) 1 Sv, 4 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 6 K/2 BB

Kohn's meteoric rise through the Halos' system continues, and a 2010 debut in Anaheim looks inevitable. His K-rate has dropped from 14.6 per nine in Cedar Rapids to 11.5 per nine in Salt Lake, or by about one hitter per level, but that still puts him on pace to be an above average reliever in the major leagues.  He has coughed up two long balls in just 11 AAA innings, and it seems likely that homeruns will be an issue for him in the majors because he works his fastball up in the zone. But it's also the PCL, and those were only his third and fourth HR's allowed in 125.2 pro innings, so there's little reason to think they will hold him back too much.

Pete Bourjos, CF - (28 AB's) .321/.321/.607 with 1 trpl, 2 HR's, 1 SB, and 3 K/0 BB

I'm more encouraged by Bourjos' moderate strikeout totals this week than I am by the homeruns, because at points this season his k-rate looked like it would climb over the 20% mark (he K'd 15% of the time last year).  His AAA BABIP is an average-ish .316, by far the lowest of his career, while his line drive rate is 16.3%, very close to what it was last year, so I expect him to beat out a few more infield hits in the near future. The real issue with his 2010 first half is the decline in his walk rate, from a promising 10% last year down to a miniscule 4% this year. Flores said that AAA pitchers were making it a point not to walk him, but Bourjos has to adjust here. The homeruns might be part of that, a sign that he's not going to have the bat knocked out of his hands. 

Gary Patchett, SS - (20 AB's) .400/.429/.600 with 2 dbls,1 trpl, and 3 K/1 BB

Aybar's injury obviously increases the focus on Patchett, who's currently filling an important place on the depth chart as our starting AAA shortstop. The 31 year old journey man owns a .242/.311/.299 slash line over 1233 minor league at-bats, but he plays an average short stop, so there's always been a market for his glove.  The roster juggling that the Halos would have to do to make room for him makes a promotion unlikely, but one more injury might be enough to press the issue.

AA Arkansas: 23 wins, 39 losses

Jeremy Moore, OF - (25 AB's) .520/.538/.800 with 1 dbl, 2 HR's, 1 SB and 6 K/ 1 BB

Moore is on a BABIP binge, becoming the Travs' most dangerous hitter since McAnulty's promotion. He's mashing .409/.480/.659 so far this June, and tagging righties overall at a .305/.364/.458 clip, which counts as raking in his home park. As usual, his BABIP .377 is significantly above average, but entirely in line with his three year trend. While he isn't exactly lighting the world on fire in 2010, Moore is showing enough to warrant consideration as a possible platoon bat down the road.

Julio Perez, RF - (9 AB's) .444/.444/1.111 with 2 HR's and 1 K/ 0 BB

25 year old Perez came off of the DL this week, but showed no ill effects from the missed time. Together, he and Moore make for an athletic and exciting outfield duo, which is something - if just something - for Travs' fans to cheer for... 

Barrett Browning, lhrp - (3 appearances) 2 W's, 7.1 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 5 K/1 BB

Browning snagged both of the Travs' wins this week with some nifty middle relief work. He has a reputation for throwing a low 90's fastball with loads of movement, and it used to generate a lot of grounders. Those GB tendencies have mellowed with each go at the Texas League - this is his third year in AA - and he still has trouble finding the strikezone, walking a guy every other inning for the third year running. Because he's never been horrible, the multiple years with the Travs hardly seems fair. However, his numbers have never been above average either, so building on a strong June would go a long way towards accelerating a stalled career.