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Rookie Ball Opening Day Preview/Thread

The Angels just posted rosters for the Owlz and the AZL Angels. They also updated their draft results page, though it's not current because it still shows Taylor Lindsey and Ryan Bolden as unsigned.  Here are a few profiles of non-2010 draftees who should take the field for Orem or Arizona.  This content comes straight from Abe Flores, but our chat was a month ago, so the information may not be entirely up to date due to injuries and such.

HH: Can you tells us about Josh Blanco, who put up some good numbers in Arizona last year?

ABE FLORES -  A finesse left-hander, he'll be going to Orem. He had a nice season last year so we're going to challenge him with the next level, he's ready for it. He should be pretty effective at that level.

HH: How about Jamie Mallard?

ABE FLORES - He'll probably end up repeating in Tempe. He's got to continue to work on the defensive part of his game. He's an interesting offensive player, plenty of bat speed, but he needs to improve his defensive abilities to basically become the more complete package.  We're not into - I don't think anyone is - developing just DH's, so he has to be adequate on defense to have value.

HH: How about Rolando Gomez?

ABE FLORES - Good player. He should be going to Orem, he's really gotten better. His all-around game has gotten better. Base-running, defense, bunting, his hitting. He's just a good little player.

HH: Does he still take that big uppercut?

ABE FLORES - (Laughs) Yeah. We're trying to temper it, because we definitely want him to be that type of player, that type of pest, who people hate to play. We don't want to take away any of his aggressiveness - he can drive a ball, he will surprise you with his ability to drive the ball even though he's kind of a smaller guy - so we've got to walk that fine line with him.

HH: I remember last year in the first month in Arizona, he hit a bunch of homeruns, hit for a lot of power, but struck out something like 25% to 30% of the time. Then, it was like someone flipped a switch, and his strikeout rate dropped to something like 10%, though with significantly less power. Was that the result of an intervention on your part, or did something just click for him?


ABE FLORES - Not so much an intervention on our part - it was just our hitting program. Understanding what his strengths are, what his game is, and how to execute it. That's what it comes down to. Knowing his game and being able to execute it consistently on a daily basis.

HH: Another guy, another good defender, Travis Witherspoon. Is he going to make it to full season ball this year, or will he be in Orem again?

ABE FLORES - He'll be in Orem. He continues to learn the strikezone. He's an offensive player, a solid defensive player, a very good baserunner, very good instincts on the bases. But [pitch] recognition and understanding the strikezone are things that he needs to understand. He knows the challenge, he needs to continue to hone that.

HH: Wes Hatton?

ABE FLORES -  Just a good ballplayer. He can do a lot of things well. Also another guy who can beat you a lot of different ways: he will surprise you with how much pop he has in that bat. He has tools. Just a good player. Another thing about Wes is that he comes with a lot of intangibles.

HH: How about Eduardo Soto?

ABE FLORES - We're going to see where he competes, especially as the draft shapes up.

HH: Baudilio Lopez?

ABE FLORES - Doing fine. Baudilio will probably be looking at our bullpen in Tempe.  But these things change depend on the draft. There's a lot of pitchers we need to draft and sign.  He's got a good arm. A good curveball... [his velocity] is 88 to 91.

HH: How about Dan Reynolds?

ABE FLORES - Big fastball. His secondary stuff continues to improve, but he's a power arm. We're definitely going to monitor his innings, because he didn't pitch any last year for us at the professional level. Eventually we'll put him back as a starter, but we're going to start him in the bullpen, so he can keep his innings in check. He's a very competitive guy.

Ryan Chaffee disappeared from the Quakes roster a few weeks ago, but reemerged on the Owlz website, so here's an update on him.

HH: How about Ryan Chaffee. He's another guy who's back, but do you think that there are any shoulder issues behind his recent erratic performance?

ABE FLORES - You know what, it's not been about a shoulder issue. It's been more of a focus issue with him, so he's got to control his emotions as the game starts, which will allow him to repeat and throw strikes. He can get kind of wrapped up, and it affects his command.

HH: Is he still changing his arm slot?

ABE FLORES - No. One arm slot, a higher slot.  Three quarters.

HH: He had a few different variations of the breaking ball. Does going to one arm slot whittle down his arsenal significantly?  What's he throwing now?

ABE FLORES - He's a fastball, slider guy. It's a good slider, he can show plus action on it, it can be a potential out pitch for him. For him it's also about repeating his delivery, keeping his poise, and throwing strikes. There's some growing pains there with him. But he does not lack ability, or athletic ability, or arm strength, or physicality.

HH: Do you think that higher arm slot is going to effect his ability to rack up ground balls?

ABE FLORES - That's something we'll continue to monitor. We'll see. The groundballs will be a byproduct of him throwing strikes down in the strikezone, and getting good action on the ball down.  If he leaves the ball up, he's not going to get any groundballs.

For additional reading, check out Orem's preview here (hat tip, The linked article confirms that 2nd round pick Daniel Tillman, 4th round pick Max Russell, and 27th round pick Brandon Decker have both already signed. 

Stay tuned for tonight's rookie ball lineups...