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Brandon Decker Turning Heads: Angels Rookie Ball Report

Orem Owlz: 33 wins, 31 losses

Orem went 14 and 7 to start the second half, riding a trio of hot college bats, and looked like a good bet to take the division crown. They've dropped the last five straight, however, four of them by just one run, and will have to fight to keep Casper at bay over the coming weeks. Even a second place finish should earn playoff spot. 

Brandon Decker, 1B - (49 AB's) .441/.522/.932 with 5 dbl, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 13 K/5 BB

The Angels' 2010, 27th round pick is the latest incarnation of an annual Owlz narrative: a solid college hitter who acquires, temporarily, Pujols-like powers upon entering the Pioneer League.  Decker is a big strong guy who's tied for second in the league in HR's, despite having played 14 fewer games than the league leader. At 22, he's on the older end of the Pioneer League spectrum, and his plate discipline doesn't look as polished as, say, Dillon Baird's and Carlos Ramirez' did last year.  He played mostly left field at Valdosta State, but the Owlz are using him exclusively at first.  The questions with him will be whether he has the bat speed to hit quality pitching and the athleticism to provide some defensive versatility. 

Andrew Heid, CF - (88 AB's) .371/.438/.533 with 5 dbl, 4 HR, 2 SB, 13 K/13 BB

Heid has been Orem's best all-around player this year. He's a capable outfielder and excels at working the count, walking in 10% of his plate appearances while striking out only 12% of the time. He's hitting for more power than you'd expect from a leadoff type.  On the other hand, he struggled to steal bases at a high success rate in college, and that trend carried over into the pros, where he's posted only a 67% success rate.  As a senior, Heid was a very safe (and unexpected) pick in the ninth round.  So far, he's rewarded the Halos with his bat, thumbing his nose at the thirty other organizations that passed him over in the 2009 and 2010 drafts.

Brian Diemer, rhrp - (9 appearances) 14.1 IP, 9 hits, 1.88 ERA, 18 K/5 BB

The Angels picked up Diemer in the sixth round of this year's draft. The 6'5", 240 lb UC Berkeley alum looks the part of power pitcher, but a shoulder injury limited his innings, velocity, and command in college (info courtesy of Andy Sellers' mlbbonusbaby 2010 draft guide). After using 7 of their first 10 picks on prep players, Diemer was likely seen as a highly signable college pick, but further recovery from surgery gives the Halos a shot at upside. 

Bryant George, rhrp - (8 appearances) 1 W, 15 IP, 11 hits, 1.20 ERA, 19 K/6 BB

George is yet another older college pick (he's 22) whom the Angels scooped up relatively early in the draft. He's really undersized for a righty, weighing in at 5'10", 178 lbs, but he's put up the best numbers of any 2010 Orem reliever this side of Dan Tillman.  I'm looking forward to seeing a scouting report on his stuff.

AZL Angels: 24 wins, 31 losses

Obviously it's been a disappointing season for the AZL Angels, seeing as the Halos drafted and signed seven prep players in the first three rounds. Trout and Grichuk made things look so easy last year...

Suammy Baez, rhsp - 2 W, 32 IP, 24 hits, 1.13 ERA, 33 K/8 BB

Until a promotion to Cedar Rapids last week, Baez was the AZL Halos' front line starter. He's almost 22 years old, so while his numbers were certainly good for Arizona they were by no means spectacular given his age. His K rates over four years of rookie ball generally hovered around one per inning and he's shown above average control most of the time, but he's always been hittable. His first outing with Cedar Rapids was a good one: he picked up the pieces after Kehrer hit a wall in the fourth inning on Saturday night.

Joe Melioris, rhrp - 2 W, 30.1 IP, 33 hits, 3.56 ERA, 25 K/2 BB

I have a really good feeling about this guy. He's K'd almost a batter an inning and he keeps the walks to a minimum (48 K/5 BB in 49.2 IP). He's 6'10", 240 lbs, which makes his good control all the more encouraging because generally guys that big have difficulty maintaining their mechanics and throwing strikes.  He has a good groundball rate (49%) and an outstanding pop-up rate (21%), so hitters are having a tough time squaring him up. His stuff may not be overpowering right now, but there's the age, the size and the command to hint at upside down the road.

Taylor Lindsey, 2B - (83 AB's) .289/.333/.434 with 6 dbl, 3 trpl, 11 K/6 BB

Here he is, the AZL Angels' big bat. Poor production from early round prep picks will result in some gnashing of teeth this offseason, but it's not entirely unexpected. The Angels have a fundamental organizational belief that they can build baseball players out of first round tools and good makeup, regardless of a prep draftee's polish. The closest comp to the 2010 group that I can think of is the Halos' 2005 class: toolsey prep draftees PJ Phillips, Ryan Mount, Jeremy Moore, and Peter Bourjos who boiled down to big leaguers in Bourjos and possibly Jeremy Moore.  None of those guys mashed in the AZL, but two eventually learned to hit the best pitching the minor leagues has to offer. The 2010 group -- Clarke, Lindsey, Bolden, Soto, Sneed and Bolaski -- will yield major leaguers as well, though it's impossible to guess which guys will make it (Cowart's barely had 20 pro AB's, so I'm not lumping him in to this group yet).

DSL Angels: 37 wins, 28 losses (finished second in the league... 5 games behind the DSL Rangers)

Erick Salcedo, SS - (39 AB's) .308/.400/.462 with 2 dbl, 2 trpl, 10 K/6 BB

Salcedo just turned 17 and has some projection left on his  5'10", 155 lb frame.  He struggled to get things going in June and July, but obviously the bat came around this month, showing flashes of patience and pop. He's committed 4 errors in 29 games, which isn't great, but also isn't terrible for a 17 year old shortstop. I know nothing else about him, but he sure looks like a guy to keep an eye on.

Jean Santiago, lhsp - (3 starts) 1 W, 22.2 IP, 16 hits, 1.99 ERA, 19 K/7 BB

Every time we take a look at the DSL squad, Santiago and the guy below pop up.  He's a slightly built, 19 year old lefty with strong but not overpowering ratios (58 hits, 71 K/19 BB in 74 innings). I'm very interested to see how he does when he comes stateside.

Eswarlin Jimenez, lhsp - (3 starts) 1 W, 27 IP, 26 hits, 2.67 ERA, 29 K/5 BB

Jimenez is a little taller and half a year younger than Santiago, and has slightly more impressive ratios (72 hits, 85 K/20 BB in 82.2 innings). He's still technically 18, and we should see him pitching stateside next year.

Ismael Dionicio, 2B - (51 AB's) .392/.446/.451 with 1 dbl, 1 trpl, 9 K/5 BB

Dionicio is older than Salcedo, but is a similarly built, switch-hitting middle infielder (the Angels do have a type). He's 19, so is a little further along on the development curve and has yet to show much pop or the ability to square up lefties.