AAA Salt Lake Bees: 57 wins, 54 losses
Mark Trumbo, 1B - (26 AB's) .379/.438/.828 with 2 dbls, 1 trpl, 3 HR's, 9 RBI's, 9 K/3 BB
By the numbers, 24 year old Trumbo is putting together his finest minor league season yet, but how much of that is a PCL mirage? There's a slight increase in both his strikeout and walk rates, likely reflecting Trumbo's efforts to work deeper counts, but those changes are marginal, so the answer lies in batted ball data. Improvements to just his BABIP and ISO would suggest that the thin mountain air is responsible, but a closer look at the distribution of his batted balls suggests that Trumbo is in fact learning to square up the ball more frequently. Trumbo's game is hitting for power, and to do that, he's got to hit the ball into the air. Last year he did that 33.6% of the time on contact, and this year he's lifting the ball 39% of the time on contact (maintaining almost the exact same line drive rate), so he is in fact hitting significantly more flyballs. But there's more: last year he popped out in the infield 20% of the time, and this year he's popping out only 12% of the time. So his percentage of potentially useful flyballs - those that make it to the outfield - has jumped 13% overall. Not only is he hitting more flies, but fewer of them are landing harmlessly in the first baseman's glove. He played his first ever game in left last night, and while he clearly got crossed up once or twice, he made all of the plays. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in his September call-up.
Matt Palmer, rhrp - (4 appearances) 2 Sv, 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 3 K/1 BB
The Bees named Palmer their starter last night at the very last second. Just two days after his last relief appearance, he went 4 hitless innings, showing outstanding command down in the zone (8 groundouts to 2 flyouts. Kevin Frandsen especially helped with those GO's), and his curveball looked especially sharp. Given the state of the Halos' pitching staff, we'll see more of him at the big league level before the season is out. With the dearth of reliable AAA-level pitching depth in the organization, we'll likely see him next year too.
Peter Bourjos, Cf - (26 AB's) .346/.393/.692 with 3 dbls, 2 HR's, 5 K/2 BB
Here's the man of the hour. Due to demand for his skill set, I'm going to assume he'll remain at the MLB level through the remainder of the season, so let's close the book on his 2010 PCL campaign. His July tear brought his season line to .314/.364/.498, or an OPS+ of 116 for the PCL. Interestingly, he fell a little short of the park-adjusted 118 OPS+ he posted in the Texas League last year. His bat and stolen bases were worth about 12 runs more than the average PCL player, up about 5 runs from last year due to better success stealing and a touch more pop. Chances are his base running will add another few runs in Fangraphs' calculations. Sean Smith reports that Bourjos is currently at +12 runs with the glove in centerfield according to his groundbreaking TotalZone metric, which makes Bourjos' 102 game season with the Bees' worth a little more than 4 wins above replacement. Multiply that out to a full AAA season, and you get a very impressive 5.6 wins, just below where organizational leader Alexia Amarista was last year. Altogether, it was an excellent first stab at AAA.
Amalio Diaz, rhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 5 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 6 K/2 BB
With recent trades having stretched pitching as thin as it's every been at the higher levels of the system, a few guys are converting from relief work to starting. One of them is Amalio Diaz, a fastball/slider guy out of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. He's bounced from the bullpen to the rotation throughout his six-year minor league career, but had a very successful season the last time he was a full time starter in 2008 (10 Wins, 8 Losses. 4.32 ERA over 160.1 High A and AA innings). So far in 2010, he's 3 and 3 with a 3.51 ERA across 75.1 AA and AAA innings. His ERA through 5 starts, all in the PCL, is an ugly 6.50, but it's trending in the right direction.
AA Arkansas: 41 wins, 66 losses
Trevor Reckling, lhsp - (2 starts) 10 IP, 4 hits, 0.90 ERA, 13 K/4 BB
A just-turned 21 year old prospect in AA with a 2.84 ERA through 38 IP (27 hits, 34 K/13 BB) would look very, very good... if we could forget what Reckling did with the Bees. His strikeout and walk rates have looked a lot better since he returned to AA, salvaging his season somewhat following the first half disaster in AAA. One thing that's not trending in the right direction, however, is his groundball rate. At just 38.5%, it's declined substantially from the 48% mark that he set in 2009. Is that lack of command down in the zone? Or is it a change in his approach? I don't know the answer.
Mike Anton, lhsp - (1 start) 1 W, 7.1 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 7 K/3 BB
Anton had a good July, going 2 and 1 with a 3.45 ERA. The 25 year old finesse lefty is the only member left of the Travs' opening day rotation.
Andrew Taylor, lhsp - (2 starts) 1 W, 11 IP, 12 hits, 2.45 ERA, 8 K/5 BB
Taylor's another reliever whom the Angels have had to convert to starting. What makes his case all the more interesting is that he started just 1 game out of his 64 game North Carolina State University career. He's done a decent job since joining the rotation, going 1 and 1 with a 3.94 ERA over 16 innings.
Tyler Chatwood, rhsp - (1 start) 5 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 3 K/0 BB
Chatwood's fastball/curve combo has kept AA righties to a .221 batting average, even if his 5.4 K per 9 IP isn't overwhelming. It's lefties who have given him trouble: they've hit .330, walked at a rate of 4 per 9 IP, and fanned at a rate of only 2.5 K per 9. Perfecting his change-up is now his primary order of business.
Jeremy Moore, OF - (15 AB's) .400/.464/.417 with 1 HR, 2 SB, 3 K/4 BB
Moore ranks fifth in the Texas League in batting average, one of the few Travs to make it anywhere near the league leader list. He's improved every year in an Angels' uniform, and is now showing a legitimate feel for hitting with a .303/.362/.431 line. His K rate is creeping down, his walk rate is creeping up, and his stolen base success rate is up slightly from last year. Right now he looks like he could make it as a fourth outfielder, and if he continues to turn his considerable tools into baseball skills, he could start as a platoon guy with plus defense in the corners.