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Cow Tipping: June Update - Jo Adell is good at baseball

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Rookie ball has begun!

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Affiliate Teams (from AAA to Rookie):

Note: We won't be showing the "duds" for the rookie leagues unless they are top prospects or top draft picks. A lot of the guys in the rookie leagues are young and adjusting to pro ball. Many of them never make it past rookie ball, and even the truly gifted ones can have bad weeks, months, etc.

* Player is in the top 30 on MLB.com top prospects

AZL Angels
1-6 (through 6/25)
Tempe, AZ
Level = Rookie, Arizona League

*Trent Deveaux (OF, 18) Hitting .333 with a 157 wRC+ over 24 plate appearances. He’s walked 3 times to 4 Ks.

Jose Guzman (2B, 18) Only 17 PAs, but Guzman is hitting .375 with a home run a home run and double.

Staff thoughts:

This is a very raw bunch, perhaps even moreso than prior years, as the first week of action has largely featured recent DSL grads and a scattering of under-the-radar minor league free agents the Angels have been collecting post-draft. One shouldn’t pay much attention to game outcomes at this level, but the AZL Angels have surrendered 79 runs in their first seven games (to 22 of their own). That’s, well... what it is. Beyond Deveaux, what we’ll want to pay attention to is the progress of Stiward Aquino, coming back from TJ, and what two-way player William English might show, beyond the near-40% K-rate we peeped in 2018. It’s unlikely we’ll see much of them soon, but this is also where we might get a first glance at Jack Kochanowicz, Kyren Paris or Erik Rivera – the Angels’ 2019 #2-4 round draftees, each of whom have signed at this point.

DSL Angels
8-11 (through 6/25)
Dominican Republic
Level = Rookie, Dominican Summer League

Rainer Rivas (OF, 18) Through 14 games he’s hitting .375 with a 174 wRC+ (6th in the DSL). He’s also sporting a .492 OBP. Rivas is in his 2nd year with the organization.

Jean Puntiel (2B, 17) Small in size (150#), Puntiel has put up a .367/.486/.500 slashline though 10 games and his first season in the organization.

Starlin Gill (3B, 19) Hitting .293 with a .397 OBP. He’s swiped 7 bases over 15 games.

Danifer Diaz (RHP, 17) Over 5 games and 12.2 innings, Diaz is yet to allow a run. He’s racked up 20 Ks.

Staff thoughts:

We’re seeing daily action from Alexander Ramirez here, who has shown flashes of the power/speed combo the Angels were dreaming on when they doled out $1m for him last July. 2 HRs, 4 SBs, though he’s striking out in roughly a third of plate appearances, betraying his youth at a wee 16 years old. On the whole, this version of the DSL club reflects the clear priorities up and down the organization – all the action is with the athletic outfielders (Ramirez, Rivas, Natanael Santana) and shortstops (Puntiel, Jorge Jimenez). Early reports are the Angels have their sites on three more young shortstops when the July 2nd cycle commences, so expect this trend to continue into the near future.

Orem Owlz
4-7 (through 6/25)
Orem, Utah
Level = Rookie, Pioneer League

*D’Shawn Knowles (OF, 18) Perhaps a sign of developing power, Knowles already has 2 home runs in 9 games. All last year he hit 5 over 58 games. But it’s still early. Knowles also has .400 OBP and 4 stolen bases. He’s looked spectacular in the field, with a couple highlight reel nabs in CF. A clear top-ten Angels prospect at this point.

*Jeremiah Jackson (SS, 19) The power Jackson flashed in 2018 is still in evidence in the early going at Orem. .286/.386/.657 – even if video game power numbers are common in the Pioneer League. But the look has matched the slash line. The 3 HRs and 4 2bs were earned, though he still has some contact issues that need to be addressed as he progresses.

Anthony Mulrine (C, 21) This 25th round pick from 2019 has the 6th best wRC+ in the Pioneer League in early going. He’s hitting .417 with 3 doubles and leads the Pioneer League in OBP at .632.

Jose Verrier (2B/3B, 21) Through 38 plate appearances, he’s holding on to a .500 OBP. He also has an identical walk and K rate (15.8%) and is hitting .321 with 3 homers. His defense has been, even despite rough Pioneer League park environment, rough, rough, rough. 9 errors in 6 games – he’s a player in search of a position at the moment, and is particularly struggling with cross-the-diamond throws from 3B.

Jerryell Rivera (LHP, 20) Now entering his 3rd year in the org, Rivera should see Burlington before too long. He’s off to a hot start and hasn’t allowed a run over 9 innings in his two starts. He’s also allowed only 2 hits but has walked 8.

Staff thoughts:

Most of the advanced pitching (eg, Stallings, Brnovich, et al) that the Angels picked up in this year’s draft will be unlikely to make appearances this year with the Owlz, as the Angels shift more generally to the Canning strategy of resting college arms with big workloads the summer after drafting. Despite a tough Tuesday night outing, it’s promising to see Jerryell Rivera take a step forward – he’s added weight and seen an uptick in velocity. He’s the sort of HS sign just outside the top ten rounds that you hope attains to his lotto ticket upside. The rest of the rotation is still pretty raw and internal development projects. The 19 year old Panamanian Sadrac Franco might be one to watch.

Will Wilson (the Angels’ first rounder from this year’s draft) only just re-joined the active club this week since jamming his thumb sliding into second base in game one of the season. He was manning second base as of last night, in favor of Jeremiah Jackson at SS. The top third of the Owlz order (Jackson, Wilson, Knowles) appear to be the only clear upside prospects on this club at the moment.

Burlington Bees
41-34 (through 6/23)
Burlington, Iowa
Level = A, Midwest League

Studs:

*Jose Soriano (RHP, 20) Over his last 4 starts, Soriano has a 1.34 ERA with 17 Ks in 20.1 innings. However, he also logged 14 walks in those games.

*Hector Yan (LHP, 20) Yan has thrown 20.2 innings in the month of June and has allowed just 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 29. His last two appearances (11+ IP) were each no-hitters.

Others:

*Jordyn Adams (OF, 19) Last year’s 1st round pick has heated up a bit at the plate and is hitting .293 over his last 10 games. He’s still striking out a TON with 64 Ks in 65 games this year.

Nonie Williams (OF, 21) Overall just .200 on the season but Williams is hitting .254 with a .395 OBP in the month of June. If the kid could only address his contact issues (87 Ks in 66 games), he might be a weapon, as his speed has been very much in evidence (13 SBs to date).

Staff thoughts:

The Burlington rotation has been the highlight – and perhaps the one surprise – of this season’s Angels farm action to date. It hasn’t been the offense, which has often struggled to scratch out a couple runs on any given night, and has shown a clear lack of power across the board. Even with Adams’ hit tool picking up since May, the power has yet to surface with any consistency, and one feels a bit of FOMO when seeing the progress of a Nolan Gorman (already in Advanced-A ball w/ 27 HRs since drafting), whom the Angels passed up in favor of the lower-ranked multi-sport project. But the rotation has a lot of young promise – Jose Soriano, Hector Yan, Robinson Pena – each 20 yrs old. Plus, Cristopher Molina, promoted to Inland Empire this week, and Luis Alvarado, a 17th rounder from last year’s draft. All of them are displaying the commonality of high K-rates, hit suppression, and some wildness. In short, good young pitching prospects who still have a few years ahead of them, and some reliever risk across the board.

Inland Empire 66ers
28-47 (through 6/25)
San Bernardino, CA
Level = A+, California League

Studs:

(Moving Up) Michael Stefanic (2B, 23) Since being called up to High A, Stefanic is hitting .269 with a .355 OBP and 3 home runs over 18 games. He’s also struck out 8 times and walked 8 times.

(Moving Up) Ben Morrison (RHP, 24) Since joining IE, Morrison has a 2.25 ERA over 4 appearances and 8 IP.

Jordan Zimmerman (3B, 24) June has been good to Zimmerman. He has a .362/.438/.652 slash with a 1.090 OPS over 18 games. That includes 4 home runs, 6 doubles, and a triple.

Franklin Torres (2B, 22) Torres has a .369 OBP on the year and .382 over the month of June where he’s also hit 2 home runs. There is a bit too much swing and miss in his game still for a guy without much power but at least he gets on base A LOT. Torres has also caught 18 games this year so perhaps the Angels are working on another position conversion?

Orlando Martinez (OF, 21) On the season, Martinez is hitting .298 but in June he boasts a .338 AVG and .414 OBP with 2 home runs.

Staff thoughts:

While June has seen a few hitters jag into a hot streak here or there, many of these guys are rather long-in-the-tooth (23-24 yrs old) for this level, and the 66ers and BayBears both lack impact position players overall. One exception here is Cuban lefty OF Orlando Martinez, whose tools are starting to play up. He’s probably a reserve in the end, but he’s young for A+ ball, and is heating up as the summer comes on. Injury has slowed some of the quick-starting pitching (Jake Lee, Kyle Bradish) at IE, and all anyone really wants to see is Chris Rodriguez stumble out of the hospital ward and become the one frontline rotation talent the Angels have left on the farm, but the baseball gods just won’t seem to have it this year.

Mobile BayBears
31-43 (through 6/25)
Mobile, Alabama
Level = AA, Southern League

Studs:

*Jo Adell (OF, 20) Adell’s injury sure didn’t slow him down. He currently has the #1 wRC+ across ALL of the minors and he’s hitting .403 with 3 home runs and 9 doubles in his 17 games back with Mobile.

Patrick Sandoval (OF, 24) Sandoval has been hot this month with a .348 AVG and 3 SB. He’s only slugging .394 though.

*Jesus Castillo (RHP, 23) Castillo has turned it around after a rough AFL. He has a 3.00 ERA this year with a 1.25 WHIP. He’s had 3 scoreless starts this year and a 1.40 ERA over his last 10 appearances and 51.1 innings.

*Jeremy Beasley (RHP, 23) A modest 3.72 ERA on the season and rough start his last time out, but Beasley has the 5th highest swinging strike rate in all of AA at 14.3%.

(Moving Up) Brett Hanewich (RHP, 24) Hanewich has been lights out all year, including just 1 run allowed in his first 8 games for Mobile. He has a 0.95 ERA on the season with a .147 BAA and 1.09 WHIP.

Adam Hofacket (RHP, 25) Hofacket has a 1.20 ERA but .306 BAA. He also has a 1.50 WHIP. He’s getting the job done but giving up that much contact is a little concerning.

Others:

*Brandon Marsh (OF, 21) Marsh was on fire in May but an injury derailed him a bit. He should be back with the team soon. May stats: .347 AVG, .462 OBP, 5 SB.

*Luis Madero (RHP, 22) Has a 6.34 ERA over his last 3 starts, raising his ERA in Mobile to 3.9

*Jahmai Jones (2B, 21) Has hit in 8 of his last 10 games for an average of .256 over that span. It’s a positive sign for Jones who is hitting .197 overall this season.

Staff thoughts:

There’s the blinding meteor of Jo Adell, there’s a potential MLB leadoff man of the future waving from a stretcher in Brandon Marsh, and then there’s everyone else. This team’s record is, like that of the 66ers, unfortunately reflective of its talent level. Most lineup regulars are struggling to put up even a .700 OPS, and the rotation is frustratingly inconsistent. If you squint, you might find a backend pitcher eventually in Andrew Wantz or Luis Madero, who show solid strikeout rates, but both need to miss more bats overall. The nearer horizon in AA is in the bullpen, where Hanewich and Hofacket have been generally effective, and Isaac Mattson and Jesus Castillo (who may be undergoing a bullpen conversion, like Joe Gatto before him) have proven useful in shorter stints.

Salt Lake Bees
35-42 (through 6/24)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level = AAA, Pacific Coast League

Studs:

*Jared Walsh (1B/OF/LHP, 25) Walsh is hitting .375 with 2 home runs over his last 10 games. On the mound for SLC this year he’s give up 3 runs in 8 innings.

*Taylor Ward (3B, 25) Over his last 10 games, Ward has 5 home runs, 9 walks, and a .325 AVG. He also has 15 RBIs and a SB.

Jarrett Parker (OF) This dude has been raking in AAA this year with 18 home runs and a .430 OBP. Over his last 10 games he has a .366 AVG and 7 home runs.

*Matt Thaiss* (1B, 23) Pretty insane number lately with a .405 AVG over his last 10 games along with 3 home runs. In his last 4 games, Thaiss has been on base 14 times in 21 ABs.

*Brennon Lund (OF, 24) Had a monster week and was named to the all pipeline team by MLB. He hit .636 over the past week and has a .463 AVG in his last 10 games with 2 home runs. Lund started out the season really cold in April and May but has a .368 AVG and .417 over his 17 games in June.

Others:

*Michael Hermosillo (OF, 24) Starting to heat up with a .286 AVG over his last 42 ABs and .333 over his last 6 games.

Dillon Peters (LHP, 26) Just landed on the IL

Parker Bridwell (RHP, 27) Has given up 14 runs in his last 3 starts (13 innings)

Jaime Barria (RHP, 22) Did someone break him? Barria has a 6.52 ERA for the Angels and 7.71 in SLC, including 16 runs allowed in his last 3 starts.

*Patrick Sandoval (LHP, 22) He’s been shelled pretty hard in the PCL with a .342 BAA and 2.08 WHIP over 33.2 innings.

JC Ramirez (RHP, 30) Has made 4 starts for SLC and has an 8.22 ERA and 1.89 WHIP over this 15.1 innings.

Nick Tropeano (RHP, 28) Considering the average ERA int he PCL is north of 5, I guess 6.61 for Tropeano isn’t TOO bad? He also has a 1.53 WHIP and .299 BAA over 32.2 innings.

Staff thoughts:

The pitching picture here is simply brutal. While pitching in the PCL at times is akin to ten-pin bowling in a hurricane, even the peripherals in most cases aren’t suggestive of future help that will transcend the mediocre filler of “primary pitchers” Pena and Cahill. A tiny ray of light from an otherwise sodden stormbank might be found in Matt Ball, who like Matts Palmer and Shoemaker before him, might be beating the odds, threading the needle in a tough park environment, and finding success with a journeyman’s four pitch mix, smarts and moxy. It would require some MLB roster massage to find him a moment, but it might be worth a shot.

The late-rounders in Walsh and Rojas continue to outplay their first-round betters at Salt Lake, when it comes to outcomes on both sides of the game. Meanwhile Ward and Parker seem to consistently hit, even if their glove-last profiles have them struggling to surface from the pile of misfit toys that the Bees have accumulated over recent months. There’s “depth” up and down the lineup, although it’s hard to trust that any of it will play for long stretches at the MLB level, and hard to see where the opportunities will come. It’s no doubt a hard sell, but turning a few of these bats into Pena/Ramirez level pitching assets over the next few weeks would be a much-needed step toward rebalancing a farm which has pitching pipeline problems at its upper levels.

Mid-year, as talent like Canning and Rengifo have graduated off prospect lists, the farm feels a bit clumpy and overhyped at the moment. The Angels contribution to top 100 lists has whittled down to one in most cases, albeit a formidable one. But beyond Adell (and Marsh) at Mobile, there are some intriguing young arms in A ball, and then some raw bats at the top of the order in Orem. Beyond that, we’re hoping for the best.