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Farm Report: Kochanowicz, Diaz Impress on the Mound

The 66ers and Trash Pandas both got impressive outings from their starters on Thursday

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Thaiss’s continued rampage over AAA, a pair of recently-signed undrafted free agents making waves early in their professional careers, and two stellar starting pitching performances highlighted Thursday’s minor-league schedule for the Angels’ farm system.

Player of the Day

Thursday marked one of the finest starts in the young minor-league career of 2019 3rd rounder Jack Kochanowicz, as he spun six scoreless innings in his outing for Low-A Inland Empire, striking out five and only allowing three baserunners.

The 20-year-old Kochanowicz had struggled pretty badly to the tune of a 7.54 ERA across 13 starts in his first taste of professional baseball (he was shut down for the rest of 2019 after he was drafted like most Angels pitchers and missed out on 2020 because of the pandemic) this season leading up to this appearance, but he had it all working last night, recording nine of his 18 outs via the ground ball and limiting the opposing Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks) from getting any sort of traffic on the basepaths.

Kochanowicz is the 6th-ranked prospect in the Angels system according to MLB Pipeline and the 2nd-ranked pitching prospect behind the recently-debuted Reid Detmers, so performances like this one are encouraging to say the least.

Triple-A Salt Lake

The Bees offense did not struggle to get in the hit column on Thursday, as they recorded 13 knocks and seven extra-base hits in this one. What they did struggle to do, however, was push those runners across, with the 16 runners left on base being the primary reason why they were not able to climb out of the early 5-1 hole they found themselves in.

The most notable performance for Salt Lake came from the recently-returned Matt Thaiss, who continued his excellent campaign for the Bees with a three-hit game, including a pair of doubles and an RBI. The club also got multi-hit games from Kean Wong, Anthony Bemboom and Gavin Cecchini, as well as a solo home run from Brennon Lund.

Double-A Rocket City

The other stellar pitching performance of the day in the Angels system came from Jhonathan Diaz, who struck out nine and allowed just one run across seven innings pitched in a win for the Trash Pandas. This was the latest in a series of excellent starts for the former Red Sox farmhand, as he has pitched to a 1.80 ERA across his last four appearances.

Connor Higgins and the newly acquired Jose Marte (who the Angels got as part of the trade package for Tony Watson) both took care of business in relief of Diaz, with both of them firing scoreless innings and showing off some nasty sliders in the process.

On the offensive end, the Trash Pandas were powered by a three-hit game by Luis Aviles Jr., who hit his 12th home run of the season.

High-A Tri-City

The Dust Devils fell victim to a couple of crooked numbers on Thursday night, as a four-run third inning and three-run seventh were enough to sink Tri-City against the Eugene Emeralds. Starter Hector Yan was touched up in the latest twist of an up-and-down season for him, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs across 4.1 innings pitched, albeit with seven strikeouts as well. One positive for Tri-City was the continued hot streak of Kenyon Yovan, who recorded his fifth extra-base hit in just his seventh game with the club after signing with the Angels as an undrafted free agent last month.

Griffin Mazur, another undrafted free agent in just his third game with the team, drove in three of the four Tri-City runs with a sacrifice fly and a two-RBI double.

Low-A Inland Empire

In addition to Kochanowicz’s gem, the 66ers also got a very good performance on the mound from Julio Goff, who allowed just one unearned run across three innings of relief to earn his first save of the season. Inland Empire’s offense did most of their work in the third inning, where third baseman Jeremy Arocho hit his first home run of the year and shortstop Jose Guzman doubled home a pair of runs. This was one of four knocks for Guzman on the day in what was the first four-hit game of the season for him.

Transactions

Triple-A: Packy Naughton was called up to the Angels on Wednesday and is currently awaiting his MLB debut. To make room on the roster, Chris Rodriguez was optioned back down to Salt Lake, though he’s expected to return to the big leagues to start one of the games in the club’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays next Tuesday as the 27th man.

Thursday’s Scores

AAA: Las Vegas 7, Salt Lake 5

AA: Rocket City 5, Chattanooga 1

High-A: Eugene 7, Tri-City 4

Low-A: Inland Empire 7, Visalia 1

Friday’s Schedule

4:15 PM PST: Rocket City Trash Pandas (Ryan Smith) @ Chattanooga Lookouts (TBD)

6:00 PM PST: Inland Empire 66ers (John Swanda) @ Visalia Rawhide (TBD)

7:05 PM PST: Salt Lake Bees (TBD) @ Las Vegas Aviators (Paul Blackburn)

7:05 PM PST: Tri-City Dust Devils (Jack Dashwood) @ Eugene Emeralds (Conner Nurse)