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By Tres Hefter, AngelsWin.com Columnist
While lower-level pitching has been dominant for the Angels farm so far this year, multiple strong performances made it difficult to identify individual standouts – during this time, quietly, several hitters have made strides over the last two weeks.
1) Jared Walsh – 1B/LHP, AAA:
Walsh picked up seven multi-hit games over the last two weeks, clubbing seven doubles and three home runs along the way, resulting in a .388/.484/.714/1.198 slash over 14 games, while also drawing 9 walks. Oh yeah, and he also made three relief appearances, picking up one save. With Bour, Pujols, and Ohtani all ahead of him on the depth chart, his path to Anaheim isn’t abundantly clear, but he’s certainly stating his case.
2019 hitting (AAA): .299/.394/.976 with 11 doubles, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 18 BB, 41 K in 36 G/160 PA
2019 pitching (AAA): 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .238 BAA, 2 BB, 4 K across 5 IP in 5 G
2) Jarrett Parker – RF/LF, AAA:
Nearly matching Walsh’s offensive production over the last two weeks is quasi-big leaguer Jarrett Parker, recently returned from injury. Playing the corner outfield positions, the 30-year old posted a slash of .326/.473/.674/1.147 boosted by 6 doubles, 3 homers, driving in 13 runs, and drawing 12 walks to 15 strikeouts. While there is no longer a clear path for Parker to support the main cast in Anaheim, he remains intriguing AAA depth.
2019 (AAA): .324/.467/.620/1.086 with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 19 BB, 22 K in 21 G/90 PA
3) Cesar Puello – CF/LF/RF, AAA:
Puello is surprisingly the only hitter carry-over from the last hotlist, as he maintained a .293/.396/.561/.957 slash over the last two weeks. High contact skills have long boosted the offensive profile for Puello, 28, whose power finally flashed in recent weeks, adding 2 doubles and three homers. Like Parker, Puello is out of options and not on the 40-man, so he isn’t likely to see Anaheim barring serious injury issues on the big-league club, so he’ll remain as AAA insurance. He’s already been hit by a pitch 10 times.
2019 (AAA): .302/.444/.500/.944 with 6 doubles, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 17 BB, 28 K in 31 G/133 PA
4) Francisco Del Valle – RF/LF, A:
The first of a few surprise hotlist entrants, 20-year old Del Valle, a 2016 14th rounder out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, has been a steady bat for Burlington, slashing .289/.413/.500/.913 since returning May 1st. While his upside is likely limited to that of a 4th OF, he has demonstrated good discipline and doubles-powers in his brief career, and could open some eyes once he reaches the friendly hitting environments of the California League.
2019 (A): .229/.319/.390/.710 with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 10 BB, 28 K in 30 G/120 PA
5) Leonardo Rivas – SS/CF/3B/2B, A+:
The switch-hitting 21-year old infielder reached base safely in all 12 games he played the last two weeks, earning a hit in all but one, giving way to a .320/.370/.520/.890 slash, popping 5 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 HR along the way. While he’s still striking out quite often – 16 times in that time – the increase in power has brought his prospect pedigree back into focus. The infielder also added a couple appearances in CF in this time, also furthering his value.
2019 (A+): .246/.333/.435/.768 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 18 BB, 43 K in 34 G/156 PA
6) Nonie Williams – LF/CF/RF, A:
??? What? Yes! Once again, Nonie has responded to one of his lowest lows by posting one of his highest highs. Days shy of turning 21, the 2016 3rd rounder has shaken off another poor start by responding with a .250/.348/.525/.873 slash so far in the month of May, exhibiting some power (5 doubles, 2 homers) and a bit of an eye – 6 walks, though 21 strikeouts is still worrisome – as his career continues to trend away from the sweet-swinging infielder he was drafted as and more towards an all-or-nothing power-hitting outfielder.
2019 (A): .187/.320/.336/.657 with 7 doubles, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 6-7 in SB attempts, 19 BB, 47 K in 32 G/129 PA
7) Kevin Maitan – 3B/2B, A:
Shaking off another slow start, Maitan, the youngest player on Burlington’s roster, has been showing signs of life since mid-April, and that’s continued the last two weeks. Posting a .295/.340/.477/.818 over the last two weeks, Maitan is showing power (2 doubles, 2 HR) and some improved hitting. He even stole two bases.
2019 (A): .215/.278/.306/.584 with 2 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 11 BB, 34 K in 32 G/133 PA
Honorable mention, hitters:
D.C. Arendas (1B, A): .353/.450/.794/1.244 with 3 3B, 3 HR – at 25, he’s 4 years older than the league average.
Taylor Ward (LF/1B/3B, AAA): .286/.444/.714/1.159 with 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 6 K – not quite enough playing time (8 G/36 PA)
Dustin Garneau (C, AAA): .217/.400/.478/.878 with 3 2B, HR, 6 BB, 8 K – also not enough playing time
Jhoan Urena (3B/1B, AA): .250/.372/.417/.789 with 3 2B, HR, 7 BB, 9 K – only 24, worth keeping an eye on, good pop, discipline
8 ) Jose Soriano – RHP, A:
Soriano, one of the Angels’ most intriguing pitching prospects who offers considerable upside, spun two great performances over the last two weeks, striking out 14 over 11 innings, allowing only two hits (.065 BAA) to go with an 0.82 ERA. Control continues to be a bit of an issue – he also walked 6 – but his 5/09 start at Dayton showed his potential brilliance, generating 19 swinging strikes on 88 pitches, allowing no hits over 6 IP.
2019 (A): 1.72 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .196 BAA, 20 BB, 32 K across 31.1 IP in 7 G/6 GS
9) Jose Suarez – LHP, AAA:
With Griffin Canning’s ascension to the Anaheim rotation, Suarez is now the #1 SP prospect on the farm. Suarez started the year with a balky shoulder, but returned to AAA action (as one of the youngest in the league) with two starts against two very good offensive teams in great hitter-friendly environments, showing his promise in both appearances. Capping at 5 IP/~80 pitches in each start, Suarez was stingy, surrendering one, only allowing 6 hits and 4 walks vs. 8 strikeouts.
2019 (AAA): 0.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .171 BAA, 4 BB, 8 K across 10 IP in 2 G/2 GS
10,tied) Cristopher Molina – RHP, A:
The lanky 22-year old has yet to allow more than 2 runs in a game this season, and only allowed one earned, good for a 0.60 ERA, over the last two weeks across three ‘starts’, two of which were conventional, one in relief. Across 15 innings, Molina struck out 19, limiting opponents to a .204 BAA, only walking 6. He’s yet to allow a HR on the season, and is likely making a case for a promotion to Inland Empire in the near future.
2019 (A): 1.35 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .178 BAA, 11 BB, 41 K across 33.1 IP in 7 G/4 GS
10,tied) Robinson Pina – RHP, A:
Equally impressive as Molina and therefore tying for the last spot on the list, the even lankier 20-year old Pina delivered similar success in two ‘starts’ (one in relief), capped by a 5-inning, 0 BB, 10 K performance against Bowling Green on May 8th. While he doesn’t possess the same swing-and-miss stuff as Molina, Pina has generated very similar results, each averaging 6 hits allowed, 3-4 walks, and 11 strikeouts per nine innings.
2019 (A): 2.01 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .204 BAA, 14 BB, 39 K across 31.1 IP in 7 G/4 GS
Honorable mention, pitchers:
Patrick Sandoval (LHP, AA/AAA): 12.2 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 3.55 ERA in 3 GS – earned the promotion to SLC
Denny Brady (RHP, A+): 14.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 20 K, 4.30 ERA in 3 games – could be a AA promotion candidate before long
Oliver Ortega (RHP, A+): 10.1 IP, 6 H, 11 BB, 17 K, 3.48 ERA in 3 games – including a 5 IP, 1-hit, 9 K start
Jason Alexander (RHP, AA): 8 IP, H, 0 BB, 9 K – delivered a dominant 8 IP one-hitter in his lone eligible appearance
Jesus Castillo (RHP, AA): 12.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 2.13 ERA in 2 games – had a chance to break top 10 yesterday, but game was PPD
Andrew Wantz (RHP, A+): 13 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 12 K, 2.08 ERA in 3 games – feels like a multi-inning RP candidate in near-future
Jeremy Rhoades (RHP, AAA): 8 IP, 4 H, BB, 9 K, 1.13 ERA in 5 games – could play into Anaheim depth relief again
Connor Higgins (LHP, A): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA in 3 games – lanky lefty comes with upside
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Michael Nelson "Mike" Trout (born August 7, 1991), nicknamed The Millville Meteor, is the center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball. Trout was the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2014, is a four-time All-Star, and a two-time All-Star Game MVP since becoming a regular player in 2012 (More on that below from our Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels History).
Trout was a first-round pick by the Angels in the 2009 MLB draft, and made a brief major league appearance in 2011. He became a regular player for the Angels the subsequent season, and unanimously won the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award. Trout finished second in AL MVP voting in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In addition to being named Most Valuable Player in 2014, he won the 2014 AL Hank Aaron Award. Trout is under contract with the Angels until the end of the 2020 season.
Trout's MLB performances have received praise from both the mainstream media and sabermetricians, and he is regarded as one of the most outstanding young players in the history of baseball, as well as one of the best current players in all of MLB. Trout has led the major leagues in wins above replacement (WAR) during his first three full seasons in MLB (according to Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.com) and was second to Bryce Harper in his fourth.
Trout's combination of power and speed has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame center fielder Mickey Mantle. Trout has hit at least 27 home runs and 35 other extra base hits per season between 2012 and 2015, while also maintaining a high batting average and walk rate. He is particularly able to hit pitches that are low in the strike zone. Trout's speed has allowed him to be an above average defender in center field (according to ultimate zone rating) and he is also a proficient baserunner, stealing 113 bases between 2012 and 2015 at a success rate of 84 percent.
In the four-year period since Trout became a regular player, he has been MLB's most productive batter, according to Fangraphs. Trout led all MLB players in total runs above average (park-adjusted wRAA) with 221.5 runs, and led all qualified players in productivity per plate appearance (wRC+), producing runs at a rate 71 percent above league average. Trout's exceptional performance at his young age has caused him to be compared to Ted Williams..
Some baseball writers and pundits would tell you that there is such a thing as “Trout Fatigue.” That he is so consistently good, and makes it look so easy, that baseball fans and experts take him for granted. I believe it to be true so to claim another MVP award on a team that quite frankly stunk would be a huge accomplishment. As the 2016 season wound down the usual conversation was going on, stop me if you have heard this before… Trout lead the league in WAR, runs, OPS+, OBP, second in OPS, and the list goes on, but he was on a team that was not ever close to the playoff race, and the young Mookie Betts of the hated Chowds seemed to be the favorite to win the award, he had an excellent season and he played for one of the best teams in baseball. Also in the conversation was Jose Altuve, a lovable short guy (seriously, who doesn’t love a short guy) that played for a team that just missed the playoffs and lead the league in average and hits while playing excellent defense. Fortunately, the Trout Fatigue was overcome and once again Mike Trout was rightfully recognized as the best player in the AL with his second MVP award.
As Angels fans, it really is great to be able to watch the best player in baseball do his thing day in and day out..
A running list of Mike Trout's accomplishments
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