Here are just a few recent developments going on in the Angels farm
1. Right after writing about how ridiculous it was the Jesus Castillo was still in A Ball, the Angels promoted him to Inland Empire. In his first start: 5 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K’s. A fantastic beginning to his tenure there and proof that the Angels definitely are reading this…..
2. This offseason, there was quite a lot of debate within the AngelsWin prospect team surrounding Connor Justus. We opted to put him in the honorable mention category. But after hitting .230 and A Ball and batting below the Mendoza Line in the Cal League so far, Justus may be in danger of being labeled “all glove-no bat”, which isn’t necessarily accurate. He hit quite well in college. His bat should come around soon.
3. Troy Montgomery earned himself a promotion to Inland Empire, and has since bumped Matt Thaiss down to third in the order. Montgomery had a .418 OBP in A Ball and is currently sporting a .467 OBP in Advanced A Ball.
4. 10 days ago, Matt Thaiss batting average was .174, and right now it’s .264. That should tell you just how good he’s been over the last week and a half.
5. This should tell you all you need to know about the level of play at AA versus Advanced A Ball. At Inland Empire, Michael Hermosillo collected 9 walks in only 13 games. So far in AA Mobile, one walk in 8 games. It’s the biggest jump in the minors. But you can usually gauge how good a prospect in in relative terms by where they’re slotted in the lineup after promotion. So far, Hermosillo has hit somewhere between leadoff and #5. He’s pretty good.
6. After last night’s game, the lowest batting average on the Angels AAA affiliate Salt Lake Bees is .293, owned by none other than Sherman Johnson. That should tell you a few things…..first, there are a ton of hits in the PCL, and second, if Sherman has the lowest average on your team, you’ve got a pretty outstanding team.
7. Speaking of Sherman Johnson, he’s clearly being groomed for a future promotion. He’s spent most of his time at first base lately (a far cry from SS, 3B and 2B), and has recorded 15 hits in his last 10 games. During that span, he’s hitting .405. When Luis Valbuena returns, he’ll be the Angels regular first baseman, but if Jefry Marte isn’t careful, he’ll be bumped off the 3B/1B depth chart by Sherman Johnson.
8. When you pay attention to the minor leagues, and prospects in general, you begin to notice patterns. Low numbers in A Ball, high numbers in Advanced A, low numbers in AA, high numbers in AAA….Well since we’re still on the topic of Sherman Johnson, he’s definitely a player of patterns. The firs time he saw AA, Johnson hit a meager .204 with just 7 HR’s in 135 games. The second time he saw AA pitching, he hit .369 with 4 HR’s in only 19 games. Last year, the talented utility player hit .226 with 16 stolen bases over 109 games. This year so far, he’s hitting .293 with 5 SB in 22 games. Don’t be surprised if in his first stint in the majors, Johnson isn’t wholly impressive. Don’t also be surprised if in his second stint, he’s very impressive.
9. When the Angels signed Dustin Ackley, it was more of a side note, “Oh the Angels just picked up another former top prospect. Eppler move”. Ackley wasn’t even ready to swing a bat yet, so basically the Angels were signing him so he could do his rehab with them. Ho hum. Ackley is hitting in the middle of the Salt Lake lineup, and while he’s been relegated to DH duty, he should be back in the field soon. Ackley has never hit at the major league level the way he’s capable of, but it should be at least noted that Ackley currently has more walks than strikeouts, has always been a solid defensive second baseman, and has 11 hits in his last 9 games. I’m not saying he’s ready for a promotion, but I am saying it might be fun to see what he can do when he’s fully healthy.