I’ve made it a hobby of predicting the future, quite unsuccessfully. I am not a prophet (at least, I don’t think I am), but I sure do like baseball. I loved playing it, watching it, dissecting it. It helped me maximize my limited skills as a player and has led to some side jobs on the scouting side of things. With a new family, I don’t travel as much as I used to, which makes the use of milb.tv all the more important. While it offers limited views, it helps with repeat exposure and allows me to singularize my focus when I do go out to watch them play live. Having prefaced all of that, so far this season, pretty much everything I thought would happen, hasn’t, yet.
Let’s start with our top picks…
1B Matt Thaiss – I thought he’d be in AA by now. Clearly, such an advanced hitter with such a hot spring, playing in such an environment that would maximize his skill set would be too much for the Cal League. As of writing this, Thaiss is batting a clean .250 with good-not-great power, but an advanced eye at the plate. It looks like a full year at Inland Empire might still be the plan.
INF Sherman Johnson – I really thought he’d have it all together in his repeat year at AAA. Not so much so far. While he is definitely better than last year, he still isn’t hitting the way I thought he would. On the bright side, he is still getting on base and is a very efficient runner. Maybe it’ll be another year before his promotion comes.
RHP Vicente Campos and LHP Manny Banuelos – I did figure both would log some time in AAA, and while Manny has struggled finding the plate before, I don’t think I fully understood the magnitude of this. Banuelos currently has more walks than strikeouts and has since moved back to relief. Campos, who I thought would be a reliever has since moved back to starter, and while he was injured to begin the year, which I figured would happen, he hasn’t been able to find the plate at all, which is a very new development for him. It’s early though.
OF Michael Hermosillo – I did figure his numbers would be held at bay in AA as a 22 year old, I didn’t think he’d be hitting .163. He’s still showing solid plate discipline and a good combination of power and speed, but AA has definitely been a difficult transition for a prospect that had as much helium as Hermosillo did.
INF David Fletcher – Clearly, this was the year Fletcher would put the paper minors behind him and make the leap to Anaheim. A third consecutive brilliant spring…this kid opens eyes with his defensive play, hustle and timely hitting. The next David Eckstein…..except he still has’ conquered AA yet. In fact, he’s hitting just .217.
OF Troy Montgomery – I knew starting the year in A ball was ridiculous, and so did Montgomery, and he showed it. However, upon being promoted to Inland Empire, he’s hitting just .188. The plate discipline is still there, but that line is ugly.
OF Jahmai Jones – I knew the numbers would be suppressed by the home field and league he’s in, but Jahmai’s early season struggles have been a bit of a eye opener. He’s turned it around of late though, and his power and speed are both playing up in a way that’s quite surprising.
And now for the good surprises…
SS Roberto Baldoquin – I thought he was pretty much done after two terrible years in the Cal League. however, upon his demotion down to A Ball, Baldoquin has actually been…..get ready for it….pretty darn good. The defense looks better, more refined than it did before, he’s tracking the ball better, he’s hitting for some power finally, and he’s running the bases a lot better. Perhaps the lack of expectations is just what Baldoquin has needed the thrive.
RHP Jesus Castillo – We knew keeping down in A Ball was a mistake, and Castillo showed his typical dominant self in Burlington before earning a promotion. Now at Inland Empire, or more specifically, the California League, Castillo is still doing a bang up job. 4.15 ERA in that hitter friendly league is solid, and again, more K’s than innings pitched and spotting his pitches….Castillo looks like he’ll be a major leaguer someday.
RHP Jaime Barria – Yeah, he was good in Burlington as a 19 year old. But that was a pitching friendly league, and we have to see what he does in the Cal League before truly buying in. 53 innings, 46 K’s, only 8 walks and a 2.18 ERA. Ummm, a 20 year old in AA? Possibly the Angels best prospect? Yeah, it’s all in play. He conducts himself like a 10 year veteran in the majors. He competes, nothing rattles him. You can’t fake that.
C Wade Wass – Always a physically imposing player, never the results to back it up. But now in AA, he’s hitting .277 with great plate discipline and very good power. I remember a breakout that was similar to this in Jett Bandy. Bandy didn’t have Wass’s power, but was a better defender behind the plate. Catchers tend to take a bit longer to develop, and I think Was stay have turned the proverbial corner.
RHP Osmer Morales – A 2.63 ERA and more K’s than IP from a soft-tossing minor league free agent? The Angels were excited when they got this kid, and he’s proving right now that what the Angels saw is real. Read up on revolutions per minute with pitchers, or more specifically, spin rate. Morales spins the ball and locates it. The pitches are always moving and he generates swings and misses, caught looking, and weak contact.
RHP Troy Scribner – He has a 3.34 ERA in the Pacific Coast League with more K’s than IP. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore this kid.