By Tres Hefter, AngelsWin.com Columnist
An infusion of pitching talent from the 2021 draft began their pro careers over the last two weeks, and a number of familiar names continued to make an impact at the higher levels on the offensive side of things. As the minor league season draws close to its final month, more attention will turn towards which prospects earn promotions to the next level, including some to the major leagues, with the Angels bolstering their youth movement and looking more towards 2022.
1) Michael Stefanic – 2B/SS, Salt Lake City AAA:
In perhaps the strongest indication that a Stefanic promotion to the bigs is imminent is his recent playing time (five games) at SS – his first at the position since one start back on May 18th , because aside from his relative defensive limitations and lack of position, there is nothing else keeping him in AAA at this point. Over the last two weeks, Stefanic posted an OPS of 1.106, adding 16 more hits in 41 at-bats (.390), four more home runs (giving him 14 on the season, his prior career high was 3), and walking three times to six strikeouts, giving him 34 BB to 57 K on the year. He is tied for 4th in all of minor league baseball in hits (117) and 5th in batting average (.340) and since July 1st, he is hitting .370 with a BAbip of .377, indicating that no, this isn’t pure luck or hitting-friendly park inflation - well, maybe some of the power. At this point, I believe it’s fair to say it’s simply a matter of time before Stefanic gets a chance at some playing time, perhaps even as soon as next homestand.
Michael Stefanic with an RBI single for AAA Salt Lake pic.twitter.com/BGYDLaYFU2— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) August 21, 2021
2021 (RCT AA/SLC AAA): .340/.408/.506/.914 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 49 RBI, and 34 BB, 57 K in 88 G/387 PA
2) Mitch Nay – 3B/1B, Rocket City AA:
A one-time supplemental first round choice by the Blue Jays (back when Minasian was with the org), corner infielder Mitch Nay has continued a solid – though streaky – season for AA serving as one of the team’s primary run producers on an offense that has featured strong production all year-round. Slashing .333/.404/.667/1.070 in his last two weeks, boosted by five home runs and two doubles, giving him 38 extra-base hits on the season. A month from turning 28, time is starting to run against Nay, but his steady production should earn him time in AAA for some club next season, or perhaps later this year should the Angels add Thaiss, Rengifo, or Stefanic to the big-league club. Nay has the skillset to serve as a big bat 4A-type player, but could perhaps be a serviceable big-league sub.
2021 (RCT AA): .235/.345/.500/.835 with 16 doubles, 22 home runs, 48 RBI, 49 BB, 98 K in 91 G/362 PA
3) Ray-Patrick Didder – SS/CF/2B, Rocket City AA:
A former farmhand in the Braves’ system, Didder has spent most of the season serving as the primary starting shortstop for Rocket City posting fairly pedestrian numbers in his first 37 games, but has shown life since, posting an .805 OPS since June 20th (coupled with a good .278 BA and .385 OBP) and in particular, the last two weeks, as the 26-year old Aruban native slashed a strong .388/.466/.653/1.119 in his last 58 plate appearances, swatting seven doubles, two homers, walking six times, striking out ten, and stealing three bases in four attempts, all while seeing regular time up in the middle at SS, CF, and 2B. Didder’s primary weapons – versatility, above-average speed and defense, and solid contact and discipline skills – give him a strong chance at seeing major league utility work someday, at least as a AAA reserve.
Ray-Patrick Didder with a 3-run double to give AA Rocket City a 6-3 lead pic.twitter.com/vW1PTMf7Ov— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) August 18, 2021
2021 (RCT AA): .238/.335/.371/.706 with 20 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs, 35 RBI, 37 BB, 79 K, 14 SB in 22 attempts in 90 G/349 PA
4) Arol Vera – SS/2B, Arizona Rk.:
Days away from turning 19, Arol Vera has continued to consistently impress at the Arizona Complex League since Game One, and that continued over the last two weeks as well, as he slashed .366/.422/.561/.983, albeit slightly boosted by a BABip of .455. Still, Vera continues to show strong power (even if he’s yet to hit his first pro HR) as he added six doubles and a triple to his season, above-average contact (15 for 41), and acceptable discipline with three walks against eight strikeouts. Vera has settled in as the everyday shortstop for the Arizona team, who have also seen top prospects Adrian Placencia, Werney Blakely, and Kyren Paris all see time at the position as well, but Vera seems to be staking some claim for now, taking a lions-share of playing time in the past two weeks.
2021 (Arizona Rk.): .333/.397/.493/.890 with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 17 RBI, 11 BB, 36 K in 36 G/156 PA
5) Orlando Martinez – OF, Rocket City AA:
Martinez has impressed in different ways throughout this season, but his performance over the last two weeks has been some of his most balanced yet. In the last two weeks, Martinez logged twelve games and 48 plate appearances, tallying 14 hits, seven extra base hits, including four doubles and two more homers, and three walks to nine strikeouts, giving him a .318/.375/.591/.966 slash in that time, playing left field primarily. Martinez seems primed for a call-up to AAA with Marsh and Adell now seemingly locked in to MLB play for the remainder of the year, but the org might be waiting to see if Trout’s return could shuffle AAA playing time. Martinez will be R5 eligible this winter and an interesting name to watch. Outfielders with his skillset tend to be unprotected more often than not, but also are one of the more common types of players claimed in R5 to serve as 4th outfielders on developing clubs.
2021 (RCT AA): .257/.311/.460/.771 with 22 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs, 47 RBI, 24 BB, 105 K in 87 G/368 PA
Honorable mentions, position players:
David Calabrese (OF Arizona Rk.): .296/.367/.519/.885 with 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 for 2 in SB attempts in 8 G/30 PA – best two weeks yet for the ’20 3rd rounder
Kyren Paris (SS/2B TRI A+): .250/.462/.357/.819 with 2B, 3B, 10 BB, 14 K, 5 for 5 in SB attempts in 9 G/39 PA - .500 BAbip, but excellent plate discipline and SB %
Chad Wallach (C/1B SLC AAA): .370/.471/.704/1.174 with 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 8 K in 8 G/34 PA– could see him in September as clubs often carry 3 catchers
Luis Rengifo (2B/SS SLC AAA): .344/.405/.656/1.062 with 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, 2 SB in 9 G/37 PA – continues to play very well in AAA, just hasn’t translated to bigs since ‘19
Carlos Herrera (2B/SS TRI A+/RCT AA): .333/.419/.593/1.012 with 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB, 5 K, 3 for 3 in SB attempts in 9 G/31 PA – promoted to AA and performing well in age 24 season, former COL farmhand
Jeremy Arocho (2B/SS/3B/CF IE A/TRI A+): .429/.529.429/.958 with 0 XBH, 9 BB, 8 K, 6 for 7 in SB attempts in 11 G/51 PA – promoted to AA, draws tons of walks and slaps plenty of singles with good SB speed
Braxton Martinez (1B/DH IE A): .357/.404/.571/.976 with 2 2B, 2 3B, HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K in 11 G/47 PA – promote the dude already, he’s 27
Kenyon Yovan (1B/3B/DH TRI A+): .297/.395/.568/.963 with 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 18 K in 11 G/43 PA– UDFA clubbing the ball well
Jose Rojas (1B/3B/LF SLC AAA): .372/.378/.581/.959 with 3 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI in 10 G/45 PA – could see Anaheim again before ’21 is out
Kean Wong (3B SLC AAA): .333/.407/.542/.949 with 2B, 2 3B, 3 BB, 3 K, 3 for 4 in SB attempts in 6 G/27 PA – could see time in Anaheim again soon, at expense of a callup for Stefanic
Cade Cabiness (OF IE A): .273/.415/.515/.930 with 2B, 2 3B, HR, 7 BB, 19 K in 11 G/41 PA – UDFA playing well in first pro homestand
Paxton Wallace (3B/1B IE A): .281/.395/.531/.926 with 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 7 K in 10 G/38 PA – solid contact, discipline, and power from another UDFA
Michael Cruz (C RCT AA): .280/.357/.560/.917 with 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 7 K – solid production from AA backstop, only 25
1) Adam Seminaris – LHP, Tri-City A+:
Fresh off his first start for High-A West Tri-City, lefty Adam Seminaris, selected in the 5th round of last year’s draft, has seen his season turn around rapidly of late. While the 22-year-old lefty never really struggled, his performance in the first half of the year was mixed at best before taking a step forward in early July. In his last two weeks, again including his first start for Tri-City, Seminaris threw 16 IP over 3 GS, striking out 17, walking 5, and limiting opponents to a .224 BAA and 3.38 ERA. Since July 3rd, Seminaris has posted a K/9 rate of 13, a nice step-up from the 11.3 K/9 he posted in his first 8 GS. Seminaris has the seasoning to move fairly quickly through the system, but he also poses a wide variety of potential outcomes for his career – could be a starter, could be a strong high-lev reliever, could be a solid multi-inning swingman – so the Angels might take it fairly slow with him, especially as they have numerous intriguing arms ahead in the pipeline to weed through first. Still, Seminaris could move fast.
2021 (IE A/TRI A+): 5.12 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .269 BAA, with 20 BB, 97 K, 9 HR allowed across 70.1 IP in 17 G/15 GS
2) Cristopher Molina – RHP, Rocket City AA:
Molina, typically a starter in throughout his pro career, converted to multi-inning relief this season for Tri-City, pitching almost exclusively from the pen in the first two months of the season to the tune of a 2.70 ERA and .215 BAA in his first 40 IP, striking out 47, walking 14, and allowing only one HR. This was apparently enough to earn a promotion not only to AA Rocket City in late July, but also back into the rotation, as the 24-year-old RHP has thrown in at least 5 innings in four of his first five AA games. In the last two weeks, Molina made two appearances, one starting, one in relief, tallying a line of 10.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 11 K, good for a 0.87 ERA and .167 BAA. Molina is a sleeper prospect in the truest sense as his career performance has consistently exceeded expectations, and now that he’s in AA, could start to raise some eyebrows as a potential MLB arm.
2021 (TRI A+/RCT AA): 2.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .234 BAA, with 28 BB, 78 K, 4 HR allowed across 75 IP in 24 G/5 GS
3) Connor Von Scoyoc – RHP, Inland Empire, A:
A 6’6” power arm taken in the 11th round of the 2018 draft, 21-year-old Von Scoyoc battled control issues in his initial pro debut back in 2019, and while he seems to have addressed some of that wildness so far in ’21, it has not come at the expense of his swing-and-miss stuff. In his last two appearances, Von Scoyoc has dominated, striking out 18 in 8.2 IP and allowing only 3 BB. He’s become slightly more hittable in his efforts to reduce walks, but the ability to miss bats remains evident. His 104 pitch, 12 strikeout effort on August 14th demonstrates the Angels have faith in his ability to work as a starter, and should he stick in that role, could find himself one of the Angels’ better pitching prospects in a hurry. A fallback to the bullpen could make sense if walks remain an issue.
2021 (Arizona Rk./IE A): 4.36 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .276 BAA, with 16 BB, 46 K, 2 HR allowed across 33 IP in 9 G/5 GS
4) Davis Daniel – RHP, Rocket City AA:
Yeah, Davis Daniel is here again. More of the same from the steady 24-year-old righty from Auburn, as he’s continued to have no issue facing AA hitters. Two more starts, 9.2 IP, 12 K, 2 BB, one HR 6 hits (.167 BAA), and a 2.79 ERA. Davis has allowed no more than four runs in any game this year (only twice) and routinely keeps opponents to even less than that, allowing one or fewer in 10 of his 16 games so far this year. The only thing that might keep Davis from seeing Anaheim this season or next is the fact that he’s still ineligible from R5 selection until winter ’22 and the Angels have nearly a dozen R5 eligible arms “ahead” of him on the depth chart to sift through first, but Davis’ consistent production might queue him up sooner rather than later.
2021 (TRI A+/RCT AA): 2.50 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .196 BAA, with 27 BB, 112 K, 7 HR allowed across 82.2 IP in 16 GS
5) Kyle Tyler – RHP, Salt Lake City:
Prior to his early August promotion to AAA, Tyler was moved to relief in an attempt to coax a little more velocity out of his fastball and fast-track his surprising success into a role that helped him reinforce the Angels’ MLB bullpen. Tyler was hit hard in his AAA debut, allowing 7 ER in 2 IP, but in three appearances since (two of which were 4 IP, one as a SP), he has been spectacular. Tyler’s three appearances have combined for 9 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 13 K – certainly moving him into the periphery of seeing MLB innings, with a call-up perhaps even imminent depending on the severity of Jose Marte’s recent injury and Alex Cobb’s setback. Tyler figures to compare favorably around the likes of Andrew Wantz and Austin Warren.
Kyle Tyler stats for tonight:— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) August 21, 2021
7 K-season high, struck out the side in the 3rd
1 ER pic.twitter.com/H3HNvSeJtv
2021 (RCT AA/SLC AAA): 3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .248 BAA, with 25 BB, 88 K, 9 HR allowed across 83 IP in 19 G/14 GS
Honorable mention, pitchers:
Nathan Burns (RHP Arizona Rk./IE A): 0.00 ERA, .050 BAA with H, BB, 12 K in 6 IP/4 G – near perfect start from 2021 19th rounder
Ryan Smith (LHP RCT AA): 3.27 ERA, .238 BAA with 4 BB, 14 K in 11 IP/2 GS – two solid rebound starts for the Princeton lefty as he adjusts to AA
Dylan King (RHP TRI A+): 3.52 ERA, .233 BAA with 1 BB, 16 K in 7.2 IP/3 G – now has 53 K in 34.1 IP
Glenn Albanese (RHP TRI A+): 0.00 ERA, .222 BAA with 2 BB, 9 K in 6.2 IP/3 GS – great pro start for ’21 15th rounder
Brett Kerry (RHP IE A): 0.00 ERA, .154 BAA with BB, 8 K in 4 IP/2 GS – another strong pro debut, 5th rounder
Alex Martinez (RHP Arizona Rk.): 0.00 ERA, .118 BAA with 2 H, 2 BB, 10 K in 5 IP/4 G – excellent debut for teenage righty reliever
Keith Rogalla (RHP RCT AA): 2.84 ERA, .269 BAA with BB, 7 K in 6.1 IP/4 G – quietly having a solid relief season for AA
Cooper Criswell (RHP SLC AAA): 4.82 ERA, .235 BAA with 4 BB, 13 K in 9.1 IP/2 GS – fearless and extremely consistent, willing himself into MLB consideration
John Swanda (RHP IE A): 3.27 ERA, .256 BAA with 3 BB, 9 K in 11 IP/2 G/1 GS
Ky Bush (LHP TRI A+): 2.70 ERA, .333 BAA with 2 BB, 8 K in 3.1 IP/2 GS – solid pro debut from 2nd rounder
Brandon Dufault (RHP IE A): 1.50 ERA, .143 BAA with 3 H, 2 BB, 11 K in 6 IP/3 G – keeping trend going with strong pro debuts
Ryan Costeiu (RHP IE A): 0.00 ERA, .000 BAA with BB, 6 K in 4 IP/2 G – one more, why not?