Angels Farm Report: Week 9: Someone let a draft in…

It’s an abbreviated farm report this week, as we make room for this week’s MLB draft build-up. As the standings show, the Angels system could certainly use some refreshment, not least in the offensive core at lower levels of the system.

The big news of the week was the commencement of Rookie Ball action in the Arizona Complex League, and a few notable promotions to A+/AA leagues and one surprising one to the MLB.

Week 9 Standings

Salt Lake Bees: Last week: 4-2 / Season record: 24-27

Rocket City Trash Pandas: Last week: 1-5 / Season record: 26-27

Tri-City Dust Devils: Last week: 3-3 / Season record: 18-35

Inland Empire 66ers: Last week: 3-3 / Season record: 25-28

Arizona Complex League Angels: Last week: 2-3

The Arizona rookies are quite raw, to be expected, and the 2020 Canadian prep draftee David Calabrese (0-for-7, 5 Ks) particularly so.

Arol Vera, however, looks every bit as promising as the scouts have foretold, going 9-for-16 out of the gate, without a strikeout in his first week of games. And his first appearance was quite the opening statement:

Adrian Placencia, a Longenhagen call-out at #5 in the Angels system, also had an impressive debut, going .357/.500/.714, stealing a bag, hitting a HR, and showing some walk in his game. Keep it up, kid.

Players of the month (June)

David MacKinnon, AA South Trash Pandas

Davis Daniel, High A West Dust Devils

Robinson Pina, Low A West 66ers

If you’ve been reading this series, you know all three of these guys have been featured either as prospects or performers of the week in recent reports. As if to say Mr. Teeth has not taken you on a lark, Minor League Baseball agrees.

The Angels were one of three organizations (along with the Yankees and the Rays) that had three separate prospects winning Player of the Month awards:

David MacKinnon, AA South

Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels) first baseman David MacKinnon led the league in batting average (.377), OPS (1.041) and doubles (eight) and was second in on-base percentage (.443) and slugging percentage (.597). He finished third in hits (29) and sixth in total bases (46) and RBI (15). He recorded five straight multi-hit games from June 24-29 and had hitting streaks of six and seven games in June. MacKinnon, 26, was selected by Los Angeles (AL) in the 32nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Hartford.

Davis Daniel, High A West

Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) right-hander Davis Daniel went 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in five starts before a June 30 promotion to Double-A Rocket City. He allowed 10 hits in 28.0 innings, holding opponents to a .108 average. His 39 strikeouts led the league and he set a career-high with 13 strikeouts in his final High-A start June 29 at Spokane. Daniel, 24, was selected by Los Angeles (AL) in the seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Auburn University.

Robinson Pina, Low A West

Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) right-hander Robinson Pina was dominating in June, posting a 1.19 ERA over four starts. Pina allowed 15 hits while striking out 33 and walking six in 22.2 innings of work. Pina, 22, was signed by Los Angeles (AL) as an International Free Agent out of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, on February 15, 2017.

Goin’ back to rehab

Brandon Marsh, last seen in AAA action five weeks ago on June 1st, joined the Arizona Complex League rookies in Tempe Saturday night, on an apparent rehab assignment, and went 2 for 3 with a home run, batting at the top of the ACL Angels order.

Kyren Paris remains on the IL in Low-A West, and a previously resurgent Jeremiah Jackson joined him there this week, last batting in the 66ers lineup on June 24th.

AAA Taxi stand

While the outfield ranks have been sputtering in and out of the garage of late, the Salt Lake Bees infield seems plush with reserve options for the MLB dirt this summer. Jack Mayfield, Michael Stefanic, and Kean Wong have all been performing consistently well, and played central efforts in the Bees playing to a 4-2 record over the Week 9 stretch.

Will we ever see fireworks again?

Not to be outdone by a bunch of utility infielders, the Angels #1 OF prospect decided it was time to show up, however late, for the holiday weekend celebrations.

Jo Adell hit his first home run in fifteen games, and only his second in the past four weeks. It was a three-run bomb, a no-doubter in a 12-2 Salt Lake Bees blowout Saturday night.

More impressive than that, if you know Jo like we know Jo, was his July 3rd walk-off (even though the pitch was a little off the plate):

They went high, they went low

Tough outings this week for some of big heroes in June. The pitching that had driven the Trash Pandas to a winning record fell flat more often than not this week. They were swept in a Tyler / Detmers double bill, a rare feat, given the opposite happened last month.

Kyle Tyler was chased after four, and he was absolutely clobbered: 10 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 2 HRs. Reid Detmers performed better, with 8 Ks over five, and only 2 ERs surrendered, but it was a shorter outing, and with 3 BBs, less efficient than we saw from him in June. 2 solo HRs on the day point to a recurring trend that is worth monitoring. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose, but the inefficiency combined with the longball have hints of the no-good-Heaney tropes we hope to see less of in Heaney 2.0.

Meanwhile, the recent pride (and former Low-A West Pitcher of the Week) Jose Salvador got absolutely torched this week. 10 ERs on 10 hits and only 2 Ks over 3.2 IP. Those are the sort of fireworks you want to avoid in dry brush season.

But one (tall boy) stood (tall) alone

6’6” Cooper Criswell continues to defy gravity. He put six innings on the board, walked none, gave up a single earned run, and K’ed nine on Saturday night. As we approach the mid-way point in the minor league season, Criswell has had a fine first half overall in AA:

Do *start* believin’

Chris Rodriguez is getting the starter treatment…in AA ball. 

Joining him is June’s High-A West pitcher of the month Davis Daniel. He received his first AA opportunity on the mound on Independence Day, and quickly learned why AA is the elite level of minor league play. He was challenged, though not daunted, giving up 2 ERs over 3.1 IP – but it took him 71 pitches to struggle into the fourth, and they didn’t stretch him further.

Daniel’s absence on the High-A Dust Devils is giving others a chance to try on new/old roles. After 16 straight outings in the bullpen this season (where he performed admirably with a 2.70 ERA), Cristopher Molina – who was a very fine starter at Low-A Burlington in 2019 – was finally given a chance to start in High-A Tri-City on Sunday. Like Daniel, his outing was short (2 ERs, 4 Ks, 53 pitches over 3 IP), but he’s being lengthened, and Tri City would go on to win the outing in a surprisingly (for them) robust 10-3 offensive contest.

He performed, we noted; they saw, they promoted

At the beginning of the week, I dropped this tweet about an under-the-radar operation going down in AAA:

A week later, Wantz is on the MLB club, pitching in a tight, high-leverage contest with Baltimore.

Meanwhile, his much more tenured kindred Angel from the years previous draft, Griffin Canning, was sent to AAA for a spell to “work on some things” – well, specifically fastball command, according to manager Joe Maddon. Canning left a brutal outing vs Baltimore in the third inning last week after surrendering six earned runs on six hits and two walks.

At 25 years old, he isn’t quite enough the grizzled veteran to avoid AAA assignments after half a season of 5.62 ERA ball (oof!).

That’s it for this week’s “less analysis, more froth” edition of the Angels Farm Report. Pour one out for Independence, however you may define it – MLB Draft coverage begins tomorrow.

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Jeff Joiner
2 years ago

Nice report. I’m starting to really think those arms in AA are going to make or break a competitive window for the Trout/Ohtani/Rendon era.

Getting our position players on the field is key too.

Trusted Member
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

I’m hoping, but worried they are using the sticky stuff (or are they checking in the minors), so it won’t translate at the MLB. Also, how do the numbers look if normed out for the league, like ERA+ or if there is such a thing KO/9+.

Charles Sutton
Super Member
2 years ago
Reply to  Fleckstein

They are checking in the minors. At least four guys have gotten lengthy suspensions.

Jeff Joiner
2 years ago
Reply to  Fleckstein

Sticky stuff checks started in the minors. I’m not too concerned about that. And AA is more like normal baseball than the offensive heavy PCL in AAA.

What I have been concerned about is hitters who have spent 18 months or so without facing live hitting. I figured pitching would dominate the first few weeks of the minor league season. Those weeks are over now and we’re starting to get a good sense of who is for real on the mound. I’m mentally throwing out the first couple of weeks of stats and really focusing on the last month.

Super Member
2 years ago

Just want to say thank you for these write ups. They are always exceptional.

Trusted Member
2 years ago

Ty Madden has jumped ahead in my draft list at the #9 pick.
Ryan Cusick should still be considered in RD 2 along with Miss St CWS winner Will Bednar who outdueled Jack Leiter. Failure is not a option on July 11 Perry!!! You need to come away with two very good stars or go home. Don’t pull the same garbage that your predecessor did by going for tools and athleticism along with greatly overrated collegiate hitting and then trying to switch to another position. We don’t have 8 yrs for minor league prospects to prove that they don’t belong.

Last edited 2 years ago by 2002heaven
Trusted Member
2 years ago
Reply to  Turk's Teeth

Cleveland Indians have probably out produced and developed more good pitchers than the Dodgers in the past 20 yrs beginning with CC Sabathia to Shane Bieber. Wonder how they’re doing it, Mark Shapiro went to Toronto to be the POBO. Also Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer used to be on the same rotation. Interesting and ironic.

2 years ago

Always the most encouraging feature of the week. Way to go T.T.

Incidentally future Angel Mikey Stefanic already with a 3 run jimmy jack tonight in the Sooner state. I noticed the Angels are rotating him between 2B & 3B each night so versatility will be his meal ticket

2 years ago

Not all is lost in our Minor League Operations. Concern for how fragile Brandon Marsh seems to be.

Charles Sutton
Super Member
2 years ago

Thanks for the update.